WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION DRIVING THE STORY IN SWEETHEART REUNION?
My main inspiration came when I was at church and our minister talked about breast cancer. His wife is a breast cancer survivor and so are several other women in our church. He talked about those who love cancer victims and how to deal with that. His advise made me think of how an illness can affect a family. I got the idea of three sisters who have lost their mother to breast cancer. How would that change all of their lives and their feelings regarding falling in love. I decided to set the story in South Louisiana because that part of my beloved state has seen all sorts of tragedies–hurricanes, oil spills and unemployment. The people down there are strong and feisty so I used that Cajun flavor to pay homage to them.
OVER THE COURSE OF WRITING IT, WHO IS THE CHARACTER IN THE STORY WHO SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?
The hero, Julien. I fell for him the minute he popped into my head but when he began to show me his true heart I knew I’d found an interesting, diverse man to love my heroine Alma.
WHEN MAKING UP STORIES, HOW MUCH DO YOU DRAW ON YOUR OWN LIFE EXPERIENCE AND THOSE OF THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW, VERSUS DRAWING ON RESEARCH ABOUT COMPLETE STRANGERS?
I think writers put a little of themselves in each book. I’ve lost friends to cancer and I’ve watched friends survive cancer. I’ve had my heart broken the way Alma’s heart was broken in the book. I’ve lost loves ones and wondered why they had to die. I’ve found that every stranger I meet has a story that is full of joy and tragedy and complications and resolutions. And hope. We have to have faith and hope. That’s what I try to show with my characters.
WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK?
See above … that no matter how bad things seem, there is always hope because God has given us that grace. The theme “Love never fails” is always in my head when I write my stories. I believe love never fails, and I believe even when I’m in great despair, God will see me through if I only cling to his hope and grace and love. I want readers to feel that hope after reading one of my books. My hope is that I’ll touch someone with my words and bring them back to God or give them enough hope to never give up. And … I want them to smile and sigh when they read the last page.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I’m working on the second book in my bayou series–Sweetheart Bride. This is Alma’s sister, Brenna, and her story. There will be a third book, too. Alma and Brenna’s older sister Callie will get her own story!