The seeds for the first book in the Within the Castle Gates series started as a dream that quite honestly had a bit of a Snow White fairy tale twist. I woke up thinking about a heroine whose scars were actually a blessing instead of a curse. In fact, having already survived the worst life had to give, she embodied the fact that sometimes the most heroic live in plain sight.

Overlooked. Scarred. Judged. Belittled. She could have been insecure in her identity. Believed the lies. Hidden her talents. Lived on the fringes of society. Considered herself unworthy of a future. Retreated instead of standing up for those who needed her most.

I wondered about this woman for years as the story idea percolated in the back of my mind. What caused her injuries? Why wasn’t she bitter? Were the scars only skin deep or would they prevent her from taking her rightful place? And what would jar her from the status quo to make a change?

Of course, when it came time to start plotting the rest of the story, I needed a hero who would inspire her to come out the shadows. But I also wanted her to play an influential role in his journey as well. And for that I gave him a similar position as an outsider but for a different reason.

Once these two flawed individuals met, I gave them a common goal and a common enemy. Then, sat back and watched as they challenged each other to take on more leadership roles and eventually embrace their true identities.

And in the middle of the story, I uncovered an unexpected object lesson. In the Scottish Highlands, especially in medieval times, there was no greater role model than the warrior. Men who defended their families and clan, fought for freedom, and bore the marks of battle on their bodies as badges of honor and courage. Scars marked them as survivors and gave them a story to tell.

So, in the middle of their journey, Evan Sinclair pointed out that Moira’s scars marked her as a warrior. As a woman capable of leading others, especially offering hope and comfort to those who had experienced similar pain.

Meanwhile, in protecting Moira from danger, Evan uncovers his own inner warrior. He actually has something to offer his clan…and hers. And while others overlooked him in favor of his brother, that did not make him any less of a hero.

Besides, it’s never wise to underestimate what God can do though willing hearts who are willing to step into the light.

What about you? Have you ever felt overlooked or insecure because of your flaws? Did someone come alongside and encourage you to step into the light instead? Are your scars the symbol of a survivor? What does it mean to be heroic?

Stepping Into the Light – Sometimes the Most Heroic Live in Plain Sight