When brainstorming my newest release, Morning Star, I asked myself, “What are careers I know nothing about, but that sound fun and rewarding?”
Somehow, I ended up with a restoration home builder who landed a reality TV show and a helicopter rescue pilot. I’ve got to give my TV some credit because I’ve always loved the show Rehab Addict featuring Nicole Curtis. Then, as I decided the characteristics and backstory of my hero, Shane, a movie called The Guardian aired. You know, the one with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner? The one where they jump out of a helicopter into the ocean during crazy storms to rescue people?
Yeah, I figured those two careers had just the right amount of cool factor and chaos to be Shane’s and Addie’s job titles.
In reality, I knew early on Addie was going to restore a historic home on Moanna Island, my fictional small town off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. I loved the idea that she was a successful woman in a mostly man’s world, and throwing in a reality TV crew following her around as she risked everything on renovating a huge beach house up’d the drama.
I loved researching old home characteristics like the different types of structures and roof lines. I settled on a three-story Second French Empire home with a mansard roof. I engulfed myself in searching Pinterest to look up pictures, then my imagination took over. I also searched the names and uses of certain tools, the timelines for renovating a dilapidated house, and the popular household colors and trends in the fifties.
With Shane, I identified him as a soldier early on. Then, after viewing The Guardian (which you should watch if you haven’t already!), and since Moanna and Savannah are located on the Atlantic coast, it seemed fitting for Shane to be in the Coast Guard. Once that was decided, I engrossed myself in video footage of live rescues by ASTs (Aviation Survival Technician — the true title of a helicopter rescue swimmer). I also watched recruitment videos, read articles about helicopter and ocean rescues, and even studied the layouts of the helicopters used by this branch of the military. Luckily, you can find almost anything online.
Shane’s character developed as a strong and confident man who was focused and regimented. He also had to be mentally tough to handle stress, fatigue, and emergency situations. That was why, when a personal tragedy struck, his confidence and capabilities were affected so much that he retreated to his grandmother’s beach house on Moanna Island — to recover, or attempt to.
Developing these characters made the writing come more easily. When you know your hero and heroine well, their dialogue and reactions to situations to flow freely. It’s my hope that everyone who reads Morning Star, and all my stories, feels a closeness to the characters. It’s my job to do the research to make this happen, which I hope my readers find to be true.
Kristen Terrette holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and served as a Children’s Ministry Director for five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. She’s following her dream by writing Christian fiction during the day and being a wife and mom come early afternoon when the family starts to arrive home. She serves on the Wholly Loved Ministries team, serves at her local church on the women’s leadership and teaching team, and writes for Crosswalk.com. To learn more about her writing projects, check out her website at www.kristenterrette.com.
Addie McHenry, restoration home builder extraordinaire, catches her big break when the House to Home network contracts her to film a reality TV show focusing on how she brings homes back to life. She sets her sights on one of the oldest on Moanna’s beach and has to risk everything just to get it.
Shane Armstrong moved from Savannah to his grandmother’s Moanna oceanside house when his world shattered five months before. He went on leave from his job as a Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer, hopeful his grandmother’s peaceful street will help him heal. The reality TV show’s arrival threatens this serenity.
But the construction and camera crews are nothing compared to Addie herself. She’s tough as nails, challenging, and superbly bossy as she works to get her way. But she’s also kind, hardworking, and has a relationship with God Shane can’t begin to understand.
With each encounter, Shane’s walls start to crumble as Addie brings more than just the historical home back to life, but him as well. Addie tries desperately not to enjoy spending time with the irritable and scowling boy from next door. He hides his heartache well, but she sees it there behind his prickly exterior. Soon she begins to uncover the sacrificial hero underneath the façade.
With both of them only temporary residents on Moanna Island, their thin ice relationship crashes to a halt. Can Shane return to his risky job with the Coast Guard? Does he even want to? And can Addie let him go and follow her dreams even when tragedy strikes?
Buy Links for Morning Star: