A gilded-age mansion hosts the setting for the sharing of stories in a city of strangers

Best-selling Romance and Contemporary genre author Rachel Hauck is a Christy award winner and a recipient of Romantic Times’ Career Achievement Award. Her latest novel, The Fifth Avenue Story Society (Thomas Nelson): When five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, no one is prepared to reveal their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers. Yet they discover the stories of their hearts—and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls. In our exclusive interview, Rachel explains what sparked the book, divulges her favorite character, and shares the journey of writing the story.

Rachel, explain to us what the Fifth Avenue Story Society is.

This society is about community, about the story that is in each one of us. The characters are fortunate enough to meet in an old, gilded age mansion library.

We’re introduced to five specific people–are they the only members of the Society, or do they meet still others there?

The five are the only members of the society. Later on there’s an honorary member, but for the duration the five who received the mysterious invitation are the only ones who attend the Monday evening meetings.

What can you tell us about your characters?

The characters are all a little broken and wounded. They are trying to work their way out of past mistakes when they get invited to the Fifth Avenue Library. They all have secrets.

Are they based on anyone you know? Did you have a favorite?

I suppose all characters have aspects of people I know, of myself, but when developing the society’s fab five, they took on a life of their own. I love all the characters, but I think Ed is my favorite. (Shhh, don’t tell the others.)

Which character surprised you the most?

What a great question. I had to think about it. I’m not sure any of them surprised me–I am the story boss after all–but they all blessed me!

What inspired this story?

I spoke at a local writers meeting and during the announcements, the leader said, “Don’t forget to get with your story circles,” and I was launched into story world. I instantly saw a group of people sitting in a circle, wondering what they were doing there. The story kind of bloomed up from my heart.

I came home and wrote a synopsis for The Story Circle in ten minutes and emailed it to my agent. He loved it. Later on, my publisher and I agreed The Fifth Avenue Story Society was a better title.

Click thru to go behind-the-scenes for Rachel’s book!

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