Imogen Browne is an American citizen with ties down under. When she was a child, her parents took a mission trip in the Australian outback, leaving 9-year-old Imogen with people in Adelaide they didn't know well. (The men had been school chums.) Imogen played a part in a tragic accident that changed the Dorazio family forever.
Now 24, Imogen returns to Adelaide to try to make amends for her part in the family's misfortune, only to find them facing a new struggle: Asher's diagnosis of terminal cancer. Although Asher is her own age, he's the family member she got along with the least as children. Now, no one but Imogen seems able to deal with him: his mood swings, his faith...or lack of it, and the dark humor he uses as both shield and weapon. They grow closer as they work through life issues together. Can love out-grow cancer cells?
The story deepens as the reader considers second chances. Can we truly make amends for past mistakes? How much should we reveal of trauma long past? Can God forgive us? Can people? Can second chances come through physical healing as well as emotional and spiritual?
Paula Vince tucked away secrets she doles out at appropriate points in the story, adding to the novel's depth and intensity.
I asked Paula if I could ask her several questions that came to mind as I read Imogen's Chance. I always love to chat with other international authors here on ICFW. It's extra fun when the interviewee is a member author here, too!
(Thank you, Paula, for an advanced reader's copy of Imogen's Chance.)
VC: I notice you chose to have your heroine be an American who has visited Australia several times. What was the reason behind that?
PV: I’d automatically intended to make Imogen an Aussie girl, as all my former heroines have been. My publisher and editor both suggested that I make one of the main characters American, thinking that it may appeal to international readers, especially those who are searching for somebody they can more easily relate to.
I’ve never visited America so found that idea fairly daunting. As I could understand the reasoning behind their suggestion, I decided to see what I could do.
I’m so glad I took their advice, as Imogen being American turned out to be crucial to the plot in several ways. If she’d simply lived in a different Australian state to the Dorazio family, it would have been too close for the plot to work. Some of the characters would have behaved quite differently and the drama would have fallen flat. It’s a good example of all things working together for good in this story.
I’m pleased that some international readers have told me that Imogen does come across as American to them. One day I may actually be able to visit, and learn some extra things for myself.
VC: I noticed it gave you chances to explain Aussie words that might be strange to international readers. Well done!
VC: One of your themes is holding destructive secrets close, and the pain that can come from them. How did the ideas for the particular secrets in Imogen's Chance come to you?
PV: Although the main theme in Imogen's Chance is healing, I wanted to have a potentially shattering secret to bring Imogen back over to Australia to make amends. I grappled with what that was going to be.
I wanted it to be a bombshell which would be bound to raise the hackles of the hero, Asher. Yet at the same time, I wanted it to be something Imogen herself was drawn into as a relatively innocent character. I thought of several possibilities which didn’t work, for various reasons.
At last, I came up with the right one and everything clicked into place. It was perfect, because there was scope for Asher to be involved in his own way too, even though he didn’t have a clue that Imogen played a part. I had a situation in which both characters were keeping quiet about a five-year-old secret, with no idea that they were each still suffering over the same incident.
I’m hoping people will totally get why Asher would initially react with anger, yet they will continue to feel empathy and pity for Imogen at the same time.
VC: A big part of the story surrounds Asher's quest for healing through prayer and faith. Do you personally believe that any believer can be healed if only they have enough faith and positive thinking?
PV: I’ve researched this question a lot for years before starting to write this novel. The material I’ve come across by people with healing ministries is very convincing. Some of the true testimonies of healing they have recorded could only have been miracles from God. Reading these has been enough to convince me that simply accepting every bad prognosis, based on limited data gathered by humans, is a shortsighted choice indeed. I’d rather err on the side of optimism than simply give up hope.
Several of the texts I’ve read propose reasons for faith in healing such as this one. If Jesus died on the cross to cover our sins, then His death must also cover the consequences of our sins, and sickness is a prime example. There was no sickness before sin came into the world, so there should be none for forgiven believers. The physical bodies of true believers, which are temples of the Holy Spirit, should be out of bounds for sickness and disease. No matter how we feel about simple arguments like this, it is interesting to at least be aware of them.
I’ve had healing experiences in my own life that convince me every believer ought to keep their faith boosted. Just last year, I had a sore patch on my face. Two doctors were certain it was a skin cancer, but before the appointment with a plastic surgeon came around, I watched it spontaneously fade and disappear in the week following prayer. Personal experiences like this are enough for us to hold onto, keeping our faith for bigger issues elevated, because God never changes.
Perhaps the bottom line is what my character, Asher, comes to decide – that God loves him personally and uniquely, so he doesn’t need to concern himself with fretting over what may happen to him. He just needs to trust that in God’s loving hands, everything will work out right for him.
VC: Healing through faith can lead to potentially divisive discussions. All of us know someone who prayed fervently and faithfully to overcome a fatal disease, only to succumb.
I'm sure we all also know someone who was inexplicably healed through faith, whether of cancer or something else where doctors gave no hope. It's this second part I'd like to focus on in our discussion.
What faith-inspiring story of healing will you (briefly!) share in comments today?
local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her Farm Fresh Romance stories. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.