It’s August. The sun is high,
and not a cloud mars the blue sky. I
take a moment and thank God for the huge old oak tree with limbs
stretching across my yard. Today it’s offering me just enough shade as
I retreat, laptop in hand to my favorite spot . . . the back porch.
I check my notes and prepare my
imaginary road map. It’s time for my “‘virtual jaunt” up north to
interview another author!
Husband, Bill, joins me
outdoors. He hands me a bottle of water and asks, “How’s it going?”
“I’m hot! I’m also eager to get
started—for a couple reasons. One, the author writes romance. Two, I
I wink back. “I’ll grab the
camera; you get Jake (our dog), and I’ll meet you at the Jeep. “We’re
going to Indiana!”
Denise Hunter lives in Indiana
with her husband, Kevin, and their
three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance,
writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published,
and she's been writing ever since!
Her most recent title, The
Convenient Groom, is in bookstores everywhere. It features
Kate Lawrence, a marriage expert who gets jilted on her wedding day.
Like Surrender Bay, this book is surely headed for
the best-seller list.
Currently Denise is busy writing
Sweetwater Gap, a love
story set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which will be available
Ms. Hunter indulges me and my
imagination and suggests, “There’s a
park I used to take my boys to when they were younger. There are ducks
and geese, tall shade trees, a river. Shall we escape reality for a
while and spend the afternoon there?”
I’m drawn into the setting and
picture this as an ideal spot for an
afternoon chat. Yes, we’ll find a picnic table. We’ll relax! I can
almost feel a cool breeze, ah. . . . Let’s begin.
You’re from Indiana, yet you’ve staged your
stories in wonderful places like Wyoming, Nantucket, and the Blue Ridge
Mountains. Fiction or fact, how do you research these dreamy locations?
I’ve set books in all those places. A research
trip is a must for me. It adds so much to the story and helps me as I
write it to “see” it. But it’s not easy to work in trips with three
kids and school and writing schedules. So far, my family has been great
about letting me work our family vacations around my research trips.
Have you ever considered Florida?
yet, but you never know.
In The Convenient Groom, how did you come up with
Kate Lawrence—her name, occupation? Was her character or any part of
this story derived from someone you knew who had this happen to them?
I began brainstorming that story, I wanted to
write a modern-day marriage of convenience. I knew it wouldn’t be easy
to make it plausible, so I had to come up with a really strong motive
for Kate to marry a man other than her groom.
That’s how her occupation came
into a play: What if a celebrity relationship expert gets dumped at the
Then I raised the stakes. What
if her debut book is releasing on her
wedding day as part of the publicity? What if her publisher has forked
out big dollars for her fancy island wedding?
Fortunately, I’ve never had a
friend go through this. I knew who
Kate was before I decided what would happen to her. I’m organized and
can be a bit of a perfectionist, so I drew from that well when writing
about her. Her name came to me quickly, but I have a great book called Beyond
Jennifer and Jason that I use to name my characters.
Before or after the completion of any of your
novels, have you ever met someone who resembled one of your story-line
can’t say that I have. It might be a little freaky if I did.
Wife, mother of three sons, a book or more per
year . . . How do you do it? How do you cope with deadlines when your
family wants dinner?
John’s? Yeah, life is pretty busy right now. The
boys all play sports and that keeps me busy running them around. During
the school year, my writing hours are from nine AM to noon. I schedule
appointments around those hours and protect them with my life—if I
don’t, no one else will. The hours of noon to three PM are for writing
business, appointments, errands, grocery shopping, housework,
interviews, et cetera. Then I pick up the kids, and things turn really
hectic with homework and sports.
I try not to write too much on
summer break, though I always have edits or galleys or something
writing related to do.
Assuming you share your progress with your family
and/or friends, are they always eager to hear your rough drafts? Do you
feel their criticism or praise is effective in continuing your project?
family and friends are very supportive. They do
ask about my writing and they may even ask what my story’s about, but I
don’t give more than a one-sentence blurb. I think most people’s eyes
glaze over when we describe our stories. It's one thing to read a
another to listen to someone describe it!
On the other hand, I do
brainstorm every story with my Girls Write
Out friends Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Kristin Billerbeck. They
know the ins and outs of all my plots and vice versa. If we’re stuck at
some point during the writing, we often bounce ideas off each other.
It’s a wonderful thing to have.
You’re also musically talented. You play the drums! Do you play in a
band? Do you sing and/or dance, too?
only band I’m in is my church’s worship team.
That’s the whole reason I learned to play drums—we had a guitarist, a
keyboardist, an electric guitarist, a bass player, but no drummer. I’d
always wanted to play.
I used to dance on my high
drill team, but my dancing days are over. Singing? I leave that to my
husband, and my kids thank me for it.
Do you feel your faith has played a role in where you are today?
I honestly don’t think I
would’ve started writing without my faith.
It was my grandfather’s godly life and his ultimate death that served
as the catalyst for my first book. My initial dream was just to finish
a manuscript and see if I had any talent for writing, but God has taken
that dream and turned it into so much more than I ever imagined.
Amen to that! You have won many awards, and being recognized for your
God-given talent has to be among your “flying high” times as an author.
Which award totally thrilled you, and whom did you call first to share
your good news?
Awards are great and I’m always honored when I
receive one. I don’t think there’s one particular award that meant more
than the others, but the first ones to hear about them are always my
girlfriends. I can’t tell you how much their friendship means to me.
This can be a very lonely occupation, and it helps to have others to
share with, whine to, and laugh with.
Not to change the subject, but I’ve heard a
number of woman authors constantly complain about having to sit too
long at a desk and end up with “wider” instead of “tighter” ends.
You’re beautiful and slim—just good genes, or do you have a special
Thanks. Considering I still haven’t lost my Christmas
weight, I’ll hold on to that compliment. I do have good genes, but I
also have to be careful of what I eat and do the treadmill five times a
week. I devised a way to put my laptop on the treadmill, and that makes
the time pass quickly.
Please tell me how you would finish this sentence: “When I’m writing .
afraid. That first draft . . . so scary for me.
Some parts flow along, but mostly, I’m just afraid it’s all drivel, and
this makes me not want to put my rear end in the chair. It’s not the
frozen-in-terror kind of fear, but rather the
doesn’t-the-toilet-need-scrubbing-right-now kind of fear. It’s amazing
how appealing household chores can be when I’m afraid to write.
That fear really does keep me on
my knees though, and I do make sure
I meet my daily quota because meeting that deadline is important to
me—not to mention to my publisher. Once the first draft is down, the
writing gets easier. I love rewriting and polishing and tweaking
Denise, I have enjoyed the afternoon so much. Thank you for meeting
with me; it’s been such a pleasure.
If you want to keep up on all
her new releases and see all her great novels, visit Denise at
Valerie Anne Faulkner, a New
York native moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1973. Author of I
Must Be in Heaven: A Promise Kept, she spends her days
working side by side with her husband, Bill, as an electrician, then
evenings, as a writer. The CFOM interviews have
been a great way for her to meet other authors and hone her writing
craft. This back porch writer’s family is very important to her, and
she cherishes time spent with her three grown children and six
grandchildren. A few hours with family or a day enjoying one of
Florida’s Gulf beaches are her favorite ways to relieve stress and
refresh from her busy lifestyle. Valerie’s motto is “A day with prayer
. . . seldom unravels.” Visit her at www.imustbeinheaven.com.