11 August 2014

Author Interview: Dawn Crandall

Today I'd like to welcome debut author Dawn Crandall. She has just released the first in The Everstone

Chronicles series, The Hesitant Heiress, which I will review tomorrow. Welcome, Dawn!

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m not only having my first three books published in a series from Whitaker House this year… I also had my first baby in March! He wasn’t an oops-baby, but a baby my husband and I had been trying to have for seven years. I’ve always wanted to write a book ever since finding and falling in love with Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier when I was in high school. However, I don’t think I ever would have actually done it if it weren’t for the encouragement I received from my husband the moment he found out about my secret dream. I’m from northern Indiana and my husband is from Maine. We visit there ever summer, which is how I came to love it so much and wanted to write it into my books.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

My favorite genre is definitely historical romance, and in that genre, my favorite point of view is first person perspective… which is exactly what I write. The books that have always been my favorites have been Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Christy by Catherine Marshall and anything by Jane Austen. My favorite current authors are Julie Lessman, Jody Hedlund and Lori Benton.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

I haven’t read as much lately since I have a newborn to take care of, but the few books I have finished since having him was The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton. I loved it as much as I loved her debut last year, Burning Sky. They are beautifully written, and I still find myself sighing inwardly whenever I think of them.

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I write historical love stories from the first person perspective of the heroine of each book. They are, first of all, love stories, but they also include some elements of suspense.

There are two distinct settings in The Hesitant Heiress (which takes place in 1890), the neighborhood of Back Bay in Boston, and then for the last half of the novel, a group of elaborate "cottages" (mansions, really) on Mount Desert Island where Acadia National Park is located.

Tell us about The Hesitant Heiress. Who will enjoy it?

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn't who she thought at all.

Anyone looking for a complexly emotional love story with a bit of suspense thrown in will probably like this book. My favorite part of writing the way I do is creating the awesome tension between the hero and heroine, and scattering the pages with answers to questions which only create more questions to answer.

This is the first in a series. What can we expect in the subsequent books?

The second book in the series, The Bound Heart, comes out this November. It's about one of the minor characters, Meredyth Summercourt as she deals with her own issues a few months after the first book concludes. The prologue to this second book is previewed at the end of The Hesitant Heiress.

The third book, The Captive Imposter, is about Estella Everstone, the sister of the hero in The Hesitant Heiress. The readers will have seen and interacted with her in books one and two, but will finally have a chance to be in her head and understand where she’s coming from.

What was your motivation for writing The Hesitant Heiress?

I’d always wanted to write a novel reminiscent of old classical romantic suspense novels like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier—but I also wanted to tie in a very relevant spiritual thread. The heroine of The Hesitant Heiress, Amaryllis Brigham, thinks she knows what she wants, as well as how she will achieve it.

I usually take a spiritual lesson I've learned in my own life to infuse into the lives of my heroines. I love taking them from the beginning of their journey to the end, getting to know them so intricately along the way. As I'm writing a book I already know the end and what kind of freedom my heroine is looking for—I think it's so fun to witness her transformation throughout the book.

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

Not a hard question to answer. :) It's Amaryllis Brigham, of course. Even though I really wasn't doing anything toward writing in college, I did have a few of my main characters named. Amaryllis has been with me for so long, even if she was buried in the document files on two different laptops before I ever had the guts to bring her out and actually write her story.

Honestly, there is a lot of me in Amaryllis Brigham. When I started my second book in the series (before I had my agent), it was just for fun as well, and also to prove to myself that I could write another character from first person POV that didn't sound just like Amaryllis. I ended up with a character so opposite of me, it was quite interesting to write.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

Even before I started writing I knew that I would someday write a novel about the spiritual journey of a girl named Amaryllis Brigham. It was what God had laid on my heart while I was in college. There is just too much of God working in the lives of these characters to be considered anything but inspirational fiction.

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

I hardly read books from the general market—they’re so totally different than books written for the Christian market. I don’t love all Christian fiction, but I love the stuff written with honesty and a passion for glorifying God in the lives of the characters within their pages.

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

I believe they do. I don’t include preaching or salvations scenes in my books. My heroines are already Christians, but like every Christian, they always need to learn new things and grow in their faith. I start out writing each book by figuring out what exactly it is that my heroine needs to learn, what kind of freedom she might need to attain… and (totally unrelated) why the hero is the perfect person for her. :)

What kind of support does your publisher give you? What are you expected to do yourself?

Whitaker House has a publicist who has been very helpful to me. I know what kinds of things she has planned, but I also wanted to do more. That’s why we have The Hesitant Heiress Blog Tour going on until the end of August, which includes lots of interviews and book reviews, as well as a ton of prizes, including a Kindle Fire as the grand prize.

What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?

Because I started writing my book for fun, I didn’t have the pressure of “what the industry wants” breathing down my back, and because I signed with my literary agent before The Hesitant Heiress was technically finished, those things were not a difficult in my particular experience. What was hard was waiting for the one and only proposal I had to make its rounds to the publishing houses. There were many (MANY) times I thought the book wouldn’t find a publisher. That was hard, because I didn’t have anything else I felt led to do. I didn’t have any children (at the time—I had my first baby in March!), my degree from Taylor University was very vague, and I felt that writing books was the one thing I did best. If I wasn’t able to find a publisher for “Amaryllis Brigham,” I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself.

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Write what you love to read, no matter how it has to come out. Don't dwell for too long on all of the "rules". Personally, I like to read—and usually, end up enjoying immensely—the books that come out of nowhere and take me on a journey so opposite of "what's done" and what is supposed to work to get a book contract. Write an amazing book. Readers want books that make them forget there are rules.

About Dawn Crandall

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

You can connect with Dawn on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Twitter, on her Book Review Blog or via email. She also has an Amazon Author Page. If you'd like to read the opening chapter of The Hesitant Heiress, visit http://whpub.whitakerhouse.com/dawncrandall/heiress.html.


  1. Maine and Acadia National Park are beautiful places for the setting of a novel! :) ewe_r_merritt(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Thanks for visiting - be sure to check back tomorrow for my review!

  2. Thanks for having me on your blog, Iola! I can't wait to see tomorrow's review!! :)

  3. I'm looking forward to reading your book in the first person perspective! It's refreshing after reading so much third person perspective which many of the books I read tend to be.

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com