Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, bestselling author with more than 1.5 million books in print in seven languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim and her retired military husband, Don, live in central Kansas, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren.
In this interview, Kim talks about her new novel, The Tapestry of Grace.
FF: What inspired the story in The Tapestry of Grace?
I was browsing old newspaper archives and came across an article about a benevolence club founded in New York City by German immigrants to help newly arrived immigrants. I loved the idea of immigrants helping each other settle in their new country, and the story grew from there.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Martina heads up the Frauenverein (women’s club) in the tiny town of Alexandertol, Kansas. Martina tries to head up everything in town! Doesn’t every small community have one “bossy woman” who takes charge? In Alexandertol, that woman is Martina, but she does have reasons for her bossiness. I’ll leave it there for now. *wink* Augusta teaches the youngest children at the Alexandertol school. She loves children, and her one regret is that she only birthed one child before losing her husband in a hunting accident. Now widowed, she pours herself into the lives of other people’s children, including Folker and Walden, the twin sons of her best friend, who died in childbirth several years earlier. And then there is Konrad, Folker and Walden’s father, who struggles to take care of his children and his house, and still have time to make a living as a blacksmith. Even though he needs help, he refuses to admit he needs help. But the Frauenverein ladies decide to help him anyway. And that’s where the conflict begins.
FF: Can you explain what a Frauenverein is and the group’s role in the story?
Frauenverein, translated from German, mean’s women’s club. It was an actual organization that originated in New York City in the mid-1800’s and eventually spread across the country in communities with a strong German influence. The purpose of the first Frauenverein was to aid widows and orphans, and that’s what the Alexandertol Frauenverein sets out to do. It is scriptural to look after widows and orphans, and the ladies of the club in Alexandertol (for the most part…) have a heart of service. The club’s formation is the impetus that drives the main characters, each of whom carry secret longings, toward achieving their goals. However, that doesn’t mean that things are resolved the way the club members intend…
FF: This story revolves around the power of vulnerability and prayer within a small Mennonite community. Why is it so important for people to pray for people they know, even if those people don’t ask for help? Have you seen this to be true in your own life?
When we pray, we tap into a Source who is capable to do beyond anything we can accomplish ourselves. Prayer invites God to work His perfect will. So often when we don’t know what to do for someone, we say we’ll pray for them, as if it’s a last resort offering. But praying for others is the best gift we can ever give. For me, personally, knowing that someone is lifting my name before the throne of God humbles, comforts, and inspires me. Praying doesn’t always change the situation, but it always changes how we handle the situation, often with increased strength, discernment, or peace. As it says in James 5:16b, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (KJV).”
FF: Does it take you time to let go of your characters after you’ve finished writing?
Oh my goodness, yes! It takes me as long to write the final few chapters of a book as it does to write the first three-fourths just because I’m dragging my heels. I write mostly stand-alone stories, and I don’t want to say goodbye to my “friends”! I would love to write a follow-up to all my books, ten years down the line, just to see how they’re all doing. But most of the time we have to merely imagine “the rest of the story.”
FF: What authors or books in the Christian historical fiction space have inspired your writing?
Catherine Marshall and Janette Oke really inspired me when I was a teen. I wanted to transport and move readers the way these authors’ books carried me away and let me experience the world through someone else’s eyes. There are several authors—Tracie Peterson, Judith Miller, Deborah Raney—whose encouragement and mentorship kept me going when insecurities tried to take hold. Of course, the members of my critique group (Jill Stengl, Connie Stevens, and Eileen Key) through American Christian Fiction Writers helped me hone my skills and grow me as an author. Then there are writers like Angela Hunt, Jamie Langston Turner, and Lynn Austin, whose incredible word-weaving gives me something to which to aspire. There are many more names I could mention, and I am grateful for each of these wonderful writers who have helped mold me and who have, whether directly or indirectly, influenced my writing journey.
FF: What are you working on next?
I’m in the beginning stages of a new historical set in Texas in the late 1880’s. It’s my first time to set a book in Texas, and the story seed was actually planted by a dear writing friend who graduated to heaven two years ago. It is a story of redeeming the fallen, of God’s grace in carving fresh pathways, and…most of all…of the hope we find when we open our hearts to the One who loves us beyond description.
The Tapestry of Grace
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2023
When a group of Kansas women start a Frauenverein, a benevolent society devoted to aiding widows and orphans, life changes for more than just the hurting people they seek to help in this heartwarming romance inspired by historical events—from the bestselling author of Freedom’s Song.
With classes paused for the planting season, Alexandertol’s schoolteacher Augusta Dyck is glad for some meaningful work to occupy her time. She even knows exactly who their town’s benevolence society should help first: quiet, reserved widower Konrad Rempel and his young twin sons.
Konrad Rempel, however, is adamant that he doesn’t want help. His boys are mischievous but good-hearted. And though Konrad may be struggling, he doesn’t want anyone else sticking their nose in and telling him what his sons need. Or what he needs.
For her part, the charity’s founder Martina Krahn is relieved to have a reason to spend time outside her unhappy home. It even occurs to her that she may, through her work, encounter a boy in need of a family and so find a son for her husband since they have no children of their own.
Augusta, Konrad, and Martina each have deep needs and desires, and each imagines how they should be met: by reaching out or by being left alone. But God, indeed, knows best. Will the competing agendas of Alexandertol’s residents prevent them from receiving God’s help? Or will the members of this small Mennonite community find the answers to their prayers in the very last place they expect—in one another?
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