Hello, reader friends! Author friend Courtney Walsh is joining us for a quick chat in honor of her new release If for Any Reason!
about the author
Courtney Walsh is the author of ten inspirational novels including the Sweethaven series.
Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, was a New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller and a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. In addition, she has written two craft books and several full-length musicals.
Courtney lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, where she is also an artist, theater director, and playwright.
What compelled you to write If for Any Reason?
C: I used to be very involved in the scrapbooking world, and a big part of the reason why was that I loved the whole idea of “leaving a legacy.” I wanted to preserve our family’s stories through words and photos.
One idea that has always stuck with me was the idea of writing letters to your child just in case (or if for any reason) you weren’t there to share important lessons along the way. As a mom, there are certain things I want my kids to know, and what better way to make sure they know them (no matter what) than by writing them down in letter form?
I’ve always been smitten with the idea of handwritten letters, so here was a chance to meld all the things I love together in one story.
B: I love this, Courtney! You just gave me goosebumps.
What role does faith play in this story?
C: I like to take a look at our raw feelings as we wrestle with our faith. Specifically, I think if we grew up in church, it can be hard to navigate feelings of anger toward God. I will admit that in the aftermath of my daughter’s cancer diagnosis, I settled into a strange funk—Where were you, God? Why did you let this happen?
God was pretty blunt with me, reminding me that this really wasn’t about me. This was my daughter’s story—and there was a purpose for it all that I had yet to understand. Still, I’ve had some pretty big feelings to sort through. It was natural then to bring that into this story.
Emily, my heroine, lost her mom when she was very young. How hard would it be to wrap your head around that, to grow up believing that God is good? I wanted to show her wrestling with those feelings because I believe God can handle those big questions.
He can even handle it when we’re angry with him. I wasn’t taught that in Sunday school—that it was okay to feel upset sometimes. But in his kind and gentle way, God lovingly takes that anger and helps us make sense of it—that is, if we continue asking and seeking.
Emily has a journey to go on, and her faith (or lack of faith) is challenged because of her past. I found that journey mirrored my own in some ways . . . and I’m so thankful that God has been so patient with me.
B: I agree it’s so important for us to continue seeking Him in the good times and the tough times!
What made you decide to set this story in Nantucket?
C: A writer friend actually. She knew I really loved Nantucket (I’ve been there twice) and we were brainstorming a completely different story when she said, “Why don’t you set a story in Nantucket?” I had never set a story in a real place (and there are a lot of challenges that go with that), but I started to entertain the idea.
I was driving back from a writing retreat in Branson (about six hours) and I just let my mind wander . . . By the time I got home from that trip, I had envisioned an entirely new story. I knew it meant starting over, but I was so excited about it, and I absolutely loved digging in to all my own Nantucket memories plus researching the island to create a beautiful new setting.
B: I can’t wait to literarily visit Nantucket with you!
Which character in this story was your favorite to craft?
C: Jolie. I’ve heard that many authors shy away from writing kids into their stories, but I work with kids, so I love to include them in my books. Jolie is like a bright burst of sunshine. Kids tend to say what they think without hesitation, and that is something we lose as adults. I loved writing this broken father/daughter relationship and finding tender moments between Hollis and his daughter.
B: We need kids in stories, I’m so glad you’ve included her in If for Any Reason! Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Courtney!
about the book
If for Any Reason by Courtney Walsh
Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door–turned–baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.
As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.
Thanks to the publisher, we have a print copy of If for Any Reason by Courtney Walsh for one fortunate Faithfully Bookish reader!
US only | ends 2/10 | complete giveaway rules
Join our chat by sharing your thoughts in the comments!
I am looking forward to reading If for Any Reason by Courtney Walsh!
Are you adding this title to your tbr, reader friends?