Novelist and Children's Author

Featured Book: Beyond the Ashes

Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Faith, Fiction | 14 comments

From the back cover:

Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love.

Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed.

Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?


An Interview with author Karen Barnett:


Finish this sentence. Inspirational fiction is . . .

Story-telling that shines God’s light into the darkest places of our lives.

Tell us how you got the idea for Beyond the Ashes.

I was inspired to write Beyond the Ashes back when I was researching the first book of the Golden Gate Chronicles, Out of the Ruins. I’d stumbled over some interesting anecdotes about doctors experimenting with X-ray radiation as a means of cancer treatment. Since they weren’t yet aware of the dangers of X-rays, they often tested the machinery on themselves. Many of them came down with the very disease they were seeking to cure. This idea seemed both tragic and strangely heroic in my mind. I immediately started thinking about what would happen if a character were faced with this dilemma. Most of my stories ideas start from that little phrase, “What if?”

What’s one of your favorite scenes in Beyond the Ashes?

Ruby is terrified of automobiles because her first husband was killed when a passing car spooked the horse he was riding. Her phobia leads to several humorous moments in the story, including one in which Gerald is trying to teach her how to drive. Since the book deals with some heavy themes, these lighter scenes helped soften the impact. I think those are my favorite scenes!

Are you anything like Ruby Marshall, your main character? If you could cast him/her in a movie, whom would you choose?

Other than in looks (she’s a gorgeous red-head and I’m, well . . . not) I’m very similar to Ruby. She’s riddled with fears, but she’s determined not to let them rule her life. Rather than give in, she’ll force herself to face them head-on. I often push myself in the same way. I’m afraid of public speaking, but I make myself say yes every time someone asks me to speak (almost). Since I’m afraid of heights, I’ll walk to the edge of the cliff and force myself to look over. I guess that’s how a self-professed control freak deals with anxieties. I’m not quite ready to go skydiving yet, though.

I based Ruby’s appearance on a young friend from church who has wonderfully curly red hair and blue eyes. I’ve yet to find an actress that exactly matches, but Rachelle Lefevre probably comes the closest.


Describe Dr. Gerald Larkspur. What actor would you hire to play him?

Gerald is a deeply empathetic doctor who has made it a habit to place other’s needs before his own. He supports his medical partner’s desire to continue in cancer research, even though he personally finds it discouraging. He’s devoted to his extended family, taking all of them in to his home after the great earthquake, but he’d also dearly love to have a wife and child of his own.

Who would play him? I always pictured Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame in the part. I’m sure he could manage an American accent, right?

Dr. Gerald Larkspur

What do you want readers to take away from this book/novel?

I hope readers come away realizing that God has a plan for each of our lives, and it’s so much better than what we would imagine or choose for ourselves. When life gets crazy and feels out-of-control, we can cling to His promises and know that He’s still holding us in the palm of His hand.

Do you have another book in the works? Tell us about it.

The third novel of the Golden Gate Chronicles releases in May of 2016. I’m so excited about this book! I’ve always wanted to write a story that focuses completely on God’s extravagant grace, and that became the main theme of Through the Shadows. In 1908, San Francisco was riddled with corruption—from the broken pillars of City Hall all the way to the Chinatown brothels. It was fun to take two characters and thrust them right into the heart of these problems.

In a desperate attempt to hide her own sins, Elizabeth King throws herself into a life of service working with Chinese girls rescued from prostitution and slavery. Will attorney Charles McKinley be able to show her that not everything in San Francisco is as dark as it seems?

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I know there are many truths in Scripture, but it sometimes takes a good story for those truths to sink into my heart. I believe that’s why Jesus used parables. When I show a character wrestling with problem and they find hope in God’s word, I hope my readers can find meaning for themselves, as well.

Any fun hobbies?

I like to design and decorate crazy birthday cakes for my kids. It started when they were babies, and each year I’d get a little more daring with my attempts. I took a decorating class about five years ago and that really helped me improve. I ask the kids for a theme, and I try to find some way to make it a reality. I’ve done horses, trains, mermaids, cats, race cars, ballet slippers, A Doctor Who Tardis (with working light—I was quite proud of that), Pokemon balls, high heeled shoes, a Nintendo DS, Marvel characters—all sorts of things. It’s been a lot of fun over the years.

Karen is offering a copy of Beyond the Ashes (US only) to one of you. Please answer this question in the comment box along with your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you’re the winner.

Karen’s Question:

I told you about my crazy hobby. So, what’s yours?

KarenBarnettAuthorPic copy

Author bio

Karen Barnett, author of Beyond the Ashes, Out of the Ruins, and Mistaken, lives in Oregon with her husband, two kids, and three mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, and dragging her family through dusty history museums. Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) honored her with the Writer of Promise Award in 2013 and a Cascade Award for her debut novel, Mistaken, in 2014.

Purchase link(s)

On Amazon:


On B&N:



Social media links:








Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Janelle Barnett

    I love to make messenger bags out of recycled wool and visiting with friends who love Jesus. Neither is very crazy but are fun!

  2. Rachael Merritt

    Not sure if I have a crazy hobby…I love gardening, sewing, and saving money. I’m also a little crazy when it comes to my book collection…they must be in alphabetical order by last name of author. I’m a bit OCD about it! 🙂 I live in a farm…and I love helping take care of our goats! 🙂 Baking is another hobby,..and occasionally sone things turn out crazy! 🙂 I have a bad habit of always changing recipes!

    • Sherry Kyle

      Hi Rachael! Thanks for joining in. I love the sound of your book collection. Do you have any authors starting with the letter B (for Barnett) or K 🙂 hehe Your life sounds so interesting.

  3. Caryl Kane

    When I’m not reading I enjoy counted cross-stitch. I would love to see some pictures of your crazy birthday cakes.

    I am looking forward to reading BEYOND THE ASHES! Thank you for the giveaway.


    • Sherry Kyle

      Hi Caryl! I’ve attempted counted cross-stitch, but I never end up finishing them. I admire someone who can do that. My mom made a counted cross-stitch calendar when I was a child and it hangs in my parents’ house today.

  4. Loraine N.

    I don’t know if it is a crazy hobby, but I like to make crafts with plastic canvas. Beyond the ashes is on my TBR list. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  5. Donna

    I love to do Google map searches of foreign countries, complete with street view, just to see what it would be like to live there. My favorite so far? Dublin, Ireland.

  6. KT Sweet

    Hi Karen & Sherry, My favorite hobby is ballroom dancing. Enjoy doing the waltz, foxtrot, nightclub two-step, Viennenese waltz, West Coast swing, cha cha, bolero and salsa. Love to move to music!

    Look forward to reading more about San Francisco after the earthquake!