Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review of Rachel Ann Nunes new book, Saving Madeline

Romance novels are basically the same plot: man and woman meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. What makes certain romances memorable stories are the characters and how the writer gives them depth by making them living, breathing human beings with flaws and redeemable character traits. And let me tell you, Rachel Ann Nunes is a pro at giving her characters depth.

In her new book, Saving Madeline, Rachel has given Caitlin McLoughlin, the heroine, and Parker Hathaway, the hero, layer upon layer of flaws and redeemable character traits that make them linger on your mind long after you have finished the book. They become people you care about and people you root for even though they seem to be misguided. They are people who will risk everything—career, home, and family—to do what they deem as morally right. Isn’t that what we need in this world today, people who will have the courage to take on society to right a wrong?

This book is about a lawyer, Caitlin, who even though she is caring for her mentally-challenged sister, will risk her livelihood to make certain a bad man is put away in jail. It’s about a construction worker, Parker, who admits that he’s screwed up when he was young, but since becoming a father to his little girl, Madeline, has changed. He’ll do anything to protect his daughter from his ex-wife, who loves her child, but not as much as she loves her drugs. Even though Parker knows his life will drastically change if he kidnaps his daughter, he does it because it may save Madeline’s life.

Saving Madeline is rich with interesting plot twists that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Will Caitlin be disbarred? Will Parker save his daughter? And how in the world will they ever be able to have the happy-ever-after of a true romance with such obstacles in their way. You’ll have to read the book to find out. This is a wonderful novel to cozy up with a cup of warm cocoa and your favorite fleece blanket. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, but it will also make you think…would you have the courage to take a stand?

Interview with Rachel Ann Nunes.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I knew from the time I was in the fifth grade that I would be an author. I loved reading and yet I couldn't find the perfect story that I wanted to read, so I decided to write it.

Tell us a little bit about your new book.
Saving Madeline is about Caitlin McLoughlin, a public defender, who works hard freeing too many criminals for her peace of mind. When Parker Hathaway is arrested for kidnapping four-year-old Madeline, Caitlin thinks he is just one more criminal she must get through the system, but instead she finds a cause she can believe in. Soon she is in a race to uncover proof that will free Parker and save Madeline before it’s too late.

Tell us about your other books.
Saving Madeline is my 29th published book. My most popular books were probably the Ariana series and the picture book Daughter of a King, primarily because they've been out so long (the first three Ariana novels were recently reprinted under one cover). But I'm most proud of my later novels: Flying Home, Fields of Home, and Eyes of a Stranger. I enjoy writing good stories that will resonate with a wide variety of readers. I like writing family drama, with a lot of characters.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
I can't really say. I always feel compelled to write. It's like a constant ache or an itch that demands attention. A crying baby. When I don't write, I'm irritable and feel off-balanced. Ideas come to me and won't leave me alone until they're written.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I read a lot of national women's fiction from a variety of authors. I do this to keep my skills sharp and to make sure I'm always improving. I try new authors all the time, seeking to learn something from each of them. I don't recommend these authors in a general manner, though, because too often I have to carefully pick and choose their novels. Far too often, I won't even finish them because of the content, the grammar, or storyline. Life is too short to read something I'm not enjoying.

In the LDS market, I found a friendship early on with Anita Stansfield, and she has been a support and a cheerleader for my entire career. I hope I am the same for her. We don't usually exchange manuscripts, although we have once or twice years ago, but we occasionally talk about the market and our lives and our work. Through the years I've mentored many others, which takes a lot of time and energy, but with Anita, the give and take is always on a more equal basis, and it's a joy to feel that. With every success I've had, I've known that she was happy for me. With every challenge, I know that she understands completely.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
I mostly grew up in a small house on an acre in Highland and in a slightly larger house in Provo. In Highland we had chickens and a cow and a large garden. The area was country back then and I loved roaming the open spaces. Later in Provo, we lived on a third of an acre with houses on all sides.

My father was a college French professor for most of my growing up years, and when we lived in Highland, my entire family went on the BYU Study Abroad with for six months. That was where I had experiences I'd later put in my first novel, Ariana: The Making of a Queen, and also where my love for languages and traveling began.

