I’m delighted to be featuring Joy Margett’s new book The Healing on the blog today, as part of her book tour. I’ve had the privilege of reading an advance copy, and for me it was like being immersed in the depths of peace as I followed the main character Philip’s journey through from physical and spiritual pain to healing and wholeness, with the help of Hywel, a character I really loved for his gentle nuanced wisdom and the way he brings truth to light with tenderness and kindness. It felt to me like a journey among friends, and I found the way Joy used description and lyrical prose really did evoke the time and setting of life in the 13th century. It almost felt like a pilgrimage I was taking part in myself, and at the end I felt refreshed and enlivened with God’s presence. Do read the book! Have a look at Joy’s website – you can buy a signed copy direct from her.
Hello, Joy! Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a wife, mum and soon to be grand-mum. My husband and I moved our young family from Southern England to North Wales over twenty years ago and I am constantly inspired by the glorious natural beauty, history, and rich spiritual heritage of my home. I nursed for many years, and have many interests, usually involving wool, books and food!
My faith in Jesus began when I was a small child, and He has proved His faithfulness throughout my life. I love the Word of God and have had the privilege of being able to both study, and teach, the Bible for some years.
When did you start writing – and what sort of things have you written in the past?
I think I have always written! I can remember loving writing at school, and winning praise for it. I have written numerous Bible studies, sermons and themed blogs for church, and have journaled for years. Writing is definitely my favourite way of expressing myself. But like many of us, I thought writing for publication was for ‘real’ writers. Becoming a published author is not something I ever believed would happen!
What gave you the idea for ‘The Healing?’
The story of ‘The Healing’ came unexpectedly. I was sitting peacefully enjoying the warm sunshine in the ruins of an abbey (historic ruins are my happy places!) in conversation with God about whether people of the past had found healing there. I then began to imagine one such man, drawn to monastic life, but perhaps only for a season, just long enough to find the healing he needed.
At the time I was six years into a period of my life that had been the hardest to cope with. I had become unexpectedly ill, with what was later diagnosed as ME, and it had stolen so much from my life that I had found myself close to despair. God had slowly and gently been doing a healing work in me – physically, to a degree, but also more deeply than that. One of the ways He had done that was through a dear friend, who just kept loving me, speaking the truths I needed to hear, and praying when I couldn’t. I knew my story had to include both the things God had taught me in that time, and a person representative of that friend.
Tell us a little about your publication journey with Instant Apostle.
I wrote the book during the first lockdown last year. Once I had started (not at the beginning!) the writing just flowed and I became completely addicted. I truly believe it was God’s plan for me to write it at that time. I finished the book (a wonderful thing in itself) and gave it to one or two people to read, but did no more with it for months, unsure if it was worth the effort and emotional energy to pursue publication. But then I came across Instant Apostle. I prayed about it, and felt the nudge to send off the manuscript. After the shortest of waits the reply email offering to publish came back and I was astounded!
I cannot praise Instant Apostle enough. As a complete novice, and completely out of my depth, they looked after me so well, and guided me through the publication process with such grace and understanding. They listened to me, worked with me, and encouraged me continually. It was a steep learning curve, but one that I have enjoyed immensely. The quality of their professionalism is evident in the finished product, and I am delighted with it!
In the book, you bring out many aspects of a life of faith, in the context of a 13th century soldier and his journey with a Cistercian monk. How did you decide on what to include, and how to execute it without getting preachy – I found your writing so gentle yet with power behind its words.
I wanted to include in the book the things that God had revealed to me during own journey of healing. I did write a list of those at one point, but most of the time they just came naturally as I wrote. I think using conversation between characters as a tool helped to make it less preachy. As did using illustrations from nature and actual events in the story. Although Philip is kind of representative of me in the story, there is also a good deal of me in Hywel too, I think. I love to teach the Word of God, but I prefer to keep it natural and conversational, and use pictures and stories, and humour too, of course!
One of the aspects I found most powerful was your exploration of forgiveness and the discourse between Hywel and Philip on how forgiveness can set us free from bonds of our past. Tell us a little more about what led you to include this in a fiction story.
Forgiveness is something that as Christians we are taught about in theory, that in practice is very, very difficult! I didn’t realise until fairly recently how much unforgiveness can affect us, and our relationships. I had to go through a season of forgiving someone who had hurt me deeply, way back in my past. With God’s help I forgave that person, not condoning what they had done, but giving them to God to deal with, and blessing them. That was such a release! What I later learned was that I also had to forgive myself for my part in what had happened. I had been having disturbing dreams about that person for years. When I forgave them, and forgave myself, those dreams stopped, and have never returned.
If there’s one thing you’d like a reader to get out of this story, what would it be?
Hope. It might feel like God has abandoned you, or that your life will never be any better than it is now, but my experience is that this is just not the truth. Sometimes we just have to choose to hope. Choose to believe what God has promised above what we can see, feel or understand.
A powerful and soothing read. The Healing: Review and Interview with Joy Margetts Click To Tweet
Thank you so much Joy, for your brilliant answers to my questions – I’ve really enjoyed reading them, and I know others will too – as they will enjoy your book!