I’m so excited to introduce my Romancing History readers to author and new friend, Kimberly Duffy. I discovered Kimberly’s debut novel, A Mosaic of Wings, quite by accident. She posted in the Facebook group, Avid Readers of Christian Fiction, that she was looking for people to join her launch team. When I discovered that her story was set in India during the latter part of the 19th century, I was all in. And when I reached out to her, she graciously agreed to do an interview on Romancing History.
And that’s not all! Kimberly is offering a paper copy of A Mosaic of Wings to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, see the Giveaway Section at the bottom of the post!
Before the interview, let’s learn a little about the author and her fabulous book. Click here to read my full review.
Kimberly Duffy enjoys writing historical fiction that takes readers back in time and across oceans. Her books often feature ahead-of-their-time heroines, evocative settings, and real-life faith. When not writing or homeschooling her four children, she enjoys taking trips that require a passport and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. A Long Island native, she currently resides in southwest Ohio.
About the Book
It’s 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she’s graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father’s footsteps by getting her master’s degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father’s legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.
India isn’t what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India–and of Owen–fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.
In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices–between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love.
- Coffee or Tea? Tea, but only herbal because I’m, sadly, allergic to caffeine.
- Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth, but I would choose him in every role so I’m not completely impartial.
- Sound of Music or Hello Dolly? Sound of Music
- I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy
- Dogs or Cats? Neither. Allergies make it hard to enjoy them
RH: Welcome to Romancing History, Kimberly. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
KD: I’ve been writing since I was twelve, and seriously pursuing publication for about seven years. My debut released with Bethany House on May 5. My first three books are all set in the late 19th century and I’ll probably stick with that era for a long while since it’s my favorite (I might venture into early 20th, though.)
I’ve been married twenty years and we have four children. I grew up in New York, met my husband in India, married in Pennsylvania, and now live in Ohio. I’m a very reluctant homeschooler—I adore everything about it except the part where I have to actually be with people all day long. I’m going to write a book one day—The Introverted Homeschooler. There’s only going to be one sentence in it—“Your goal is to get your child as independent as possible as quickly as possible and then you will be okay.”
RH: That is so funny. I’m sure it would sell like hot cakes! Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.
KD: I have the world’s ugliest handwriting. It’s embarrassing. And not at all correctable (I’ve tried but no amount of practice or focus improves it.)
I also have a truly awful memory. My husband teases me for it—he’s introduced me to his cousins dozens of times, but I still don’t recognize them if we run into each other. For the most part, I’ll forget the details of a movie or book almost the minute I’m done with it. I cannot for the life of me remember my youngest child’s birthday. If we get into a fight, just wait a couple hours, because I will have completely forgotten why I was mad at you.
RH: We’re opposites on the handwriting but only because my mother was a stickler for neat penmanship. No doubt a throwback from her Catholic school upbringing. She made me practice for hours each week. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?
KD: I LOVE this story. Okay…picture a kind of preppy girl from the rather well-off Long Island suburbs who excels at writing contests, youth group functions, and carrying very heavy Russian novels into the lunch room. Then throw in a boy raised in the projects of a dying Ohio industrial city who regularly dyes his hair blue, is in a punk rock band (she only listens to Caedmon’s Call and Newsboys), and has never eaten a real bagel. Send them to Bangalore, India where they are to do non-profit work (him teaching music and her teaching children) and make sure no one understands their jokes and movie references, there are rats and spiders the size of medium-size dogs (this is perfect for setting him up to be the hero), and the only place that feels like home is a restaurant literally called The Only Place. It’s a match bound to happen.
***Also—our first kiss happened while watching Aristocats during Everybody Wants to be a Cat.
RH: What a great story! I just love hearing how couples meet. I met my hubby when he crashed my birthday party to flirt with my friend hosting the party! What was the inspiration behind your debut novel, A Mosaic of Wings?
KD: A Mosaic of Wings was inspired by my now thirteen-year-old daughter who has wanted to be an entomologist since she was five. When I told my family I was writing my first historical novel, she suggested I write about a female entomologist because “there probably aren’t any books like that.” Nora came to me immediately and almost fully formed. I knew a woman who lived in the 19th century and pursued what would have been a male-dominated profession would have to be smart, driven, and focused.
