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The Pen’s Healing Power: An Interview with N. Ford, author of The Refuge


Ford spends most free time in the open air, usually barefooted and with readily available mango. An alumni of Taylor University and Central Florida University, Ford exists somewhere between a midwesterner and a beach bum, and currently resides alongside the mountains in Tennessee. With the steady company of a giant dog and something to write on, anywhere will do. Defined by faith, fueled by tribe, and driven by purpose, Ford writes for all—and, simultaneously, for just One. Learn more and join the tribe at

You can buy The Refuge here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Titling The Refuge was the easiest part of the novel and of the trilogy. The Refuge is the name of the ship upon which the story rests from beginning to end, thereby the Refuge Trilogy, and The Refuge, Book One of the Refuge Trilogy felt as natural as the sea on which it sails. Books two and three have been much more difficult to title. Book three perplexes me still.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I cried. No really, I did. When I saw Matthew’s design, I was just moved. I have no ability to make things look pretty and Matthew’s giftedness is on full display in the cover of the novel. He captures the story and essence of the Refuge in a way I could never achieve and I’ll never stop being grateful for his ability.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I never knew that writing was something I would pursue. I was that kid who had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. I chose three majors and ended up with two degrees—I don’t think any of them were the right fit. I got into writing as a cathartic tool after a personal trauma and discovered not only its intrinsic healing power, but the joy I received when crafting words into story. Now I’m enjoying the dynamic expressions and impact of writing fiction, non-fiction, and song. Sometimes, I guess, one finds the right path by simply moving ahead. My off-trail wandering still brought me to the path intended for my feet. It just took a little longer, a few more scratches, and many more hours of watching the stars than I expected.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Goodness. My undergraduate work is in Exercise Physiology. I’ve spent nearly fifteen years doing personal training, healthful behavior change, and corporate wellness. My graduate work is in Emergency & Crisis Management and has involved hurricane response duties in Florida. How one gets to writing novels and songs after that, I will never know, but hopefully the two marry to make some great stories.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The long game tarries. It tests patience and grit and resilience. The most rewarding part of publishing The Refuge was the knowledge that a seven-year goal was completed. It was an education in patience and stamina, and it grew grit in me that I didn’t know was possible. The second novel will not take so long, but when the trilogy is complete and I move on to new writing projects I will have a resilience that will not die.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Almost anything by Audiomachine, but especially Guardians at the Gate, Breath and Life, and The Divine in All of Us.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

More than anything, The Refuge is about the value of human life in all its various expressions. The one thing I hope readers take away is that they are worthwhile—that belonging is available to them—and that new beginnings, new stories—redemptions—are always possible.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

Book Two of the Refuge Trilogy, Refuge Red, is approaching the editorial phase. It’s been so fun to write and I cannot wait for readers to get their hands on it!

Also in the works is an unassociated novel called Helmless. This is a standalone novel that will take years to complete but has received great encouragement thus far.

Songwriting has become a fast favorite of mine as well after moving to Tennessee. Many of these songs will be put on my author site after they’ve been cut and produced, so keep an eye out for the coming song section on the site!

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Working with Atmosphere Press has been a gift. For a total newcomer, the staff has been nothing but patient, kind, and transparent. I feel grateful to have come across Atmosphere and won’t hesitate to work with them again and again.

You can buy The Refuge here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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