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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spotlight on Merrillee Whren and The Heart's Forgiveness


Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who writes for Steeple Hill Books. In 2003 she won the Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of America for best inspirational romance manuscript.

Her first book, THE HEART'S HOMECOMING, was an August 2005 release from Steeple Hill Books and a finalist in the More Than Magic Contest. Her second book, AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for best Love Inspired of 2006. Her third book, LOVE WALKED IN, was out in December of 2006 and is a finalist in the Beacon Contest. Her fourth book, THE HEART'S FORGIVENESS, is available now from Steeple Hill Books.

Merrillee has visited all fifty states and a dozen foreign countries. She has lived in the cities of Spokane, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, and Chicago and now resides in Florida. When she isn't writing, she works part-time for her husband's recruiting firm or enjoys walking on the beach, playing tennis or doing a little yard work.

By Merrillee Whren
Steeple Hill / Love Inspired


1. You've got a book with a hero who has accused the heroine of things she didn't do and resents her for it. Now, they are forced to work together on a project. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

That is a hard question to answer for this book. I didn't have any particular inspiration for the story. My heroine, Maria, first appears as a very minor character in my book, The Heart's Homecoming, which is set in the same fictional town of Pinecrest, Washington. From the time that she appeared in that book, I always intended to write a story with her as the heroine, but in all my brainstorming I could never come up with a suitable hero. So I wrote the second book set in Pinecrest, Love Walked In. While writing that book, the match for Maria emerged. Grady is the brother of Clay, the hero of Love Walked In.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Maria and Grady? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

The only part of the story that is influenced by my own experience is the fact that Grady has two daughters. I also have two daughters, but, unlike Grady's daughters, mine are only a year apart in age. Other than that these characters have very little to do with my personal experiences. I needed an occupation for my hero that would force him to work with the heroine. I had in mind that he would be a lawyer and work for the same charitable foundation as the heroine. I spoke with a friend of mine who is a lawyer about the scenario I had in mind, and she suggested that he should be the administrator for the assisted living facility run by the charitable foundation in the story. Then I interviewed the administrator of one of the assisted living facilities in our local community. She took me on a complete tour of their facility and explained her job. She gave me a lot of ideas for this book.

3. What themes exist in The Heart's Forgiveness that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The title spells out the major theme in the story. Forgiveness has been a theme in all of my stories set in Pinecrest. Another theme is keeping trust in God when all the people around us fail. God never fails. He is always there.

4. What were your favorite parts to write? Your most difficult?

My favorite part of every book is always the beginning. The story is fresh, and I'm getting to know the characters. There is excitement in a new story. The rest of the book is more difficult. I have days when the words fly onto the page and others when every word seems to be pulled, kicking and screaming from my brain.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book, Four Little Blessings, is coming out in February 2008. It is the story of Cassie Rankin, who is raising her two nieces and two nephews, and the impact they have on the hero, Wade Dalton. He is impressed with her selflessness and beauty but believes they are ill-suited, because she is at least a dozen years younger than he is. Besides, he has a secret that will only make their life harder, so he intends to keep his distance. But those four little blessings won't let him stay away.

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Thank you, Merrillee, for being in the spotlight. Readers, feel free to leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Anonymous said...

Great interview. I find the premise of Four Little Blessings intriguing. Can't wait to find out what Wade Dalton's secret is. I like a good mystery.


Cherie J said...

Great Author Spotlight! The Heart's Forgiveness sounds good.

Merrillee said...

Susanne and Cherie, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks to Tiff for spotlighting me.

Shauna said...

I've loved Merrillee's other works. It sounds like this one is another gooder! Thanks for the spotlight. I buy the Steeplehill books each month, so you can keep my name out of the draw to allow others a better chance.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview, I'm always looking for new authors to read!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

And the winner is....


Congratulations. Please send me your mailing address so Merrillee can send out your book. If I don't hear from you within a week (7/16/07), I'll pick another winner.

Thanks again to everyone for your continued support. New spotlights every Wednesday!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Ok, never heard anything from Susanne. So, Cherie, your name was picked. I'll send your information to Merrillee and have her mail out your book.