RH: I think its really cool that your daughter was behind the idea of Nora being an entomologist. I’m very curious to know if she’s still planning to pursue entomology herself. Back to Nora—I’m so glad that you brought up the fact that you wrote her character to be a smart, driven, and focused heroine. Not only is she a strong female protagonist, she’s quite flawed. From my experience, the flaws authors give their main characters are oftentimes not really flaws at all. What made you decide to portray your heroine with imperfections (willful, stubborn, and a bit self-centered) that might ruffle some readers feathers? How has she been received?
I am so happy you asked about this! ALL of my characters are flawed. Because that’s part of the human condition. I want readers to see Nora and think, “Well, I’ve been stubborn. And I’ve been self-centered at times. And I’ve been willful. Yet…God, in all of his grace and love and goodness, still yearns to bless me. Still desires my heart. And his plans are so much bigger than my mistakes.”
You can blame the Bible for that because it’s absolutely riddled with flawed people making terrible decisions. People like David and Paul and Moses. And God used and loved every one of them. I’m a big believer in the beauty of grace. And how can I show grace in my books if I don’t write characters who need it so desperately?
People are sometimes ugly. There’s a scene where Nora has a particularly bad attitude toward another character. It’s such a defining moment because after she thinks uncharitably, she recognizes her hypocrisy. And isn’t that life? We’ve all said and thought things and then the Holy Spirit does his work and nudges us toward forgiveness and restitution.
I’ve always been drawn to deeply flawed literary characters—Scarlett from Gone with the Wind, Angel from Redeeming Love, Mary from The Secret Garden—and I prefer books that portray real life. I like when a character grows, but in a way that is believable. People don’t make one mistake and learn from it. Usually we have a few characteristics we particularly struggle with, over and over and over again.
Personally, I love Nora. I relate to Nora. She’s capable, yet fully willing to climb a tree and embrace childlike glee over a nest of ants. She’s prickly, but when she trusts, her vulnerability is made more beautiful because of it. She’s driven to success, but love is a bigger temptation. Nora is complex and that’s so much more interesting than perfection.
This is a subject I’ve given a lot of thought to and when I began writing, I made a very conscious decision to write against the grain and not feature heroines who fit into the standard Christian fiction mold.
That means some people are not going to like my characters—if you’ve read my reviews, you’ll see that—but that’s all right. Because the people who do like my characters, relate to them on a deep level.
RH: Truth be told, Kimberly, I saw a lot of myself in Nora. I’m very stubborn and willful as well. I hope, like Nora, that I’ve grown and learned from my mistakes, too. And just for the record, I did not think her flaws made her unlikeable. You did an excellent job bringing the sights, sounds, and smells of India alive on the page, not to mention the sweltering heat. Why did you choose an exotic location like India as the setting for a majority of your novel?
KD: I was having a brainstorming session with the amazing Kristy Cambron and she suggested I send Nora somewhere interesting. Because I had lived in India and had access to some wonderful Indian friends to help me along the way, and there is a massive diversity of butterflies in the country, it seemed a great place to send Nora to.
RH: It was an excellent decision in my opinion. You immersed me so completely in the setting I felt a part of the scene. Do you have a favorite quote from your recent release you’d like to share?
KD: I have a lot of favorite quotes and most of them are of the descriptive variety, but I think this one speaks to me most at the moment because I’m missing it so much:
“India, and everything that happened there, spoke to her in whispers that caressed her memories, wrapping everything in exotic perfume and sultry, cicada-song nights.”
RH: That is lovely. You are such a vivid writer. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
KD: I hope they discover what an amazing country India is and perhaps decide to visit someday. I hope they notice God’s artistry and creativity, displayed in this vast, beautiful world he’s given us. And I hope, more than anything else, they recognize that that they are loved, wholeheartedly and unreservedly, by a God whose plans are always better and bigger and more amazing than our own.
RH: Amen. Before you leave us, can you tell us a little bit about what are you working on now?
KD: I am working on edits for book two which releases winter of 2021. It’s set in 1887 Calcutta and Wiltshire, England and is about faith and home. I’m also working on the draft of book three that is set in 1897 Poona that features some bizarre similarities to what is happening in the world today.
RH: Well they both sound intriguing, especially that little teaser about book 3. I look forward to reading them both. Thank you for visiting with us today on Romancing History.
KD: Thank you for having me. I enjoyed chatting with you and your readers.
THIS GIVEWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
CONGRATULATIONS TO our Winner — KATHY BAILEY!!
Kimberly is generously offering one paperback copy of A Mosaic of Wings to one lucky Romancing History reader. (Sorry, but only U.S. residents are eligible). An electronic copy is available for international guests. To enter, tell us about the most exotic place you’ve been able to visit in person or through the pages of an amazing novel!