|Author Heidi Chiavaroli|
|Reviewer Nicole Cook|
If you have not read The Tea Chest, I highly recommend it! Even though The Tea Chest didn’t release until February 2020, it was on my Top 10 List of Books for 2019 since I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of it.
Heidi, thank you so much for joining us today!
Heidi: Thank you so much for having me, Nicole! And I was so honored to join the Avid Readers this past Saturday. I had fun!
Nicole: In The Tea Chest, I love how you weave the past and present together through a mysterious chest found in a Boston antique store, as the fight for freedom reveals courage and strength through the grace of God. What message or inspiration do you hope that people will get from reading it?
Heidi: The message I hope readers will take away from a story is always the one I received myself, while writing it. In The Tea Chest, that message was definitely one about personal worth.
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 characters wasn’t much of a stretch. Both Hayley and Emma are both women with hefty goals! But I also wanted them to find freedom from this mindset. 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.
Nicole: Do you prefer the historical or the contemporary storyline in The Tea Chest, or is that like asking you to pick a favorite child?
Heidi: LOL! Each storyline of each of my dual timeline stories always holds a special place in my heart. Personally, I felt Hayley’s internal struggles more closely mirrored mine, but I think experiencing the intensity of Emma’s journey—and all the history that comes with it—probably tugged at my heart just a bit more. Despite all that went into getting the historical details right, her story came easier to me. When that happens, it’s almost like a holy experience—like I am really creating right alongside the Creator. Because I felt that with Emma, her story is probably my favorite (if I had to pick!).
Nicole: I love being a member of the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook group and participating in so many wonderful discussions within the group. As a reader, I get to share my love of Christian fiction with the other members in the group, and I have discovered so many new-to-me authors who have become must-read authors. From an author’s perspective, what do you like best about participating in the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group, and what has been your favorite part of having The Tea Chest as the book club selection this month?
Heidi: I absolutely love this group! My favorite part is getting to interact personally with readers of this genre. I love getting a glimpse into their favorite stories, I love seeing what draws and moves them, and why. I’m also touched by the sweet encouragement these readers offer authors.
My favorite part about having The Tea Chest as the book club selection is again, interacting directly with readers through the Live Chat. This is by far my favorite part of being an author! A story takes on new life when it’s lived and talked about with other people. On my own, I can only go so far. With readers, my characters take on an entirely new dimension. I love hearing their thoughts and what they’ve taken away from the story. I’m so grateful for them!
Nicole: Can you share any information about your future releases and/or your current work in progress?
Heidi: My next novel, titled The Orchard House, is set to release early next year with Tyndale. It is a time-slip novel set in Concord, MA and is based on some of the lesser known facts of Louisa May Alcott—including her time as a nurse during the Civil War. I’m excited to introduce it to readers!
Nicole: Your novels are all time-slip (dual timeline) with a focus on women’s fiction and important events in American history. Do you prefer to also read women’s fiction and historical novels or do you read in a variety of genres? Who are some of your favorite Christian fiction authors that you would like to recommend to our readers?
Heidi: I tend to gravitate toward women’s fiction, and do love a great historical but probably end up in the contemporary world more often when reading for pleasure. My favorite Christian fiction authors? Oh my, I have so many but those that first come to mind are Melanie Dobson, Cathy Gohlke, Jocelyn Green, Laura Frantz, Katie Ganshert, Cynthia Ruchti, Amy Sorrells, Francine Rivers, Tessa Afshar, Susie Finkbeiner, Susan Meissner, Amanda Dykes, Elizabeth Byler Younts, and…I’m sure I’m forgetting so many!
Nicole: Heidi, thank you again for joining us today! This has been a pleasure to chat with you!
Heidi: So great to be here! Thank you, Nicole!
SEE OUR INKWELL REVIEWS of The Tea Chest:
Nicole And Kim
Rebecca and Deb
About the Book:
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 fiancée, 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.
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.
Heidi Chiavaroli (pronounced shev-uh-roli...sort of like Chevrolet and ravioli mushed together!) wrote her first story in third grade, titled I'd Cross the Desert for Milk. It wasn't until years later that she revisited writing, using 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!
Heidi writes women's fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write split time stories. 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. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of seventeen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
Heidi is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.
~2019 ACFW Carol Award Finalist, Contemporary Novel
~2018 Christy Award Finalist, Debut Novel
~2018 ACFW Carol Award, Debut Novel of the Year
~2018 INSPY shortlist, Debut Novel
~2018 RT Reviewers' Choice Finalist, Inspirational Novel
~2017 Booklist Top Ten Debut Novel
~2014 ACFW Genesis Contest: Winner, Historical Category
The Avid Readers of Christian Fiction Facebook Group is a wonderful discussion group for book enthusiasts to talk about what Christian fiction books they are reading. Participation in the group is the perfect way to discover many new Christian fiction authors and books. The group is comprised of numerous Christian fiction authors and readers and is very well moderated. Any readers or authors interested in joining the group can click on the following link and answer a few questions to be added. The questions are easy and are meant to keep out spammers. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AvidChristFicReaders/
The Avid Readers Book Club selection for May is This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche.