Interview with Sherrie Hansen Decker, Author of “Love Notes”

What is your book about?

Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw. Tommy Love is treading on thin ice — he wants the only thing Hope has left.

For Hope, recreating the past — reopening Rainbow Lake Lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again – means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband’s legacy.

For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home — peace, quiet, seclusion — and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect.

Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Tommy Love is a fading pop singer / songwriter who wants to write one more big hit (hip hop, to attract the new generation), and Hope is a widow of two years who is trying to reopen the family resort where her husband was raised. I loved writing Tommy Love. He’s irreverent and clueless and has a huge ego on the outside, but inside, he’s lonely and insecure and afraid of being a nobody again. Tommy grew up Tom Lubinski in a shack on the edge of Miller’s Swamp. In his mind, building his dream house overlooking Rainbow Lake will make everything okay again, and he’ll be able to write another hit song, and he’ll be unforgettable to a whole new generation.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Baby-boomers will love Hope and Tommy. Hope is 38 years old. Tommy is in his late 40′s. Who doesn’t get to that stage of their life and on some level, think, it’s all downhill from here, the best is behind me. Except, in many cases, what lies behind hasn’t even been all that great… and you fear it’s too late to do anything about it, that you’ve used up all your chances, and that things can only get worse… Both Tommy and Hope are making one last ditch effort to carve out a legacy for themselves, to secure their future. Anyone who has failed at love or had their dreams dashed for whatever reason will be able to relate to the hope that somewhere out there, you might get a second chance.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I hope each reader will have their faith in miracles renewed. I’m a firm believer in second chances. I know from personal experience that God can take the most adverse scenario and make something beautiful out of it – in His time.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

My biggest challenge is finding the time to write. I own and operate a B&B and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn in Saint Ansgar, Iowa, am a pastor’s wife, a sometimes musician, and maintain 4 houses in 2 towns, an hour and a half apart. Life is crazy busy. But I love to write – have to write – so I find the time. I juggle as best I can and try not to let too many balls drop.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I had my own second chance at real life romance and remarried after being single for almost 20 years. Whereas my first four books were fantasies about what could happen if I ever found love again, Love Notes is written with a firm belief that happy endings — miracles — can and do happen in real life. Love Notes is the first of my books written by a married woman. It will be interesting to see if my readers notice a difference in my perspective.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Love Notes is my first Christian inspirational novel and certainly reflects some of my deepest beliefs about my Christian heritage. In other of my books, the main characters have been rebelling against the very faith Hope clings to in Love Notes. So yes, my Christian beliefs definitely color my writing, whether in shades of guilt or hope. In Love Notes, I love it that Hope’s strong faith is intact even though she’s lost everything dear to her, including her husband, who died in a tragic car accident. Tommy has everything a man could want, yet he is cynical and discontented and very short on faith. In the end, Tommy finds hope, joy, peace and love where he least expects it — as have I on several occasions!

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a book that I started a couple of years ago after a trip to Scotland. It’s called Wild Rose. The main character is the pastor or St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe. I’m loving the interactions between the church ladies and Rose, who is, well, a bit wild. I’ve also started a sequel to my first book, Night and Day, called Daybreak in Denmark. I’ve also got a great idea for a book set in the Florida Everglades and at a famous hotel on St. Pete’s Beach called the Pink Lady. It will involve gangsters, an heiress, and a 75 year old mystery.

What writer influenced you the most?

Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy Tacy books, set in fictional Deep Valley, Minnesota, my home state, greatly impacted my life as a young person. (Think Little House on the Prairie but set during the Victorian era.) Maud’s main character, Betsy Ray, longed to be a writer, and set the stage – really formed the expectation in my mind – that I would write a novel one day. The Betsy Tacy books are wonderful (and back in print thanks to Harper Collins). One of the guest rooms at my B&B is named “Heaven to Betsy” in honor of the tomes.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

When I was just starting to write, I went to a writer’s retreat at Glen Eerie, the Navigator’s castle in Colorado Springs, sponsored by Victoria magazine. Madeleine L’Engle (author of Newbery Award winning A Wrinkle in Time) was the guest speaker. There were only about 20 of us there, so our conversations were deep, meaningful, and intensely personal. Madeleine said that she got 27 rejection for A Wrinkle in Time before it was accepted for publication. Each time she mailed the manuscript out, she addressed a second envelope to a different publisher. Each time it came back, rejected, she would immediately put it in the second envelope and mail it off again.

Have you written any other books?

I wrote four other books that are published under the name Sherrie Hansen. My first book, Night and Day is set in southern Minnesota and Denmark and features a modern day internet romance, and old fashioned love story, and a hundred year old mystery. The Maple Valley Trilogy, Stormy Weather, Water Lily and Merry Go Round, is set in fictional Maple Valley, Iowa, and Red Oak, Minnesota. Each book features a special quilt, and one of three sisters, each of who has her own set of troubles.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

I start the story, my characters finish it. Themes come to me as the book goes on, and often, when it’s totally finished. Sometimes I have to rewrite the beginning of the book, because by the time I’m done, I know the characters so well that I think they would never say or do the things they did at the beginning of the book.

Who designed your cover?

Lonnie Arnevik, a good friend of mine from Thompson, Iowa, designed my book cover. She’s an amazing artist, and a wiz with graphic design.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Love Notes was released on June 4 and is available at amazon.com, smashwords.com and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com.

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1 Comment

Filed under Author Interviews, books, writing

One response to “Interview with Sherrie Hansen Decker, Author of “Love Notes”

  1. I love your comment, “I start the story, my characters finish it.” Your book is on my must read list, and hope to pick it up very soon!

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