It’s August; and the lazy days of summer have been working ‘over-time’. The sun is high, and there’s not a
cloud in the sky. I take a moment and thank God, for the huge, old oak tree; its limbs stretch across my
yard. Today it’s offering me just enough shade; and with lap-top in hand I retreat to my favorite spot… the
I love the peace that nature surrenders. Maybe I’ll get an unexpected waft of cool Florida air, via a single
wispy breeze? Or not, whew it’s hot!
I hurry to jot down notes and prepare my imaginary road map. It’s time for my ‘virtual jaunt’. If I don’t
melt I have an exciting interview; and it’s up north!
Husband Bill, joins me outdoors. He hands me a bottle of water and asks, “How’s it going?”
“I’m hot! I’m anxious to get started.” I answer, and grin. “This is fun! A couple reasons…
One, the author writes Romance. Two, I love romance!”
“Romance?” Bill whispers, then winks.
I reply, with a wink-back “And, we’re escaping this heat!” I’ll grab the camera; you put Jake, (that’s our
dog) in the Jeep. “We’re going to Indiana!”
Author, Denise Hunter lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began
her first book - Christian romance - writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and
she's been writing ever since!
Having given us so many titles; the most recent The Convenient Groom, arrived in bookstores everywhere!
It features Kate Lawrence, a marriage expert who gets jilted on her own wedding day. This book, just like
Surrender Bay, is surely headed for the best sellers list.
Currently Denise is busy writing Sweetwater Gap, this tale will be ready in December… a love story, which
takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains!
If you want to keep up on all her new releases; and see all her great novels, sign up for Denise Hunter’s
newsletter which goes out three or four times annually.
Ms. Hunter suggested, “There’s a park called Shoaff Park that's nearby. I used to take my boys there when
they were younger. Shall we meet, say about 11:00. I’ll bring lunch.” Right on time, Ms. Hunter and her
Bill and I had found a picnic table by the pond. There were ducks (Mallards) and geese, big tall shade trees,
oaks, maples. The river was flowing, wind rustled through the trees, children romped at the playground.
With birds tweeting; ‘love was in the air.’ I knew this place and its surroundings were ideal for this
interview. Even the picture perfect weather was in the 80's, not mid 90’s like Florida.
We enjoyed their fellowship and after a hearty lunch it was time to get down to business. Our husbands and
the boys declared it time to take a hike. Jake, romped along side literally in seventh heaven!
I couldn’t help but chuckle watching them all head out, “Thank you for everything… I guess we should get
* * *
Valerie: You’re from Indiana, yet you’ve had stories staged in wonderful places like Wyoming, Nantucket,
and I’m correct; the Blue Ridge Mountains? Fiction or fact, how do you research these dreamy locations?
Denise: Yes, 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 visually. 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.
Valerie: Ever considered, Florida?
Denise: Not yet, but you never know.
Valerie: 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 that had, had this happen to them on
their special day?
Denise: When 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 altar?
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.
Valerie: Before or after the completion of any of your novels; have you ever come across or met someone
that totally resembled one of your story-line characters? Did you tell them?
Denise: I can’t say that I have. It might be a little freaky if I did.
Valerie: 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?
Denise: Papa 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 9-12. I schedule appointments
around those hours and protect them with my life—if I don’t, no one else will. The hours of 12-3 are for
writing business, appointments, errands, grocery, house work, interviews, etc. 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.
Valerie: Assuming, you share your progress with your family and/or friends… are they always eager to hear
the ‘rough drafts’? Do you feel their criticism or praise is effective in continuing your project?
Denise: My 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. Its one thing to read a story, another to listen to someone describes 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, let me tell you.
Valerie: Talented… you play the drums? I have to ask, “Is there a band?” Do you sing or dance too?
Denise: The 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, and no drummer. I’d always
wanted to play anyway . . .
I used to dance on my high school drill team, but my dancing days are over. Singing? I leave that to my
husband, and my kids thank me for it.
Valerie: Do you feel your faith has played a role in where you are today?
Denise: 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.
Valerie: Amen to that! You have won so many awards and being recognized for this God given talent has to
be one of your utmost “flying high” times as an author. Which award totally thrilled you and who did you
call first, to share your good news?
Denise: 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 you can share with, whine to, and laugh with.
Valerie: Not to change the subject-I look at you-and I’ve heard a number of woman authors constantly
complain about having to sit too long at a desk and ending up with ‘wider’, instead of ‘tighter’ ends. Your
beautiful and slim… just good genes, or do you have a special secret?
Denise: Thanks. Considering I still haven’t lost my Christmas weight, I’ll hold onto that compliment. I do
have good genes, but I also have to be careful of what I eat and do the treadmill 5x a week. I devised a way
to put my laptop on the treadmill, and that makes the time pass quickly.
Valerie: Last question, looks like the men are heading in. Please tell me how you would finish this sentence?
“When I’m writing…”
Denise: I’m 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 sentences.
The guys looked hot and ready for a drink, Jake had even calmed down. “Denise, I have enjoyed the
afternoon so much, this park, the picnic, the chance for some girl-to-girl chit chat. Thank you for meeting
with me … it’s been such a pleasure.
Denise smiled, “Yes, it has!”
|Valerie Anne Faulkner
interviews Denise Hunter
Christian Fiction On-line Magazine, August, 2008