Thursday, July 16, 2015

Interview: Cynthia Ruchti


As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti (click title to see my review) is one of the most beautiful, memorable books I've read and I don't think my words of praise could ever do it justice.

As I said in my review, this is why I read Christian fiction, and As Waters Gone By is on my "best of the best" list. Please check out my review and then consider finding a copy to read if you haven't already.

Many thanks to Cynthia Ruchti and Litfuse Publicity for putting together this interview. Now enjoy all that Cynthia has to share with us . . .


Q: In a few sentences, tell us about As Waters Gone By and your inspiration for the book.

        As Waters Gone By is the story of a woman struggling to figure out what happens to a marriage when the distance they face isn’t miles only, but concrete walls and razor wire. Emmalyn and Max’s marriage was given a court-mandated five-year time-out when Max’s actions sent him to prison and put an end to Emmalyn’s hopes for motherhood. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island in Lake Superior, Emmalyn has only a few months left to figure out if and how she and Max can ever be a couple again.
        When writing As Waters Gone By, I quickly saw the connections for those whose spouses are deployed or gone for long stretches because of their jobs. How do you make a home when your mate is never home?
        Our family has been plunged into some of the chapters in As Waters Gone By. My brother-in-law is currently incarcerated several states away. I’m watching my sister react to the situation with such grace, and the remarkable strengthening of their marriage and their faith despite the grave disappointments and uncrossable distance. Their marriage has been an inspiration to others who make the natural assumption that time behind bars is an automatic death knell for a marriage. It doesn’t have to be. Through this novel’s characters—whose story is much different than the one my sister and her husband are living—I wanted to communicate the Hope I’ve personally witnessed, and the grace that can transform a long distance relationship from unraveled to hemmed in that Hope.



Q: You aren’t afraid to take on difficult subjects in your stories. As Waters Gone By deals with serious life issues such as infertility, broken marriages and even the incarceration of a spouse. Why do you take on these heavy-hitting topics?

It would be far easier to pretend these issues don’t affect us or to write about the most popular topic of the day. Instead, I feel most drawn to the stories that rattle us to our core but offer unshakable hope. My books are an emotional journey for the characters and usually prove to be the same for readers too. And yet, there are moments of humor and tenderness in the stories because those elements also show up in our life crises. I pray readers find themselves identifying with the characters and their faith struggles as well as their conflicts. And if they don’t identify with the circumstances, I pray they’ll empathize. My hope is that their compassion for those who do face stories like Emmalyn’s will grow, that books like As Waters Gone By will touch readers at a soul-deep level. While answering these questions, I heard from a reader who gave me the greatest compliment by saying that I have such a way with broken characters that she has a hard time leaving them behind.


Q: Do you think a marriage can survive any kind of trial?

        It’s not easy. I watch as my sister and brother-in-law grow their marriage during his incarceration. They’re intentional about seeking God’s help, about beating the odds, about doing what it takes to invest in their marriage at a time in life when the natural thing would be to walk away. They’ve become living examples that even prison bars don’t have to spell the end of a marriage. And they’re helping convince other couples of the same truth. Emmalyn and Max did almost everything wrong when faced with that forced separation. And still, hope fought its way to the surface.
        This is a theme that found expression in my first novel, too—They Almost Always Come Home. In that story, the husband and wife grieved in completely different ways, and it almost spelled the end for them as a couple. I think where we lose our way when faced with what we feel is an unbearable situation is in giving up because it’s easier to give up, or calling it quits because it’s the expected thing to do, or pulling away from each other because of the crisis rather than leaning INTO each other.


Q: How can families come together during a tragedy rather than letting it drive them apart?

        Some families might find that natural. Their individual personalities make linking arms and hearts at a time like that seem the obvious choice. But others—especially those who’ve been bombarded with a history of tragedies or shredded by past relationship distresses—might find they have to work at it, seek outside counseling, take determined steps toward each other rather than away.
        When Emmalyn and Max in As Waters Gone By began talking—really talking—and watching out for the other’s best interests, when they sought outside help, and subconsciously renewed their commitment to the marriage is when change started to happen and hope was reborn.



Q: How can unmet expectations drive a wedge between us and God?

        Unmet expectations can become a wedge in any relationship. Parent/child. Marriage. Friendship. When life doesn’t turn out like we thought it would, our natural inclination is to look for someone to blame. Max made an easy target for Emmalyn’s blame-fixing. She might not have admitted to herself that she also blamed God — for not preventing what happened, for not answering her prayers, for seemingly abandoning her. How many people would tell the same story: that unmet expectations escalated to blame-fixing and bitterness and ultimately to emotional distance from those they love? When Emmalyn learns how to guard her heart against the effects of unmet expectations, she can finally start to gain her footing.
        One of the significant subplots in As Waters Gone By is the undercurrent of acceptance and mending that is rooted in the Wild Iris Inn and Café. It’s a location that represents an attitude—taking people as they are—unmet expectations and all, understanding the pain that lies behind unwise choices and the power the lies in second chances. The owner of the café lives an outrageous example of love and acceptance that becomes contagious within the community and for Emmalyn. And for me.


Q: In what way is the setting of Madeline Island, Wisconsin—and the timeline of late autumn and winter—key to the story?

I live in the Northwoods, about 200 miles south of Emmalyn’s Madeline Island. So I understand the starkness winter often represents--  the loneliness that winter’s bitter cold exaggerates. The sense of imprisonment Emmalyn would have felt when the island’s ferry stopped running and she was cut off from the rest of the world, just as Max had been. I think as the island changes from a tourist destination to the quieter season when the island’s residents began to hunker down for winter, Emmalyn felt Max’s isolation on a soul-deep level. She hadn’t felt a soul-deep connection to anything with Max for too long. Symbolically, the seasons had a voice in her healing.


Q: You chose to use several instances of symbolism in As Waters Gone By. What was the most meaningful piece of symbolism for you?

I’m not alone in being mesmerized by waves on what we sometimes call “big water” — oceans, inland seas like Lake Superior, large lakes. The rhythm of the waves, the realization that they have their source far beyond the shore, their consistency yet uniqueness, the treasures they carry to shore and debris they carry out to sea. . . . The premise of As Waters Gone By was birthed from a single verse of Scripture I must have tripped past dozens of times throughout the years. Now that I’ve seen it — really seen it — it won’t let me go. It’s Job 11:16, and it helps explain why waves represented hope to Emmalyn, why they represent hope to me. It reads, "You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by." (NIV)


Q: What do you hope readers learn about the evolution of personal faith by reading As Waters Gone By?

        I think one of the smartest things Emmalyn did — despite her long line of less-than-wise decisions — was to allow herself to be real with the God who knew what was going on inside of her all along. She risked trusting again.
        Faith is always a risk. And always a risk worth taking. So is love.

To keep up with Cynthia Ruchti, visit www.cynthiaruchti.com. You can also become a fan on Facebook (CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage) or follow her on Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

62 comments:

  1. Hey Carole! Great interview with Cynthia! One book that I highly recommend for someone who is in a wilderness season is The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge.

    I liked your facebook page and follow your bog via email. psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carol. I'm going to look into The Fire of Delayed Answers, too.

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    2. Caryl, you are such an encourager and it's always good to see you online! Thank you for mentioning a particular book. I'm not familiar with Bob Sorge, but I will look into it also. Thanks for visiting, Caryl.

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  2. Yes, it has! Robin Jones Gunn's Christy Miller series taught me so much and definitely helped me deal with so many situations in my life, especially my awkward middle school years. Christy Miller and I grew up together :)
    mdp94 (at) bellsouth (dot) net

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    1. So good to hear this. Oh, the power of story!

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    2. I've never read the Christy Miller series but have heard lots of good things about it. Thanks for sharing a particular book that helped you, Morgan.

