Becca Kinzer: No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t talk my character out of it. She wanted to go to South Africa. “Wouldn’t you rather go to Kenya?” I kept asking her. “I at least have some connections in Kenya.”
No. It has to be South Africa.
“But I don’t know much about South Africa,” I reminded her. To which my character simply shrugged and pointed out that was my problem, not hers. (Characters can be so unsympathetic to their writers at times, can’t they?)
But since I really liked this character, I promised to do the research and find a way to write her into South Africa if that’s what she had her heart set on. Trouble was she couldn’t tell me exactly where in South Africa she needed to go. You’ll know it when you see it. But after checking out multiple books from the library, I still couldn’t pinpoint the exact location my character needed for this story to work.
Keep looking, she insisted.
“Okay, but are we sure it has to be South Africa?” I asked her.
Trust me. It does.
Fine. Who was I to argue with the fictional character living inside my head? I dug in and kept looking.
Then one evening, clicking my way through YouTube, I stumbled across a presentation a couple of doctors from South Africa had given at Boston College a few years ago. And as I sat on my couch in Illinois, listening to their stories about the challenges they faced working at a rural hospital in a remote part of the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, I knew I’d found something special. Something more than just the inspiration for where my character would travel.
I’d found hope.
Because at the same time I was digging into the research to make revisions for Dear Henry, Love Edith, I was slogging through another heavy season of COVID as a nurse in the intensive care unit. Our patients had never been sicker. Our staffing had never been worse. Our morale had never been lower.
And while escaping into the lighthearted story world of my romantic comedy certainly offered respite on my days off, I think God knew all along I’d reach a point where I needed the same thing my character needed—a group of people living in a rural South African village to remind me about faith. Sometimes it’s not about doing the big things. Sometimes it’s about simply showing up day after day for the little things.
Because you just never know. One of those days you might be the one offering hope where someone least expects it.
“Dear Henry, Love Edith” novel releases on January 31st, 2023.
Learn more about Becca Kinzer by visiting her official website: beccakinzer.com
A Special Thanks to Tyndale House and Becca Kinzer for the images and article.