Letter to Jenny

Dear Jenny,

You ask what inspires my books. It’s different for every book, but with Blue Heaven it all started with a visit to some friends’ cottages on Lake Huron. Yes, that is the exact setting of Blue Heaven. My friends had bought these run-down cottages as rentals and the wife did a great job decorating them shabby chic. She was amazing with fabric and paint. I’m sure the husband did the plumbing and so forth. I was simply charmed by that day, those cottages, and I never forgot it.

Inspiration sometimes needs to simmer. Maybe a year later, or even two, I told my husband my idea for a book. “Like Sue and Joe’s cottages.” He thought the idea was good, and even offered to take me for a nice long ride around the thumb. I took pictures and notes on that trip and the novel was born. A scratchy rough draft later, some friends bought a cottage in Caseville.

Everyone in Michigan knows Caseville is the top of the thumb. Visiting my friend, walking into town via the beach, all of that added to the setting as I worked on draft #2.

One final influence on this book is Mary Kay Andrews. I love her books; they’re fun and sassy and she almost always has a renovation element. She is the queen of shabby chic. I just checked her blog and she’s doing a real-life remodel on her own cottage. And there are pictures! I got to meet MKA once. We actually walked to lunch together! And she asked me what I was working on…I said nothing. I mean, I said the words “nothing right now.” Because walking beside my idol, I just blanked. But I was working on Blue Heaven.

As for the characters, I always give my female protagonists at least some of my own emotions but different lives than mine. I like feisty women who dig deep through tragic circumstances and come up with the prize: a happy life. So that’s Eva, who lost a job and boyfriend on the same day. As for Daniel, I called him Adam at first. And Eva was Eve. Get it? Garden of Eden? One of my working titles was “Remodeling Eden.” I decided the metaphor was too labored, but I did keep the name of the resort: Blue Heaven.

Thanks for asking about what inspires me! And enjoy your books:)

Sincerely, Cindy

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