A lifetime ago, in a town called Sweethaven, four girls made a scrapbook. They were best friends – almost sisters – and it seemed that nothing could ever overcome those bonds. But life changes and people make mistakes and move on and scrapbooks are torn apart and scattered. Now Campbell Carter, daughter of Suzanne Carter has returned to Sweethaven to find some answers. So have Lila, Jane, and Meghan who, along with the late Suzanne, were those four girls. They were brought back to their hometown by letters that Suzanne wrote each of them before her passing and now they’re reliving, remembering and healing… exactly as Suzanne had hoped they would.

Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK?

We were gifted a trip to stay in a friend’s vacation cottage on Lake Michigan. I fell in love with
the idea of going back to the same cottage and the same
community every summer … having friends you saw every year, kids
growing up together. It was the start of a beautiful daydream!
Then, I tied that in to my scrapbooking experience. I sort of
melded those two things together to create a story about a group
of women brought together by their love of scrapbooking in a
little town on the lake.

Q: ALTHOUGH YOUR BOOK IS FICTION – WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF
SOME ELEMENTS IN THE BOOK THAT CAME FROM REAL LIFE?

I added in
lots of my real life, but usually in small doses like little
descriptors of inanimate objects. There’s a school pick-up scene
with one of the characters that pretty much describes my
everyday. And the scrapbook … how they made it, what the pages
looked like … in my mind I’ve already created those pages and
looked them over enough times to fray the edges. I also included
a few memories, like one of the girl’s gets teased by a couple
of other girls–I flipped some of the facts around, but the
emotion of the scene comes straight from real life.

Q: WHEN MAKING UP STORIES, HOW MUCH DO YOU DRAW ON YOUR OWN LIFE
EXPERIENCES AND PEOPLE YOU KNOW, VERSUS DRAWING ON RESEARCH
ABOUT COMPLETE STRANGERS?

I have a very overactive imagination,
so I may start with the foundation of someone I know, but the
characters really morph into their own people. It wouldn’t
surprise me one bit to run into one of these characters at the
grocery store. They’re that real to me. One of my favorite
things about writing is being able to breathe life into people
and give them everything from a name to a shoe size. I have a
degree in theatre, and my favorite part of acting was always
digging into the character–discovering what made them tick, how
they walked, what they ate for breakfast. I do that now as a
writer, allow the characters to take on their own personalities.

Q: WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

Right now I’m working
on the third book in the Sweethaven series. The first draft is
nearly done! I just finished my final edits on the second book
last week, so it’s been busy. And, I’ve got a few other stories
bouncing around that I can’t wait to write! My husband and I are
also just finishing a musical version of Hercules for Christian
Youth Theatre, Chicago. Working with him makes the writing even
more fun! (Plus, he adds a soundtrack which is always a bonus!)

Q: FACT VS. FICTION – WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME EXAMPLES
IN YOUR NOVEL WHERE YOU TOOK SOME LIBERTIES WITH THE FACTS?

The
clearest example I can think of is the town itself. I did a lot
of research about Michigan beach towns and sort of pulled in
elements from various places. Sweethaven doesn’t really exist,
but lots of parts of it sure do! (Some days I just want to
escape there, spend the nights scrapbooking with my girlfriends
and the days on the beach with my family … heavenly!)

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About The Author

Courtney Walsh is a work-from-home mom who is married to an editor. After eleven years in church ministry, they moved from Illinois to Colorado to pursue a different life. Since publishing two books focusing on her favorite hobby, scrapbooking, she is working on a three-book series for Guideposts books while also serving as a Contributing Editor for Children's Ministry Magazine.