The author discusses her 3-in-1 romance collection
Hawaiian Dreams: Only God can make these twisted paths straight—but will anyone let Him?
Q: Your ‘Romancing America’ book started out as separate titles for the Heartsong Presents readers. Tell us how the individual novels are linked together into a larger picture.
Hawaiian Dreams contains my three Heartsong Presents novels By The Beckoning Sea, To Love a Gentle Stranger and Sweet Joy of my Life.While I was working on the proposals for these novels, my younger daughter Heather moved to Hawaii to work with the missionary organization Youth With a Mission — which plays a part in my second novel. She soon married a young man she met there and they settled in Kona. My husband and I had the pleasure of cruising the Hawaiian Islands several times and visiting our daughter. During those visits my imagination was captivated by the beauty and mystique of the Islands. I knew my three novels needed to take place in that exotic locale.
Q: When you were originally writing the series, how much were you focused on each individual title — and how much on how each piece fit into the larger story?
I was completely consumed with each individual story as I wrote it. The characters in each novel are different, although Kona is the setting for two of the novels and Honolulu is the setting for the third. The three novels tell very different stories. In Beckoning Sea, Ashley starts out with a broken heart and is eventually torn between two suitors; in Gentle Stranger, newlywed Marnie suffers amnesia and finds her young husband a complete stranger to her; and in Sweet Joy, two men seek Kayli’s love, but one of them brings danger, even the threat of death. The common thread in these stories is how the natural beauty and exotic culture of Hawaii impact each of the characters.
Q: What was your inspiration for the original series? (And how much did your original plan change over the course of the arc?)
My initial inspiration involved the characters rather than the setting. The plots were at first basic and not well fleshed out, but as I continued to develop the stories and realized I wanted their setting to be Hawaii, my imagination sparked with countless ways that the lush, tropical atmosphere of Hawaii could shape and guide my stories. The plots and characters evolved dramatically from my original, rather generic ideas into the final drafts of my manuscripts. My characters became very specific people whose experiences would not likely have occurred anywhere else but Hawaii.
Q: How does your faith influence your writing?
My faith always impacts and shapes my writing, because my faith in Christ affects everything I think and am. From the time I was a teenager I knew God was calling me to write. It was a call, not merely to a career, but to a ministry. I learned early the power of “story” and I saw how stories could influence and help people. I wanted to write stories that would make Jesus more real to people in their everyday lives.
Q: What do you most hope readers get out of your fiction?
As readers get absorbed in my stories, I hope they will see that my characters struggle with many of their same problems. I hope readers will catch a glimpse of how God works in our lives and helps and sustains us in our grief and pain. I hope my readers will feel that they know Jesus a little better and will be inspired to turn to Him with their own needs. I pray that I leave them with a feeling of hope and encouragement — and, yes, maybe even a little joy.