My mother was a midwife, and I attended home births with her as a teen. I learned a lot about life that way, and as with many children accustomed to animals on a farm, even one as tiny as ours, birth was always a natural process in my mind, not a sickness that would take you to the hospital. I have seven siblings and six children of my own, so my writing generally contains children.

If I could live anywhere at the moment, and could have all my family there with me, I'd probably choose Portugal. I served my mission there and I feel I could help grow the Church in that area. I love the beaches and the people. But when my husband and I were deciding where we would live twenty-odd years ago, I insisted on America because of my writing, and he ended up immigrating from Portugal to live here with me. When our children are raised, we will likely live part of the year in Portugal, but for right now, we'll stay in Utah. Quite a few of my stories are set in Europe because of that background.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I have a small office with double glass doors. My computer is a laptop, with an attached ergonomic keyboard and a large external monitor. My desk is cherry, like my three large bookshelves, and faces the double glass doors so that no one is ever behind me as I write. I have a north facing window on my right side. I rarely listen to music because it interferes with my thought process. I have a small chandelier over my desk, but I never turn it on. During the day the window gives plenty of light, and at night I'll use the bookshelf lights instead because the monitor is plenty bright and I'm too lazy to close the window blinds for privacy. My desk always has two or three stacks of papers that need my attention. It looks a bit messy, but I know exactly where everything is.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I love to watch Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis. I've watched all 15 seasons. I normally enjoy anything sci-fi. Well, I haven't been that impressed with X files. Every now and then when I've had a particularly trying deadline, I need to shut myself away in a room for a few and watch an entire season of 24. I'm not sure if these movies have inspired my writing. They are mostly just to get my mind away from my own ideas so my brain can rest a bit.

How has being published changed your life?
The biggest change is that I'm often asked to speak at events and people will "recognize" me at the grocery store (or wherever). Kind of embarrassing if I haven't done my hair or am wearing grubbies. But it is satisfying to know people are reading what I've worked so hard to create. I have solid deadlines now instead of self-imposed ones, but I still write every weekday like I always did. Oh, and I have a lot more e-mail.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
I have three upcoming appearances:
On September 24, 2009, I'll be presenting Finding Ideas and How to Make a Good Idea Great at The Book Academy at UVU. I'll also be signing books that day.

On October 3, 2009, I'll be at the University Mall Deseret Book signing books from 12:00 to 1:30 PM.

On October 3, 2009, I'll also be signing books at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building next to Temple Square. The signing will be in the Empire Room, across from the Nauvoo Café on the ground level, and I'll be there from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

For more information or to read a sample chapter of Saving Madeline and see my blog, please visit my website: I have two blogs, one on my website and the other at

Comment on this interview to be entered to win a copy of Saving Madeline!
Thanks, Rachel!


  1. I loved meeting Rachel at the Storymaker's conference. I can't wait to read this new novel.

  2. I loved it. Rachel has a way of drawing her readers into her stories and before you know it you can't put the book down. Thanks, Carolyn.

  3. Good review and nice interview. It was fun learning more about Rachel.

    Thanks for a job well done ... oh, and thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting, as well. :)

    Any time you drop by my blog and comment, feel free to leave a link back to yourself in the comments.

  4. Thanks for stoppy by, Cindy! You're blog is wonderful. I'll be sure to leave a link next time. :)

  5. Rachel was a HUGE inspiration to me when I first started writing. I took a workshop from her in 2001, and when she said that she writes 2,000 words a day, sometimes in her pj's, I thought: It's possible!

  6. 2,000 words a day. Hmmm. Let's see if there are 250 words per page that breaks down to around 8 pages a day. That's a good goal to shoot for. Thanks for sharing. Both you and Rachel are inspirations to me. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  7. Kathi!
    Thanks for inviting me to read the review and interview with Rachel. It's so great to see the similarities of goals and challenges with writers I admire like you and Rachel.

  8. Christy, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Rachel is a great writer. Thank your for your kind compliment and for stopping by my blog.:)



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