Bergers Book Reviews offers a warm welcome to Lin Wilder, who has stopped in today for a chat:
Why do you believe the Holy Spirit was guiding you home to the Catholic Church?
I’ve had to ponder this question because I have never considered it. Specifically, your last phrase: “home to the Catholic Church.” Consequently, my initial thoughts were to disagree. But yes, after a good deal of reflection, I realize that is exactly what happened: The Holy Spirit did guide me home to the Catholic Church.
Why do I know this to be true? Because at no other Church was that deep yearning filled, the recognition of the place I’d been searching for felt, the knowledge that finally, ‘I’m here’ appreciated: Home.
It’s a peculiar feeling, talking and writing about such deeply personal and often painful memories and experiences: Itchy, restless, uneasy. Exactly why I suppressed the promise I had made to my friend about writing my story. But okay, I asked for this, here goes.
Prior to my conversion to Catholicism, I ‘tried on’ numerous other traditions, faiths and practices. Far more than those I explain in the book. Many of them taught me helpful practices such as meditation during my Buddhist years. My years of attending the Unity Church introduced me to some interesting people and introduced me to useful information like MaryAnn Williams’ Course in Miracles. But like my experience with the Unitarian Church and all the others, it wasn’t enough, all the places I tried on for size felt incomplete. In retrospect, I realize that the Spirit was leading me on.
Only at that Benedictine Monastery in Massachusetts was I overwhelmed with the knowledge, understanding, counsel that yes, I was home. These are, of course, ineffable experiences; words are such a poor substitute but my certainty was and remains absolute. Knowing nothing whatsoever about Catholicism, I knew this was where I belonged. Finally. The place I had been looking for but only knew then, at that time and in that place.
What do you hope the reader will discover for herself in reading Finding the Narrow Path?
I know many people who are searching. Just as I was. And like me, cannot name what they seek. Therefore, we keep pushing in hopes that what we are doing will be enough for us to stop. Let ourselves rest. Whether we believe that our happiness lies in degrees, titles, money, books or fame, these things are empty, the satisfaction from the achievement only momentary. None of us is ever satisfied with them.
I hope that readers may see a piece of themselves in my story. Believe that everything which has happened to them can be used for a purpose far greater than our minds can comprehend- even the dark, evil things which we try to hide. And can begin to sense the extraordinary profligate love which is showered on each of us, by listening to that small, quiet voice. The one which keeps echoing in her mind, heart, and psyche.
And then choose to tell others the secret of their joy.
You’ve worked in hospitals for most of your career. What inspired you to begin writing medical mysteries?
We write what we know.
One day back in 2005, on a hike in the mountains behind my house in the mountains of northern Nevada, a cardiologist and cardiovascular researcher named Dr. Lindsey McCall appeared in my head and heart and wouldn’t let go. I could see her, literally. And I knew she was a woman who had never questioned her ability to do anything, anything at all. What would that be like, I wondered, having that kind of self-confidence?
Early in the writing of the first book, I decided to use the ‘rule’ for the classical novel: The indifferent narrator, someone through whom we learn about the foibles of the protagonist. What better twenty-first century ‘observer’ than an investigative reporter?
But once the characters are created, they take on a life of their own, I have learned. Kate Townsend refused to stay in the background, she gained flesh, bones and muscle as she sat beside me while I wrote. And she was far from indifferent.
And so it began.
How are elements of your faith revealed through your characters?
In the first novel, Lindsey has been forced to stop for the first time in her life. Once she experiences the loss of everything: freedom, fame, ability to practice medicine, the humiliation of a conviction for murder, Lindsey must deal with the demons she never knew were there. It’s a dramatized version of conversion. One that each of us faces to some extent. Right around the time that she appeared in my head, I read the quote of Mark Twain’s: Forgiveness is the fragrance shed by a violet upon the heel that crushes it. And knew this would be the title of Lindsey’s story.
I recall a conversation with my first spiritual director about love. I told him I knew nothing about it. I thought I meant about loving others but it was myself, I was talking about. I think forgiving ourselves is the first and most difficult step on the path to falling in love with Christ. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” But what if I don’t love myself?
What are your plans for your upcoming novels?
Malthus Revisited: The Cup of Wrath will be released this fall. I had planned to return to some characters I fell in love with from the 2nd book, Do You Solemnly Swear? A Nation of Law-The Dark Side with a new and different kind of mystery but that will need to wait. The 5th book, to my great surprise, will be historical fiction and will be titled: I, Claudia. The protagonist will be Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Yes. Because I published extensively in non-fiction for much of my life, I get occasionally get asked, “Which is easier? Non-fiction or fiction?
The writing of a novel is so completely different from a textbook or chapter on specialized knowledge or an article about the methods of solving problems faced by everyone in the field (all the subjects I once tackled) that it’s hard to know where to start to convey just how humongous is the difference.
Mostly, I think, it reduces to fear. At least it has been for me. ‘Sure, I can write, I’ve written and published for my entire life’. ‘But’ (that wonderful acronym- behold the underlying truth) ‘can I write a compelling story? And when I do, will it end up revealing things about me that maybe I don’t want made public?’
Not that writing non-fiction is easy. It isn’t. Just that the dream of writing novels felt too big or I was too little-maybe not crazy enough or unhappy enough. So, I persuaded myself that I really didn’t want to write that novel, it was merely the dream of the kid English major I had been many years ago. I loved the research that always preceded an article or chapter or the textbook, the high that came with reading, re-writing and reading again, “Yes, this is the best I can do…it’s clear, it’s accurate, its good.” But with non-fiction, there is no question that the writer is in complete control of the piece. Not so with fiction, far from it.
Now when I write, I understand quite clearly that my job is to follow where the characters lead me. To be open to who they are becoming as they appear on the pages. Not all of them, of course, but those who are the most challenging. Like a character who showed up in the 3rd book, an assassin named Joe Cairns, now a major player in Malthus Revisited.
Lin Weeks Wilder holds a Doctorate in Public Health from The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston and has over thirty years of experience in academic health centers ranging from critical care nurse to hospital director. During those years, Wilder published extensively in fields like cardiac physiology, institutional ethics, and hospital management. After ten years of running an online marketing business, and publishing four self-help books, Lin switched from writing non-fiction to fiction.
Lin’s first novel, The Fragrance Shed by a Violet, was released last July of 2015. The 2nd edition, The Fragrance Shed By A Violet: Murder in the Medical Center, the sequels, Do You Solemnly Swear and A Price for Genius are available at Amazon. The fourth in her series of medical thrillers, Malthus Revisited: The Cup of Wrath will be published in the fall of 2017. Her series of medical thrillers are situated in Houston, Texas with many references to the Texas Medical Center where Lin worked for over twenty-three years. The story of the return to faith, Finding the Narrow Path was an unplanned surprise.
In her free time, Lin Wilder enjoys hiking, exercising, listening to beautiful music, gardening and last but certainly not least, reading. Lin is married to a former Marine and psychologist with 25 years of experience counseling ex- combat veterans. They reside in Nevada with their two dogs.