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  3. I think every Christian book in some way will teach us something about life we just need to pay attention and try to apply things to our own lives. l.bergh@sbcglobal.net

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    1. That's exactly why I read a lot of Christian fiction, Laurie. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  4. Yes I've read quite a few Christian books that give me hope & inspire me to keep on. Prayer & perseverance !
    dkstevensneAT outlookD otCoM

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Deanna. Always good to see you here!

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  5. Your words that this is the most beautiful, most memorable book you have read has grabbed my attention.
    karenskrayons(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Those words blessed me, too, Karen.

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    2. Karen! Thank you so much for sharing that. Reading is subjective, as we all know, but Cynthia's book just struck a chord with me. I can't imagine you not enjoying it, Karen, and hope you'll get to read it soon. Thanks for visiting.

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  6. Oh, yes! Many fiction books have drawn me closer to the Lord. They can such an inspiration!
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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    1. So good to hear this, Susan. I feel the same.

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    2. Exactly, Susan! There's such power in story.

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  7. Christian fiction in general helps me see the good in life. Newspapers, TV, etc. all have so much that's negative. A good book can take me out of that.

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    1. I agree completely, Terri. Great perspective.

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    2. I think that's the beauty of Christian fiction, Terri. I often find my myself with much upon which to reflect also. Good to see you here, Terri.

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  8. Loved this interview!! I've read so many wonderful comments about "As Waters Gone By" and can't wait to read it. I love books that tackle the tough subjects of life and feature dysfunctional characters who are healed/given hope through God's help, I appreciate authors who are bold enough to write about them. They always speak to my soul and help me better understand/empathize with people I may know who struggle with similar issues. God has commanded us to reach out to all people, in all walks of life, and struggling with all kinds of issues. Books are a way to enlighten and help us do this.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!! I shared the post on Facebook.

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Oh, Bonnie! Thank you for the kind words about boldness to tackle tough subjects and reveal God's hope.

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    2. Bonnie, you just expressed what many of us think so beautifully! I love your heart and all you do in support of authors like Cynthia who express messages that God puts on their heart. Love you!

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  9. It amazes me how much Christian fiction has helped me with so many of life's issues. I thank the Lord that he has blessed so many writers with these abilities especially since I do not care much for nonfiction.

    I've heard good things about Cynthia's books so I'm really hoping to be the recipient of this one. Thanks for the chance.

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    1. Cindi, I hope you and my books can cross paths soon!

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    2. Cindi, I know you're an avid reader and can't imagine you not being touched by Cynthia's books. Always good to see you here and best wishes in the giveaway, Cindi.

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  10. After my unwanted divorce nine years ago, Christian fiction helped me to survive. Actually, I think it was just one way God used to help me. I find more spiritual help by reading Christian fiction than by reading Christian self-help type books. Maybe 3 years or so after my divorce, I read the first book by Julie Lessman, A Passion Most Pure, and discovered I wasn't quite as dead inside as I thought I was. I've read a couple of Cynthia's books, including When the Morning Glory Blooms. She has a beautiful way of writing about difficult subjects that I like very much.
    I plan to share the post on Facebook.
    pmkellogg56[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Thank you for so many special insights and encouragement in this reply, Pam.

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    2. Thank you so much for sharing, Pam. I'm frequently amazed at how a book I'm reading speaks to a particular need or situation that I'm going through at the time. Cynthia is a descriptive writer with a way of communicating truths we need to hear. And I love your comment about Julie's book. Best wishes in the drawing, Pam.

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  11. Yes, I have thoroughly enjoyed several Christian fiction ~ what comes to immediate thought is Joanne Bischof's stories. The importance of prayer for young couples separated beyond what they themselves would want. I was able to pray with a young married this evening with her dear husband in basic training. How blessed we are to recognize and follow through on blessing another by tangible prayer. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. Shared on my Facebook page and liked your page! Posting your link on Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/LaneHillHouse/status/622455846845333504 Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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    2. Great thoughts within this, too, Kathleen. Couples praying for one another.

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    3. Kathleen, I thought Joanne Bischof's Appalachian series was powerful and you shared a much-needed thought about the importance of couples praying for each other. I love coming across scenes like that in Christian fiction because it serves as a reminder to me. And thanks so much for all the sharing in support of Cynthia and her writing, Kathleen. So good to see you here!

