Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy Award and Carol Award winner. Her book Once Upon a Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an original Hallmark movie. A graduate of Ohio State, Rachel lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

In this interview, Rachel talks about her latest book, Meet Me at the Starlight.

FF: Meet Me at the Starlight is set in 1987 and in the 1930s. What made you choose those timeframes as the best to tell this particular story?
I wanted a nostalgic feel for this story, which is provided with the twentieth- century setting. As we move into the twenty-first century, there’s a growing romance about the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I graduated college and entered the workforce in the eighties, so it was fun to look back at that decade. My grandparents married in the 1930s, and I’ve always been fascinated with the decade of the Depression, gangsters, art deco, craftsman homes, and the Golden Age of Hollywood.

FF: Harlow Hayes is the classic 1980’s beauty—tall with blond hair and blue eyes—but as the story opens, her career is in freefall. What happened to set these events in motion?
Harlow has been in my heart for over five years. I’ve always been fascinated with culture, pop culture, and how we define beautiful or good. I wanted to explore the life of a model who gained weight by way of a broken heart and lost her career. Harlow presented a lot of questions for me about the human condition: Why do we use food as comfort? Why do we care about how much someone weighs? Can we be content with ourselves no matter what our exterior looks like, good or bad? Why did she sabotage her career instead of doubling down with her work? Harlow’s character also explores how children can become the conduit for a parent’s lost dream.

FF: Matt Knight is the ultimate 1980’s bad-boy actor. Were there any real-life actors who were inspirational in creating Matt?
Matt was modeled in part by the Brat Pack of the ’80s. It seemed to be the era of young, party-hardy actors. But his bad-boy ways are more against himself than others. He carries a burden that he needs to confront.

We first meet Tuesday Knight in the 1930’s storyline. What are the challenges she faces as a young woman, and how do those shape her life and personality?
Tuesday was such a joy to write. She was the ultimate strong woman. An illegitimate child left by her mother to be raised by her grandparents, she turned lemons into lemonade. But she also captured the heart of the most handsome man in town, Leroy, a WWI vet who gave her the family she wanted. But Leroy’s chosen career after the war causes a lot of heartache for Tuesday. Yet she never gives up. She also let him know how she felt! I loved her humble gumption.

FF: What fun elements and what challenges do the coastal Florida setting and the culture of the Starlight present to the story?
Great question. I used a bit of literary license to create a thriving Sea Blue Beach in the early 1930s. While small, coastal towns existed, the real growth came after WWII. In the 1980s, the North Florida Panhandle was booming with business, which I used to cause trouble for my protagonists.

FF: Can you tell us a little bit more about Matt’s relationship with his grandmother, Tuesday?
Matt’s mother died when he was young, so Tuesday became the maternal figure in his life. He is very devoted to her. She is the voice of truth and reason in his ear.

FF: What are you most excited for readers to experience as they pick up this romance between Matt and Harlow?
This is a textured and layered story set in a time when the world was changing, when roller-skating was a national pastime, and as we go through the ’80s, a new millennium is on the horizon. Matt and Harlow’s story, along with Tuesday and Leroy’s, remind us how much love is always at the core of our hearts. Family is the fabric of our society. Love is worth our effort.

FF: What aspect of this story did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed Matt and Harlow’s story. She’s a beautiful yet self-deprecating, wounded “It Girl” looking to heal and get her life on track again. Her approach to life, to Matt, to the skating rink, the Starlight, was practical yet humorous. Matt was passionate and impulsive, a fighter with a tender heart. As flawed as he was, he saw Harlow for her true self, which made him the ultimate hero.

However, I can’t overlook Tuesday! She was a scene-stealer. In my first draft, she was so strong that it made Matt and Harlow almost feel secondary. I really loved her strength and faithfulness to her marriage vows, her sons, to Sea Blue Beach, and ultimately herself. She didn’t let the actions of others dictate her character.

FF: As a romance reader yourself, are there any romance tropes in this book that you think readers will find especially entertaining?
Matt and Harlow definitely fall into the “friends-to-lovers” trope as well as a bit of that “royal” feel, since they are both famous.

FF: What are you working on next?
I’m going back to North Florida and the fictional town of Sea Blue Beach for a 2024 setting. I’m still working out the details, but it will involve a reporter, a champion prizefighter and the mysterious fun of a carnival.

Meet Me at the Starlight
Rachel Hauck
Bethany House
Genres: Romance, Split-Time Romance, Amish Romance
Release Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN-10: ‎0764243047
ISBN-13: ‎978-0764243042

Book Summary:
1987. Supermodel Harlow Hayes seeks solace in a quaint Florida beach town to heal from a heartbreak that shattered her entire world. To her surprise, she encounters Matt Knight–a Hollywood A-lister with a bad-boy reputation–who has returned to his hometown to help his plucky grandmother, Tuesday, save her century-old skating rink, the Starlight.

The Starlight holds a special place in the hearts of the community, once acting as a refuge for Depression-era families and bringing the town together with gatherings and celebrations. Tuesday’s determination even protected her beloved rink from her husband’s shady business dealings. Yet when the Starlight is threatened with demolition, Tuesday begins to wonder if an era has come to an end.

As Matt and Harlow strategize to save the rink, they find themselves on a journey of surprises, self-discovery, and the kind of healing that leads to love.


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About The Author

New York Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Rachel Hauck writes from sunny central Florida. A RITA finalist and winner of Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year, she writes vivid characters dealing with real life issues. She loves to hear from readers. She also loves to encourage new writers and sits on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers.