Denise Hunter is the internationally published, bestselling author of more than forty books, three of which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won the Holt Medallion Award, the Reader’s Choice Award, the Carol Award, the Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking chai lattes, and playing drums.
In this interview, Denise talks with us about her newest book, A Novel Proposal.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
Many years ago I jotted a note for my idea folder: What if a woman is charged with writing a romance novel, but she’s never been in love? When I was presented with the opportunity to write a stand-alone beach story, I knew the idea’s time had finally come. This book is a light-hearted escape, but it also drives home the theme that love is a risk worth taking. I hope the reader feels all the ups and downs of falling in love for the first time, experienced from the point of view of a writer who’s never been in love.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Sadie Goodwin is an elementary school art teacher who fills her summers by writing western novels. She’s vivacious and optimistic but tends to procrastinate difficult tasks. She yearns for love but fears having the kind of unstable relationship her parents have. This paradox has made dating quite the challenge for her.
Sam Ford helps run his family’s landscaping business. But a terrible betrayal has him holed up at the beach, hoping to escape the wedding preparations of his ex-girlfriend and cousin—and the pitying looks from friends and family alike. He wants love in his life but the betrayal has left him bitter and untrusting.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
When the Sadie and Sam first meet at the duplex they’re renting for the summer, it’s clear Sadie is the sunshine to Sam’s grump. The contrasting personalities made for some amusing scenes and fun dialogue. But as the story progressed, I began to realize—as did Sadie—that Sam wasn’t truly the curmudgeon he first appeared to be. He was just dealing with a wound that hadn’t yet healed.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
I’m very excited to continue my Riverbend Romance series with Wildflower Falls, which releases September 12, 2023. It’s about a rancher who attempts to salvage her family farm by hiring a horse whisperer. But when feelings develop between the two of them, his nomadic lifestyle complicates matters. Though this is the fourth book of the series, it’s also a great jumping-in point for new readers.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Since Sadie is a novelist, I had that end of the research covered. Deadline anxiety? Check. Procrastination? Check. Plotting problems? Check, check. In fact, I decided to add epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. They come in the form of quotes from a fictitious book called Romance Writing 101 and hint at what’s to come in the chapter that follows.
I always travel to the location of the setting before I write a novel, and A Novel Proposal was no exception. I find I’m better able to bring a setting to life if I’ve experienced the area myself. Though Tucker Island is fictitious, it’s loosely based on Tybee Island, South Carolina, which has a very charming, laid-back vibe.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I love that in fiction we can step into the characters’ worlds and walk with them through their trials. This allows us to learn from their mistakes in a completely safe way. Sam needs to forgive those who’ve hurt him and figure out how to trust again after a bitter betrayal. Sadie learns that love is a risk, but it’s one worth taking with the right person.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
Having now penned more than forty novels, the challenge is always coming up with something fresh. Not only with the story’s plot but also with those elements you find in every love story. How can I make this first kiss different than the other forty I’ve written? How can I make sure this protagonist’s epiphany is unique? How is her journey to love different than others I’ve penned? Readers deserve something new and different each time they pick up one of my novels.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
I’m an avid reader, so there are probably hundreds of authors who’ve inspired me along the way. My critique partner Colleen Coble comes to mind. In my early years, the writings of Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and Gilbert Morris served as inspiration.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
The Bible serves as my compass for right and wrong in life and in my novels. Even in some of my stories where faith isn’t necessarily front and center, my protagonists have that same compass. I strive to create story worlds that will be a safe place for readers to not only escape life’s troubles, but to learn and grow emotionally and spiritually.
A Novel Proposal
Release Date: March 21, 2023
When novelist Sadie Goodwin is forced to stop writing westerns and charged with penning a contemporary romance novel to rescue her lackluster sales, there’s only one tiny problem: She’s never been in love.
Desperate to salvage her career, Sadie begins devouring romance novels. Knowing she must devote herself to this confounding genre, she accepts an invitation to hole up at her friend’s beach duplex for the summer. Where better to witness love in bloom than on the beautiful North Carolina shore?
However, once ensconced in the charming ocean-front home with her sweet Maltipoo, Rio, she finds many ways to procrastinate. First there’s the beach, right outside her backdoor, with all its interesting visitors (research). Then there’s the free library she decides to build and set up by the back deck (She has to do something with all those romance novels). To say nothing of Sam Ford, the grumpy neighbor on the other side of the duplex . . . who she can’t seem to stop annoying.
A social butterfly by nature, Sadie soon gets to know all the beach regulars—sunbathers, walkers, and surfers alike. The free books draw a crowd right up to the house for nice little book chats, which further irritates her reclusive neighbor, to break up her “writing.” But things take an unexpected turn when Sadie opens a recentlyplaced novel to find a secret compartment—and tucked inside is a beautiful engagement ring. To whom does the ring belong? Sadie is convinced she needs to find the owner and save the man’s proposal from certain doom.
She draws a reluctant Sam into the project, and slowly their connection begins to develop. Are these weird fluttery feelings the first stirrings of love? Has Sadie managed to stumble upon the very subject about which she must write—and wouldn’t Sam make the perfect alpha hero?
Will Sadie find the ring’s rightful owner? And will she manage to pen a career-saving romance novel by summer’s end?
Buy A Novel Proposal from the FF Store HERE!
Buy A Novel Proposal from Amazon HERE!