Nicole Deese is a full-time lover of humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled fiction. She is the author of the Letting Go series and the Love in Lenox novels, A Cliché Christmas and A Season to Love. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading near a window while sipping a LaCroix. She lives in small-town Idaho with her handsome hubby and two sons.
Q: This book is a standalone and not part of the Lenox series. What was the biggest challenge in writing Rayne and Levi’s story?
Nicole Deese: Well, to be super honest, there wasn’t much about this book that wasn’t a challenge. Haha! On many levels, this story required more of me (mentally and emotionally) than any of my previous writing endeavours. The wildfire research and evacuation procedures took a fair amount of time to sort through for sure, but (without giving away any spoilers) the Shelby family (and all their secrets) proved the toughest to weave into the plot.
Q: When you began writing The Promise of Rayne, did you have the ending in sight? Or did that happen along the way?
Nicole Deese: During the pre-planning and pre-plotting stage of The Promise Of Rayne I had a somewhat hazy ending in sight (smoke pun intended). But then one night, while texting with my favorite night owl (shout-out to Connilyn Cossette), we started discussing some “alternative possibilities” and BAM…. the true ending was born! I was thrilled!
Q: I found that the picture of God’s unconditional love was so well illustrated in this touching story, is this theme something that is particularly special to you?
Nicole Deese: While I was reading through a familiar passage in the Bible last year (Luke 6), a verse jumped out at me and slugged me in the gut. (Gotta love those God gut-punches, right?) And while I’ve read and heard the “love your enemy” verse a thousand times, the part that struck me wasn’t the command itself, but the truth that followed in verse 32: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Punch.
I’ve always believed I was a fairly good “lover of people.” But over the next few weeks I wasn’t able to let that verse go. The words circled my head and my heart each and every time I interacted with someone—a friend, a neighbor, a relative, a parent in my son’s class, a checker at Walmart. But, unfortunately, the list of my daily interactions didn’t stop there. It expanded to the jerky drivers who cut me off on the freeway, the mean-spirited reviewers who attacked my faith on public forums, the bullies who spoke hurtful things to my ten year-old son and refused to apologize. Suddenly, that passage on unconditional love started to feel a little too tight, a little too itchy, a little too… real. Because here is the obvious truth: Loving difficult people is DIFFICULT!
People who greet me with warm smiles and welcome hugs and kind words…those people are not who those verses are about. And as it turns out, I struggle to love the difficult people well. And boy oh boy is that convicting. As I pondered and prayed about this realization, I began to dream up the characters and conflict in The Promise of Rayne. And even now as I type this, I can still hear God’s whisper in my heart: Do you love the difficult people as I have loved you, Nicole?
Q: What is next for you? Will there be more in the Love in Lenox series? Will there be more from Rayne and Levi’s world? What can readers expect?
Nicole Deese: I’m currently working on book #3 in the Love in Lenox series. I’m loving these new characters and I hope my readers will find them as endearing as I do. As for a return to Shelby Falls… I honestly don’t have an answer to that. But I can say that I truly, TRULY loved writing The Promise of Rayne and I would jump at the chance to go back to that story world and write a new journey for a couple of those characters. Fingers crossed.
Q: Where and how can readers connect with you?