Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Christine Nolfi Interview - A Brighter Flame

Photo Content from Christine Nolfi

Christine Nolfi is the award-winning and bestselling author of fifteen novels, including The Passing Storm, cited by Publishers Weekly as “Tautly plotted, expertly characterized, and genuinely riveting” and gold medal winner in general fiction, International Book Awards. Look for Christine’s 2022 release, A Brighter Flame.

Other works include The Road She Left Behind, a top book club pick by Working Mother and Parade magazines, and the award-winning Sweet Lake Series: Sweet Lake, The Comfort of Secrets, and The Season of Silver Linings.

Earlier works include Second Chance Grill, highly recommended by The Midwest Book Review and Treasure Me, recognized by the Next Generation Indie Awards and Put Your Heart in a Book Awards. The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge was cited by The Midwest Book Review as “Poignant and powerful, as much a saga of learning to survive, heal, and forgive as it is a chilling crime story, unforgettable to the very end.”

A native of Ohio, Christine now resides in South Carolina with her husband and their crazy wheaten terrier, Lucy.


Greatest thing you learned in school.
To trust my instincts and believe I could earn a living as a writer. In high school and college, I was fortunate to receive lots of encouragement for my short stories and essays. The end goal was to eventually write novels, so I began freelance writing after college. Being self-employed gave me the opportunity to meet fascinating people in a variety of careers. Even today, I draw on those ‘character sketches’ when developing a new manuscript.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The letters from readers, many of which arrive years after a book’s publication. Like most career novelists, I’m deep into the creation of the next story whenever a new book hits the shelves. Receiving those notes makes the long hours of writing and editing worthwhile.

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
In early childhood, certainly. My late mother would tell anyone who’d listen that I taught myself to read at age two. While her assertion remains unsubstantiated, I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing stories.

After college I worked in public relations with the notion of writing a novel in my spare time. As you can imagine, living from deadline to deadline isn’t conducive to creating fiction. In my thirties, I adopted my four children (a sibling group from the Philippines) and put off the dream yet again. I finally became serious about writing fiction in my forties. Luckily, my first books—Second Chance Grill and Treasure Me—were well received by readers.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Focus on producing your best work. Study the books in your genre that break through. Spend as much time reading great fiction as marketing your work. Connect with other authors—indie, trad, and hybrid. I’m still a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors and Novelists, Inc. Both groups have private Facebook groups I find invaluable.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
My current WIP follows a foster mother who stumbles upon secrets she’s unprepared to face. If she turns away, she’ll put herself—and the two children in her care—in danger.

In your newest book A BRIGHTER FLAME can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
What happens when estranged sisters—unexpectedly living under the same roof—are forced to reexamine the past? A Brighter Flame explores the unreliability of memories as Vale and Blythe examine the family secrets that tore their family apart. In many ways, they’re both victims of a past hidden since they were children. Together they forge a surprising path forward. I hope readers will be surprised (and delighted) by the choices they make to heal their relationship.

What do you hope readers will think about when they read your novel?
How our most complicated relationships are often the most fulfilling. I love delving into the true-to-life issues many families must confront. Our closest relationships are often the most nuanced, frustrating, mysterious—pick your poison. And finding a solution for past grievances (whether real or imagined) takes effort. Often sister stories are written as lighter fare, but I wanted to depict the pain evident in many blended families. As half-sisters, Vale and Blythe have very different memories of childhood and how they were treated. In many ways, they’re both victims of an emotional triangle between their mother and respective fathers. How they come to accept this reality—and move past it to build a loving relationship—gave the book heft, and some wonderfully poignant scenes.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
The scenes that pitted Vale and Blythe against each other. Those moments will resonate with any reader who’s had a serious falling-out with a family member or a close friend. The people we most love have the greatest potential to hurt us. It takes courage to move past your self-protective instincts to hear what the other person is saying.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing A BRIGHTER FLAME?
During the writing of A Brighter Flame, my 2021 release The Passing Storm repeatedly grabbed spots on bestseller lists, and I received a flurry of wonderful mail from satisfied readers. All the positive feedback became a catalyst, and I completed Flame a week ahead of deadline.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce A Brighter Flame’s Vale Lightner to Darcy Goodridge from my 2019 bestseller The Road She Left Behind. Both women have difficult relationships with their families. They could share tips on how to navigate the arguments and misunderstandings.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Forgo the hunt for a paying job and begin writing fiction. I made the decision as my marriage imploded, and while raising four kids solo on a farm that was quickly going to seed. I was galvanized by the thought that if I didn’t chase the dream immediately, the chance would never come again. Fortunately, readers enjoyed my first books, allowing me to avoid the bread line.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives.
Chase an impossible dream. Learn to skydive, go back to school, or try your hand at a creative pursuit. What’s the point of living without taking the golden risk?

Best date you’ve ever had?
Meeting my future husband in a coffee shop (four days after I ‘winked’ at him on Match.com) and talking non-stop for hours. Or the night during the following month, when we were thrown out of bar for dirty dancing.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Every time I kept the other kids in the neighborhood enthralled with the stories I’d cook up. Fairies, buried treasure, magic spells that would lend us the ability to fly—stepping into the role of storyteller came naturally. It still does.

She’s always wanted a sense of belonging. The last place she expects to find it is home.

Vale Lightner’s dreams turn to ash when the Pittsburgh bar she owns goes up in flames. Just like the past she escaped, very little seems salvageable. Facing unavoidable change, Vale returns to her hometown of Philadelphia to stay with her grandmother.

She knows that returning also means facing everything she left behind: a mother and stepfather who shunted her into the background from the day they married, and her charmed and favored half sister, Blythe, who has abandoned a perfect marriage and is now at a crossroads of her own. Everyone has their secrets, and this reunited family racked by them is about to reach a crisis point.

For a mother and her two daughters, this reunion is a chance for closure, newfound love, and forgiveness. As each of them reassesses her own memories of the past, only the truth can bring them together—in ways that could last forever. From the bestselling author of The Passing Storm comes a poignant novel about family secrets, healing, and the hope of second chances.

You can purchase A Brighter Flame at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CHRISTINE NOLFI for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi.


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