Behind the Scenes: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall

Good evening, everyone:

As part of her book launch, Dawn is taking part in a blog tour featuring interviews, book reviews and giveaways. She’s giving away a prize pack every weekend for the six weeks of the blog tour and one larger prize pack at the end. Each of YOU who comments on any post will be entered into the drawing for that specific week, and then also for the end of the tour Grand Prize.

THE FIVE WEEKLY PRIZE PACKS: a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

THE GRAND PRIZE (at the end of week six): a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card, an eBook of The Hesitant Heiress, a mug with all three book covers and a moleskin journal.

Yesterday I posted my review of Dawn Crandall’s debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. To celebrate the release of her novel, Dawn is making two appearances on my blog to share her thoughts on her writing process, as well as and the story behind The Hesitant Heiress! I am beyond excited to welcome Dawn to A Way With Words and know you all will enjoy meeting one of Christian fiction’s newest beloved authors.

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall Published by Whitaker House

In our first session, Dawn will discuss her debut novel: her inspiration behind the story, the making of her characters, and the creative process behind The Hesitant Heiress. Welcome, Dawn!

  • How did you decide upon the title of The Hesitant Heiress? Did you ever consider another title for your novel?

I have actually always called this book Amaryllis Brigham… kind of the same way Jane Eyre is titled, since they are both written from first person point of view. Whitaker House wanted titles, so I gave them a list and they picked out their favorites.

  • Some characters in The Hesitant Heiress have unusual names. How important are names to you in your books? Did you choose the names of characters in The Hesitant Heiress based on meaning, sound, or both? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names mean a lot to me. I would know the character first, and then I would search for their name. I collect first and last names, and I put them in a notebook. However, with Amaryllis, I found her first and last names while I was in college… even though I didn’t start writing her book for over a decade.

  • Are any experiences in The Hesitant Heiress based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?

I take the feelings I’ve either felt in situation from my life, or from situations presented to me from a movie or book, and I find a way to channel them into and through my own creative processes. I examine the emotions extensively, and I then figure out ways I could make my own characters feel something similar.

  • If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Hesitant Heiress?

No. There have been enough changes done during the two years I wrote it before giving it to my agent. Really, neither my agent nor editor had many changes to make except for typos… and grammatical errors involving commas. I hate commas!

  • What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The ending! I knew the ending of The Hesitant Heiress for a long time before I figured out how to get my characters there! With the second book, the ending totally took me by surprise. The third one is being good so far though—I’m in the middle of the rearranging faze for that one.

  • Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that I really could accomplish something wonderful if I put my mind to it! (It also helps when you love doing it!)


Read Chapter One of The Hesitant Heiress for free!

  • What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

I don’t feel like research is a chore. I really love it. I think I do it backwards though. Instead of deciding what I’m going to research, I just go about reading about history and let it inspire me. I really love getting into the psychological aspects of my characters. Although I write from only Amaryllis’s POV, I know why every character does and says everything that they do.

  • If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Before Zooey Deschanel was so popularly famous, I saw her photo in a magazine and totally knew she was Amaryllis. I’ve always had a very hard time finding Nathan Everstone. The closest I’ve found is Chris Evans as Captain America (minus the hero garb). Meredyth Summercourt is Jessica Chastain (only Mere is taller), and Lawry Hampton is Armie Hammer. I have a Pinterst Board dedicated to the Hesitant Heiress here:


  • Why did you decide to set The Hesitant Heiress in New England?

I love the history of New England. When I married my husband, and we started taking yearly trips through those states, I simply fell in love.

Mount Desert Island, Maine, where Amaryllis and Nathan spend their summers.

  •  Did you have to travel much for research for The Hesitant Heiress? What sort of research went into the publication of The Hesitant Heiress?

I didn’t have to travel, but since my husband and I travel to Maine every summer to see his family, we have taken a few side trips to Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, the ruins of the Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and also Moosehead Lake, which is where the setting for book three is based on.

  • You have two more books coming for The Everstone Chronicles. How do you plan the plots of novels that contain characters throughout multiple books? Why did you decide to write about Amaryllis and Nathan for the first book in the series?

I didn’t really plan on anything. Amaryllis has always been the heroine I would someday write about for fun. When I signed with my agent in 2011, I already had Meredyth’s story half written, also just for the fun of it. But for Estella’s book, she totally took me by surprise… I know what she’s been thinking and feeling behind the scenes for two books now, but as soon as I got into her head, I learned a whole lot more about her heart!

  • Who was your favorite character in The Hesitant Heiress and why?

I usually just say Amaryllis, but really it’s hard for me to pick one over all the rest of my main characters. Once I start writing from another character’s POV in another book, I fall in love with her, as well as her hero. I get to know them all so well!

  • How did you decide upon the quotes you placed at the beginning of each chapter of The Hesitant Heiress? Do you have a particular favorite?

I love quotes so much. I always have. I’ve always collected them because they would make me think, kind of like a writing prompt. I think it’s so much fun to pair up what happens in a certain chapter with a quote from my favorite classics! I guess it’s just part of my creative madness that came out without my ever thinking about it. I think my favorite one is: “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change, from Alice in Wonderland. I’ve never read that book, but I found it on a mug once, and it was what first gave me the idea to put relatable quotes at the beginning of my chapters.

Thanks so much for stopping by A Way With Words, Dawn! We look forward to seeing back here tomorrow to learn about your writing process.

About The Hesitant Heiress

After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

About Dawn Crandall

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.


To learn more about Dawn, find her at the following sites: Dawn Crandall



Book Review Blog:




Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst