Social Impact Authors: How & Why Authors Larry and Carol McGehe are Helping To Change Our World

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“There are many things you will need to learn to be a successful published author.” Discipline is among the greatest challenges for a writer, especially when the words aren’t coming easily or when life gets in the way. Also, learning how to navigate through multiple aspects of technology can be daunting: web design, software for developing an email list, unfamiliar social media platforms, algorithms used by book retailers, and the best equipment for podcasts are among the many. Being willing to ask for help in areas of struggle is a valuable key to success. Conquering these apparent obstacles creates a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Larry and Carol McGehe.

Larry and Carol were married in 1978 and have combined their careers and life experiences to bring a unique blend to their writing. They love to travel and have visited all seven continents and all fifty states, connecting with individuals across the world. They also enjoy mentoring young adults, whom they fondly identify as their “children.”

Throughout their careers, Larry and Carol have consistently collaborated as a team. They have combined Carol’s attention to detail and writing ability with Larry’s research and storytelling ideas to bring you this first historical novel of the In Search series.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I am proud to say I’m a Southern girl from Columbus, Georgia, and Larry is a mid-westerner from Dubuque, Iowa, transplanted to Illinois. We were both blessed to grow up as children of loving parents. I was an only child and Larry was one of five. Our parents encouraged our love for learning and entrepreneurship.

I love one of Larry’s favorite recollections: “At age 10, I clearly recall standing at the candy display at the local grocery store, where I noticed they were selling candy bars for 5 cents each or six bars for a quarter. I quickly realized that if I bought six candy bars and sold them for a nickel each, I could make a profit of 5 cents. I hurried home to ask my mother if I could open a candy store on our family’s enclosed front porch. Thinking this would be a good experience for me, my mother said, ‘Yes.’ That day, Larry’s Sweet Shop was born.” This was the beginning of a life filled with entrepreneurial success and missions to help others in their businesses.

My mom, dad, and I loved making memories and establishing family traditions. Our home was filled with laughter, teasing, a love for learning, and my mother’s amazing Southern home cooking. The thought of our holidays, our Daytona Beach vacations, our Sunday driving adventures, our evening dinners, and just being together still conjures sweet and tender memories.

Our parents’ lives, love, faith, and prayers shaped us into the people we are today. They taught us to be independent, to take risks, and to learn from our own mistakes. We recognize that we are among the few who experienced such an idyllic childhood, and we are grateful to God for this incredible gift of His grace.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

I don’t remember the title of the children’s book, only that it was about a little boy. The story itself did not impact me, but I must have loved the book so much that my mother read it to me over and over until I had memorized each page. At age 3, I convinced my grandfather, whom I loved dearly, that I could read. Even though I couldn’t, he was so proud of me. I remember that feeling and the desire to learn to read was born in me.

Larry’s mother always read to him, as well, and shared great wisdom with him throughout her life. One book she chose that he loved was The Little Engine That Could. She was successful in using this story to instill in him that he should believe in himself and his ability to do great things to help other people. I can honestly say that he has consistently applied these principles throughout his life, in the U.S. Navy, in business, in missions, and in his daily life.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Not enough time has passed for this to become funny, but a huge mistake we almost made was placing one of the main characters of our book in the wrong ancient town of Kerioth. When one is writing historical fiction, accuracy is key especially when non-fictional characters are included.

Interestingly, two towns called Kerioth were not terribly far apart in the first century, but one was in a lush area of Moab and the other was in the Judean Desert. Once we discovered this blunder, we had to significantly rewrite certain scenes to reflect desert location and life rather than scenes near a flowing river. We can’t give away a key part of the story here, but getting this character’s hometown correct was unusually important, and getting this wrong would have been a huge scholarly blunder.

We learned two key lessons: The first is that an author can never do enough research. The second is the wisdom of having a number of people from different backgrounds, and with a variety of skills and talents, read our work prior to publishing. Thankfully, we felt led to do this in the process of writing our first novel.

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

Our world seems to be upside down in so many areas of life. People are stressed, concerned, and struggling regardless of their level of economic or social status. Many people are “acting out” their stress with expressions of anger and even violence. We are seeing this behavior across cultures, religions, and nations. People seem to be losing hope.

Given that hope is essential to a fulfilling human existence, we have written In Search of My Heart for those hungry and thirsty for hope, those who need a respite from despair.

We have had readers from all walks of life cite that the light and hope in our story brought them joy . . . friends and strangers, males and females, married people and singles, teens, and adults. Some were Christians and some were not: Evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jews (Reformed, Orthodox, and Messianic), Unitarians, one Hindu, and several agnostics. The readers ranged in age from 13 to 86 and represented a wide range of nationalities and ethnic groups, including Korean, Filipino, Lebanese, Indian, African American, Hispanic and Caucasian Americans, Europeans, Africans, and Australians.

In short, we all need hope.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

The most interesting story(ies) would give away too many of the plot twists, but this story demonstrates how real our characters are and how much we can relate to them:

A friend of the main character, Miriam, is caught in the act of adultery. Although the adulteress was “set up” to be caught, she still assumes the guilt of her actions. She is persecuted by many, even Miriam, yet forgiven by Jesus. Miriam is furious with her friend and makes her position clear. Her friend has not only been humiliated publicly but now feels the pain of Miriam’s betrayal, too.

Through a series of events, Miriam is faced with her own struggle to remain faithful to the most important man in her life. She is forced to see her friend’s behavior in herself. I am sure we have all been brought to our knees when we’ve recognized that the very weaknesses we may judge in others are, in fact, our own weaknesses.

This story, within Miriam’s greater story, exemplifies why our back cover includes this description: “Although Miriam speaks to us from the first century, her intriguing and often startling stories of loss, disillusionment, joy, betrayal, enlightenment, and fulfillment transcend time and echo our own stories. Miriam helps us see ourselves in these ageless, yet very personal issues.”

