by Ashley Clark
I often say Where the Last Rose Blooms is my “newest” novel, but in reality, I actually drafted this story prior to writing the first book in the series, The Dress Shop on King Street. At first drafting, I had no idea what God was about to do. I just had this instinct deep in my heart that He was giving me the story, and it was my responsibility to steward it.
When I first wrote Where the Last Rose Blooms years ago, it was about a mysterious fire that destroyed a large part of Charleston during the Civil War, as well as about Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed much of New Orleans. The book was a story of resilience, and, in many ways, you could say it still is. That version of the story was also rejected. While at the time, I was heartsick over those rejections, I look back now and realize God had a much bigger plan in the works all along.
My husband and I were on a short trip to New Orleans around that time, and we made a point to stop at Preservation Hall, which is a historic jazz venue that’s the setting for a very important scene in the book. I will never forget that visit. As I watched the musicians and took in my surroundings, I felt as though my story had come to life, and I knew the experience of having heard jazz there would be formative for what happened next for the novel.
As it turns out, what happened next for the novel was the year 2020. Need I say more? Once I realized Where the Last Rose Blooms was actually not a stand-alone story but a very important part of a three-book series, everything changed. Not only did a beautiful door open for me to partner with Bethany House, but the stories themselves found a complexity they had been lacking as standalones. That said, despite being contracted, I still wondered how I was going to strengthen this book to get it up to par. When the pandemic hit and the world turned upside down, in some ways it became very difficult for those of us who are writers to know what to offer. We were overwhelmed, and tired, and unsure just like anybody else. And that’s when I realized Where the Last Rose Blooms isn’t just a story about resilience. It’s a story about Emmanuel, God with us through the storm.
Going through edits and rewrites was not an easy task for this book, because I wanted to plumb the characters’ feelings of loss and confusion, and in many ways, those feelings mirrored my own and what were likely your own and the rest of the world’s. This book is an honest look at what is left when we ask God where He is during difficult times, when we maybe even feel as though He’s left us.
In all of that, God brought me back to the cross—to that moment when even Jesus asked for another way, another door to open so He would not have to endure the cross. Keep in mind, that prayer was not sinful. Yet still, God’s answer was gloriously complex—for Jesus took on our suffering not just to absolve it, but to participate with us in our humanity. And He remains with us still.
We may not always have the answers to life’s difficult questions this side of heaven, and we may feel as though our heart-prayers haven’t been answered as we’d like them to be, and both of those things can be really challenging. But make no mistake about this—God is not the author of our suffering, but rather the One who redeems it. He remains with us through it all, as He does His resurrection work in our lives. My characters learn this firsthand in Where the Last Rose Blooms, and I truly pray God ministers to your own heart through their story.
About the Author
Ashley Clark writes romantic women's fiction set in the South. With a master's degree in creative writing, Ashley teaches literature and writing courses at the University of West Florida. Ashley has been an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers for almost a decade. She lives with her husband, son, and two rescued Cocker Spaniels off Florida's Gulf Coast. When she's not writing, she's rescuing stray animals, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English breakfast tea she can get her hands on. Learn more at www.AshleyClarkBooks.com.
About the Book
In this dual time novel, Alice runs a New Orleans flower shop alongside her aunt, but thoughts of her mother, who went missing during Hurricane Katrina, are never far from her mind. After getting off on the wrong foot with a handsome yet irritating man who comes to her shop, Alice soon realizes their worlds overlap—and the answers they both seek can be found in the same place.
Did You Know?
Many Christians hold the premise that ghosts are not real and that any so-called sighting must be the work of demons. This is an explanation I provide in my paranormal book, Ghosts of Trumball Mansion. In researching the Christian view of “ghosts,” I came across some interesting theories held by believers.
Any authentic paranormal activity must be labeled as demonic. This opinion, scripturally supported, is the most widely held belief by most evangelicals.
What we call ghosts may be spirits left on the earth awaiting final judgment, those who rejected the way of salvation. Scripture is also used to support this idea. Those who hold this view realize that to be absent from the body, for the believer, is to be present with the Lord. What is disputed is the concept of hell, which supporters of this view believe is a future destination after judgment.
Still other Christians hold to the view that all “paranormal” activity has a basis in scientific or natural explanation.
What is universally accepted by Christians is that Necromancing (deliberate attempts to communicate with the dead) is a sin (Lev 19:31; 20:6; 1 Sam 28:8, 9; Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:4). Best to leave the matter of life and death in the hands of our Creator God.
-Linda Wood Rondeau, Ghosts of Trumball Mansion
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I love my local Christian bookstore because I feel at home as soon as I go through the doors—greeting brothers and sisters in Christ as we browse the shelves, being greeted by staff who know the latest on great Christian fiction and non-fiction and being welcomed with love as an author. I especially love the semi-annual church librarians' nights where I can showcase my novels.”