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Author bases book in Phil Campbell

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 town in Alabama.

After talking with friend Judy Hale about a town in Alabama where she grew up, Richardson-McGhee decided to set part of her book, “A Harlot’s Hope,” in Phil Campbell.

“I knew I wanted a town with less than 1,000 people,” Richardson-McGhee said. “I was talking to her about a few options, and when I mentioned Phil Campbell, she told me she used to live there.”

Although Richardson-McGhee had never personally visited Phil Campbell at the time she wrote the book, Hale said several things she wrote coincidently ended up being true to the town.

“She talked about how one of her characters worked at the Piggly Wiggly, but she had no idea there was one here,” Hale said. “There were so many different places in the book which ended up being true to the town.”

Richardson-McGhee has spent the past few weeks touring towns her books are set in, and she and Hale traveled to Phil Campbell Tuesday for a tour of the town.

“One of the character’s dad is a preacher, so we had to come take a picture in front of the church where he would have attended,” said Richardson-McGhee – thus, the two made a visit to Restoration Church, among their several stops.

Richardson-McGhee said when touring Phil Campbell, she was surprised to see how similar the town is to what she described in the book.

“So much of it is exactly as I pictured it,” Richardson-McGhee said.

Richardson-McGhee is a Christian romance author with stories focusing around the theme of redemption.

“Really, we are all harlots to God and have cheated on him in some way or another,” Richardson-McGhee said.

She said the book addresses tougher topics, such as human trafficking and abuse, which she feels are real-life issues in need of being addressed.

“This is a story about all of the obstacles people faced and how they found a way to make it through,” Richardson-McGhee said. “Whenever I look at my books and what I put in there, I hope people are able to understand the message that no matter what you have gone through, God still loves you.”