Author Shanna Hatfield is kicking off a new week with me. We’re chatting about her new historical romance, Garden of Her Heart.
USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Welcome, Shanna. Please tell us about your current release.
The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese-Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.
After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.
A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.
What inspired you to write this book?
On a beautiful June day, my husband and I decided to explore the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. As we walked up the hill through the cool trees to the gate, we talked about how the garden seemed rather hidden from the world. Once we stepped through the admittance gate, we both stared in awe at the beauty surrounding us. While we wandered along the moss-covered stones and ambled across the wooden bridges, the idea for this story began to percolate in my head. What if a girl lived in a secret garden? Why would she be there? What scenario would drive her into hiding in a Japanese garden up on a hilltop that no one knew was there?
As we strolled among weeping cherry trees and vibrant flowering bushes, I blurted out my thoughts to my husband. Somehow, in a wonderful blending of ideas, we both arrived at the conclusion of World War II. A Japanese girl would have every reason to hide, had she the opportunity to do so, in 1942 when the government ordered all Japanese along the West Coast “military area” to report to Assembly Centers.
That’s where the story began.
Excerpt from Garden of Her Heart:
“Please, Miko? Would you at least consider marrying me?”
She shook her head and tried to pull away from him, but he drew her closer, wrapping his arms around her and holding her. His breath tantalized her ear as he bent his head near hers. “Please?”
“I can’t, Rock. I don’t want to be the cause of you missing out on the love of a lifetime.” She turned her head to the side and pressed it against his neck. Unintentionally, she heightened the yearning that already pulsed between them. Forcibly, he relaxed his hold on her.
“Miko,” he whispered. “Look at me, sweetheart.”
Unhurried, she tipped her head back, drawn into the bright warmth of his eyes.
“Miko, if I didn’t want to marry you, I wouldn’t offer. I rather like the idea of spending my future with you. We have more going for us than many couples who wed. There is no doubt in my mind at all about your ability to be a good wife. Me, on the other hand…” His cocky grin brought an amused light to her eyes. “It might be challenging to be married to someone like me.”
A smile curved her mouth upward and Rock tamped down the desire to kiss her again, even with the pastor watching their every move.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I have several new projects this spring, including the sequel to Garden of Her Heart. It’s called Home of Her Heart and is a story of loss, redemption, and forgiveness with a liberal sprinkling of humor.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always loved to read and write. My first job after college was writing for a newspaper. I continued in that career for ten years before shifting gears into marketing. So I suppose I technically I was considered a writer when my first byline appeared in the newspaper. But the day I really felt like a writer was the day I released my first three sweet romances and sold that first copy. That was when I truly considered myself a writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time and love every minute of it! Generally, I write five to six days a week. I view writing as a career and a job (although it is something that makes me ridiculously happy), so you can find me in my office from about seven in the morning until eight in the evening most days. Of course, I take time out for lunch and an hour or so to hang out with my husband over dinner, but for the most part, I’m at my desk working. If I’m not writing, I’m working on marketing, promotion, designing a cover or creating memes for my books.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As crazy as this sounds, each story I write has to have a song. I play it on a loop while I write. For whatever reason, it helps me stay focused on the story. Moonlight Serenade, sung by Ella Fitzgerald, was the song I chose for Garden of Her Heart.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A race car driver! The combination of watching The Dukes of Hazard and my brother having a cool Mustang he wouldn’t let me touch but occasionally let me ride in made me want to be a race car driver in the worst way. Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I toyed with some other options, like pastry chef, florist, or one of those people who writes greeting card messages, but I finally settled on being a writer.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just a big thank you for allowing me to join you today!
Thanks for being here today, Shanna. All the best with your writing!