Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, 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 green tea, and playing drums.
In this interview, Denise talks with us about her latest book, Harvest Moon, the third book in her Riverbend Romance Series.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
What motivated me to write Harvest Moon is my firm belief in marriage and the power of God-inspired love. Harvest Moon is about a divorced couple who, because of a tragedy, ends up with guardianship of their friends’ little girl. In the process of caring for the child and the on-property apple orchard, the estranged couple must put aside their complicated past for the sake of the child. I love reconciliation stories because the couple’s past offers a treasure trove of emotion that pours into the present-day story. There is also so much opportunity to show spiritual growth and the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Gavin is a residential builder. He’s loyal to those he loves and a true gentleman. But he carries with him the crushing reality that he failed his former wife. After the divorce, he moved back home to Riverbend, NC to be near his family and took a job as a campground manager. The divorce left him feeling as if he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness.
Laurel is a horticulturist at the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC. She’s whip smart, career-driven, and compassionate, but her father’s abandonment left her with insecurity issues that plagued her marriage. She’s trying to move on after the divorce, but Gavin was her person, her soul mate, and pressing on is proving harder than she’d expected.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
I knew going into Harvest Moon that Gavin was still hung up on Laurel. But I didn’t realize the depth of Laurel’s feelings for Gavin and the lengths to which she’d go to guard her heart. She’s caught in a crucible: She needs to be there for this child she loves, but that also means being trapped with the man who broke her heart.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
I love that story has a way of sneaking up on you. You start reading and become enveloped in the story, in the characters, in the conflict. Then everything comes to a head and, right along with the protagonist, you learn a truth that smacks you right upside the head. Story doesn’t tell us the truth. It shows us. Jesus knew that; it’s why he told parables.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
My next book, A Novel Proposal, releases March 21, 2023. It was so fun to write this stand-alone beach read, featuring a sunshiny heroine and grumpy next-door-neighbor hero. Here’s a little preview of the book: In order to salvage her fledgling career as an author, Sadie Goodwin must write a marketable romance novel. There’s only one problem…she’s never been in love. A borrowed beach home might offer the perfect hideaway to write, but the curmudgeon next door proves to be a distraction in ways she never expected.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
I always start by traveling to the setting of the story. For Harvest Moon that meant a trip to Hot Springs, NC, which is a little town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Trail runs right down Main Street, bringing all sorts of interesting characters through town. Also, for this particular book, the guardianship of a child was at stake, so I interviewed a county clerk in North Carolina in order to get the details right.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I hope readers are inspired by Gavin and Laurel’s journey. Marriage is hard some-times but it’s worth the effort. After reading this story of forgiveness and reconciliation, I hope readers can find hope for their own lives and relationships.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
After writing over 40 novels, I’d say the biggest challenge is writing something fresh. I find myself constantly going back to the drawing board when something I’m brainstorming starts feeling a little too much like something I wrote 5 or 10 books ago. It’s important to me that each story I write is one my readers will find unique and original.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
So many! I love reading Francine Rivers, Rachel Hauck, and Lisa Wingate. As Colleen Coble’s critique partner for 25 years, I’ve read every word she’s written. Although she writes romantic suspense, I admire her tight writing and gut instinct for storytelling.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
Faith gives me hope that everything will work out according to God’s plan. I try to show this in my stories through characters who, flawed like us, fumble through life, making mistakes. Because of our faith we believe that God will have his way in the end. If we let him, he’ll change us and mold us through life’s trials and bring us out the other side, better for it. There’s a lot of hope in that.
Riverbend Romance Series #3
Genres: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Release Date: September 6, 2022
She thought he was arrogant. He thought her walls would never come down. Then they fell in love.
Forever walking the line between passion and conflict, Laurel and Gavin’s relationship ended in divorce after years of miscommunication and unmet expectations. Now pursuing their own separate lives and careers, the two are content…though not completely happy.
When their best friends, Mike and Mallory, are killed in a plane crash, Laurel and Gavin are stunned to learn they’ve been named guardians of their friends’ young daughter, Emma. Putting their differences aside, the estranged couple search for a suitable guardian as they care for Emma and manage Mike and Mallory’s apple orchard.
Soon tempers flare—as does the passion they both remember so well. And Laurel and Gavin find themselves working through their past—their mistakes, their miscommunications, and ultimately the tragedy that ended their marriage.
Will the seeds of love, still growing inside them, thrive and flourish? Or will grief and regret strangle the feelings before they can fully blossom?
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