When I wrote my first book set in Hope Springs, I had no idea that the series would stretch to ten books—or that Emma Wood, who appeared as a friend in the very first book, would have to wait until book 10, Not Until The End, to get her happily ever after. I recently caught up with Emma and asked her how she felt about waiting so long for her own story to be told—and what she’s learned after being part of ten books.
Valerie: You appeared in the very first Hope Springs book, Not Until Forever. Once your friend Spencer got his happily ever after, you must have thought you were next. Or maybe in the book after that. Or surely the one after that. But instead you had to wait until book 10! Was that hard?
Emma: You know, it’s funny: at first it was hard, but the longer I waited, somehow the easier it got to wait, if that makes sense. At first, I was so impatient for my turn to find love and start a family—it became kind of an obsession for me. But eventually, I surrendered that to God and learned to trust in his will for my life, even if that wasn’t a family of my own. I realized he had already blessed me with a family in the form of my mom and her husband and my brother and his wife and their daughter and all of my friends in Hope Springs. I think I was probably more surprised than anyone else when I popped up inside my own story.
Valerie: Since you were there for all ten Hope Springs stories, I feel like you have a unique perspective. What have you learned from being part of your friends’ ups and downs and seeing them get their happily ever afters?
Emma: That’s a tough question, only because I’ve learned so much that I’d probably have to write a book myself just to share it all. But I think two things stand out to me more than anything else: God is faithful, and he knows what he’s doing in our lives, even when we don’t. Time and again, my friends have faced what seemed like impossible situations or unbearable burdens or devastating losses. And yet, God has been there with them through it all. He didn’t always remove the hardship, he didn’t always work things out the way we hoped. But he was always, always there, and his promise of salvation remained as firm and unshakable as ever. I have found—and my friends have found—great peace and comfort and hope in that.
Valerie: In the book before yours, you were diagnosed with cancer. I know a lot of readers—and a lot of your friends and family—were afraid you wouldn’t make it. Were you ever afraid you were going to die?
Emma: I mean, I knew it was a possibility. I’ve been part of enough of your stories to know you aren’t afraid to kill off characters, lol.
Valerie: Always for the good of the story!
Emma: Of course. But was I afraid of dying? I can’t say I was looking forward to it. There’s that whole fear of the unknown, you know. But I also had a sense of peace, knowing that if it was God’s will to call me home to heaven, he would take care of my friends and family here—and I would be with him in eternal glory, so I wouldn’t have anything to complain about!
Valerie: If you don’t mind my saying, it seems like you struggled more after your cancer than during it.
Emma: I don’t mind you saying it because it’s true. I saw so many other cancer patients who didn’t survive, and I wondered why God chose me to live. And especially when I learned that my now-husband’s first wife died of the same cancer I survived—that was hard. I mean, she had five kids to take care of, and I didn’t really have anyone who needed needed me. So, yeah, it took me some time to realize I didn’t have to do anything to “prove” that God had made the right choice in sparing my life.
Valerie: Speaking of your now-husband, was your happily ever after with him worth the wait?
Emma: So worth the wait! God has blessed us and our five children in so many ways. I don’t know if your readers know this or not, but they can read about how everyone in Hope Springs is doing in the Hope Springs Series Extended Epilogue…which takes place—
Valerie: No spoilers! They’ll have to read it to find out! But I have to confess that writing the extended epilogue gave my heart so much joy. As does hearing that readers wish they could visit Hope Springs and hang out with you and your friends.
Emma: Oh, that makes my heart happy too! We always love to bring new people into our group! I’ll save a spot for each of you at our next dinner!
Thanks for hanging out with Emma and me today! If you haven’t read the Hope Springs series yet, you’ll probably want to start with Not Until Forever, where it all begins! And if you’ve missed any of the books in the series, you can find them all here.