Showcasing the inherent beauty of collaboration, not to mention their unique personalities to boot, celebrated authors Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter team up for one incredibly romantic novel, Smitten (Thomas Nelson).
By Christa A. Banister
Ever wish you knew what made your favorite author tick—not as a writer, but as an actual living, breathing human?
Well, when Smitten (Thomas Nelson) hits stores in December, you’ll get quite a bit of personal insight into four popular authors—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter—because the protagonists they’ve dreamed up actually mirror themselves.
“It was Colleen who came up with the idea of giving each of our heroines our own personalities—genius!” says Denise. “Not only did it keep our characters consistent, but it made writing so much fun! I got to actually put words in my friends’ mouths.”
Set in the fictional city of Smitten, Vermont, which is on the verge of financial collapse thanks to the local lumber mill’s recent closure, the stories and characters featured are highly interconnected like modern movie rom-coms The Holiday and Love Actually.
Unwilling to give up, no matter how grim the situation is looking, four friends and local business owners begin brainstorming what might keep hope alive in the hometown they all love so much. Ultimately deciding to turn it into a premier honeymoon destination (and with a name like Smitten, it just might work), the townspeople eventually learn what real faith in God looks like.
“It’s true, times are tough in Smitten, but really, community and family are what make life fulfilling, so working toward a common goal makes life better,” Kristin shares. “It makes you remember success in relative. We wanted Smitten to remind people to get back to their roots.”
And for the authors themselves, working on Smitten was so much fun that they plan on writing at least two more books together. “A fun project with best friends? What could be better?” Diann says. “It’s so fun seeing our characters take shape and sound very familiar all at the same time.”
As for what distinguishes the four leading ladies—Natalie, Julie, Shelby and Reese—well, the authors say it best.
My character is gluten-free just like me. Natalie is a can-do gal like me, too. Julia loves shoes and purses like Kristin. And shh, but in real life, Diann really does listen to the California Raisins Christmas album like Shelby.
Colleen, you weren’t supposed to tell that! I admit Shelby loves Christmas—in September. I have Christmas in my heart all year long and can hardly wait for the first snowfall to crank up the music.
Julia is hardheaded and indecisive like I am. I tend to be afraid to make mistakes and so I pause too long until God makes it clear. Then I go forward like a bull charging, but I like how it’s easier to fix in Julia than it is in myself.
Reese is a planner, and so am I. But too much of anything can be a bad thing. She needs to remember (like I do) that man-made plans are no substitute for God’s will.
And ahem, we won’t mention that whole alphabetizing your spices thing, Denise. Or how Kristin can take a look at someone and know just what purse will suit them.
Everyone should alphabetize their spices. It just makes sense. And if you have a purse suggestion for me, Kristin, I’m all ears. Something with lots of organizing pockets, please.
To further enhance the experience, a website (SmittenVermont.com) was also launched, which includes the country love song that was written with Smitten in mind.
“This story ended up being a celebration of love, enduring friendship and relentless faith all wrapped up in one book,” Denise concludes. “We hope readers will feel a part of it all as they join us on a journey to a very special place called Smitten.”
Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.
Kristin Billerbeck is the best-selling, award-winning author of several novels, including What a Girl Wants. A Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award, Billerbeck has appeared on “The Today Show” and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.
Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. Diann Hunt has published three novellas and 17 novels, and she has won ACFW’s prestigious Book of the Year award. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.
Denise Hunter is the best-selling author of many novels, including The Convenient Groom and Driftwood Lane. She lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!