Hurricanes in ParadiseHurricanes in Paradise
Denise Hildreth
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Since starting her new job at a Paradise Island resort, Riley Sinclair feels the pieces of her life finally coming together---until she discovers that some guests arrive with their own demons, fears, and secrets. With a hurricane headed straight for the island, will Riley and three women find healing---and friendship---through the storm? 384 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
     

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Denise HildrethAfter spending three years writing the Savannah series, Denise Hildreth takes a detour.  Still sticking true to her southern roots, she digs deeper, hauntingly almost, into the life of anyone we could know.  Her authentic voice and charming style is what readers have come so attached to.  Hildreth, a 1992 University of South Carolina graduate of the School of Journalism, breaks all the rules.  “I never read the ‘What not to do’ books for authors.  I figure I didn’t know what I was doing when I started this, why confine myself with a bunch of don’ts now.

Favorite Verse: Hebrews 10:35 (NIV) So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

 


 

 Our Interview with Denise Hildreth


 

How did you get started as a writer?

Well, Writing actually found me. When I first moved to Nashville I was working as a receptionist for a heating and air conditioning company. I worked along a woman named Roz who chain smoked, cussed like a sailor and wore mink coats. I loved her but I was miserable. So, I began writing for my church magazine and wrote an article about Mercy Ministries of America. Nancy Alcorn, the President and Founder of Mercy read my article and asked me to come help her finish writing her memoirs, Echoes of Mercy. For the next ten years I wrote for other people.

Why didn’t you write a novel in the last couple of years? 

I had just been offered a new a new three book deal by Thomas Nelson whom I had written my first five books for. About that time I realized my marriage was in trouble that would eventually lead to divorce. And my heart was in desperate need of repair. So, I walked away from everything for over a year. And it just took a long time to write a new story. But a beautiful new story has been written for me now. One that I even shared in a contest at More Magazine.

What inspired the concept for writing Hurricanes in Paradise?

This book came as a gift... literally.  A friend of mine offered me an all expense paid trip to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island to chaperone the reigning Miss Tennessee USA. Well, granted I had to bolster my confidence to spend the weekend around a six foot blond with legs as long as my body, but it was worth it!

Our first night at dinner I was sitting there with another divorced woman who has a beautiful little girl, a young woman who had never been married and a lady who was divorced. I knew sitting at dinner I had me a new story…
I spent the rest of our trip developing my characters and capturing the beautiful setting that is the Atlantis.

Is any part of Hurricanes in Paradise factual?  

 
All the places are real. I love doing that in story. I love taking people to real places. So, yes, all the restaurants, hotels and places are real. The people…well…

 

How closely is Hurricanes in Paradise based on your real life experiences? 

All of my stories have an element of real life. But most of this really was fiction. What I was really able to capture was the pain. I understood that pain of loss on a whole new level and it was still so fresh at the time I was writing this story.

How did you choose the location for the setting?

It seriously chose me…

How long did Hurricanes in Paradise take you to complete?

I like a good year for my books. And I really had that with this novel. And I took advantage of all of it.

What is the symbolism for the title Hurricanes in Paradise?

That even Paradise has hurricanes. But hurricanes can be had in paradise as well. It all depends on our perspective. I always choose to see the paradise of my life first. Because there is always a storm brewing somewhere. So, I try to be grateful that in the middle of the storms of my life God always gives me this beautiful place to enjoy as well. It is never all bad. There is always a pearl to be found if we are willing to look.

Do you have a favorite character in Hurricanes in Paradise? Why?

Yeah, Winnie. I love humor. I love writing crazy characters. I never knew what she was going to do, and I just loved writing her too. I really enjoyed Laine too. She could be so cruel. So brutal. I was shocked myself at some of the things that would come out of her mouth. But she really was so much fun to write.

How much research did Hurricanes in Paradise take?

A lot. But my it was fun research! I’m looking for an excuse to have to research some more!

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Hurricanes in Paradise?

Will you be going to the Atlantis resort anytime soon?

Told you I was trying to get back! So, we have worked with the Atlantis on a great weekend getaway. It is going to be an amazing weekend in September where we’ll have time together talking about the book, eating together and enjoying the amazing beach. Three of my favorite things, eating, talking and the beach! You can find more details out on my homepage at www.denisehildreth.com

 

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

I face the challenge everyday, honestly. Just those first words of the morning. I’m always afraid there isn’t going to be anything there. That I’m going to sit at the computer and nothing is going to come out of my fingers. But gratefully, each day something shows up.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Getting out there and talking about the books with the people who are reading them. It is by far my favorite thing.

What writing clubs or organizations do you belong to?

I am member of a group of writer’s called ChiLibris. And I founded a ministry for women about two years ago called The Whole Woman Revolution. I lead a fall and spring semester Bible Study and we do a Vacation Bible School for Women event each summer. It is truly one of the greatest joys in my life.

What were your favorite books as a child?

My favorite books were Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Lord of the Flies. Crazy I know.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I am a “seat of your pants” writer. I love to let the story take me wherever it wants to go. I always know the pivotal points of the story and usually where we’re going to end, but I have no idea how we’re going to get there. For instance, I’m in the middle of my new novel and on about 75 pages in I’ve just written the first thing that I actually knew I would write. The first 25,000 words just took me wherever they wanted to go.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Yes, the really do evolve for me. A lot of times I even have to go back and change some things in their initial introduction because I’ve fleshed them out more as I’ve gone.

 

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?  

  1. I am in the final edits of my first non-fiction book Flying Solo: A Journey of Divorce, Healing and a Very Present God due out in January of 2011. It was the one thing I’ve written that I never intended to be a book. It was simply the words of my healing. It is the journals from the first year after my divorce and begins the day that I stood before the judge.
    On the fiction front I am in the middle of writing my new novel The Gardner, slated to come out in June of 2011.
    And The Whole Woman Revolution is in the middle of our final planning for our 2nd Annual VBS for Women called Isn’t She Lovely being held here in Franklin the evenings of July 12-13. You can find more info on my Facebook Page and on our website.


Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

Dr. Pruett. She was my 12th grade College Prepatory English Teacher. She made Canterbury Tales come to life. I always loved books but she just took it to another level. I saw her Walmart a couple years ago when I was home in Camden and she hasn’t changed a bit. Still wears tacky jewelry, tight polyester skirts and talks books! I love her.

What message would you like your readers to take from Hurricanes in Paradise?

That you won’t die from pain. You’ll die if you don’t confront it. Little by little you’ll give a piece of your heart away. But pain won’t kill you. Facing it is the best thing you can ever do. That is what I tried to show in this book. That because they didn’t face their “hurricanes” they ended up broken. But walking into that pain brought real healing. We will deal with pain eventually. I’d much rather do it on my own terms.

 

What is your greatest achievement?

Oh my…I’ve never been asked that question. I’m not sure honestly. To me I know I’ve achieved something when the people that I love respond back to my love. Loving people well is the best thing I can do. That truly is where I try to keep my life focused. It makes me a better wife, a better “bonus mom”, a better teacher, and a better writer.


What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My goal is to take people to places that cause them to confront their own stuff. We all have “stuff.” And if the stories I write can help people walk into their stuff in a gentler less confrontational way and truly see the things they need to deal with, then I have done my job.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I just recently remarried a wonderful man who has five beautiful children of which I am now their “bonus mom”. When they are here I put work down. We ride bikes, work puzzles, read books, watch movies. That to me is the ultimate getaway. They require you to be present. And to give them any less than that would rob all of us. So, yeah, being with them is the best getaway…

 

 


 

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