Check out this Q&A with the author... The Tea Chest by Heidi Chiavaroli (Interview) @TyndaleHouse

Welcome! I reviewed this book last week here and am thrilled to be
sharing an interview with the author today. Check that out below...

The Tea Chest
By Heidi Chiavaroli
Christian Time-Slip Romance
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 464 Pages
February 4th 2020 by Tyndale House Publishers


Boston, 1773
Emma Malcolm’s father is staunchly loyal to the crown, but Emma’s heart belongs to Noah Winslow, a lowly printer’s assistant and Patriot. But her father has promised her hand to Samuel Clarke, a rapacious and sadistic man. As his fiancĂ©e, she would have to give up Noah and the friends who have become like family to her—as well as the beliefs she has come to embrace.

After Emma is drawn into the treasonous Boston Tea Party, Samuel blackmails her with evidence that condemns each participant, including Noah. Emma realizes she must do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, even if it means giving up the life she desires and becoming Samuel’s wife.

Present Day
Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is determined to be the first woman inducted into the elite Navy SEALs. But before her dream can be realized, she must return to Boston in order to put the abuse and neglect of her childhood behind her. When an unexpected encounter with the man she once loved leads to the discovery of a tea chest and the document hidden within, she wonders if perhaps true strength and freedom are buried deeper than she first realized.

Two women, separated by centuries, must find the strength to fight for love and freedom. . . and discover a heritage of courage and faith.

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Author Interview
(Provided by the publisher.)

The Tea Chest links the stories of a young woman from colonial New England and a contemporary woman training to become America’s first female Navy SEAL. What inspired you to connect these two characters?

This inspiration definitely came slowly for me! Since I knew I wanted to write about the events of the Boston Tea Party, I dove into researching everything I could about the circumstances surrounding it. My historical heroine, Emma Malcolm, was birthed when I read an account of the brutal tarring and feathering of customs official John Malcolm. This servant of the Crown was quite a character in his own right—very outspoken and stubborn with no patience for the antics of the Patriots. And yet I found myself feeling compassion for him. He was treated cruelly and inhumanely by those we find ourselves lauding as heroes today.

I imagined what it’d be like if he had a daughter—one who sympathized with the Sons of Liberty . . . one who sympathized with the very political side her father was intent on squelching. What if his daughter befriended those plotting to dump the tea? What if she aided them? What if she was even in love with one of them?

Once I had the historical story line down, I thought it might be fun to explore a contemporary woman who also longs to fight for her country and prove herself the best way she knows how. In my research about women in the military, I learned that in July 2017, it was announced that for the first time, a woman would enter the training pipeline to become a Navy SEAL. I imagined what this unidentified woman had gone through and what propelled her to enter such rigorous training. I decided to explore her story in fiction.

Emma and Hayley, my contemporary heroine, both long to serve their country despite broken families. They both long to prove themselves and seek a greater worth and identity.

Are any of the characters based on historical figures from the Revolutionary War? What did researching these lives teach you?

Oh yes! That’s always one of my favorite parts. John Malcolm was a real person in history. I struggled whether to use him or not in my story. Historical accounts show he was a hard man, intent on looking for trouble. Of course, just because there was nothing good written of him doesn’t mean there was nothing good in his actual life. As a historical fiction author, I try to show the sides many of us see in our own lifetimes. I long to show real historical figures as close as possible to their true selves. This is a challenge, especially when dealing with someone we might consider the “bad guy.” In the end, I did use him and almost all the accounts that I read of him, staying as true to the picture we have as possible but also trying to give him a bit more humanity.

Another character I used was Sarah Bradlee Fulton. She was given credit for the idea of using Mohawk Indian disguises when dumping the tea. She was also known as a bit of a feisty colonial lady! I enjoyed reading about her and used her character to inspire my historical heroine, Emma, to bravery and faith. As always in my research, I was most fascinated studying the different personalities and relationships of these historical figures. They lived hundreds of years ago in a vastly different world, and yet the struggles of their hearts—and the celebration of their victories—are very much like our own.

Can you share more about the inspiration for your main contemporary character, Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth?

Hayley was born the minute I read that news report about the first woman entering the training pipeline to become a Navy SEAL. The report didn’t state her name but my imagination was already flying. I’ve always had respect for women who choose to serve our country in the various branches of the armed forces, and my heart cheered on this unnamed woman who was trying to accomplish something no other woman had ever done. I could relate to something within her—this fierce desire to succeed and even the feeling of failure if success didn’t prove possible.

I spoke with my cousin, a lieutenant in the US Army, who knows intimately the challenges of being a woman in the military. Through this interview and the many accounts I read, along with some of my own creative imaginings, Hayley was formed.

In the novel, Hayley struggles with intense pressure to succeed. What lessons do you hope readers will learn from her struggle?

Oh, my, this is a lesson dear to my very own success-driven heart! For so long, I felt my worth was in what I did and how well I did it. It’s a bit crazy, but when I thought of failure in certain areas—failure to get a good grade in a class, to keep my patience with two toddlers, to write a book that people would like—I would very much feel as if something inside me would die (yes, die!) if I didn’t succeed. Bringing these struggles to my fictional character Hayley wasn’t much of a stretch. I mean, this is a woman with some hefty goals! But I also wanted her to find freedom from this mind-set. For me, I found that freedom in Jesus—in resting in His finished work and not my own. Sure, I still get pulled back into that old way of thinking all too often, but I am no longer defined by it. Instead, I am defined by God. To me, that’s true freedom.

What is your favorite thing about writing in the time-slip genre? What’s the most challenging aspect of it?

I love writing historical fiction. I love the research, the excitement of learning about people who really existed years earlier, and I love learning from them. I love dreaming up fictional heroes and heroines to walk alongside the actual historical people. But I also love writing in the contemporary! In the end, it’s the study of humanity I find fascinating—both in the past and in the present. To me, there’s such power in connecting them and having a contemporary character learn from a historical character because it’s what really happens all the time. I get goose bumps just thinking about it!

The Tea Chest, like other novels you’ve written, highlights the virtues of hope and forgiveness, as well as the redemption of suffering. How do you hope your readers will relate this to their daily lives?

In some ways, to suffer is to be human. That may play out in different ways for each of us, but we have all known it. It’s universal. The thing about suffering is that it strips away pretenses—it not only reveals the real us, but it reveals what we truly believe about God, ourselves, and others. Some of this sounds like dark stuff, but as a believer in Christ, I don’t believe our suffering is wasted or that it has the last say. There is hope—both for the now and for the eternal. My hope is that readers will glimpse that and be reminded of it—no matter what spectrum of suffering they may or may not be going through at the time they read the novel.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?

Sure! I’m super excited about my next Tyndale book, tentatively titled The Orchard House and set for release in 2021. It’s a split-time novel that explores some of the lesser known facts of Louisa May Alcott—including her time as a nurse during the Civil War. We’re hard at work on edits as we speak!

I also plan to release a historical novel next fall based on an actual twentieth-century island for exiles off the coast of Massachusetts. This one’s dear to my heart and it’s one of those I simply want my readers to have in their hands. Lots of things happening, but I’m loving every minute of it!

About the Author

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing thirteen years ago, just after Jesus grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys' nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn't stopped writing since!

Her debut novel, Freedom's Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. The Tea Chest is her third novel with Tyndale House Publishers.

Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves hiking, baking, and dates with her high school sweetheart and husband of sixteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Have you read this one yet? Do you like time-slip novels?

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