Today’s guest in June Foster, the author of Misty Hollow. An award-winning author, June is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.
June, you and I have known each other for a while now, and I’m delighted to have you back with us. I have watched your career grow as you work hard to bring your stories to life, and I know that your books are the favorite of many readers. So, tell us the secret of being a prolific author.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog today and for your kind remarks. Indeed, we have known each other for quite a few years. I first met you through Scribes at ACFW when you were the moderator. I’ll always appreciate your patient instruction.
I am prolific in the sense that I’m presently working on book number fifteen and have only been writing since 2010. I credit any success to the Lord Who sent me on this journey. I didn’t write my first book until I was in my early sixties. I laugh and explain that God must’ve put me on the fast track to writing and publishing because He knew my time on earth wasn’t as long as my many author friends.
Misty Hollow is your newest release. Will you tell us a little about the story and about what led you to write it?
Misty Hollow is the story of a young teacher, Molly Cambridge, from Nashville who has a heart for teaching adults to read. She takes a position in the elementary school in Misty Hollow, but her primary goal is to open a learning center to teach adults to read. Misty Hollow is her ancestral home, and Molly had witnessed her paternal grandmother struggle with illiteracy, another motivation to teach adults.
Joel Greenfield is a dirt farmer who longs to turn his unproductive land into a thriving dairy farm. Only thing, he can’t read the manual on how to operative a milking machine.
When Molly and Joel meet, they find an immediate attraction, but Molly can never learn Joel’s secret—he’s illiterate.
Before I began writing, I taught elementary children and, of course, reading was a big part of their curriculum. As Molly told you, I attended a reading conference and had the privilege of hearing John Corcoran speak. His story of how he didn’t learn to read until his thirties touched me. So my author’s imagination set to work asking questions like what if an illiterate young farmer from the Appalachians fell in love with a teacher from the big city? Another theme I explored was Christian maturity. Joel and part of his family, though they couldn’t read the Bible, still loved the Lord. Christianity isn’t about how smart or rich we are, but about a life of humility. The Greenfield family in their small town of Misty Hollow typifies that quality.
Misty Hollow is a fictitious town in Tennessee, and I know that you visited the Smoky Mountains because you’ve been there with me a couple of times. Tell me what led you to the Appalachians as a backdrop for Misty Hollow?
I can remember a couple of adventures we had. Especially when we made a wrong turn and ended up high in the mountains. Only thing, we found a great place for lunch.
Oh, yes, we found our way from Atlanta, Georgia, to Waynesville, North Carolina, via a very sharp turn that I couldn’t remember ever being on my road home–because I’d read the sign that said “Highlands” as “Franklin.” After said curve we headed up one side of the mountain to Highlands, and back down the other side past Glennville Lake and into Sylva, North Carolina. But we had a good laugh and a great meal. So back to the question after my little reminiscing …
Yes, I’ve read articles and seen documentaries of how reading illiteracy is prevalent in the Appalachians so I figured this might be a good location for a story about illiteracy. Though the number of farms have dwindled in recent years, I decided to make my hero a dirt farmer. One only needs to look at photos of the Smoky Mountains to see the hazy, smoky mist that settles over the hills and valleys. Often those valleys or hollows feature a river or stream running through. Thus Misty Hollow came to life.
You’re a retired teacher, and I’m going to tell you for the first time, that if someone asked me, without my knowing, what you did before retirement, I would have guessed that you were an elementary teacher. You just have that curious way about you (I still laugh at our Florida alligator misadventure), and you have this caring and nurturing nature. I see that in your heroine, Molly. So, tell us, is there any part of you in Molly?
Yes, authors often see their characters through the own past experiences. Molly loves her eager, rambunctious third graders in Misty Hollow. She’s anxious to see their success as much as I did when I taught my little ones. But like Molly, I taught adults, as well. Not illiterate adults, but grown students who were learning to speak English. I desired to see their success in mastering the language the same way Molly wants her Appalachian students to read. So yeah, Molly is pretty much like me. Only thing, I didn’t fall in love with an illiterate man but a soldier in the Army.
If one of our readers knows someone who needs help learning to read, especially an adult who has struggled, do you, as a retired teacher or through your research for Misty Hollow have any advice or know of anywhere they can seek help?
Yes. There are many tutoring centers in communities throughout the US. Some are paid, but others are manned by volunteers. It’s only a matter of doing a bit of investigating. John Corcoran learned to read with a one-on-one tutor. Some require individual help, like John and Joel Greenfield. A tutor doesn’t always have to be a teacher by profession, but can be trained to help students. Nevertheless, the job requires an infinite amount of patience. If one goes to a reading center, the teaching materials are carefully selected for the appropriate age group. In Misty Hollow, Joel reads a book on a third grade level but a story that would appeal to adults.
One last question for you, June. What new and interesting characters are you writing about that we may soon be able to meet?
My work in progress is set in small town Alabama. Zack Lawrence is a young pastor who’s seen more than his share of tragedy. His pregnant wife suffered a pulmonary embolism, and he discovered her on the floor dead, the baby gone as well. To make matters more difficult, the church he’s pasturing must close the door for lack of parishioners. He blames himself and can’t move beyond the guilt holding him captive.
Ella Harris is a high school counselor with a heart for hurting teens. When Zack returned from seminary with a wife, her heart broke as she’s loved him since they both went to high school together.
This novel leans more toward a character study of hurting people and how God intervenes with His healing power.
That sounds like another excellent June Foster read. I look forward to it!
About Misty Hollow:
When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.
Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.
Joel Greenfield, son of a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.
When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.