Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons and a poodle, Howie. After winning the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the Historical category, Heidi is now pleased to introduce her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring (Tyndale House). The dynamic narrative alternates between two heroines, Annie and Liberty, separated by centuries but connected by a ring. Both are complex characters who experience tragedy and loss, and who struggle to let go of the pain. Here, Heidi shares how her own fears following the Boston Marathon bombing served as the inspiration for Freedom’s Ring…
by Heidi Chiavaroli
I can still remember the fear that gripped my insides as I looked out my front door to glimpse dark hair beneath a familiar-looking black-and-white baseball cap. Ducking down, I grabbed the phone and ushered my young sons into their bedroom, where we hid.
It was Thursday, April 18, 2013, three days after the Boston Marathon bombing. Pictures of the brothers were all over the news, investigators searching for clues to where the two suspects could be—anywhere, it seemed. Perhaps even my front door. It was not so very unlikely. We live an hour south of Boston and a half hour west of UMass Dartmouth (where the youngest bomber attended school), and I was certain—especially after the Sandy Hook tragedy of the past December—that evil knew no bounds, that my family was not an exception to its intimacies.
I was scared.
Despite my sons assuring me that they could “take the bad guy out” with their NERF guns, I called the police, and not long after, two officers crept into my backyard, guns drawn, searching my shed. They found no one and later tracked down a young tax assessor who admitted he had come to our house to check on renovation progress.
I felt foolish, and just a little crazy. Even after news stories finally stopped talking about the bombing, the feeling didn’t go away. I realized how much I was living in fear. Yet I was a Christian, claiming to put my faith in a loving God. Why, then, did I doubt Him? And how could I walk in faith while clinging to fear as my companion?
So, as many a writer has done, I turned to my writing (and my sixth manuscript attempt at publication) for answers to the question, “How can I conquer fear?”
In the process of answering this question, two women—centuries apart—were birthed. Annie is a Boston Marathon bombing victim, wondering how she will ever get past the bombing and the subsequent choices she has made to separate herself from her family. Liberty is a woman wondering how she will ever get past the death of her brother in the Boston Massacre and the subsequent choices she has made in stealing a ring from a man who has shown her nothing but kindness.
Both women are bound with chains that were never meant to hold them prisoner. And through their journeys and their story, I began to breathe again, to glimpse the true freedom won for me long ago.
You see, although we know that freedom was won for us in a sealed grave some two thousand years ago, we often forget. We don’t claim that freedom, and we don’t remind ourselves, and each other, of it often enough. Instead we often lay drowning in a turbulent sea, chains we’ve already been released from weighing us down.
So although evil can happen at any time and although I am no exception, I can cling to something greater than the fear it induces. I can cling to true, eternal hope and freedom. Two fictional ladies, Annie and Liberty, reminded me that, though I often forget, my chains are gone.
I am free.
Heidi Chiavaroli writes women’s fiction. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, releases from Tyndale House Publishers in August 2017. Visit her online at HeidiChiavaroli.com.