Saving Grace, New Heights Series #2Saving Grace, New Heights Series #2
Denise Hunter
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As if the jolt of becoming a single mom to her two sons wasn't enough, Natalie Coombs is facing new stresses as the director of the crisis pregnancy center. A teenager who comes in for testing brings back memories of another pregnant girl whose life tragically ended in suicide.

Desperate to reach out to this client, Natalie crosses professional boundaries and incurs the wrath of a mysterious assailant. Even within her family, all is not well as her relationship with her sister becomes increasingly tense. Natalie is compelled to carefully count the cost of following her heart and her convictions amid betrayal, physical danger, and strained family relationships. Filled with human drama, readers will be easily drawn in as national issues become highly personal in this gripping tale of conflict and commitment.

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Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 51:10 - "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Our Interview with Denise Hunter
How did you get started as writer?

A lot of authors say theyíve always known theyíd wanted to be a writer from the time they were little, but I canít say that was true for me. I was a voracious reader of novels as a child. The idea of writing a book didnít occur to me until I was in my early twenties. I was reading Christian fiction and wondered if I could do it. A couple years later when my grandfather was hospitalized and expected to pass away, I traveled to be with him. He had accomplished so much for the Lord with his life. As I watched him lying there, I was confronted with the fact that someday Iíll reach the end of my life, and I might be lying in a bed, incapable of accomplishing anything else. Iíd been wondering if I could write a novel, and I thought, ďIím not going to wonder any more, Iím just going to do it.Ē That week I started my first novel.

What are the challenges you face as an author?

Probably the biggest challenge is having a family and writing. Just trying to balance all of that is probably the hardest thing I have to deal with. Iíve been blessed. The contracts have fallen at a time that has allowed me to write when the kids have been in school. My youngest is still in kindergarten, so right now Iím only writing in the morning.

How long did it take you to complete Saving Grace?

Writing only in the morning, I started in September, and turned it in April 1st.

How many books are going to be in the series?


How much research did Saving Grace take?

It took quite a bit, especially with the pregnancy center. I interviewed a few volunteers. One of the volunteers goes to my church, and she read through the whole manuscript to check for inaccuracies. She loved it. Of course, she had to say that since sheís my friend. There were only two or three parts that she suggested I reword. I wanted it to ring true. I didnít want people from pregnancy centers to read it and go, ďThatís not right, we donít do it like that.Ē

I also did some research on adoption because I didnít know anything about the process and the emotions the adoptive parents and birth mother go through. Gayle Roper helped me on that. I researched some police policy for the suspense plotline.

The best research was a trip my husband and I took to Jackson Hole, Wyoming last fall. We fell in love with Jackson Hole, and I was so glad Iíd picked it for the seriesí setting. Just because of our schedules, we visited right in between their summer tourist season and their winter tourist season. The locals werenít as busy, and they were very kind about answering my questions.

How do you think up your characters?

I really donít think I can pinpoint that. It doesnít happen all at once. Itís something that evolves as Iím plotting the story and thinking about who these characters are and what they would do and what they wouldnít do. I do plot quite a bit before I begin a story. If you think of plotting like a road trip, Iíd want to know my starting point, destination, and each city Iím going to stop at along the way. What routes I take on the way there is up in the air. I find if I do too much plotting, it takes away the joy of the journey. If I do too little plotting, I get lost on the way there.

Who was your favorite character?

I would have to say the main character, Natalie. Sheís just so human. Sheís been slapped around by life but she still wants to do whatís right, and she has all the doubts we all have. She usually tries to handle it on her own and she fails. Eventually she finds an inner strength to cope with it; a strength that doesnít come from her, but from God.

How did you choose the setting?

When I was plotting out book one of the series, ďMending Places,Ē I didnít know where I was going to set it. Iíd never been to Jackson Hole, so I did a lot of computer research. I was looking for a small town near mountains because I wanted the story to be set mainly in a mountain lodge. I donít know why I ended up in Jackson Hole but Iím glad I did. It was just the perfect place.

How personal is Saving Grace?

I think there are always bits and pieces of me in the characters. I also tend to confront my own fears in my novels. I may not have been through that particular trauma, but itís something I would fear going through. When I put my characters through it instead, I think it helps me explore the feelings that cause the fear and help me work it out in the novel. Hopefully, my readers get the same benefit.

Are there any new projects on the horizon?

Right now Iím finishing the third book, ďFinding FaithĒ, in the New Heights Series. Thereís a story thatís very clear in my mind and has been brewing there for months. Iíve been plugging away at Finding Faith, though, so I havenít written a word or proposed it to a publishing house yet.

Who is the person who most influenced you in your writing?

I would have to say my grandfather because it was him that inspired me to begin writing. My husband has been tremendously supportive of my writing, cheering me on and always thinking I can do it, even when I donít think I can.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I got hooked early on by the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Our school library carried them, and I read them all. I donít know how many times I read through them. In the 6th grade I discovered Jane Eyre, and that became my favorite.

What message would you like your readers to take from Saving Grace?

Saving Grace to me is a story about putting feet to your faith. We say we believe this, we say we believe that, but how far are we willing to go to back that up? Will we make the right decisions regardless of how difficult or how inconvenient or how painful it is?

What is your goal or mission as a Christian author?

The first thing I want to do is provide clean and uplifting entertainment because thereís precious little of that in todayís world. Also, I want the reader to learn something through the eyes of my characters. It might not have anything to do with the message I had intended to put in the book; in fact, sometimes a reader will email me and say they got this out of the book and thank-you. That was a God thing. God spoke to them through the book. So even if itís not the message I was trying to portray, I want them to learn something.

The last thing I want to accomplish as a Christian writer is that I want the reader to feel something. I know when Iím reading, I want to feel it. If the readerís stomach doesnít knot up, if she doesnít chuckle, if there are no tears in her eyes, I donít feel like Iíve done my job.

What is your favorite verse from the Bible?

That varies depending on what Iím struggling with or dealing with. I tend to memorize verses that encourage me or convict me and then use them over and over until thatís no longer a problem. Then I notice Iíve got this other problem or this other struggle, and Iíll memorize another verse. My current favorite verse is Psalm 51:10.

Don't miss the complete New Heights Series!
Mending Places, New Heights Series #1
Mending Places, New Heights Series #1

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