Henke, Roxanne (Sayler) 1954(?)–

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Henke, Roxanne (Sayler) 1954(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1954, in Wishek, ND; married Lorren Henke (a bank president); children: Rachael, Tegan. Education: University of Mary, degree in behavioral and social science. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, walking, bicycling, piano-playing, spending time at her cabin in northern Minnesota.

ADDRESSES: Home—Wishek, ND. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harvest House Publishers, 990 Owen Loop N., Eugene, OR 97402-9173. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Newspaper humor columnist for Wishek Star, Wishek, ND, and other North Dakota newspapers; writer and performer in comedy duo; author of and performer in radio commercials; novelist.

AWARDS, HONORS: Favorite Book of 2002 citation, Christianbook.com, for After Anne; named Writer of the Year, Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, 2003.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS; "COMING HOME TO BREWSTER" SERIES

After Anne, Harvest House (Eugene, OR), 2002.

Finding Ruth, Harvest House (Eugene, OR), 2003.

Becoming Olivia, Harvest House (Eugene, OR), 2004.

Always Jan, Harvest House (Eugene, OR), 2005.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The fifth and final book in the "Coming Home to Brewster" series.

SIDELIGHTS: North Dakota-based author Roxanne Henke is the author of the "Coming Home to Brewster" series of inspirational Christian fiction. Her stories center on women as they struggle with the mundane challenges that nearly everyone must face at some point in their lives: growing older, helping a friend cope with cancer, fighting to overcome depression, and searching for contentment and peace.

Henke's first book, After Anne, was drawn very closely from Henke's own life experiences. "I really did have a close friend who had breast cancer," she explained on her Web site. "I walked with her through that journey and felt compelled to capture the essence of our friendship during that wonderful and awful time on paper." Like Henke once did, protagonist Olivia Marsden writes a column for a small-town North Dakota paper while hoping someday to move on to writing novels. Although she's not really a people-person, Olivia eventually becomes close friends with a new woman in town, Anne Abbot, and finds her life transformed when Anne is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

"Readers are drawn into the lives of Anne and Olivia as they share their experiences," Bev Huston explained in a review for RomanticTimes.com. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that "Henke's poignant writing will … make even the most jaded readers reach for the Kleenex," while Romance Reader's Connection online contributor Tracy Farnsworth declared, "I can guarantee a few Kleenex will not work. Plan on having the entire box by your side."

Finding Ruth is a reinterpretation of the Bible story of the "prodigal son" that also plays on one of Henke's common themes: that life in small, rural towns can often be more fulfulling than life in large, impersonal cities. When she graduates from high school, Ruth dreams of leaving Brewster, North Dakota, for a glamorous life somewhere else. She turns down a marriage proposal from her teenage sweetheart, Paul Bennett, to follow her dreams, but then begins a bad relationship with an alcoholic, Jack Warner. Many years later, she still has not left Brewster; in fact, she is running a struggling radio station in the town. She does, however, finally find the courage to show Jack the door.

While some critics thought that Finding Ruth features a conclusion that is obvious, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "Henke's engaging voice and competent prose" make her a "novelist to watch." Booklist reviewer John Mort also commented upon Henke's writing style, calling her "portrait of tiny little Brewster … vibrant."

"For me, the best part of being a writer is knowing that I am doing what God planned for me to do," Henke wrote on her Web site. "The second-best thing," she continued, "… is the mail I get from readers. To know my stories touch people, make them think, and even sometimes change their lives is utterly amazing … and humbling."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2003, John Mort, review of Finding Ruth, p. 1146.

Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2002, review of After Anne, p. 76; November 18, 2002, review of Finding Ruth, p. 43.

ONLINE

Harvest House Publishers Web site, http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/ (March 23, 2005), "Roxanne Henke."

Romance Reader's Connection Web site, http://www.the romancereadersconnection.com/ (May 6, 2002), Tracy Fransworth, review of After Anne.

Romance Studio Web site, http://theromancestudio.com/ (March 23, 2005), Francis Materi, review of Becoming Olivia.

RomanticTimes.com, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (April 23, 2005), Bev Huston, review of After Anne; Jill Elizabeth Nelson, review of Becoming Olivia.

Roxanne Henke Home Page, http://www.roxannehenke.com (March 23, 2005).