For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Dienece Darling. Dienece is a former Georgia Belle who now calls Australia home. She writes inspirational fiction and devotional blogs for women of faith.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
We travelled a lot when I was a kid, and visiting historical sites would spawn images in my head like mini movies—along with questions galore. Were the Native Americans really short who carved their homes out of rock in the Manitou Cliffs, or did they give up? Because I was nine, and I had to duck to avoid hitting my head on doorways and ceilings!
At Pike’s Peak, I could almost see the wagons creaking their way up the slow-growing tundra, leaving tracks behind still visible over a century later. Log cabins, colonial maze gardens, and Midwest forts, they all inspired a love of history. And let’s be honest, my fascination with history hasn’t stopped. I write inspirational, historical fiction. Most of which are set in England thanks to my mother getting me hooked on Jane Austen.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
My latest work is a free, historical short story for subscribers to my blog called Pursuing Prayer. It’s about trusting God even when the doors of Heaven seem bolted shut.
Can she trust God to answer her prayers?
In London 1733, Catherine Fox has been the sole heir to her father’s vast estate and fortune until he remarries mere months before dying, leaving his widow with child. A possible heir jeopardizes everything, and Catherine’s spendthrift, ambitious husband is furious. Not even the possibility of the babe being a girl soothes him, but surely, sharing her inheritance with a sister must be better than losing everything to a little brother?
Perhaps prayer will help. Only, can she trust God to give the right answer? As time passes, Catherine begins to wonder if the pursuit of prayer ever results in anything more than bruised knuckles against the closed doors of Heaven.
Why did you choose to write a story set in 1733 England?
Pursuing Prayer is connected to a series I’m writing called Life is Delightfully Confusing which is set during Jane Austen’s lifetime (give or take a few years here and there). The hero of book one has an aunt whose decision in 1733 impacted the whole family, but you’ll have to read Pursuing Prayer to find out what she does!
Have you lived in or visited England? What research was required to set a book there in the early 1700s?
Oh, I wish! Maybe one day I can visit England. But in the meantime, most of my story is set at the lovely Parham House in West Sussex. Their website https://www.parhaminsussex.co.uk/ is a fantastic interactive resource. They also have an active Facebook page which often lends inspiration and authenticity to my stories.
What sets early 1700s England apart from other times in the country’s history? How did that time and place impact your character?
The beautiful dovecote at Parham House plays a pivotal role in my story. However, a few dozen years later and the wars with France drove grain prices sky high until no one could afford to keep doves. A few years earlier and the dovecote hadn’t even been built yet. Making 1733 the perfect time to write a story featuring doves!
Your story is about how God answers prayer. How has writing this book impacted you as the author?
Well, the saying ‘Practice what you preach’ comes to mind. It’s not that I preach in my books, but prayer isn’t something that comes easily to me. It has been a blessing to really focus on this important aspect of a Christian’s life. To challenge myself to pursue prayer.
Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?
Wikipedia is one of my favourite resources. It’s not perfect, and one ought to double check the information they find there. But the quick links and abundance of information makes it easy to find things, even things I didn’t realize I might need. Which is how I stumbled upon the husband of my heroine in Pursuing Prayer, the infamous Henry Fox.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
Catherine Fox is fictional, but the man I used as her husband is a real person. Henry Fox (who eventually became the first Lord Holland) is famous for legally stealing millions from the government. I found it fascinating and baffling that someone could be so unscrupulous as to steal, and yet keep it legal.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
I’ve been working on book two of the series Life is Delightfully Confusing as well as another free short story for my subscribers. Freeing Defeat will be a lead into the prequel novella for book one.
Is God worth her all? In London 1763, Julia Townsend must decide if she’ll pursue a title and fortune or God.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I end my books with a Bible verse. It’s a trait I hadn’t planned but decided to keep after it naturally happened a few times. I’ll be writing along, and the perfect verse just pours out. Giving God the last word is the best decision I’ve ever made. He sums up the point of my stories so much better than I can!
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Dienece, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of Pursuing Prayer where might they be able to do so?
Pursuing Prayer is free if you sign up to my newsletter. It will be available for purchase after I release Freeing Defeat, but for now you can only get it by signing up to my blog at Free Short Story | Dienece Darling
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
You can find me at www.dienecedarling.com or at (1) Dienece Darling, author | Melbourne VIC | Facebook. Looking forward to catching up with you!
Over Sunday Dinner next week author Kathleen Denly will be joining us. See you then!