Dear Readers, I am one-fourth Irish, so I like reading novels set in
. I read Irish Encounter and really enjoyed it.
It’s a contemporary novel, and I felt as if I were in Ireland myself,
meeting these interesting characters. They stole my heart. Ireland
Bio: Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master's degree in English and taught at
University as well as . A member of
ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for AlmostAnAuthor. Before writing novels,
she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with
children to writing apprehension. She cheers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC
basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin,
live in York Technical
College North Carolina
and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo. Her second
novel, Mars...With Venus Rising,
released with Pelican Book Group in August.
Welcome, Hope. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I write something of myself into a lot of my characters. I don’t always consciously include myself, but people say they can hear my voice when they’re reading. That’s why for my second novel, Mars…With Venus Rising, I specifically chose a character who loves math—my antithesis, but I had her crochet in one scene because I love to crochet.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m not sure if it’s quirky or crazy, but my husband and I took our four children on a home exchange when they were five, five, seven, and nine. We spent one week in
with former exchange students and their families, and we spent three weeks in
Galway plus three weeks in Bandon, .
The two families stayed in our house while we lived in theirs. That exchange trip
plus another in 2007 planted the seed for Irish Encounter. County
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was in second or third grade, we had to write the copy for a picture book. I still remember the paragraph I turned in for the first page of the book. When my teacher graded it, she wrote excellent on the top of the right hand side of the page, angled toward the corner in red ink. I loved writing that page and knew I wanted to write more. I’ve had great encouragement from peers, teachers, and professors since then.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading all kinds of books. I read romance and romantic suspense because who doesn’t love that first time you notice someone, that heady time of falling for someone special. As a former English instructor and as a book club facilitator, I love reading the classics like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice and literary fiction from Anne Tyler, Kaye Gibbons, and Elizabeth Berg. I also read non-fiction like Unbroken, and children’s and young adult fiction from Sarah Dessen, Markus Zusak, and Richard Peck, and travel stories like Under the Tuscan Sun. Did I say I love reading?
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I try to pray and have a quiet time every morning. A few years ago when my quiet time seemed boring to me, I figured it was boring to God as well. I made note cards with verses that describe God’s character from Isaiah and Psalms. I love meditating over those verses before the day gets frantic.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Naming something or someone is so hard. In our family, it’s taken us two or three weeks to name a pet. We always have some negative connotation attached to a name. For Irish Encounter, I needed a name for a forty-three year old. Names popular today like Brittany or Tiffany wouldn’t work. I needed a name that would have been popular in the early seventies, so I chose Ellen. Payne was easy because it fit his character so well. I Googled ethnic names for the story and checked a baby name book and phone books, too.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m happy that I soloed a Cessna 150 years ago, but the accomplishment that I’m most thankful for is the fact that God allowed me to help rear four pretty tremendous human beings. Our children are fun and funny, interesting and interested. They’re solid, contributing citizens who have close, personal walks with Jesus Christ. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
If ostriches really buried their heads in sand when trouble comes, that’s what I’d be because I don’t like confrontation. Since that popular belief is a myth, I’ll choose a dolphin because I like to swim.
What is your favorite food?
I love food, especially Italian, Mexican, and spicy food. I really love my mother’s fried pork tenderloin nestled in one of her homemade biscuits. For dessert, I never turn down a chocolate mousse or ice cream or frozen yogurt …
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
PITCHING. I hate it. I’m horrible at it. I’m so thankful my agent, Jim Hart, can send proposals out for me now. For the writing process, procrastination and fear are pretty strong. Some days I have to make myself sit down and write. Writing is fun, but the blank page or screen can be scary. I have a formidable internal editor. I’ve had to pray and wrestle him out of my office many times to get a rough draft into Scrivener.
Tell us about the featured book.
Irish Encounter is the story with which God wooed me onto the fiction path. It’s the story of my heart and the story of second chances.
Blurb: After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life. Perhaps she’ll find adventure during a visit to
Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for
yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes
an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and
stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband.
After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again.
Please give us the first page of the book for my readers.
Ellen Shepherd’s fingers trembled as she fiddled with the zipper on her small backpack. “I can’t wait to see
again. It’s been so long since we were here.” As soon as the words were out of
her mouth, an image of her husband, dead now for three years, smiling and
popping a piece of brown bread into his mouth, wavered in her mind.
Was she crazy? She didn’t want to see
“Mom, are you sure you’re up to going into town? I should be finished with my exam around noon. Relax this morning, and then I’ll come back here for lunch.” Olivia, a college junior, sipped coffee out of a mug depicting the Cliffs of Moher. Natural light from the cathedral windows behind her brightened the kitchen despite this morning’s low-hanging clouds.
Ellen smiled at her daughter and banished the bittersweet memories that wanted to join forces with the dark clouds overhead. “I appreciate your concern for your poor ol’ mom, but I’m not ready for a rocking chair and a warm blanket yet. At least allow me to celebrate my forty-fourth birthday before you cart me away to a retirement center.” She drank the last of her orange juice.
Olivia rolled her hazel eyes, the exact color of Ellen’s, and bit her toast shimmering with blackberry jam. “Mmm. You should plant some blackberry bushes when you get back home. Then next year make some delicious jam like this.” She wiggled the remaining half of the triangle at her mom.
“Thanks for adding not one but two items to my to-do list. They’ll have to roost at the bottom for now, though.” A pall crept into her chest as she thought about her yarn shop, holding its own but barely and her farm, the fields lying fallow this year because of her uncle’s stroke in March.
What would next year bring?
How can readers find you on the Internet?https://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/
Thank you, Hope, for sharing this book with us. I know my readers will enjoy it as much as I did.
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Irish Encounter - paperback
Irish Encounter - Kindle
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