Hope Hunter is the star character in my new novel, Hope of Cherry Blossom Lane. She was kind enough to speak with me recently and to share some insight into her heartwarming story.
Richard: Thanks for sharing your valuable time with us today.
Hope: My pleasure.
Richard: I’m going to read a sentence from a scene in your story. I would be interested in your thoughts.
Richard: History had repeated itself. Thirty-five years ago, Hope stood at that window, clutching the same stuffed animal.
Hope: Ah, yes. My precious granddaughter, Emma. Up until that moment, I had only considered the influence Grandma Debose had on my life. She used to tell me that anything she ever gave me or did for me was miniscule compared to the blessings I gave her. That morning when I saw Emma standing at the same window where I once stood and holding my old teddy bear, it hit me. When Emma walks into the room my heart lights up. I can be having the worst day ever and she turns my dark clouds into sunshine.
Richard: Your daughter, Jessica, plays a major role in your story.
Hope: If she had only listened to me when I begged her not to marry Chase Miller. That boy was nothing but trouble. She still hasn’t recovered from what he did to her. I doubt she ever will.
Richard: I loved your encounters with the mystery jogger.
Hope: Still can’t believe I did that. But I’m glad I did.
Richard: Speaking of mysteries, your grandmother’s Memory Box was like a window into your family’s past.
Hope: Exactly. I was shocked to learn that Howard Debose was not my grandfather and she had a secret lover.
Richard: His identity is ultimately revealed.
Hope: And a total surprise.
Richard: Tell me about Cherry Blossom Lane.
Hope: Most beautiful place on earth, especially about mid-March when the trees are in bloom. Of course, I’m biased. That’s where I spent my summers as a child and where I met my friend Linda.
Richard: Linda Ware, owner of Ware’s B&B.
Hope: (laughs) I love that girl, but she can get on my last nerve. Still can’t believe how she pushed me into helping with her Save-the-Park campaign.
Richard: When did you decide you wanted a career as an artist?
Hope: When I was five. My grandmother, Henrietta Debose, was an accomplished oil painter. First time I saw her applying paint to a canvas, I was hooked.
Richard: She taught you?
Hope: Right. She was an amazing teacher. She provided the art education I could never have afforded.
Richard: Were your parents supportive?
Hope: Not at all, except for sending me off to my grandmother’s house. But their motivation had nothing to do with art. They just wanted a break from me.
Richard: Because you were mischievous?
Hope: No. Because I was a responsibility they didn’t want. Mother called me her “little surprise.
Richard: When and why did you give up on your dream?
Hope: Gave it up when I was seventeen. That’s when I fell in love with Terrence.
Richard: How did marriage interfere with your art career?
Hope: At first, I suppose it was simply because we couldn’t afford it. He and I took whatever jobs we could find just to survive. But I think the main reason was that Terrence believed all those nightmare stories about starving artists. He said art was a waste of time and that only a few lucky people made it. And we Hunters weren’t the lucky ones.
Richard: What convinced you to rekindle your dream?
Hope: About a year after my divorce, Grandma Debose died and left her estate to me. I never expected it. Skipped right over my daddy, who was the rightful heir. It was like she was saying, “this is your chance, now make the most of it.”
Richard: How did your father take the news?
Hope: He hit the roof. Called me names I would never use on my worst enemy and then threatened to sue me. No way for a father to treat his daughter.
Richard: Definitely. I was amazed at how he got his limp.
Hope: I knew he was capable of insane behavior, but that one blew my mind.
Richard: What do you want people to get from your story?
Hope: Well, entertainment, for sure. There are valuable life lessons to be learned, but most of all I want my readers to be inspired, like my signature on my paintings.
Hope: That’s it.
Richard: Thanks again for being with us today.