The Heart Changer

The Heart Changer’s Backstory

Since it is Valentine’s Day soon, I thought I would share my debut novel which not only includes the word ’heart’ in the title, but deals with issues of the heart. I’m introducing my book via snatches of interview questions I’ve been asked over the past two years. Hopefully, you will find my book a good fit for a young reader you know!

The Heart Changer is a middle-grade historical fiction that puts a fresh spin on an Old Testament story. It is seen through the eyes of a young captive who made an impact on the lives around her. It debuted April 26, 2019 with Ambassador International. My back copy says it best: 

“Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission—far beyond what she could imagine. This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.” 

The Heart Changer, written for ages 8-12, has short chapters so reluctant readers will not be intimidated, although the language is descriptive and vibrant. 

What inspired you to write The Heart Changer?

I have a soft spot for kids in the Bible who have no name and backstory, but have made a huge impact on the people around them. With The Heart Changer, Naaman’s wife’s servant girl came to mind from 2 Kings 5. So, I gave Miriam a name AND a feasible backstory! I try to stay as close to the historical account as possible. Since my passion is to ‘breathe new life into the pages of history’ I delight in the ‘what-ifs’ and bring the story to life so children can relate to the Bible characters in a fresh way.

Tell us about the themes found in the book.

There are many: Hope in the face of despair — The power of forgiveness —  God uses our trials to grow us into His likeness — He works all things together for good — Our lives are like a tapestry: we see the tangled underside, but God views it from the top, beautifully woven with purpose and depth. 

Do you have a favorite character or scene in one of your books?

Yes. In The Heart Changer, Adara, (wife of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army) is at her loom weaving, while Miriam, the servant girl (MC) is brushing her long dark hair while  recounting her nation Israel’s history. Adara is so taken with the stories, especially of Joseph (who was sold into slavery) that she is sure Miriam has come to their household at the perfect time to help them — and she is right. Adara uses her weaving as an example of how God works in a life, which creates a memorable scene. 

Why do you write? Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books? 

Yes. Not only do I want to inspire my young readers by bringing a historic heroine to life in a relatable way, but I also want to bring hope in this sometimes confusing and dark world. My debut novel in particular shows that even though their lives can be full of angst and uncertainty, God is writing their story behind the scenes, working everything together for good.

How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been keeping a diary since I was a teenager, but didn’t begin writing in earnest as a career until my almost 100-year-old mother passed away. Thinking I might forget events of my childhood, I began writing my memoirs. Soon after I was drawn to writing picture books, and eventually landed comfortably in the middle-grade historical fiction genre where I could share my love of history and description using many more words!

Which of your books is your favorite?

Since I’ve published only one, it’s The Heart Changer. But if you ask me about my WIPs, I’d say the middle-grade historical fiction, Fair Investigations! set at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Therefore, I continue to diligently seek for it’s perfect publishing home.

What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

There’s always hope when God is allowed to write our story. He has conceived it, so He will bring it to pass in the best way possible. 

The Heart Changer Trailer

It was a fun challenge to create The Heart Changer trailer below. My daughter played the main role, as you will see:

I’d love to hear your thoughts about my author’s journey, or my debut novel. Comment below before 6pm on February 19th, and your name will be entered into a giveaway for a autographed copy of The Heart Changer.

If you are looking for once-a-month insight and encouragement from life, literature, and travel, sign up for my newsletter. There will be something there to lift your spirits and bring you hope!

And, for more resources you can use with The Heart Changer as a teacher or librarian, check out my website link. And have a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

15 thoughts on “The Heart Changer

  1. Yarm, thank you for writing about faith in a difficult situation. I’ve always been drawn to this little servant girl.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful book for MGs! Thanks for telling about this young girl and her struggles in your book.

  3. What a wonderful book you have given to the world! I think your story would be great for anyone who loves to read; even if they are a bit older than mid-grade! 🙂 Thanks for the chance to enter.

  4. Your book sounds really interesting on at least two levels: First, I’ve often wished I could know more about that unnamed servant girl & how she found the courage to advise her master to go to see Elisha. Second, I’m writing a middle grade historical novel myself (also a debut for me), so I love to see what I can learn from others who write in this genre.

    1. Sara- thanks for leaving that comment for Jarm. I hope this encourages you in your progress as a novelist. Let us know how else we can help you–we have critique services available too. Check out our home page. Carol Baldwin

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