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

The inspiration for In Search of My Heart grew out of a small-group study of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. We were discussing the fact that God chose women to discover the empty tomb of Christ and deliver an unbelievable message to the disciples. This was a most unusual choice by God since women in that culture were not highly regarded, except by Jesus, of course. I recall saying, almost under my breath, “I wonder what the women were thinking and feeling. I wish we had biblical events written from a woman’s perspective.” I later woke up in the middle of the night, tossed and turned for two hours, finally got up, and after a short Bible reading, I suddenly felt the inspiration for what has become In Search of My Heart sweep over me. At that moment, the idea for a story told by Miriam, a young Jewish girl in first-century Israel, was conceived.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

My own spiritual mentor was an eastern European Jewess, who personally experienced the horror of one of the WWII German concentration camps. When she married an American soldier and came to the United States, she became a believer in Jesus Christ. She could never bring herself to tell me her story chronologically or in one sitting.

Even so, she shared her childhood and adult journeys of both heartbreak and joy, tragedy and redemption with me over the course of time. The manuscript of In Search of My Heart was completed while she was still alive. She had the assurance that she had been “heard” and that the story of her people, even though in a different age, was being told.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

  • Whether the community/society/politicians can accomplish these ideas, at the very least, each of us as individuals can do so in our spheres of influence: Be extremely intentional in seeking solutions to problems through a unified approach, i.e., look for ways to say “yes” to each other and find common elements for solutions.
  • Instill the idea that we in the human race share the same basic desires, needs, and weaknesses, regardless of any demographic one might consider. Recognize and work to overcome the overriding human sins that make us judgmental, prideful, power-hungry, and greedy.
  • Reinstate faith and morality as concepts to embrace and implement. In doing so, seek to treat each other with dignity, humility, and common respect, regardless of individual beliefs.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

True leaders bring out the best in the individuals they lead. They listen. They seek to discover the gifts and talents of each individual and allow their people to work within those individual gifts and talents. They train their people well and then give them the authority and autonomy to act on behalf of those they serve. Good leaders understand that their people will make mistakes, and they coach them through those times to prevent future issues. True leaders

encourage others and recognize the accomplishments of those they lead. Leadership is not about power over others, but how best to serve others. The best example of the perfect leader was Jesus with his disciples and other followers.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  • “Writing historical fiction requires a dedication to accuracy that only becomes apparent the farther you proceed into the project.” This is not a hindrance or a problem, simply a fact that must be addressed for a scholarly work. Such care takes extra time that the author may not have been anticipated. We willingly added hours of time to our project to ensure the integrity of our work.
  • “Writing the story and even revisions after editing is the easy part. Publishing and marketing is where the work begins.” We heaved a sigh of relief when the manuscript was ready for publication. We had no idea that the light at the end of that tunnel was an oncoming train!
  • “If you had a dollar for every question and decision you would face to move from the manuscript stage to readers (who are not friends) purchasing your book, you would be independently wealthy.” The questions seem endless: Do we submit proposals to traditional publishers or self-publish? Do we build our own website or hire a web designer? Do we rely on social media or other avenues? How much do we budget for marketing? Can we afford not to __(fill in the blank)__ ? Do we invest in an audio version of the book? And, these are only the surface-level questions!
  • “There are many things you will need to learn to be a successful published author.” Discipline is among the greatest challenges for a writer, especially when the words aren’t coming easily or when life gets in the way. Also, learning how to navigate through multiple aspects of technology can be daunting: web design, software for developing an email list, unfamiliar social media platforms, algorithms used by book retailers, and the best equipment for podcasts are among the many. Being willing to ask for help in areas of struggle is a valuable key to success. Conquering these apparent obstacles creates a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
  • “Whether you are writing for yourself or a few friends, writing a story to share is an exhilarating experience. Hearing that people are moved or inspired by your story is a feeling beyond exhilaration.” We were never tempted to abandon this project, but we encourage anyone who may be discouraged not to give up.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” ~ Psalm 119:105

Both Larry and I have “Type A” personalities and are good strategists and problem solvers. We like seeing the big picture to establish a clear path for a project. We, of course, desire to maintain full control! None of this was the case as we began the process of publishing and marketing our first book. We were completely out of control and treading water, which was not a comfortable place for us to say the least.

I had an experience of reaching my limit. I couldn’t move forward. When I shared this realization while fighting back tears, Larry expressed similar feelings. This is the way the Lord often works. He gives us enough room to realize that we can’t make it without Him. This verse from the Psalms came to mind.

We once heard a teaching on this Psalm that encouraged us to picture ourselves in total darkness with the exception of one little candle-lit lantern. The only thing visible with the available light would be the next stepping stone directly in front of us. We wouldn’t know how many stones were along this path, whether they turned at some point, or whether a fork in the path was coming. All we could do is take that one step that was illuminated by the light of God’s guidance.

As soon as we accepted this idea, the answers we needed began to formulate with incredible clarity. Now, if we can only remember this important lesson as we continue to move forward!

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Chuck Swindoll with the Insight for Living ministry and the pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas

We have followed the ministry of Chuck Swindoll since the late 1980s. He has provided solid biblical teaching throughout the years delivered with knowledge, wisdom, humor, and integrity.

We have grown through his ministry and teaching. We would want to share this with him in a way that he could hear us firsthand, get to know us, and fully grasp the impact he has had for the Lord in our lives and many others we know (not in the spirit of a “fan,” but as a fellow follower of Jesus). We would enjoy receiving any further wisdom he could provide.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We welcome visitors to our website and encourage them to sign up there for continued correspondence through our newsletter:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Authors: How & Why Authors Larry and Carol McGehe are Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.