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The magic behind Out of the Ashes

This book was not planned, mapped out or poured over. Instead it was poured into me, literally. My husband and I were travelling the world in 2007, and I was woken in the middle of the night by words, by a woman named Grace who was trying to tell me her story. Thankfully I was an avid travel diary keeper, so I had paper and pen next to the bed and for the next two hours I wrote her story word for word.

When I'd finished, I was exhausted. I'd written about 2500 words, bawled my eyes out and was utterly confused. What on earth was that? Whose story is this? Why did it need to be told so badly?

Fast-forward eight years. Life got busy. I was dealt some major blows, had three babies and forgot about Grace.

Then Mike, a good friend from church, was prompted to invite me along to the Writers lifegroup he'd started, and suddenly this passion that had been dormant in me erupted with force. I got home that first night and went on the hunt for Grace's story. It was 11pm when I found it and for the next half hour I read and re-read the words, and my heart broke.

I couldn't believe that I, someone who up until that point did not truly understand those deep caverns of grief, had written a piece that was so raw and moving and true. I knew this, because in those eight years I had lived it. That all-consuming, numbing fog of grief that colours everything in your world, that constant fear that follows you around, that sorrow. Grief had become a part of my every day and had changed me in a brutal, life altering way.

It was then I knew, eight years before they had not been my words, but simply words spoken through me. They were divinely inspired.

But even as I dove back into Grace's story, I didn't write a single word. I didn't know how. It wasn’t until I came out of seven weeks of strict bed rest post-surgery that I breathed the promise of Grace's story. Two days later, I stayed up well into the night, closed my eyes and allowed her story to be downloaded into my heart.

The next day I started writing, and it was my obsession as I poured over every word, every emotion, every character. Even with a toddler and a pre-schooler at home during the day, I managed to finish the first draft of Out of the Ashes in three months, writing in every sleep time and sometimes through the night. I fulfilled the promise. I had written her story. And I had entered my purpose. I knew without a doubt that this was my calling. To write gritty, raw, authentic stories that could speak to the readers' broken places, and potentially change the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.

The same thing happened with Beautiful Fragments when I was a few chapters off finishing Out of the Ashes. There was no planning, no character mapping, no architectural story flow charts. There was a name and a depth of emotion that climbed into me and took hold until I allowed Sophie's words and brokenness to pour out on the page. I wrote the first chapter and then set it aside until the rest of the story downloaded into my heart one word at a time, each facet of the story and its characters revealing themselves to me as I went along.

These are not just stories out of the depths of my imagination. They belong to the characters who grace the pages, the men and women who have lived through tragedy, heartbreak and abuse and those we've lost in the battle, and they belong to you, the reader. They are truth wrapped up in fiction and I hope you love reading them as much as I love writing them.

Out of the Ashes is available now.

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