BEHIND THE WORDS: Irene Hannon

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BEHIND THE WORDS welcomes Christian romance author Irene Hannon.

Welcome Irene, we’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment. First, tell our readers a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?

I live in the Midwest, in the same town where I was born—but I’ve traveled all over the world for both business and pleasure. For many years I juggled my fiction writing with a career in corporate communications with a Fortune 500 company, but as I rose in the ranks there, I had no time or energy for writing. In the end, I left to be a full-time writer…and I never looked back—even though my corporate job was the kind of position that a villain in one of my suspense novels would kill for! Blackberry Beach is my 60th novel.

How long have you been writing?
Since I could pick up a pen and string words together!

Briefly describe your writing day.

I’m at my desk in my home office by eight or eight-thirty, and other than a walk at lunchtime, I’m there until dinner. If I haven’t yet met my page-count goal, or have other business, marketing, or promotion chores to take care of, I end up back there in the evening.

Tell us about your latest release.

Blackberry Beach is Book 7 in my Hope Harbor series, which is set in a charming town where hearts heal…and love blooms. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel, however. Here’s the blurb:

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted—fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn’t she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she’ll be able to calm the storm inside. Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss—and he has no plans to change the life he’s created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. As their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

What inspired this book?

I wanted to explore what happens when you pursue a dream with single-minded determination….expend copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears…only to discover—just when the brass ring is within reach—that the dream isn’t all you hoped it would be. Where do you go from there?

Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character? 

I have a secondary character in the book—a barista at the hero’s coffee shop—who I thought would end up in a subplot…or perhaps in a book of her own. That didn’t happen…but I haven’t written off the possibility that her story could appear in a future novel. She continues to intrigue me!

What has been your hardest scene to write? Any of your books

The opening scenes of the book I’m starting right now. Those are always hard to write, because they set the tone for the whole book and a great deal of backstory has to be woven in seamlessly…but this one has been giving me fits. I’m blaming it on Covid, and other recent problems in the U.S., which have played havoc with my concentration!

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?

Some of my villains have been very challenging. Getting inside their heads, trying to understand what makes them tick, and including scenes from their point of view can be hard—and scary!

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why? 

I’m perfectly happy being who I am. I’ve never wanted to be someone else.

All writers are readers. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I’m influenced by every single book I read. One of the downsides to being an author is that you’re always in analytical mode (or at least I am) when you read, attuned to the nuances of the language, plot, characterizations…and always trying to figure out what makes a story work and how the authors pulls it off.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The Dandelion Field and The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer are books I thoroughly enjoyed but didn’t get the recognition they deserved.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?

It’s not a secret to those who know me…but I love to sing, and I perform in community musical theater productions whenever I get the chance. I’ve had the good fortune to play Laurey, Fiona, Anna, Nellie, Reno…and a host of other leading roles. If you’re a fan of Broadway musicals from the golden age, you’ll be able to match those parts with the shows!

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy! 

You can never go wrong with chocolate. But my current favorite indulgence on a tough day is the almond croissant at a small French bakery in our town. It’s to die for!

And what is your writing Kryptonite?

Stress plays havoc with my writing—like deadline pressures when the world is in turmoil, or when someone I love has health issues. I’ve always managed to muscle through during those periods…but it takes a lot of extra effort and is very exhausting.

What are some of the most memorable moments in your career? 

Getting the call when I sold my first book…winning my first RITA award from Romance Writers of America…hitting a bestseller list for the first time…and winning my third RITA award, which put me into the RWA Hall of Fame. Those moments are etched forever in my memory.

Thank you very much for joining us today, Irene. 

Here’s a look at Irene’s latest release:::: BLACKBERRY BEACH

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted–fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn’t she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she’ll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss–and he has no plans to change the life he’s created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He’s had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites you to come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut!

Since then, she has written more than 50 romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels. She is a seven-time finalist for and three-time winner of the RITA award—the “Oscar” of romance fiction—and a member of the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She has also received a Career Achievement award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. In addition, her books have won a Daphne du Maurier award, two Carol awards, three HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice award, a Retailers Choice award, three Booksellers’ Best awards and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews. She is also a two-time Christy award finalist.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.