A Behind-the-Scenes Peek at “Waves of Mercy”

The story of the Dutch immigrants who settled Holland, Michigan has interested me for many years. I grew up in an area of New York State that was originally settled by the Dutch, and I visited Holland, Michigan for the first time as a Hope College freshman. I saw how proud the community was of their faith and their Dutch heritage—so much so, that they imported a 250 year-old windmill from the Netherlands as the showpiece of their town, and planted nearly 4 ½ million tulips in parks and gardens and along city streets. The annual Tulip Time Festival brings swarms of tourists in cars and buses and motor homes to the otherwise quiet town. All of this impressed me as a young college student.

Tulip Time Dancers

 

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I met my husband Ken while we were students at Hope College, and although he grew up in Holland, he didn’t know very much about his Dutch ancestry on his mother’s side. In the years since, we’ve learned that his family immigrated to Holland, Michigan in 1871. Here’s a picture of Ken’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. (Evidently their wives were camera shy.)

ancestors

When Ken and I decided to move back to Michigan two years ago, I began researching Holland’s history to see if it would make a good novel. I wasn’t disappointed! The first Dutch settlers arrived here in 1846 for religious freedom after suffering persecution and famine in the Netherlands. Since that’s been true of so many other immigrant peoples over the years, I knew the story would resonate with many readers. I was very surprised to learn how much hardship these early settlers suffered while founding this community. If nothing else, their story taught me not to take our religious freedom or the American Dream for granted.371426546741_1

The Dutch settlers chose this area—which was a virgin forest back then—because it was on the inland waterways of Black Lake and Lake Michigan. I was struck by the beauty of Lake Michigan’s beaches as a college student, and again whenever Ken and I visited his family in Holland. I learned that several resort hotels once perched on the shoreline in the late 1800s, bringing vacationers from Chicago by steamship. So I decided that the Hotel Ottawa Resort would also play a part in Waves of Mercy.

ottawa hotel

By the time I finished my research, I was very impressed by the commitment the Dutch community had to each other and to God. As I researched the many hardships the original settlers faced, I found it amazing that their faith in God never seemed to falter. And the settlers’ faith is still very strong and vibrant in Holland today, which has more than 70 churches in a population of 33,000—including this church, built by the first settlers in 1856.

Pillar Church, Holland, MI

I won’t give away any more of my story because I hate “spoilers.” But I hope you’ll enjoy Waves of Mercy when it’s finally released next month. Happy reading!

To preorder your copy of Waves of Mercy click the cover below.

Release date: October 4, 2016

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24 comments

  1. Can’t wait to read this book. Having lived in the area for 22 years, I consider it home now and I’m looking forward to learning the background of the first settlers.

  2. I like to read history in a fictional setting, this one sounds great, do you need any bloggers to read and review and give your book “Early Notice”…

  3. Lynn,
    I’m so excited to see a novel about the Dutch, or Nederlanders! The first one I found was by Liz Tolsma and while I love her books, she can only “crank out” so many books a year!
    My family emigrated to America via Holland, Michigan as well. I am, as far as I can tell, 3rd generation American with all four sets of grandparents being from the Netherlands.
    I have been finding historical novels about my native state that involve the logging industry, lighthouses and keepers, and the trappers and natives in the UP.
    I have loved reading your books since finding “Fire by Night” a few years back. It grabbed my heart and showed me something so deep about God’s plans for my life (He has one, and He will never leave me alone as He works it out in me). I have never been impacted by any novel like I was with that one. I treasure it still. I just wanted you to know that. I’m sure there are times you may wonder if your writing is doing much of anything but entertaining readers. Yes, it is. God has blessed me, given me a kick in the pants ( in just the way I needed it), or tickled me, with each book of yours that I’ve read. So, thank you for all the hours you put into writing. You’re not only giving us books to enjoy. I believe you’re being obedient to the Spirit of God.
    Be blessed, my friend.

    1. Hi Cheryl. Thanks so much for sharing how “Fire by Night” impacted your life. That is so encouraging to me to hear! I hope you enjoy the new book and this peek into what your Dutch ancestors might have experienced. Blessings!

  4. So excited to read this book! Mine and my husbands ancestors came here from the Netherlands in 1850 and settled near Holland, MI. I have an uncle that pastored the pillar church for some time.

    1. Wow, Joyce! Your ancestors could be in my book! I never appreciated all that these immigrants went through until I researched “Waves of Mercy.” You should be very proud of your family!

  5. My ancestors were also part of the original settlers who came to Holland with Albertus Van Raalte. I can’t wait to read the book and see if there are any Van Puttens in there..

    1. How blessed you are to have ancestors of faith who followed God! I’m sorry to say that there won’t be any Van Puttens in the story. There was so much rich history to tell, but I had to stick to the story of my made-up people. I truly admire your ancestors after reading all that they endured.

  6. If your mother in law’s family is still living in Holland…pretty good chance I know them or of them! I’m so excited about this book! Wish I wouldn’t have missed the book launch but very honored to help get the word out non the less. Best wishes on your new baby!

  7. I have loved every book of yours that I have read. Saying that, I am sure I will enjoy your new baby, “Waves of Mercy.” Know that you touch us readers in various ways. I love learning how early settlers lived and endured.

    Sincerely,
    Helen

  8. Lynn – I just finished reading “Wave of Mercy”. As all your other books have done, this story drew me in from page one and I couldn’t put it down. Please tell me you will continue Anna and Derk’s story with a sequel! I thank you for using your God-given talent to write amazing stories of faith in God.

  9. Hi, Lynne…

    Just finished Waves of Mercy and loved it, as I have loved all your books. Please tell me that you are working on a sequel. Thanks for another wonderful book.

  10. I ordered this book because I love books by Lynn Austin. I knew right away it would be a great book. I was born in the Netherlands and so immigrating to Canada gave me
    some idea of how our family felt once settled. I still speak Dutch, I love God with all my heart, go to church each Sunday, still twice a Sunday. So many familiar things in this story, the peppermints especially haha. Great reading Lynn, I need to get some more to read. I hope to find a series of your books. I will keep looking. Your stories are amazing, good for you.

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