Dear Readers, when my copy of Hallowed Halls arrived, it went straight to the top of my to-be-read pile. I’ve read Hannah Alexander suspense novels for years. I love the way this couple works together to give us a dynamite story. The settings always intrigue me, since most of them are in the
Ozark Mountains, where I spent most of my
growing up years. They create characters, who really grab me by the heart and
don’t let go. Hallowed Halls is a
great read that I would recommend to anyone who loves romantic suspense … and
to those who maybe don’t. This is a very good read for anyone.
Bio: Hannah Alexander is the pen name for a husband-and-wife writing team presently working on their 29th novel. Their books can be found online and in new and used bookstores across the country. Hannah's work is typically set in a small town, typically with a medical drama, some suspense, some humor, with characters who often raise questions about the spiritual aspects of their lives.
Welcome back, Cheryl. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Lena. I wish I
could see what He’s doing, because I’m beneath that tapestry, and all I see are
knots and scribbles so much of the time. The one thing I do see for sure is
that as long as I have stories to tell, I’ll continue writing. It’s been my
lifelong passion, and I only hope I can still do it when I get to heaven.
Tell us a little about your family.
I’m glad you asked. I’m preparing to attend a family reunion in which over 100 individuals are scheduled to be there. My mother was one of thirteen children, and from those children came more than 55 cousins for me to love as siblings, and I do love them. Mom made sure of that, because I’m an only child.
My husband, Mel, whom I include in the pen name Hannah Alexander because of his great help with editing and medical scenes, has been my immediate family for nearly 20 years; the reason I chose the name “Hannah” for my half of our pen name was because I could so easily identify with pre-Samuel Hannah in the Bible. I was never given children of my own. That has allowed Mel and me to do many things we couldn’t have done otherwise, and we’ve accepted God’s will for our lives.
I have two stepsons from a former marriage whom I love dearly, and they’re great buddies with Mel. One of those stepsons recently received a master’s degree in Homeland Security, and he and his beautiful wife have two precious children. My other stepson works with pharmaceuticals and he and his vivacious, business-savvy wife presently have eight cats. We can identify, since Mel and I have rescued multiple abandoned kitties over the past nine years, and they’ve kept us busy. I have the utmost love and appreciation for the mother of my stepsons; because of her generous spirit, I’m allowed to be involved in their lives, and am greatly blessed.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I’ve never thought about this before, but yes, my writing has changed my reading habits, because I’ve met so many excellent novelists over the years. There are some fabulous wordsmiths amongst my growing bevy of friends, and I enjoy their work a great deal. Typically I love to immerse myself in poetic writing style. I indulge myself in the best voices in writing, whether it’s thrillers, women’s fiction, even horror—and I don’t even like horror, but if an excellent writer just happens to write in that genre, that’s what I read. If I want to have a good writing voice, myself, I can’t afford to read novels that aren’t well written and edited, but there are so many excellent novels to be read, I’ll never run out of great material.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just completed a novella entitled Alive After New Year to be released in December with Love Inspired Suspense. Now I’m beginning the sequel to the indie novel I recently finished for the Jerry Jenkins Suspense line, entitled Hallowed Halls, which we’re featuring today.
The novel I’m working on right now begins with my heroine discovering she has driven hundreds of miles in a fugue state to find herself sitting in front of a tombstone, with Fourth of July fireworks filling the sky. She doesn’t know who she is or what she’s doing here. My hero is one of the first anti-heroes I’ve ever done, so this will be new to me. He was one of the antagonists in Hallowed Halls, and now he’s coming to grips with the damage he’s inflicted on so many people. I’m more excited about this story than I have been about anything for a long time. Soon, I might even have a title for it. As soon as I know, it’ll be on my website.
I’ll want to feature it on this blog when it releases. What outside interests do you have?
I expect to one day enjoy hiking again, and traveling, and exploring new places. Right now, I read a lot, and help my husband with the clinic we recently established in our tiny hometown. We never dreamt how much work and emotional effort this clinic would entail. Our hometown, where I graduated from high school decades ago, has barely over 1,000 residents, so growing a patient load and reaching out to surrounding rural towns is something of a challenge. Getting the word out about our existence reminds me a lot of being a newly published novelist attempting to promote my first book. Until they’ve been to our facility and seen how good our staff is, and how caring my husband is, they don’t take us seriously. But word of mouth is as vital for the success of a medical clinic as it is for a novelist. I know my husband, and I know word of mouth will continue to spread.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
That’s where my love for travel and exploration come in. Once I find a place I love—usually here in Southwestern Missouri—I set a series in a make believe town, people it with characters who reflect people I’ve met and admired—or not. Then I settle in and stay a while.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
We’re presently studying the book of Esther, and I find I would love to ask her about her experiences that took place in that book—from her personal perspective. How did she manage to obey the terrifying demands made of her? I can’t imagine. I could use a good lesson about how to be more obedient.
I’ve long been interested in the life of Esther. When I was writing dramatic monologues, I did one of Esthere. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
That it would take me fourteen years of writing, editing, rewriting, marketing and receiving rejections before I reached my first novel publication, but when it happened, the time would be right. Would I still have done it if I’d known how long it would take? Most definitely. But perhaps I would have experienced less discouragement.
My first published book took 8 years, so I totally understand. What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Again, studying Esther, I’m finding through the only book in the Bible that does not mention God that God still reigns. Even in the empty times in my life, when I can’t feel His touch or presence, I’m learning that He’s still with me. It’s something I want to convey in the book I’m writing now through the character of the man who was a scoundrel in Hallowed Halls, and comes face to face with his horrible behavior in Book Two.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
First of all, learn grammar and punctuation and the craft of writing to the point that it becomes easy and doesn’t trip you up.
