Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke (Author Interview)

Until We Find Home
by Cathy Gohlke
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 415 Pages
January 9th 2018 by Tyndale House Publishers


For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing--spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends--has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she's ever known.

Set in England's lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.

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Author Interview

Q: As an author, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?

A: I loved weaving the history of the location with the unusual characters I brought to it. Throughout much of my life I have felt like an outsider discovering new things, new places, even when living long in one location. I brought that sense of discovery to the book through my characters. I absolutely loved writing the children, their viewpoints, their resiliency, their playfulness. Their views are reminiscent of my own view of childhood and the imagination that thrives there. I loved connecting Claire’s thinking with childhood books that she’d loved. I do that—have always done that. There is, perhaps, more of me in this book than any I have written. The opportunity to pour out my love for stories and children and home and family— even when family comes in forms we don’t expect—was great joy for me.

Q: Until We Find Home presents so many intriguing and lovable characters—did the journeys of any of the characters surprise you as you wrote?

A: The children in my story took on lives of their own. I was surprised and pleased by the competition, the antics and the eventual friendship and heroism of young Gaston and Josef. I was moved by the tender growth of affection between young Aimee and the older Claire, who slowly, reluctantly assumed a motherly role toward the child. I was especially moved by the deepening of the late-in-life love and relationship between Miranda Langford and Dr. MacDonald. I hadn’t expected David to be quite so winsome, but I suppose that’s the way of Scottish men transplanted to the Appalachians and back to England. :)

Q: A number of classic authors are mentioned in Until We Find Home, Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis particularly. How have these authors and others inspired you in your life and writing?

A: Beatrix Potter, her stories and illustrations, have been dearly loved since childhood. To me, it was as if she spoke the language of children and animals. It seemed to me that if she could learn their language, I could learn the language of my characters, too, and tell their stories in ways readers would understand. I loved learning that the stories and illustrations of Beatrix Potter influenced C. S. Lewis and his brother as children and inspired them to write the story Kristen Schumacher | kristenschumacher@tyndale.com | 630.784.5126 of and illustrate an entire kingdom. It felt as if they—and I—rode the current of a continuing stream, a stream that brought readers and writers together. 

C. S. Lewis is a voice of reason. He came to faith not through Scripture nor through an appreciation of divine design in nature. He was not born with an innate faith. In fact, he was an atheist who struggled against faith. But he came to belief in God—to theism—through reason. Coming to belief in Jesus as Lord and Redeemer was a separate journey. I’ve known many people who seemed to have been born without faith. It is something I observe but don’t fully understand. I wanted to highlight Lewis’s writings in the hope that those who believe will be encouraged, and in the hope that those who do not believe will be encouraged to consider his reasoning. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity describes some of his journey through reason, and was taken from his WWII radio broadcasts that began at the time Until We Find Home takes place. I was able to include some material from his earlier book The Problem of Pain in this story, and those messages help in Claire’s journey, as they did in mine.

It’s important to me to highlight the writings of classic Christian writers for a new generation, to share with others the blessing those books have been in my own life.

Q: A major historical focus of the novel is the European Jewish children who were given refuge in Britain. What led you to focus on this specific aspect of WWII?

A: Children everywhere hold a special place in my heart. They are the most vulnerable, the least prepared physically or experientially to face war and the deprivation of home and family. Jewish children in WWII Europe had absolutely no recourse when their parents were taken away. The state did not support or help them. It was up to compassionate individuals and citizen-organized networks to step up to the plate, to assist and protect those in need. In many cases the people of Britain did that—by taking in their own evacuees and by taking in children from overseas. Modest governmental financial assistance was available, though not everyone took advantage of that. Sadly, not all children were treated well, but all adults had the opportunity to do something generous, something naturally heroic for those children.

I very much wanted to show that while it can be difficult to peel back the reserves, the grief and fears and heartaches in our own adult lives in order to reach outward and embrace those in need, it is possible. Not only is the journey possible, but it is blessed . . . blessed as we sacrifice, and blessed as we embrace a different life and a new family. Stepping out of our comfort zones, shedding the shackles of all we’ve come to believe we need and must preserve, means simultaneously stepping into a freedom we didn’t know existed.

Q: What did you learn through writing this novel, and what lessons do you hope your readers take away?

A: I’ve learned in life and more fully in the writing of this story that letting go of fear, surrendering insecurity—which torments—to the Lord, is the path to freedom. I’ve learned, just as the Scripture says, that “perfect love casts out fear.” I hope recognition of the need to surrender, to let go of fear and to embrace the joy and freedom found in Christ, is what readers take away. I hope we all walk boldly into the future, whatever that future may call us to sacrifice or to embrace.

Q: What are some future projects you’re working on?

A: I’m currently writing a WWII novel that begins in Warsaw, Poland—such a different wartime experience than that of any other occupied country. This story was inspired by two courageous people, some real-life events discovered through multiple research and news sources, and a Facebook message from a friend, all on separate occasions. It was as if the story was given to me piece by piece. From the very beginning it was a story I’ve felt compelled to write. Its working title is The Medallion, and it will release in 2019.

You can read the entire interview here.

About the Author

Three-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning and bestselling author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons, speaking of world and life events through the lens of history. She champions the battle against oppression, celebrating the freedom found only in Christ. Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children's and education ministries. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren. Visit her website at www.cathygohlke.com and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.

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