This Monday in the Christian Fiction corner, I’m pleased to feature Angela Hunt‘s new book, Doesn’t She Look Natural? Angela is a good friend of mine (and a great person to room with at conferences since we both like the room at the same temperature!). She is also one of my favorite authors.
Jennifer Graham, the no-nonsense chief of staff for a Virginia senator, quits her job after her divorce—and finds herself an unemployed single mom. Forced to live with her mother until she can find work on Capitol Hill that does not involve her gregarious ex-husband, her efforts are stymied until she learns that she has inherited a funeral home in picturesque Mt. Dora. Jennifer journeys to the small Florida town with her two sons and her mother, never dreaming that within a mortuary she will uncover mysteries of love and life.
"Doesn’t She Look Natural? proves the point that Angela Hunt is one of the most versatile authors writing today. Hunt can bring her readers up close and personal to any emotion common to the human heart, and she does just that in her latest release. With her trademark lovable, multifaceted characters and flawless, unpredictable storytelling, she allows us to view life through a lens that ranges from humor to pathos, from dreams to grit, from anger and frustration to courage and hope. I loved these people. I loved this book." —BJ Hoff, author of the Mountain Song Legacy series, the American Anthem series, and An Emerald Ballad.
"When an unexpected twist in life turns Jen upside down and shakes her, she gathers the spilled change from her pockets and begins anew. Hurt by the unwelcome death of her marriage, she nevertheless allows God to begin to heal her and breathe new life into her circumstances. A heroine to cheer for and identify with and an endearing ensemble of well-meaning but meddling mothers, sweetly persistent new friends and a few men who remember how to be honorable round out a light-hearted read that is simply to die for." –Sandra Byrd, author of Let Them Eat Cake and other novels.
How did you come up with the concept for Doesn’t She Look Natural?
I read HEAVEN by Randy Alcorn and naturally began to think about the life to come. I’ve also lost several friends over the last couple of years, and I’ve come to realize that death, for the believer, is not to be feared. I thought a series about a funeral home might be a good way to address issues affecting the living and those who are facing death.
Is any part of Doesn’t She Look Natural factual?
Jennifer Graham and her family are completely fictitious, but Mt. Dora is a real place.
How closely is this Doesn’t She Look Natural based on your life and your practice?
There are bits of every author’s life in every story he or she produces, but I am happily married with two older children. I’ve never been a mortician, but I’ve always been interested in all things medical.
How long did Doesn’t She Look Natural take you to complete?
About the average length of time for me—four or five months.
What is the symbolism for the title Doesn’t She Look Natural?
When my editor and I were talking about titles, we were trying to think of things people always say at funerals. We’ve come up with three: Doesn’t She Look Natural?, She Always Wore Red, and She’s in a Better Place.
Do you have a favorite character? Why?
I’m a little partial to Bugs, Jennifer’s five-year-old son. He says the cutest things . . .
How much research did Doesn’t She Look Natural take?
Quite a bit, and this is just the beginning of the series. In the second book, Jen goes to mortuary school, and by the third book she is actively operating the funeral home. So I’ve had to learn quite a bit about funeral homes, caskets, supplies, embalming, burial versus cremation, etc.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I think all authors face the same challenges—the need to place ourselves in a chair and stay there until the work is done, the challenge of staying fresh in the face of many revisions, and the challenge of wearing entertaining stories and spiritual truths. People looking for the former aren’t always looking for the latter.
Are there any other new projects on the horizon?
Of course! I still have to write the third Fairlawn book, She’s in a Better Place, and I’m working on another thriller called The Face.
Who has influenced you the most with your writing?
It’s be impossible to name one single person—I had a sixth grade teacher who complimented my writing before I had any inkling that I might be any good at it, and Pastor Derric Johnson suggested that I switch from music to writing as a career. And at Tyndale House, it was Ken Peterson who suggested that I move from children’s books into adult fiction. You might say that God has frequently spoken to me through the voices of my friends.
What advice would you give to a person trying to become a novelist?
Read, read, read. And then get to a good writer’s conference where you can learn from people who are actually doing the work.
What message would you like your readers to take away from Doesn’t She Look Natural?
I would like readers to see that God is always leading us . . . even when we don’t like the direction in which we’re moving. And when God moves us, He supplies our needs . . . sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
My goal in life is simply to love and obey God. Right now I’m doing that by writing the stories He places on my heart.