1. I know you based the novel on the experiences of your relatives, but I noticed you also referred to other missional memoirs like "The Small Woman," so I wondered throughout the novel if you used true events that were related to you. If so, what events were real?
It's very hard to go back and recall exactly what was fictional and what was true. That said, even when I made up characters and events, I worked at keeping them true in spirit to what happened to the missionaries I read about. For example, the threat of bandits was very real, and although I made up "my" bandit, he was based on individuals I read about.
2. What suggestions would you give to those interested in entering the missions field?
I really don't feel that I'm an expert on missionaries or the mission field -- I would only say what I would say to anyone about pursuing such a demanding commitment: to do all they can to be sure that God is calling them to the work, and not their egos or pride.
3. Have you done any other books on this topic or in this setting?
My first novel, The Distant Land of My Father, was based on the life of an uncle of mine, who lived much of his life in Shanghai. The novel takes place in Shanghai and Los Angeles from 1937 to 1961, and in that respect, it's a prequel to City of Tranquil Light, though it's not based on the same characters.
4. If you had one hope to express for this book, what might it be?
If you mean one hope about what comes from the book, I would say that it would mean a great deal to me if the book gave people hope -- hope that joy is always possible, even after great loss, and even late in life. I believe that it's always possible that the best is yet to come.
Thanks so much for the inspiration and joy I received from your book, Ms. Caldwell and for the opportunity to chat.