It’s been four years since Francine Rivers last released a novel and thirty years since her enduring classic, Redeeming Love. Now, in the space of two months, Rivers is releasing a novel—The Lady’s Mine—and seeing her blockbuster version of Redeeming Love hit theaters worldwide. Life is Story editor Josh Olds sat down with Francine to talk about the book and the movie.
The Conversation | Francine Rivers
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness. You can listen to the full interview at the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.
Josh Olds: We’re primarily here, because we’re going to talk about your upcoming novel, The Lady’s Mine (Feb 2022, Tyndale). This is your first historical novel in quite a while. Can you just give us the elevator pitch for the book? What is this novel about?
Francine Rivers: It’s about an 1870s silver mining town in California and a suffragette who’s basically kicked out of her family and sent to find a rather meager inheritance in the town. The question that launched it was “Can one person change a community?” With God? Yeah. She’s quite feisty as sort of a combination of The Taming of the Shrew and a Western.
I love California history, so I just kind of wanted to go back and have some fun with the writing because we were all, you know, locked in our houses at the time [due to COVID]. And I thought…this book has a lot more humor in it, because I thought we need to laugh. You know, we’re too serious right now.
“Can one person change a community?” With God? Yeah. – Francine Rivers
Josh Olds: This historical timeframe seems to be a favorite of yours. Why do you find yourself drawn to that time period?
Francine Rivers: Well, I’m drawn to that time period in California because I’m a native Californian. And it’s always fascinated me the number of people, the diversity of people, that came from all over the world to find gold and then later to find silver in the 1870s. It just fascinates me. So we visited Virginia City, and we visited Columbia and Sonora and all those areas up there in the Gold Rush period. So I just I don’t know, it is something that has always been sort of in my blood as a Californian.
Josh Olds: So I would be absolutely remiss if I did not ask you about the upcoming Redeeming Love movie. What has that journey been like?
Francine Rivers: Oh, it was in some ways miraculous. Holly Caruso was up here and somebody gave her the book. And she took it home and showed it to her husband, DJ (ed note: the film’s director). And he read it. And she said, “This has got to be a movie.”
We’ve been approached by different companies…I’ve actually had options over the years, but they never really understood Michael in the script. So I thought, “Okay, I’m going to just write a script and show them what I’m looking for.” So I studied Final Draft, I put it together, and they ended up taking that script. Then I worked with DJ because he could restructure things for the screen…we worked on scenes together…So that was a lot of fun working with him, and then finding the right people to play the role.
We really, we knew right away, Abigail Cowen was right for Angel. But it took quite a journey to find Tom Lewis, we’d watched so many auditions, but they couldn’t pull off pure and innocent for a man, you know, they all kind of were coming on to Angel in a different way. Lewis really understood the role. He read the book once or twice, I think. And then he’s a classically trained actor from England. He could do all the nuances of the emotion—you see so much in his expression when he’s when he’s playing the role of Michael.
We filmed in South Africa and it actually finished 24 hours ahead of the COVID shutdown worldwide. And then they were able to finish the entire film in private studios. So it’s been ready for a year now just waiting for the theaters to open up. During that time, Universal Studios—they wanted to be the ones that were distributing it. So, it’s become a Universal Studios movie, which will open it up to theaters up all over the country and in other countries, too. That’s all been God doing all that. It’s just amazing.
The Book | The Lady’s Mine
When Kathryn Walsh arrives in tiny Calvada, a mining town nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, falling in love is the farthest thing from her mind. Banished from Boston by her wealthy stepfather, she has come to claim an inheritance from the uncle she never knew: a defunct newspaper office on a main street overflowing with brothels and saloons, and a seemingly worthless mine. Moved by the oppression of the local miners and their families, Kathryn decides to relaunch her uncle’s newspaper―and then finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom, pitted against Calvada’s most powerful men. But Kathryn intends to continue to say―and publish―whatever she pleases, especially when she knows she’s right.
Matthias Beck, owner of a local saloon and hotel, has a special interest in the new lady in town. He instantly recognizes C. T. Walsh’s same tenacity in the beautiful and outspoken redhead―and knows all too well how dangerous that family trait can be. While Kathryn may be right about Calvada’s problems, her righteousness could also get her killed. But when the handsome hotelier keeps finding himself on the same side of the issues as the opinionated Miss Walsh, Matthias’s restless search for purpose becomes all about answering the call of his heart.
Everyone may be looking to strike it rich in this lawless boomtown, but it’s a love more precious than gold that will ultimately save them all.
The Movie | Redeeming Love
REDEEMING LOVE is a powerful and timeless love story that takes place against the backdrop of the California Gold Rush of 1850. The story centers on Angel (Abigail Cowen), who was sold into prostitution as a child. She has survived through hatred and self-loathing, until she meets Michael Hosea (Tom Lewis) and discovers there is no brokenness that love can’t heal. The story reflects the redemptive power of unconditional and sacrificial love with characters and circumstances relevant to the contemporary world.
The Author | Francine Rivers
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market for several years becoming a born-again Christian; she then wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. A retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush, Redeeming Love is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction and it continues to be one of the industry’s top-selling titles year after year. Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous bestselling novels with Christian themes—including The Masterpiece, Bridge to Haven, and A Voice in the Wind —and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the world. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors and in 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Francine’s novels have been translated into over 30 different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries. Francine and her husband live in Northern California and enjoy time spent with their grown children and grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.