Today we are celebrating the release of my lovely friend Donna Gartshore’s debut Love Inspired novel: Instant Family. I read it and loved it, ya’ll!! I have a soft spot for stories that grapple with real-life problems. They make us earn for those happily-ever-afters—and just like I preach to my kids all the time, when you work for something, you appreciate it!
Donna’s story deals with things like Alzheimer’s disease vandalism and single parenthood—and those are plenty gritty. But also she deftly weaves in a love story with delightful characters and a beautiful lakeside setting. I was curious about how she developed this unique story, so I badgered her with some questions.
- How did his story begin for you? Great question! And by the way, thanks for inviting me to your blog! I came up with the idea very spontaneously when I saw on Facebook that Love Inspired was having a contest called Blurb to Book. I am a single mom, and my dad had Alzheimer’s Disease–so I started with those two basics and just kind of went with it.
- All your characters were so fabulous! Did you have a favorite? Well, I loved Al because he was based on my Dad. My dad was a journalist, not a pastor, but he was a real family man and couldn’t have loved his family more. I gave Al a lot of my dad’s Alzheimer’s traits, so I truly hope I didn’t offend anyone. I know it’s a different experience for everyone. I tried to covey some of those moments that can somehow be funny and truly heartbreaking at the same time. I also loved writing Rae, who I would say is a mix of me and my daughter at that age. (The awkward parts of Rae are me, and the mature, together parts are my daughter!)
- What aspects of the Christian faith does your story showcase? I think the Christian theme I had in mind was primarily of forgiveness. Particularly, how difficult it can be to forgive ourselves, which is something Ben really struggles with. Through Frankie, I also wanted to show that we can struggle with our relationship with God when we’re going through difficult times.
- Were any parts of this story difficult for you to write? Writing about Al was difficult at times, especially some of his more explosive moments. And, in fact, I toned him down quite a bit compared to some of my own father’s behavior. I always understood that my dad still loved me, and I knew it was the disease, but that didn’t always stop me from feeling hurt and quite devastated when he lashed out. Also, although Frankie is single by divorce and I am widowed, sometimes being a single mom can be a bit lonely and overwhelming, no matter how much you love your child.
- What do you hope readers carry with them from Frankie and Ben’s love story? I want readers to know that God is always there and that even if they are going through a difficult and/or lonely season in their lives, the story doesn’t have to end there. I’m not saying that everyone has to find the perfect romance! I confess that I haven’t myself! But I have learned that God gives second chances in all kinds of ways, and that He will always make sure that we are taken care of and that our lives can be full and fulfilling even after a loss. As I said in my letter to readers, I still believe in happy endings.
Thanks again, so much for having me, Laurel–and a huge thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in Instant Family. It means the world to me!
Thank you, Donna for stopping by to answer my nosy questions!! And, because I know ya’ll are going to want to read this wonderful story right now–here’s a link! Read some INSTANT FAMILY instantly!