When Florida-based author Brenda Richardson-McGhee began writing her second novel, a prequel to her first book “A Harlot’s Heart,” she knew she wanted part of the story to take place in a small city of Alabama.
After speaking with her friend Judy Hale in a town in Alabama where she grew up, Richardson-McGhee decided to put part of her book, “A Harlot’s Hope”, in Phil Campbell.
“I knew I wanted a city of less than 1,000 people,” said Richardson-McGhee. “I was telling her about a few options, and when I mentioned Phil Campbell, she told me she lived there before.”
Although Richardson-McGhee never personally visited Phil Campbell while she was writing the book, Hale said several things she had written by coincidence were ultimately true for the city.
“She talked about how one of her characters worked at Piggly Wiggly, but she had no idea there was one here,” Hale said. “There were so many different places in the book that ended up being true to the city.”
Richardson-McGhee has spent the past few weeks touring the towns his books are in, and she and Hale traveled to Phil Campbell on Tuesday for a city tour.
“One of the character’s fathers is a preacher, so we had to come and take a picture in front of the church he allegedly attended,” said Richardson-McGhee – thus, the two made a visit to the church from the catering, among their several stops.
Richardson-McGhee said while touring Phil Campbell, she was surprised at how similar the city is to what she described in the book.
“Much of it is exactly as I imagined it to be,” said Richardson-McGhee.
Richardson-McGhee is a Christian romance author whose stories focus on the theme of redemption.
“Really, we are all prostitutes of God and cheated on him in one way or another,” said Richardson-McGhee.
She said the book tackles more difficult topics, such as human trafficking and abuse, which she says are real-life issues that need to be addressed.
“It’s a story about all the obstacles people faced and how they found a way out,” said Richardson-McGhee. “Every time I look at my books and what I put in them, I hope people are able to get the message that no matter what you’ve been through, God still loves you.”