In two of my earlier books, readers met a minor, cameo character called Zola Devon. In my book DELIA’S PLACE Zola suggested that Tanner Cross’s interest in Delia Walker might be something he should pursue, telling him, when she’d never even met Delia: “She’s going to be an important presence in your life.” Zola made Tanner nervous with insights like this. He’d always heard Zola was the tiniest bit odd and had a tendency to know or see things about people but now he had it confirmed. “Weird,” he said to himself, shaking his head.
Zola also popped into my book DOWN BY THE RIVER suggesting to Grace Conley, when they’d never met before, that she owned a bed and breakfast named The Mimosa Inn in Townsend. “I beg your pardon?” Grace said, stepping back, feeling disquieted by Zola since she’d looked at a bed and breakfast only that morning, thinking how nice it would be to own it. “Are you a fortune teller?” she asks Zola. “Absolutely not,” Zola replied, looking shocked. “I’m only a simple Christian woman who sometimes hears a little word from God for people. Like a Biblical seer.” Of course, Zola shared more with Grace … and Grace had to admit Zola made her nervous, too.
Readers, fascinated with this unusual character who could “see” things about people, kept saying to me, “Write a book about Zola, Lin” … and so after hearing many, many comments like this, I decided to do just that. MAKIN’ MIRACLES is about Zola Devon, who is part Tahitian and part Appalachian. Zola’s father grew up in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee outside of Gatlinburg on the Devon family farms. He later became a missionary doctor in Moorea in the Tahitian islands, where he met and married Zola’s mother. Growing up, Zola made many visits to the states to spend time with her Tennessee family, and her father even renovated an old home place on the family property for his family to stay in on their visits. Later, when Zola’s mother died, Zola came back to Tennessee to stay with her grandparents and, after finishing college and opening her shop Nature’s Corner in Gatlinburg, she moved into her father’s house.
Life has often been difficult for Zola with her mixed heritage and Tahitian looks, but even more so because she has a gifting from God. The Lord sometimes shows her wisdom or knowledge about someone – that she couldn’t know otherwise – in order to help them in some way. Zola’s seer gift is in stark contrast to that of fortunetellers in the world, who charge for what they term “psychic abilities.” Zola’s gifts of knowing come only as God gives them and she shares them only as God shows her and never with any remuneration.
A point I wanted to make in this book is that God always has, and still does, use people in spiritual giftings, but never for profit and only by the leadership of the Spirit of God. In the world, many claim supernatural abilities—but these are not from God, even if well-intended. Many, quite frankly, are a little shady, and some abilities are very close neighbors to “the dark side,” with their origins from the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum. So naturally Madam Renee in the book, who has a psychic business for profit in the Gatlinburg area, resents Zola and sees her as a threat. Dark and light never mix well.
The other main character in this story, Spencer Jackson, a nature photographer, with a gallery in Gatlinburg not far from Zola’s shop, has a lot of hidden issues in his life. He does not appreciate meeting Zola’s gift head-on suggesting that the women he’s with might rob him later that night. Who does this woman think she is suggesting such a thing? Spencer is further angered when Zola has the audacity to suggest that Leena is not the woman for him. … So Zola and Spencer do not have a happy first meeting. Later, even when Spencer finds her warnings were true—and realizes he wouldn’t have seen it if not for her—their relationship is rocky. The two are such very different people—Zola warm-hearted, happy, content with her life, Spencer moody and broody, carrying secrets, grudges, and old anger. Yet, despite it all, they are attracted.
Zola yearns to help Spencer but Spencer resists help from Zola or anyone else. As the book progresses the reasons for Spencer’s grudges and issues are gradually revealed. But it is a toss-up for a long time how he’ll deal with them or if he’ll deal with them at all. … Amid the ongoing up-and-down relationship between Zola and Spencer are warm, happy scenes with Zola’s family and friends—all of whom readers will soon come to love. And additionally, problems come Zola’s way with a lost child in the mountains and a murder she finds herself involved in.
I loved creating scenes for this book in the out-of-doors, one love that Zola and Spencer hold in common. Readers get to go on several wonderful outings and photo shoots in the mountains with Spencer and Zola. My own experiences hiking in the Smokies came into play here with trails they hiked in the Elkmont area and high on the mountains near Clingman’s Dome. In another lovely scene Zola helps Spencer discover a hoar frost covering the mountain hillsides that he gets to take wonderful photos of.
Side characters in this book showed more diversity than in many of my past books. Aston Parker, Spencer’s best friend and assistant manager of the Jackson Gallery is African American—a warm, fun-loving, smart and wise man. Zola’s assistant manager at Nature’s Corner, Maya Thomas, is Jamaican. Her wisdom and love for Zola, and sweet acceptance of her and her gifts, provide a valued friendship for Zola. And Ben Lee, the father of an Asian friend of Zola’s, seeks out Zola’s help, yearning to know what has happened to his daughter who simply disappears one day.
Many big and small mysteries are revealed throughout this book, along with a rich multi-layered story of two very different people who find a way to resolve their differences and learn to love and appreciate each other. … If you’ve missed reading MAKIN’ MIRACLES I hope you’ll add it to your summer reading list. This book was also published in hardback large print, with a different but lovely cover, as well as in trade paperback and eBook versions.
[Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act.]