New Voice: Rachel Fordham

Rachel Fordham doesn’t like preachy books, but she likes books that leave her with something more that just a good story. So, when it came to her debut novel The Hope of Azure Springs, she left readers thinking about what real beauty really means.

“My message is that God is our hope. We let the media and the world tell us what beauty is, but we get to define beauty as we get to know a person and who they are inside,” says Fordham, who lives in Washington with her husband and six children ages 2 to 12.

The Hope of Azure Springs introduces Em, a young woman found unconscious in the wilderness. Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is determined to track down the men who shot Em and murdered the older man with whom she had lived after being adopted off an orphan train years before. As Reynolds gets to know Em, he begins to see underneath the fear and emotional scars to a woman who has faced tragedy and dire circumstances and come away strong and brave.

“I started writing Azure Springs in spring 2015, and it was going well,” says Fordham. “Then my son got really sick, and I didn’t open my computer for five months. When I went back to writing, the pieces of wisdom I had included were now for me.”

Fordham’s writing career began with telling stories. She had been delighting her children with tales for years but hadn’t thought about writing until her husband suggested she try it as a creative outlet.

“I discovered a whole other part of myself,” says Fordham. “I love the creativity of writing. Some days I love it because it’s different from what I’m usually doing; some days I love it because I can’t wait to see what happens.”

The Hope of Azure Springs touches on orphan trains, which brought children from the big cities in hopes of finding them new homes in the West. The trauma this event caused Em is explored, as are inner versus outer beauty and the meaning of true friendship.

“I hope my book touches hearts like it did mine as I wrote it,” says Fordham. “Maybe it will challenge readers to see the world a little differently, and to see what true beauty is.”

—Ann Byle