Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love Award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms.
In this interview, Rachel talks with us about her latest book, In Spotlight and Shadow.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
I’ve always loved old theaters! There’s just something about those old-timey cinema palaces that dazzled the bygone eras. So when Barbour proposed a series based on historical landmarks, I thought it would be fun to revolve a story around Heinz Hall—an almost century-old theater once billed as the “Temple of Cinema.”
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Both my heroines, Sophie and Elise, have big dreams and even bigger secrets. Though separated by a hundred years, their journeys intertwine as they strive to break free from the shame of their past.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Hmm. I would say Elise. When I started writing the novel, I thought I had her story arc figured out, but the further I dug into her backstory, the more character layers emerged.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
I love this question because I firmly believe in the power of story. It’s a game-changer! So often, we can relate to the characters’ struggles, identify with their hopes, and immerse our hearts within the safety of the pages.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
My next story, The Starlet Spy, comes out this August and is part of the WWII Heroines Series with Barbour. This book is about a Hollywood star recruited by the OSS to spy on her homeland of Sweden. Her mission includes recovering lost documents of atomic proportions.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
This story was so much fun to research! Having been born and raised outside of Pittsburgh, it was interesting to uncover new things about such a familiar place. I relied a lot on historical websites, but my favorite part of research was taking trips into the city.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
One of the main themes of this story is identity. Too often, we find our worth in transient things like our success, talent, career, etc. But no matter failure or victory, it’s God’s love that defines us.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
When crafting this book, since it’s a split-time, I had to plot the eras almost as a puzzle. Each chapter from each timeline served as a piece that fits into the story. The end result is (hopefully!) a complete picture of the beauty that came with second chances.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
What a great question! The Christian fiction world is a wonderful network of authors who have supported and encouraged me and my writing. As for an inspiring book, I would say Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers. With such moving prose, along with the powerful message of forgiveness, that story has stuck with me for years.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
My faith is a huge part of who I am. It’s what has shaped, challenged, and inspired me to be the best version of myself. I pray whoever picks up my book will also be strengthened and encouraged by the words within.
In Spotlight and Shadow
Doors to the Past Series #11
Rachel Scott McDaniel
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2023
A Gem of a Mystery Takes Center Stage
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Elise Malvern has a habit of letting people down. Her former boyfriend who hoped she’d be his bride. Her grandfather who hoped she’d take over the family’s auction company. But mostly she’s disappointed herself. What’s the point of pursuing her passion as a violinist, if she is too scared to audition for a seat in the Pittsburgh Symphony? Her internship at the elegant Heinz Hall places her in the wings of the stage, but never on it. By accident, she discovers an old stage prop. Her instincts tell her there’s more to the paste necklace than meets the eye. Whether a good idea or not, she accepts help from a childhood friend, who happens to be country music megastar—Peirson Brooks. Peirson and Elise share a history; one she doesn’t care to repeat. The more involved they become in the mystery, the more things get tangled, including her heart.
A century earlier…
Sophie Walters longs for center stage, her name on the marquee, and all that jazz, but climbing her way into an acting career is more difficult than she imagined. Having spoiled all her chances in Hollywood, she returns to Pittsburgh, accepting an insignificant role in a popular production. She watches her dreams pass by from behind the curtain at the illustrious Loew’s Penn Theatre. She finally gets the coveted spotlight, but not for her talent. No, her surge to fame is all one terrible mistake. Somehow, she’s suspected to be a notorious jewel thief known around Pittsburgh as The Mirage. The man she pleads for help is none other than the man she jilted at the altar five years before, Sterling Monroe.
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