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    4. Hi, I received this as open in my e-mail this morning ~ says expired July 28th; is it open again? If so, I would like to receive this story. :D Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House (September 13, 2015)

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    5. Kathleen, so sorry you received this again. I've no idea why or how it got sent out a second time! One of those Blogger gliches, maybe? You're right that it ended back in July and my current giveaway is Sarah Sundin's book. I apologize for the problem, Kathleen.

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  12. I think most of the Christian fiction that I read helps me in my continued walk with the Lord. Most Christian lit emphasizes our need for the Lord's control in our lives vs. our desire to have control. Keeping ourselves immersed in the Holy word as well as positive book and music, we can have that constant accountability and encouragement.

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    1. Yes, yes, yes. Christian fiction can have such power in our ongoing walk with the Lord.

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    2. Exactly, Terrill! Wanting to be in control is a theme I see often, but it's always a message I need to hear. And you're so right about being immersed in the Scriptures, as well as positive forms of other media like music. Thank you for sharing, Terrill.

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  13. Forgot email (as always :) ) tlhcoupon(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  14. I have read many Christian fiction books that have given me hope and inspiration. They remind me to stay calm and take a deep breath and help me to relax.

    Deanne Patterson
    Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

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    1. I couldn't agree more, Deanne. Thank you for sharing.

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    2. "Take a deep breath." Great advice. Thanks!

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  15. I read Gayle Roper's contemporary series a while back and it really helped me see love, Christ's love and our love to others, in a different light and helped me change my thought process on judgement. katie07edgar(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Katie, I've had CF books change my way of thinking also, giving me much upon which to reflect. I'd like to read Gayle Roper's series that you mentioned. Thank you for sharing, Katie.

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    2. Gayle would be so excited to hear about the impact of that series. If you haven't told her yet, please do. Blessings!

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  16. I have had several Christian books that if nothing else have helped me to relieve stress during certain situations :) rachel(at)bledsoe(dot)net

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    1. I've had similar experiences, Rachel. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    2. Christian fiction as a stress reliever! Love it.

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  17. Christian fiction in general is so encouraging to me. The stories consistently remind me of God's love along with his mercy, so I in kind can show love and mercy to others.

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    1. Beautifully expressed, Danielle, and I totally agree. It's always great to see you here.

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    2. Great comment, Danielle. I too find myself learning as I read.

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  18. yes, Christian fiction has helped me with a real life concern.... many authors stories have spoken healing and help' authors like Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers and many others. Maybe yours will too! :)

    --Diane Buie, buierocks2002@yahoo.com

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    1. I love the authors you mentioned, Diane, and hope you will get a chance to read As Waters Gone By. I'm pretty sure you will enjoy and be touched by Cynthia's writing. Thanks for sharing with us, Diane.

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    2. It's extremely encouraging to hear stories like yours. Thanks for being willing to share it.

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  19. PILGRIMMAGE by Lynn Austin is her trip to Israel. It is not fiction, however. It really challenged me in my faith. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I love Lynn Austin's books, Sharon. I haven't read that one yet. On my list!

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  20. Christian fiction that has characters who struggle with faith help remind me of where to to look for hope. If I can relate to them, characters traveling through hard places encourage me that I can do the same.

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  21. Thanks for sharing this post at Booknificent Thursday this week! Always glad to have you!
    Tina

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  22. Christian Fiction.. love the feel good feeling when faith & hope shares in a wonderful ending!
    d_stevens310 ATliveDot COm

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  23. Most Christian fiction has helped me along through life, but I have to say that Katie Ganshert's Wildflowers in Winter and Wishing on Willows did offer something extra for a specific situation! Thanks for the giveaway! My email is skwilson5904(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Susan, I apologize for the problem, but this giveaway was over back in July. I have no idea how or why it was sent out a second time. Sarah Sundin's newest, Through Waters Deep, is my current giveaway.

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