Nicole Deese is a full-time lover of humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled fiction. Her latest Love in Lenox novel is A New Shade of Summer (Waterfall Press). Artist Callie Quinn is eager to draw out the untapped artistic talents of her nephew’s friend— but it’s the boy’s straitlaced single father who can use a little color in his life. In this interview, she shares the theme of the Love in Lenox series, which character surprised her most, and what readers can do to support their favorite authors…
What inspired the story in A New Shade of Summer?
A large part of this story was actually inspired by a dear friend of mine who has been in my life since my church youth group days in the late ‘90s. (Throwback to the original JanSport backpack, crimped hair, and the best romantic movie of its time, Ever After.) I “borrowed” many of my friend’s unique and free-spirited attributes as I wrote my heroine’s storyline in A New Shade of Summer.
Her creative and joyous personality became the perfect match to the stoic (and sometimes stormy) nature of my hero, Davis Carter, who was a secondary character in A Season to Love, book two in the series. As an avid reader, I adore opposites-attract romances. There’s something ultra-special about two people with opposing strengths and weaknesses gaining a new life-balance through the journey of love. The romantic chemistry and connection between Callie Quinn and Davis Carter quickly became one of my favorite love stories to write.
What’s the overarching theme of the Love in Lenox series?
If I had to narrow it down to just one theme: Hope. Our world is full of uncertainty and brokenness—broken dreams, promises, and pasts—yet hope awaits on the other side of any heartache. I strive to write honest characters who are willing to cross that bridge, no matter how wide the divide. For Callie and Davis that hope looks like the belief in a second chance at a new beginning—in life and in love.
As you were writing the series, which character surprised you the most?
I’m pretty sure all my Lenox characters have surprised me at one point or another while writing, but Willa Hart from A Season to Love is probably the most memorable of them all. Willa’s struggle with fear and anxiety waged war on every decision she made in her life. At one point while writing my first draft, I was deeply concerned that my readers would find her too fragile to root for. But that changed during one pivotal scene near the middle of her story. In one inspired moment, the key to unlocking her courage was right there at my fingertips. I cried while writing that particular hiking scene. Willa proved once and for all that strength has nothing to do with stature or personality… and everything to do with the tenacity of a heart.
What are the challenges of writing romances as a Christian author?
I believe authenticity is the key to characters coming to life on the page. And, in my opinion, it’s also the key to writing a faith-based storyline that reads both heartfelt and pure. At times, it’s crucial for me to take a step back from my manuscript to ensure my author voice isn’t clouding the natural flow of dialogue between my characters. My goal is not to write a book full of inspirational wall quotes, it’s to write honest words that connect to the heart of my reader.
What can readers do to support their favorite authors?
Leaving a review for an author you enjoy reading is equivalent to handing them a surprise bouquet of their favorite flower. Your words and feedback are so important to the launch of a new novel and/or to the continued success of an older novel. We seek advice on what we read from many places—friends, social media, book clubs—but online book retailers remain a huge place of influence for undecided readers.
A New Shade of Summer
Love in Lenox #3