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Echoes of Mercy: A Novel Paperback – January 21, 2014
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Q&A with Kim Vogel Sawyer
Q. How did you choose a chocolate factory as your location for Echoes of Mercy? (Maybe every woman’s dream location?)
A. My love for chocolate is certainly not a secret! In a way, this location chose me. A man shared vintage photos and the history of Hutchinson, Kansas, at our church on a Sunday evening. A picture of a three-story brick building that had once housed a chocolate factory appeared on the screen, and he told us about an unsolved mystery concerning the death of the factory’s foreman. The man was found on a Monday morning in the bottom of the elevator shaft, his neck broken. No one knew why he’d been in the factory on a Sunday, and it was never determined whether he fell to his death or was pushed into the shaft. The image, along with the snippet of history, wiggled its way to the center of my imagination and...voila...the idea for Echoes of Mercy was born.
Q. Your location in the book is Sinclair, Kansas. What led you to choose Sinclair? Is the setting based on a historical site in the area? Do cities in Kansas ever contact you and ask if you’ll choose their area for your next book?
A. Sinclair is fictional, but set near real-life Wichita, Kansas. I do occasionally hear from someone who suggests a location for its history, but if I build my own town, I can put the things in it that suit my story. So although real-life cities might be background locations, I prefer the main setting to be fictional. Creative liberties, and all that...
Q. What inspired you to choose underage factory workers and child labor laws as your topic?
A. When I taught fifth-grade history, the kids were always intrigued by the subject of child-labor. When you’re writing about a factory between the late 1800s and early1900s, children would be a part of the labor force, so it was historically correct to include the thread. People took fierce stands on both sides of the issue, so using the child-labor platform gave me a plausible reason for someone to want Harmon Bratcher’s crusade ended.
Q. Does your work with Hope Chest International School and Orphanage influence your storylines?
A. Interestingly enough, many of my stories include orphans looking for a place to belong. I have a soft spot for children who are growing up without the love and nurturing of a mom and dad. Although I hadn’t consciously connected my support of Hope Chest and the inclusion of orphans in my story, perhaps there is a subconscious link between the two.
Q. What do you think readers will appreciate the most about Echoes of Mercy’s main character Caroline?
A. I don’t know about readers, but I can say I appreciated her conscience and her sense of responsibility. She has a task to complete, and she wants to perform it well to honor her mentor. Sometimes performing her job means misleading people about her real purpose, and these untruths pierce her conscience. I admired her desire to do right. About Oliver? Oliver, having been raised in wealth and luxury, could easily have been selfish and uncaring, but he isn’t. Instead of looking at the factory workers and seeing only what he can gain from them, he wants to reward them for their service. So often he was clueless as to what to do, but his heart was always in the right place. I really liked that about him.
Q. Since both your main characters are living incognito, was it difficult to integrate genuine faith characteristics into their characters? Any challenges?
A. I found it very challenging to balance Caroline’s desire to live her faith honestly while also hiding her reason for being in the factory. How do you walk openly while hiding in shadows? Caroline battled these incongruities, and I as the writer, I also struggled with balancing her faith with the necessities of her job.
Q. What are you hoping readers will take away from Echoes of Mercy?
A. Honestly, my prayer is that the story will open readers’ eyes to the truth that God is not a wasteful God. He can take anything in our lives, no matter how painful or ugly or dark, and let it be used for our good and His glory when we release it to Him. Nothing in our lives is irredeemable when given over to the Master’s hands.
Q. You’ve mentioned in your bio that you like to play quirky characters in your local community theater productions. Who is the quirkiest character you played?
A. Hm, I think this is a toss-up between Mrs. Dubose, the morphine-addicted elderly neighbor in To Kill A Mockingbird and Clairee in Steel Magnolias. Part of the fun of these roles was emulating someone many years older than my true age (I was in my 30s when I played Mrs. Dubose, who was supposedly in her 80s!), and part was assuming a persona so very different than the real Kim. Theater definitely helps with writing! Exploring the psyche of another person and trying to feel and behave the way that character would helps in developing real emotion and actions in my story characters. Also, it seems in each of my books a quirky secondary character enters the story. It’s never planned—they just step onto the stage and I let them do their thing. They always add humor and often a dose of common sense to the storylines.
“Kim Sawyer knows what her readers expect and delivers it in Echoes of Mercy, a story you won’t soon forget with characters who grab your heart and a plot that keeps the pages turning.”
