Rhonda McKnight, an author of more than 20 romance novels and a former editor for the faith imprint of the independent publisher Brown Girl Books, is blending women’s fiction with romance in The Thing About Home, her first book to be published by Thomas Nelson (May). The novel opens as Casey Black, an Instagram-famous former model, prepares to renew her vows with her husband during a livestreamed event to be shared with millions of online followers. Instead, Casey suffers a deep humiliation that sets her on a search for meaning.
Amanda Bostic, publisher for fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, says she was drawn to both the book’s female lead and its Charleston, S.C., setting. “Combine that with an intriguing premise and a voice that immediately drew us in, and this was one of those projects that was easy for the team to decide to publish,” Bostic adds.
While speaking with PW, McKnight describes The Thing About Home as an honest and relatable story about “a character on a journey toward God’s best for her.”
Where did you find the inspiration for this story?
I wanted to write about a woman who reinvented herself after a divorce. I had a vision of this woman who was stood up at the altar by her husband. So I met Casey Black first and moved into questions about her history. Her life involved things that were important to her—a career as a model, and then becoming a social media influencer—but they were superficial, and it was the opposite of everything she’d ever known. I wanted to turn her life upside down and see where she would land.
A driving force behind your work is the desire to “touch the hearts of women.” Why is this so important to you?
As women, as much as we are different, we are similar. A lot falls on us when it comes to family structures and in the workplace. We’re expected to always go the extra mile. Women need love, support, and stories that give us hope. I write about a character that has grown into her higher self by the end of the book, and when people read it, they can relate and see themselves in it.
What role does your faith play in your writing, and in The Thing About Home?
My faith is very important to my writing. I never started out wanting to be a Christian fiction writer, but I think who I am shows up in a story. I wanted to write about a woman surrounded by family who were Christians, but she was not. I wanted to be honest about how faith is sprinkled into our lives. Christian fiction authors vary so much, from the conservative, extremely wholesome stories to edgier things—like mine, with a kiss in a book. Christians who are in different places in their walk with faith need authors who do all those things; they need to have a plethora of stories to choose from.
What is one thing you want readers to take away from The Thing About Home?
That home isn’t a place; it’s a feeling of being loved, hopeful, and whole.