The mind may forget, but the heart never does.
This is the theme that runs through the new novel, “The Heart Remembers,” by Indiana Gazette columnist Michele Huey, 62, of Smithport. Readers of the Gazette will recognize Huey as the author of the Saturday religion column “God, Me and a Cup of Tea.”
A former English teacher, she is no stranger to the world of publishing. She is already the author of two books, “Meeting God In Everyday Experiences” and “I Lift Up My Eyes,” both collections of her former “Minute Meditations” columns.
Huey now celebrates her first fiction novel with “The Heart Remembers.” A tale of tragedy and redemption, the book follows the journey of Evangeline Martin. Martin’s husband, Seth, is lost during the Vietnam War and declared MIA. Forty years later, she rediscovers Seth with no memory of her or his past life. Martin must decide if she is willing to forget the past and accept Seth as he is now.
Huey found the initial spark of inspiration for the book in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s classic poem “Evangeline.”
Engaged to be married, Evangeline and Gabriel are separated. Evangeline spends her entire life looking for Gabriel, finally finding him on his deathbed.
“That’s a horrible ending,” Huey said. “I wanted to write a modern-day ‘Evangeline’ with a happy ending.”
Huey was also inspired by her cousin, a former Navy nurse who served in Japan during the Vietnam War.
“I was always intrigued by her total dedication to her patients,” she said, “and that nurses can join the military. I also have tremendous respect for Vietnam veterans.”
During her research for the book, which is dedicated to those who served in Vietnam, Huey said she found “there were a lot of good things that took place in Vietnam that never came to light.” She wanted to honor those who served in that war, veterans she described as the most patriotic people she knows.
“I want (my readers) to feel satisfied that enduring love is worth it,” she said. “It would have been so easy for the main character to give up, but she kept looking for 40 years. The mind may forget, but the heart will remember.”
Her idea that the heart remembers was reinforced when she learned of the theory of cellular memory. Though disputed in the scientific community, the hypothesis is that cells themselves contain memories of the life they lived. This becomes evident when, for example, a heart transplant patient begins to have a craving for a food they themselves have never eaten, but the heart donor enjoyed regularly.
Huey said the most difficult part of writing the book was making sure of her facts. Even though the story is fictional, the details about the war needed to be real.
“Did they have pop back then?” she asked. “Did it have the pull-off tabs? Was this perfume available back then?”
Huey read several accounts of the war along with DVDs viewings to prepare her to write the story. When it came to the characters themselves, she allowed for a more natural development.
“When it comes to writing, you have ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers,’” she said. “The ‘plotters’ plot everything. I can do that for nonfiction. But for fiction, I can’t. I have to write by the seat of my pants.”
This allows the characters to have a personality of their own. Sometimes, she said, scenes will appear in her head like a movie, and she simply has to write it down.
Huey herself is very involved in the writing community. She is a mentor with the Christian Writers Guild, headed by “Left Behind” series author Jerry B. Jenkins. She also holds workshops around the area and enjoys getting her students involved.
“I’ve taught how to get an agent,” she said. I’ve taught on how to write devotionals. I have probably 10 different workshops that I teach.”
“The Heart Remembers,” by Helping Hands Press, is available now for download to both the Kindle and the Nook through Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble online. Its currently enjoying a five-star rating on Amazon.com at press time. Physical copies of the book are also available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble online as well as the Book Nook in Punxsutawney and the Book Nook in Indiana on Philadelphia Street.Huey will be speaking Saturday at the Harmony Grove Lutheran Church in Creekside on the topic “What Kind of Bag Are You?” She can be contacted through her website at michelethuey.com.