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Interview with Rebecca DeMarino

Tell us about your writing process.

To Follow Her Heart is book three in The Southold Chronicles, and much of the needed research of Long Island seemed to have been done with the first book, A Place in His Heart. I say “seemed to,” because in reality, as I began writing the next two books, I found Long Island changed dramatically with each decade.

Each novel advanced 10-plus years and so my writing began with intense research for each book. I am very much a seat-of-the pants writer, so having my research in place before I write anchors me and allows me to take the story from there.

What did you enjoy most about writing To Follow Her Heart?

I enjoyed watching it unfold. I didn’t know how it would end. My heroine, Patience Terry, is a schoolteacher and enjoys the little girls in her charge. She also is in love with Captain Jeremy Horton and she knows he is in love with the sea. And then Reverend Joshua Hobart comes into her life. Patience has some options, and I loved following her as she faced her fears.

What was the hardest part about writing To Follow Her Heart?

This is hard to admit, but literally the writing. After months of research, and months of letting the story jumble around in my head, I lock myself away for about two months and do most of the writing. It’s probably not good for my health, because I neglect exercise, and let my husband feed me—and he doesn’t cook. I don’t recommend this, but after three books, I know it’s what I must do.

What was one challenge you faced while writing this book?

Staying in touch with family and friends. I do put everyone on hold (except, of course, emergencies) while I write. See above. I probably need a beach or mountain cabin to escape to!

Writing a book is a process. During that process, the Lord often teaches us things. Is there something you can share that you learned this time?

It became clear to me early on that the Lord used my writing to teach me to come early to Him each day and seek Him hourly. I have a beautiful view of a mountain from my office and I’m constantly in awe of the beautiful world we live in. I can’t glance up without saying a prayer of thanksgiving while I seek His guidance.

What is your biggest motivation to write?

I’ve wanted to write since I was in high school, but it was a trip with my mother to Long Island in 1999 that inspired me to write my first novel.

We were in awe of the lighthouse named after my ninth great-grandfather, Barnabas Horton, and all of the information about him in the library and historical society. But when we returned home, I couldn’t help but wonder about Mary Horton, the young woman who married him when he was a widower with two young sons, and then left her family and everything she knew, to follow him to a wild, new land. I thought she must be very courageous and wanted to give her a voice. It turned into a three-book series.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?

They are based on Barnabas and Mary Horton, who came from Mowsley, England, in the 17th century, to escape religious persecution. Here they founded Southold, Long Island, NY, with 12 other families. Barnabas was a very recent widower when he married Mary, and I knew it must have been a marriage of convenience for him. But I couldn’t help but wonder what if she had been deeply in love with him?

Who have been the biggest influences on your writing career?

Literary agents Natasha Kern and Barbara Scott. They taught me everything I know about the writing/publishing world. Really!

What author do you look up to? And why?

Jane Kirkpatrick—I love her books, both novels and nonfiction. She gives so much of herself to those who aspire to write. I admire her willingness to share and teach. I’ve heard her say everyone has a story and her encouragement to find that story has been such an inspiration to me.

Can you share a piece of encouragement you’ve received that has helped you along in your writing career?

When I told Natasha Kern I wanted to write a novel, she told me I must do three things. I gladly share these with those just starting out:

  1. Read at least 20 novels in the genre you wish to write. That’s a minimum and should probably be more. Determine what you enjoy about them, and what you don’t.
  2. Join a writer’s group, either locally, or online such as ACFW.
  3. Study the craft through classes at local colleges, online, writing-craft books, and conferences—such as the ACFW national conference.

What are you currently reading?

I’m in a research mode for my fourth manuscript and am currently reading every biography and history book I can get my hands on for a very exciting time in the history of our nation—the years just after the Revolutionary War.

Do you have a favorite book you can share with us? Why is it your favorite?

That is a hard one, because I love to read and have so many favorites. I’ve always loved Jane Kirkpatrick’s novels, and A Gathering of Finches and Love to Water My Soul are two that stand out.

Karen Barnett, Julie Klassen, Siri Mitchell, and Lori Benton are some of my favorite CBA authors. Wuthering Heights has long been a favorite. And I loved Nancy Horan’s Under a Wide and Starry Sky—a novel about Louis Stevenson’s wife.

Any parting words?

It’s been said to write what you know. But I think it’s far more important to find your passion and write that! If you are passionate about it, you can learn about it. And your passion will shine through on the page.


Emilie Hendryx is a freelance writer and photographer living in the heart of Washington, D.C. She writes romantic suspense while dreaming up YA Sci-Fi dystopian worlds on the side. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time you can find her playing guitar or reading a book all while drinking too much coffee.

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