Second, write the story you want to write. Get it all down on paper without editing it. Feel free to write anything you want on the page, then put it away for at least a month.
Third, edit your novel with the help of several good books on writing and editing novels. Rewrite it over and over and over again, then put it away again. After more time has passed, pull it back out and rewrite it once more. I’ve found one can never rewrite enough, but you have to stop somewhere.
An editor once told me that it takes as much time to become a talented author of novels as it takes to become a brain surgeon. One has to build on the craft until it becomes an art.
Tell us about the featured book.
Hallowed Halls is a story set in a small town along the
Missouri River, a fictitious town named Juliet set
between two real places named Frankenstein and Hermann. Don’t you love it? I
couldn’t resist using those names.
My heroine, Dr. Joy Gilbert, has lost her job in
Kansas City after
resisting her employer’s advances once too often (remember the scoundrel I’d
mentioned earlier? That’s him) When Joy arrives in Juliet late at night, out
jumps her employer’s fifteen-year-old teenaged daughter from the backseat.
Tressa, who is escaping a difficult home situation, is tired of her battling,
divorced parents. Unfortunately, Joy has crossed a state line with a minor. Soon
after, she must face her former fiancé and admit her mistakes. Next, her
mother, Molly, greets her at the front door with a house filled with rescued
animals and a grumpy disposition. Life seems to be going downhill for Joy.
Forced to take a job working for Zack Tyler, her former fiancé, in the emergency department, Joy continues to clash with her mother about her life choices—they’d planned to open a clinic right here in Juliet, but instead, Joy took the job in Kansas City. Mom can’t quite forgive her for that.
Joy also has to work out some guidelines with Zack as they attempt to figure out how to re-establish their long-time friendship and work better together in the ER.
When young Tressa starts having blackouts, personal matters have to be handled on the fly as Zack, Joy, and Molly attempt to discover what’s happening before the blackouts become something worse.
Since I’ve read the book, please give us the first page for my readers.
Fury surged through Dr. Joy Gilbert like a rifle shot as she shut her office door and yanked the stethoscope from around her neck, suppressing a rebel yell. She stormed to the wide windows and sucked in her breath, ready to throw open the panes and shock the world. But an inquisitive squirrel leapt from one branch to another on a tree behind the clinic.
With a comical tilt of his head the furry critter broke the force of Joy’s outrage. She released her breath and deflated. As a child, she’d helped Mom bottle-feed an orphaned gray squirrel, and the little thick-tailed acrobat had often made her laugh.
Why scare the squirrels because she was stinging from the ridiculous accusations of a hostile patient? The man was unbelievable.
Her intercom buzzed, jerking her back to complete maturity.
“Dr. Gilbert, honey, you okay in there?” It was Betty, her favorite nurse.
“Give me a sec—”
“The boss is on his way to the clinic, sweetie. I want to rush Mr. Bezier out the door before he can waylay Mr. Cline.”
Joy winced. Along with half the clinic staff and several patients in the waiting room, Betty had undoubtedly heard Frank Bezier berating Joy for her refusal to write him a script for a half-year’s supply of Percocet. Some people thought they were above the law.
He had, in fact, loudly accused her of using her physical attributes and other “abilities” to land her job with Weston Cline “since I’m obviously an incompetent physician,” she muttered, too softly for Betty to hear. The patient was a bully.
“He’ll just call Weston later,” she told Betty. “He has clout.” And Weston’s personal cell phone number.
“Oh horse dumplings; the man’s a legal drug junkie and everyone knows it, including the boss. And might I remind you that Mr. Cline hired you for your ability with patients? Everybody here knows that.”
Joy closed her eyes in relief at her nurse’s soothing words. No one knew about the pains she’d taken to keep Weston Cline’s attentions away from her. All the struggles growing up without a daddy could teach a girl a few hard lessons, so she’d expected to be prepared. Being accused of doing the very thing she’d always resisted had felt like a stab in the gut.
“You could fire him from your service,” Betty said. “Send a letter and he’s out the door in thirty days.”
“We’re basically a pain clinic, Betty.” So why had Joy agreed to work here? “If I release a patient in pain from my services, I’ll be out the door.” Joy suspected Weston chose to advertise the clinic’s willingness to take chronic pain patients in the first place because it would ensure a fast growth rate. And it certainly had. A healthy bottom line was Weston’s main goal in everything he did.
“If you go out the door, so will I,” Betty said. “As will half the staff. Weston Cline knows better. You don’t want the state medical board breathing down your neck for being overly generous with controlled substances.”
Joy turned her back to the desk. “I think they already are.”
Too bad she hadn’t been thinking with her brain last year when Weston offered her this job. He not only offered it, he pressured her for weeks. The man had the charisma of a world dictator and for a short time she’d allowed herself to be dazed by his sweet words and the promise of a successful career—particularly after Zack broke their engagement.
How can readers find you on the Internet?As always, look us up at www.HannahAlexander.com Drop us a line. We love to hear from readers.
Thank you, Cheryl for sharing this new book, and glimpses into your life, with us today.
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Hallowed Halls - Christianbook.com
Hallowed Halls (Jerry B. Jenkins Select Books) - Amazon
Hallowed Halls (Hallowed Halls Series Book 1) - Kindle
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