—Martha Rogers, author of Love Stays True in The Homeward Journey series
“Best-selling author Kim Vogel Sawyer pens an exceptional and utterly compelling story that shines a light on the appalling practices of child labor in the early 1900s. Her characters are richly drawn and heartbreakingly human. Echoes of Mercy is one of those novels readers won’t soon forget. I highly recommend it.”
—Nancy Mehl, author of the Road to Kingdom series
“In Echoes of Mercy, Kim Vogel Sawyer reveals the plight of working-class children and blends it with the perfect romance teeming with conflict and sprinkled with sweetness. As always with Ms. Sawyer’s work, the believable characters add reality to the strong, unique story line, and I found myself reluctant to put the book down. I was drawn in quickly and was held throughout the entire story. This is one I guarantee you’ll enjoy.”
—Miralee Ferrell, award-winning author of the historical-romance series Love Blossoms in Oregon
Praise for Kim Vogel Sawyer
“Award-winning author Sawyer continues to craft engaging historical love stories brimming with characters who are bold in their faith.”
“Sawyer treats readers to love stories that speak to the heart.”
“Winsome characters, an interesting premise, and a heavenly match made on earth…fans of inspirational romance novels will not be disappointed.”
—Historical Novel Review
“Yet another entertaining novel that compels one page to turn as quickly as the one before.”
—CBA Retailers + Resources
Top Customer Reviews
This was a really enjoyable book. The characters are very well-written and interesting to read about. Ollie and Carrie are attracted to each other, but both are working undercover in the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory and don’t feel that they can fully reveal their true selves to each other. This alone brings a lot of tension to their relationship. Speaking of their relationship, it is a sweet one that develops softly throughout the story, but is fully satisfying in its growth.
I enjoyed the side characters and felt that they were well-written also. I felt intense dislike for the foreman, frustration with Letta and her brothers for some of their actions, and really enjoyed Noble and Annamarie. All of these characters really made for a well rounded story.
The author did a great job making me feel that I was really back in this time, working in the factory. I felt that I could truly “see” it and all of the busyness of the workers shuffling about in their activity. There was a good mystery throughout the book that the heroine was trying to discover the answer to, growth of certain characters as they learned to trust in God, and a satisfying conclusion. A lovely piece of historical fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review, which I have given. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Sawyer does a great job showing how hurts from the past can make us better or bitter. She also shows us that hanging onto hurts of the past can unnecessarily cripple even the best of hearts, affecting others in our lives. We must choose to let God in that area of our lives and let Him heal the pain, so we can move past it. Another great lesson Sawyer shows is the need to depend on others, and to allow them to help us in the hard times.Sometimes we and others in our lives suffer unnecessarily because we try to do things on our own. And who can miss the lesson that we all have great value, although sometimes our value is hidden to others, waiting for the right moment to appear, for our particular skills and abilities to be needed. Bravo, Kim!!
Carrie isn’t who she seems, either. She’s an undercover investigator for the Labor Commission, working to ascertain whether the recent death at the factory was an accident or something more sinister, and with a personal mission to end child labour (sorry. New Zealand spelling coming through here). Carrie is attracted by Ollie, but suspects there is more to him than meets the eye—he might look like a common factory worker, but he doesn’t always sound like one.
I have enjoyed the previous books I’ve read by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and Echoes of Mercy was no different. She combines interesting and likeable characters with a historical romance plot that manages to exceed my expectations in the way she weaves in issues of the day, in this case, child labour. Yet this theme is a natural outflowing of the story and never seems forced, and she gives weight to the arguments both for and against child labour: economic necessity vs. human compassion.
Echoes of Mercy also includes a subtle but solid Christian element, best evidenced for me with this quote:
“Jesus tells us in the eleventh chapter of Matthew, verse twenty-eight, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. He’ll honor the promise, but you must do your part in laying down the burden.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of my favorite novels yet by Kim Vogel Sawyer. It is a heartwarming story about a young woman who learns to trust God with her fears, even in the midst of conducting an... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Happy
I enjoyed this book as an escape but it was very predictable and no real surprises.Published 5 months ago by JAS
She is an amazing writer and really brings you into the story. Love her and her inspirations.Published 5 months ago by Angela
Very engaging story, start to finish! The author made you feel like you were in the middle of the story!Published 7 months ago by LaVon
Interesting story. Love the characters. Kim weaves a good tale. Hope she writes a sequel to this one.Published 13 months ago by Velda M. Gabel
This was another good story that also taught me things about what children went through in the early 20th century. Thanks for this story.Published 15 months ago by Rita Shultz
This is a must read book. I really enjoyed this book so much. I have to admit that I couldn't put this book down and laughed and sat on the edge of my seat. Read morePublished 18 months ago by joyce c