Night Bird Calling

Q & A with Cathy Gohlke

Three-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Cathy is giving away a hard copy of Night Bird Calling to one commenter on this blog. And here’s my review of this novel: Religion can cause great pain when it’s used to control others, and there’s a vast difference between this kind of travesty and true spirituality. The author has the courage to go behind the scenes with abuses kept hidden in other eras, but also shows how healing results through honesty and faith.

What inspired you to write Night Bird Calling?

Years ago I wrote a number of short stories based on some quirky characters in a fictional North Carolina foothills town called No Creek. I loved those characters, but in order to create a novel I needed an outside character who could see both strengths and foibles in my town folk and still care about them, still want to become part of their community, and who could tie their stories together.

For many years I’ve also wrestled with the idea of writing about the racial divide and abuse I saw growing up during years of the civil rights movement in the South, as well as domestic abuse and church oppression, things I experienced in my youth and young womanhood. Night Bird Calling is the marriage of all those experiences and stories.

Night Bird Calling involves some very challenging topics like domestic abuse, racism, and church abuse. What motivated you to write on these topics? I grew up mostly in the South during years of the civil rights movement, where I witnessed segregation, desegregation, racial oppression, and abuse but also heroic stands against injustice and some hard-won changes. I learned that attitudes do not change just because laws change. Transformation of the heart is also needed.

That is as true today as it was then. As a young woman, I ran away from an abusive marriage and an oppressive church. My journey toward emotional and spiritual healing took many years. I want women in similar situations to know that they are not alone, that God loves them so very dearly and that the condemnations of their oppressors do not come from Him.

I wrote Night Bird Calling not only for victims of abuse, but in the hope that readers might gain insight, sympathy, and empathy for those who’ve been abused or pushed down, that they might better understand and see creative ways they can help, ways they can be a voice for the voiceless or those needing someone to walk alongside them.

Visit website at and Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.




8 thoughts on “Night Bird Calling

  1. This sounds so compelling. I’ve been so focused on Iowa stories but have had two with southern roots as an endorser for a new book and one was a beta reader. Both have memoirs, which I’m featuring on my website toward the end of June. One has finished a new book about chaplains serving Confederate units, which is something I’d never thought about.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Joy. I hope you enjoy Night Bird Calling. Writing a story set in the American South was a real coming home for me after spending so much time in WWII Europe and Britain. The subject matter for this book is close to my heart and I hope a blessing to readers. God bless you in your writing and relationships!

  2. So well said ladies; “Hearts don’t change because the laws do.” Such an important point. Understanding the cycle of abuse, I’m praising God you too escaped it ma’am. The only control we should have in our lives is self-control; given by the Holy Spirit. I agree that church, society, etc. should not be used as a control mechanism. If we’re doing it right, then we won’t need to be controlled by others who are as messed up as we are. Amen!

  3. Thank you for stopping by and expressing your thoughts, J. D. Yes, I agree that the control we want is self-control and guidance by the Holy Spirit. Praise God for the example of Jesus Christ in how to live in the Spirit!

  4. What a wonderful interview with Cathy. This book addresses such hard but important topics that we all need to take to heart. As Christians we need to encourage others, shine light in the darkness and be His hands and feet. He will help us be more than conquerors. Thank you for writing from the heart Cathy. This book definitely sounds like a must read.

    • Thank you, Maryann, for stopping by. Yes, we are called to be His hands and feet, just as you said. What a blessing that is–what an amazing gift and opportunity! I remember just before Easter my daughter posted a meme on her FB page that said something like “If it was your last day on earth, what would you do? Jesus washed feet.” That sticks in my mind and answers so many questions about how to live our lives. God bless!

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