The Enlightenment of Bees: the story behind the story!
by Rachel Linden
I write stories about strong women facing big challenges and triumphing with themes about hope, courage and connection. I love to put in elements from my own interests and life experiences, especially travel, food, second chances at love and social justice issues involving women!
Here are 4 ways The Enlightenment of Bees was influenced by my own personal life experience!
- I worked for a faith-based international aid organization in Europe for seven years. In 2015, I helped provide aid for refugees during the crisis in Europe. I was living Budapest and volunteered at the Roszke refugee camp on the border of Hungary. My own experiences during the refugee crisis shaped Mia's humanitarian work in the camp.
- I was actually chased by a bull shark in Florida, just like Mia in the story! I was there with a wedding date that went horribly awry and then we were chased by a shark on the 4th of July! Very dramatic. Everyone survived but it was definitely a close call! So I just had to put it in the story, but with a happier ending. 🌝
- My Grandma Sally became a widow after my grandfather passed away following a fourteen-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. Amazingly she found love again at the age of 79 with a boy she'd gone to high school with! They married at 80 and spent the next seven years traveling the globe before they decided to retire for good. It was like watching a real-life senior citizen Cinderella story! Now they're both 92 and still in love, still together. They say they've been on a twelve-year honeymoon! I based the wonderful character of Nana Alice in the book on my Grandma Sally and loved exploring this beautiful and sweet late-in-life romance.
- I love to write about food. Somehow it always ends up being a theme in my stories. In Bees, Mia is a baker who is trying to figure out how to make a difference in the world by doing what she loves. I was raised in the kitchen baking with my mother and maternal grandmother, and I love to bake. When I bake I feel like my mother and grandmother are right there with me no matter where I am in the world. And I think baking empowers people to create community wherever they are and to offer hospitality to people, and that's a beautiful thing! It was fun to put baking into the story and show how anything, when done with love, can change the world for good.
Thanks so much for sharing, Rachel!
I’ve read Linden’s books in the past, and I really enjoyed them, so I was excited to read this one, and it didn’t disappoint.
Mia embarks on a humanitarian mission trip with her friend after losing her boyfriend (almost fiancé) and job, leaving her feeling sorry for herself and questioning everything in her life. She’s a strong heroine, and it’s great to go along on her journey to discovering her place in the world.
Linden’s latest is a coming-of-age story, but not your typical one, as this one focuses on serving others and finding your place in the world. This isn’t a boy-meets-girl sweet romance. Sure, there’s a romance angle, but the key focus is on the global refugee crisis, something I haven’t read about in a novel before. It was well-researched, and it gave the reader a realistic look at things by not having the characters fix everything so that it wrapped up neatly. The author accurately portrays cultures and crises going on in various parts of the world. Linden brings scenes to life with vivid descriptions, which allows the reader to truly feel a part of the story. Difficult topics are handled sensitively, all the while leaving the reader with a greater understanding of what’s going on in the world beyond what they see out their window.
Some of my favorite quotes:
- “Remember, Mia, your place in this world is the space where your greatest passion meets the world’s great pain.”
- “To be alive is to suffer, but the we survive by finding meaning in the suffering.”
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.
Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. She holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College and a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and she studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently, Rachel lives in beautiful Seattle, Washington with her husband and two young children. Rachel enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy
Where you can find Rachel online...