Author Interview and Giveaway – Night Bird Calling – Cathy Gohlke

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Cathy Gohlke delivers stories that ask deep questions and touch the heart. Her newest, Night Bird Calling, offers a thought-provoking look into new beginnings and mending hearts. Welcome back to the Index, Cathy!

Night Bird Calling

When Lilliana Swope’s beloved mother dies, Lilliana gathers her last ounce of courage and flees her abusive husband for the home of her only living relative in the foothills of No Creek, North Carolina. Though Hyacinth Belvidere hasn’t seen Lilliana since she was five, she offers her cherished great-niece a safe harbor. Their joyful reunion inspires plans to revive Aunt Hyacinth’s estate and open a public library where everyone is welcome, no matter the color of their skin.

Slowly Lilliana finds revival and friendship in No Creek—with precocious eleven-year-old Celia Percy, with kindhearted Reverend Jesse Willard, and with Ruby Lynne Wishon, a young woman whose secrets could destroy both them and the town. When the plans for the library also incite the wrath of the Klan, the dangers of Lilliana’s past and present threaten to topple her before she’s learned to stand.

With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t.

Cathy’s Website


Questions about Cathy’s Story

What inspired this story?

Years ago I wrote a number of short stories based on some quirky characters in a fictional North Carolina foothills town called No Creek. I loved those characters, but in order to create a novel I needed an outside character who could see both strengths and foibles in my town folk and still care about them, still want to become part of their community, and who could tie their stories together.

 For many years I’ve also wrestled with the idea of writing about the racial divide and abuse I saw growing up during years of the civil rights movement in the South, as well as domestic abuse and church oppression, things I experienced in my youth and young womanhood. Night Bird Calling is the marriage of all those experiences and stories.

Is there anything in this book that is inspired by/modeled after something in your own life or someone you know in real life?

Sometime after fleeing my abusive marriage as a young woman, as Lilliana does in Night Bird Calling, I bought an old trailer in a run down neighborhood—a far cry from Garden’s Gate—but the best I could afford at the time. Children in that neighborhood ran as wild and untended as weeds in a garden run amuck. I befriended many of those children—or they befriended me.  I bought a used bookcase and books at yard sales, then opened a lending library right there in my trailer. Children came for hours—sometimes to color pictures, read or be read to, enjoy glasses of milk and homemade bread with jam and just talk, asking questions about life and God and prison (where one of their fathers served time)—everything imaginable. Parents often took advantage of their community’s new “free” babysitter, but those were precious and healing days for the children and for me. Years later I remarried and bore my own precious children. When they were old enough I worked as a children’s librarian in a school. Those memories became the inspiration for Aunt Hyacinth’s lending library in Night Bird Calling

Which scene (give us the chapter) is your favorite, the one you never tired of working with? Give us a reason to look forward to it.

I loved working on the Christmas Pageant scene at the end of the book, Chapter Seventy-Four. I’ve always loved small church Christmas pageants where anything—or everything—can go wrong and yet still in wondrous, miraculous ways the true meaning and message of Christmas shines through. Like eleven-year-old Celia, I tried directing a Christmas pageant at a young age, and like Celia, neither grownups nor children lined up according to my hopes or expectations and yet it was exciting, and became one of my most precious memories from childhood.



Questions about Cathy’s Reading

What was the last Christian Historical Novel you read, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Recently I read Melanie Dobson’s The Curator’s Daughter.  Melanie’s research and the world and characters she created from that research were intriguing, fascinating. Like all of Melanie’s books, I binge read it, unable to put it down. The Curator’s Daughter will release in 2021.

What Christian Historical Novel are you most excited to read that hasn’t yet come out?

I’m eager to read Carrie Turansky’s No Journey Too Far. It will release in 2021 and is the conclusion of a story about the tragic separation of a family through the British Home Children and the search to reunite those loved ones that began in her novel, No Ocean Too Wide. The history on which these books are based really tugs at my heart—just the kind of story Carrie excels in writing.

Cathy is giving away a paperback copy of Night Bird Calling, US entrants only. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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