Thursday, September 29, 2022

Carol Van Den Hende Interview - Orchid Blooming

Photo Credit: Bobby Hanuman

CAROL VAN DEN HENDE is the award-winning author of the Goodbye, Orchid series which won 20+ literary awards including the American Fiction Award, Pinnacle Achievement Award, IAN for Best First Novel, two Royal Dragonfly’s, and Kops-Fetherling Award. When she’s not penning stories of resilience and hope, Carol applies her MBA to global marketing and digital strategy (in chocolate, sweet!).

She’s also a public speaker, who’s presented at Writers’ Digest, Women Who Write, IBPA, NJ’s Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Novelists’ Inc, Rutgers Writers’ Conference and more.

Carol is active in her community, as a Climate Reality Leader, as a Board Trustee, and by raising funds for non-profits like USA Cares.

One secret to her good fortune? Her humorous husband and twins, who prove that love really does conquer all.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’d always loved literature, and wrote “for myself.” Over time, I became interested in improving my writing craft and joined Women Who Write. This local writers’ group would read their work aloud to get real-time feedback. As I read an emotional portion of Goodbye, Orchid to them, their sniffles and tears told me that there was something incredibly powerful in my characters and storytelling. This fueled me to pursue publication. I’m proud that Goodbye, Orchid and Orchid Blooming have touched readers and won more than twenty awards, for multicultural fiction, women’s fiction, disability awareness and more.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The combat-wounded veterans who inspired my fiction have loved, shaped and endorsed Orchid Blooming and Goodbye, Orchid. Sentiments like those of Purple Heart-decorated Doc Jacobs touches me:

“As a combat decorated and wounded veteran, I was truly captivated by Carol’s storytelling. Phoenix Walker captures the mindset, roller-coaster and daily heroics of my experience after being injured. All around excellence”

– Doc Jacobs, Bronze Star with Valor and Purple Heart-decorated Navy Corpsman, CEO Doc Jacobs Foundation, author There and Back

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Research shows that readers’ brains when reading activate in the same places as the author’s brain when writing. So, this near brain-to-brain connection is a beautiful way to deepen empathy.

Can you tell us when you started ORCHID BLOOMING, how that came about? 
After Goodbye, Orchid released, readers asked for more behind Phoenix and Orchid’s story. So Orchid Blooming is the prequel to the “heartbreaking, heartwarming” story that author Karin Tanabe recommended in Glamour Magazine as “a modern, important take on the power of love.”

Next, there’s a sequel releasing in 2023!

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
The Orchid Blooming characters had secrets that they’d kept from me until I wrote the prequel!

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from ORCHID BLOOMING
Multiple interviewers have quoted this passage in which main character Orchid Paige makes a case that her pro bono work is important, because it works to give people hope that there can be help for even the toughest issues:

Life isn’t easy. Who hasn’t suffered injustice, misunderstanding or hurt on a schoolyard playground, been disappointed at work, or challenged as a parent? That’s what humans are built for. Brains are resilient. They make sense of the world. They seek solutions. But what happens when the injustice or challenge is too great for a single person to bear? When the brain itself is injured by its experiences? The wound may not be visible, but the pain is real… Countless people can benefit from this message. Some say 6% of the population will be affected by PTSD at some point in their lives. Not only soldiers, but people all around us.

Meet the Characters
is living as best she can after witnessing her parents’ fatal accident. Now, the beauty industry marketer yearns to win a promotion to China to connect to her mom’s ancestry. She faces fierce competition… until she convinces a handsome entrepreneur to give her experience at his nonprofit project.

She’s determined to ignore their powerful attraction. But when working on his military ad campaign for veterans triggers her own unresolved PTSD, she fears the mentor who makes her feel safe may be too good to be true.

Can she conquer her vulnerabilities before she loses her chance at forever?

What is the first job you have had? 
In high school, my job at a local Italian bakery fed my insatiable sweet tooth. I sampled every pastry, cookie and cannoli filling in the store. So my family wasn’t surprised when I decided to work for Mars Incorporated and had the good fortune to market brands like M&M’S®, TWIX® and DOVE® Chocolate!

Best date you've ever had? 
My first date with my husband had the plot twists of a romance novel. We had plans to meet in Manhattan for dinner but when we first saw each other after a chance encounter months ago, we were each secretly disappointed that the other was different than we’d remembered.

Then, over cocktails, multiple courses and conversations that spanned continents and decades, we recalled the insanely deep connection we’d felt that led us to meet in the first place…(more on that below!)

What is your most memorable travel experience? 
A month in Ireland was enough to make me fall in love with the country. I served as a Mars ambassador, consulting for nonprofit An Taisce, recommending branding strategies and market research plans for their Environmental Education Unit. I loved the people, the beautiful country, and the Guinness was memorable too!

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I met my husband when he sat next to me on a train. We were on the last line heading out of Manhattan’s Penn Station on a Saturday at midnight, yet he looked boyish, safe and uncannily familiar to me. He was carrying a fat hardcover so before any social convention could stop me from engaging with a stranger, I blurted out “Is that John Irving’s new book?!”

“Yes,” he said. His brown eyes crinkled with joy as he explained that he’d been enjoying the tome.

As we conversed more, he offered, “I’m an engineer during the day, but at night, I work at a bookstore to pay off my student loans. Give me your address, and I’ll send you a copy of this book.”

I provided a PO Box address. He sent me the book. I replied with a thank you letter, which started an old-fashioned pen-to-paper, US Post Office love story.

To this day, we have both copies of A Prayer for Owen Meany, and a treasured box of letters.

A childhood tragedy followed her into adult life. Will she ever claim real happiness again?

Kind and generous, twenty-seven-year-old Orchid Paige will never forget that day. Living as best she can after witnessing her parents’ fatal accident, the beauty industry marketer yearns to win a promotion to China to connect to her mom’s ancestry. But with competition fierce, she despairs she’ll never make the grade… until she meets an encouraging man who makes her feel safe despite her usual distrust.

After Orchid convinces the handsome entrepreneur to let her gain experience at his nonprofit project, she’s determined to keep their relationship professional and ignore their powerful attraction. But when working on his military ad campaign for veterans triggers her own unresolved PTSD, she fears her confident mentor may be too good to be true even if she could trust him with her heart.

Can she conquer her vulnerabilities before she loses her chance at forever?

Orchid Blooming is the captivating first book in the Goodbye, Orchid women’s fiction series, and can be read as a standalone. If you like complex characters overcoming trauma, heart-warming stories, and compassionate connections, then you’ll adore award-winning author Carol Van Den Hende’s emotionally satisfying page-turner.

“Tension and compelling chemistry that will leave you breathless.” —Barbara Conrey, USA Today bestselling author of Nowhere Near Goodbye

You can purchase Orchid Blooming at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CAROL VAN DEN HENDE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Orchid Blooming by Carol Van Den Hende.


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