Interview with Author Dawn Crandall
OCFW's Terri Weldon interviews debut author Dawn Crandall about her new release, The Hesitant Heiress.
The Hesitant Heiress released August 1, 2014 from Whitaker House. I had the privilege of reading an advanced reader copy – it’s excellent! Even better, it is the first book in a series. And if you’re anything like me, you love a series.
TW: Dawn, let me start by telling you I was hooked from page one. And it wasn't until halfway through the book I realized you'd written it in first person. I didn't “feel” like I was only in Amaryllis’ POV. All the characters seemed so close, familiar. I’m not sure I even know how to explain it, except to say I felt like I knew what they were thinking.
DC: Thank you, Terri! I knew I needed to write The Hesitant Heiress in first person, first of all because of the nature of the story, but secondly because it’s just how my words come out. And I think one of my favorite things about writing first person is the fact that I get to introduce all of the other characters to the reader and the heroine. I know all of the characters very well, and I know just what every one of them is thinking as they are doing and saying things around Amaryllis. It is how we go about real life, isn’t it? We’re constantly reading people and trying to figure out what they mean by things. I love writing this way!
TW: The book is set in 1890. What about this era drew you in?
DC: I didn’t really know what year it was when I started writing The Hesitant Heiress, I only knew that it was the late 1800’s. I just love the atmosphere of old New England near the end of the Victorian Era when so much was changing, but still staying the same in regards to tradition and standards of society. I also loved taking a heroine who had come from a well-known family of this high society in Boston, but who had never been raised to think like them… and then throwing her in head first. :)
TW: Is it difficult writing historical fiction and making sure you're getting all your research correct?
DC: You know, I didn’t think it was that difficult because I really enjoy doing the research and finding out things about history. It wasn’t until I started a Contemporary Romance just for fun that I realized how much more difficult it was. Writing a book set in the world in which I live is so much easier! But don’t worry—I’m totally hooked on writing my historicals. I might finish up this CR next, while my son is still little—after I’m finished with The Captive Imposter—since it doesn’t take near as much concentration to write.
TW: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
DC: Because I have ADD, there is no method to my madness. It's not exactly pantsing, but I also don’t know the entire story when I start out. It's "somewhat plotted" with lots of things to still figure out as I go.
TW: Each chapter starts with a chapter title and a quote. What gave you that idea?
DC: I love quotes. I always have. I’ve always collected them because they would make me think, kind of like a writing prompt. I think it’s so much fun to pair up what happens in a certain chapter with a quote from my favorite classics! I guess it’s just part of my creative madness that came out without my ever thinking about it. I just did it because it was fun.
TW: I loved the fact your heroine played the piano. How did you come up with the idea of a pianist for a heroine?
DC: Since this was my first try at writing a book, I started out writing scenes before I even knew what the book was about! I probably had half of the book written by the time I came up with the whole piano thread... as well as much of Amaryllis's back story.
TW: Amaryllis and Nathan spend a lot of the book together. It made for a great read. How'd you manage to keep them together but apart? Before you answer, let me just say I was impressed!
DC: I really love that part of writing a love story! Honestly, I don’t even know how I did it. It’s just one of those things that I value in other books—but that doesn’t often happen, because like you said, it’s tricky. I guess I just made sure there was enough inner conflict between them that they had to work through before they could understand each other completely.
TW: I know you're a new mom, to an adorable baby boy. How has motherhood changed your writing schedule?
TW: With ACFW right around the corner, I'm sure folks are interested in whether you pitched your novel at a conference or submitted through an agent?
DC: After spending a year and a half figuring out how to write a book in the first place, and while I was still in the midst of revising my ending (which is the hardest part for me! I know the ending, but getting there is sometimes tricky), my husband insisted I go to the national ACFW conference in 2011 right after I’d joined as a member. I pitched to two agents that fall, both of which asked for a proposal. I didn't even know what a proposal was, so I went home and figured it out. I sent them out by November and within a week they had both responded with a contract of representation, so I had to choose! I chose Joyce Hart and then went about finishing the book. It's a little backwards, I know. She then submitted it to publishers for a year and a half before I was offered my three book contract with Whitaker House. They had been holding on to my manuscript the whole time, waiting for the right time in their fiction schedule.
TW: I'm excited about the next two books in the series. When do they release and what can you tell us about A Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter?
DC: Book two, The Bound Heart, releases this November. It's about Amaryllis's friend Meredyth Summercourt, from her first person POV as she struggles to choose between the two men in her life who want her. Lawry Hampton has loved her for years, and Vance Everstone, whom she’s thought she loved for just as long… one man who loves her in all the right ways, and the other who has a shameful grip on her from years past.
And book three, The Captive Imposter, releases next February. It follows Estella Everstone as she’s sent away from her family to live in anonymity as a lady’s companion at one of her father’s mountain resorts. While there, she comes in close contact with Jay Crawford, an ex-love set on making her as uncomfortable as possible. While coming to terms with her lack of feelings for one man she’d thought she’d always love, she is simultaneously drawn to Dexter Blakeley, the one man she’s been forced to trust since setting foot in the hotel.
TW: Dawn, thanks for taking the time to visit with us today! To find out more about Dawn and her books, check out the information below.
Book Review Blog: APassionforPages.blogspot.com
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About The Hesitant Heiress
After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.
Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn't who she thought at all.
About Dawn Crandall
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.
Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.