Stephenia H. McGee is a wife, mother of two very active little boys, author, and lover of all things historical. Stephenia currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and sons where she writes stories of faith, redemption and life steeped in the South
For those not familiar with Steph’s lasted book that just came out this past Friday…
Mississippi, 1865. A time when war has stolen men’s souls and left their women and children aching for sanctuary.
Ella Whitaker rescues a newborn from the dying arms of a woman of ill repute and at long last she has someone to love. In need of a wet nurse, she arrives at Belmont Plantation just as Federal soldiers demand to speak to the owner. Thinking quickly, Ella masquerades as a Yankee officer’s widow in order to have a roof over her head and a home for the child.
Major Westley Remington has dedicated his life to serving his country. The Civil War has divided his family, torn his thoughts of glory, and left him with a wound that may never heal. Westley returns home on medical furlough to settle his father’s estate at Belmont Plantation, only to find his home is being run by a fiery and independent woman—one many believe to be his wife. Now he is faced with a conflict he’s never been trained to fight, and one she has yet to conquer.
Welcome Steph, I’m so happy to visit with you today! Let’s get started with a few fun questions and then we will discuss In His Eyes.
Trisha: What is your favorite beverage?
Steph: Sweet tea. After all, I am a Mississippi gal. 😉
Trisha: Yes, the perfect summer drink!
Trisha: What would you say is your guilty pleasure?
Steph: Hmm…ultimate guilty pleasure would have to be a hot bath, a good book, and a huge slice of red velvet cake.
Trisha: Can’t go wrong with a hot bath, a good book and a slice of red velvet cake!
Trisha: Is there a place you have wanted to visit, but haven’t yet?
Steph: I would like to see a lot of places. I love to travel. I’d love the chance to get to go back to Italy and get to see Florence this time, and I have always wanted to see Scotland, Ireland, and Greece.
Trisha: Sounds like you have some fun places to visit. Scotland is on the top of my list.
Trisha: What is your favorite Bible verse?
Steph: John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV) This verse reminds me that I have to stay connected to Him daily. When I do, life is fruitful, and when I don’t I feel empty.
Trisha: In your research for In His Eyes, was there anything that surprised you?
Steph: Well, during my research for the locations and battles I wanted to use, I got sidetracked by this fascinating article on “The Angel’s Glow”. After the battle at Shiloh, there were soldiers that reported glowing wounds. As you can imagine, this unnerved them quite a bit. Then, strangely enough, the soldiers who had glowing wounds healed far better than those who didn’t, so they dubbed the glowing wounds as being touched by angels. 150+ years later it was discovered that a bioluminescent bacteria happened to have just the right conditions in the soldier’s hypothermic bodies to feed on the infection. It didn’t directly have anything to do with this particular novel, but it really took me by surprise. That is one of my favorite things about writing historical fiction—all the interesting things I find during my research.
Trisha: That is interesting! Yes, I love uncovering interesting historical details also.
Trisha: What was most difficult to write about when writing In His Eyes?
Steph: This book was a journey for me. I felt God asking me to dig deep and walk through some of Ella’s discoveries with her. I share some of her insecurities, and He kept nudging me to lean on Him as I wrote. The dream chapters in particular took a lot out of me. It was emotionally draining, and I spent most of the time writing them with tears on my cheeks, but I know that He taught me something through it. It’s my hope that there is a reader out there somewhere that He has the same message for and that this story can help point them toward Him.
Trisha: I love that! The dream chapters were quite powerful, I really enjoyed those.
Trisha: Reading the second half of the book a song kept playing in my mind; Did you have a song or songs that you thought of while writing?
Steph: I think that Jordan Feliz’s song Beloved could really be a theme song for Ella! This song came on the radio a lot while I was writing this book, and it felt like He used it to keep inspiring me. I’d love to know what song you had in mind during the second half.
Trisha: Oh, that’s is a good song! The song that kept coming to my mind was Jason Gray’s song “Remind Me Who I Am” from his album A Way To See In The Dark
Trisha: I enjoyed reading Ella’s dreams; what was your inspiration for her dreams?
Steph: At one of the classes I attended during the ACFW conference last year the teacher handed out notebooks. And I think this is super cool—he prayed diligently over them and God led him to write a from God note in each one. He prayed over them again and then handed them out to the attendees—each with their own note from God. The way people reacted and how each note really meant something to the one who received it was amazing to watch. Mine said, “Use your stories to give others a glimpse of the not yet. This is a season where we will go into new lands and dream new dreams.” Not too long before that, I had a dream where the colors were unreal and the place was stunning. I must have reread that note a hundred times, it so stirred me. A couple of months later as I began to pray over the next book I wanted to write, those words came back to me, as did my dream of that place of color and light. I didn’t do the things Ella does during her dreams in the book, but the place I saw in my own dream really stuck with me and inspired the story.
Trisha: It is quite humbling how God whispers to our hearts and leads us to help and bless others.
Trisha: Will there be future stories at Belmont Plantation? And, what book are you working on next?
Steph: As of right now, this is a stand-alone book and I do not have any others planned for Belmont. My readers have been asking me for a couple of years for a new book in my Ironwood Plantation Family Saga, so my fall book will be set in the 1890s with Lydia and Ruth’s (from The Whistle Walk) daughters.
Trisha: Oh, that’s great! I look forward to reading it. Thank you Steph for visiting today, it sure was fun to sit down and talk about In His Eyes!
Friends, Steph is graciously offering one digital copy of In His Eyes to one lucky person. Entries are open to USA residents. Contest will run for one week. The winner will be notified via email and announced on this page at the close of the contest.
To Enter Giveaway:
1.) Comment below, sharing with us a historical place you have visited or wish to visit
2.) Make sure to CLICK HERE to enter the Raffelcopter.
*** THE WINNER IS ***