If you saw my review yesterday for On Moonberry Lake, you’ll know how excited I am to welcome author Holly Varni to the blog today!
Holly Varni is a native Minnesotan of strong Norwegian descent, who was raised in the Lutheran Church that Garrison Keillor made a career depicting. Between the lutefisk, grumpy grandparents, and crazy neighbors who mowed their lawn wearing pajamas, the seed to becoming a storyteller was planted. Though she, her husband, and their three sons live along the Central Coast of California, her beloved Midwest roots continue to haunt everything she writes. She hosts the Moments from Moonberry Lake podcast where she shares more stories of her beloved characters. Learn more at www.hollyvarni.com.
ON MOONBERRY LAKE by Holly Varni
SERIES: Moonberry Lake #1
GENRE: Romantic Women’s Fiction (Christian)
RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2023
“Delightful! Charming! Full of characters who take up residence in your heart. The best of ‘News from Lake Wobegon’ and Father Tim combined.”—Lauraine Snelling, bestselling author of the Red River of the North series
Cora Matthews’s life is a mess. A broken engagement and the unexpected death of her mother have left her wondering if things will ever return to normal. Whatever “normal” is.
It certainly isn’t what she finds at Moonberry Lake. After she receives her family’s dilapidated lakefront lodge as an inheritance–with a surprising condition attached–Cora finds her life overrun by a parade of eccentric neighbors who all have something to say and something to teach her.
As Cora works to put her life back together, she must decide if she is willing to let go of the past, open her heart to love, and embrace the craziest version of family and home she could ever have imagined.
“An uplifting novel about the power of small-town community.”–Suzanne Woods Fisher, bestselling author of The Sweet Life
“Rich characters, a delightful setting, and a heartwarming story. You’ll love everything about On Moonberry Lake!”–Ginny L. Yttrup, Christy Award-winning author of Words
Hi Holly! Welcome to the blog!
Holly: Apples! – Honeycrisp apples in particular. I love them and eat at least one a day. A friend once sent me a box of Honeycrisp apples for my birthday. That’s how much I love them.
Carrie: YUM! Honeycrisp are my faves. In fact, my birthday is coming up and if anyone who buys me gifts is reading this, I would love a box of Honeycrisps please haha
Holly: Dogs – My yorkie-poo, Kloe, would be upset if I said anything else. She is after all, the perfect dog.
Carrie: of course 😉
Holly: Hallmark Channel – I was a Hallmark movie junkie before it was even a thing! I would go to the Hallmark store at the mall and buy DVDs of all the Christmas movies so I could watch them year around. I still have stacks of those DVDs.
Carrie: haha i love that!
Holly: Soup – Soup is literally my favorite meal, no matter the time of year. There is something about it that feels so cozy and comforting. It can be the peak of summer and hot outside, and I will want soup. I love hearty soups with lots of veggies to the puréed smooth ones. My husband thinks I’m crazy and will only eat soup if he is sick. I think soup is what keeps me healthy. Ha! The thing about soup is that there is never a time when you are eating it that you don’t feel as though good things are going into your body. If there are any other year-round soup lovers, please message me on social media!
Carrie: I tend to prefer it in the fall and winter but can easily be persuaded to eat soup other times of year too 🙂
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Holly: As a cancer survivor and hospice volunteer, if I had one superpower, it would be to take away physical pain. I know that completely healing people would be too much of an ask, but if I could take away physical pain, that would be extraordinary.
It’s why I come up with characters that border on ridiculous. The more absurd I make a circumstance in the story, the more chance I have at distracting people from their discomfort for a moment.
Carrie: as a sufferer of chronic pain, I can attest that On Moonberry Lake did exactly that for me! ♥
Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Holly: I make a beeline to the new release fiction section as soon as I enter a bookstore. I have to run my hand along the spines and covers of the books. I have to peruse and hold all the new titles, and then flip them over to read the back cover copy. I love reading the snippets of storylines authors have come up with and the problems they decided to tackle.
Standing in the bookstore, surrounded by colorful covers and interesting titles is similar to the experience of entering a See’s Candy Shop and looking at all the kinds of chocolate behind the glass counter. So many choices. I ultimately go in search of my favorite authors.
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Holly: My favorite writing space is my office. I have a cozy room that is lined with bookshelves. I have the shade pulled down so I am not distracted by the sunny day outside, and I put on a pair of headphones that plays the sound of rain.
I am very superstitious about my writing space. I can’t fathom going to a public place like a coffee shop. I also know some writers who love to write at airports. The coming and going and constant hum of strangers in the background would interrupt me too much. My writing experience feels very private and I have to eliminate all distractions to “hear” my characters.
Carrie: There is no way I could write – or blog, for that matter – in a coffee shop or other public place. I people-watch too much.
Q: Did you have the whole plot outlined before you started writing On Moonberry Lake, or did you let the characters dictate what came next?
Holly: I am always hesitant to answer this question because it makes me sound crazy, but I never outline a thing. I literally start with the first line and write straight through to the end. As soon as I have a solid first line and first page as an anchor, I’m off! I take it chapter by chapter and have no idea what is going to happen next. I know it sounds ridiculous that I allow the characters to dictate what comes next, but I love to be swept along with the story as much as the reader. Once a character introduces themselves, I sit back and type what they say.
As I move deeper into the plot, I do get flashes of future scenes I need to include, but I jot those down on a piece of paper off to the side and stay the course. I don’t jump around the book as I’m writing it.
Carrie: I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Widgy first showed up and talked to you LOL
Q: Some authors like to hide little things in their stories. Is there anything you have hidden in On Moonberry Lake?
Holly: I try to introduce future characters even if it is a quiet “walk by” or a drop of their name. Characters that readers vaguely remember from one book, will likely have a leading role down the road. There is no character that is a fun “filler.” Everyone is meant to be there and has meaning.
There are also subtle things I’ve embedded into the story about a character’s secret or hidden life that will be revealed in future books. There are two in particular about Sofia and Mimi in On Moonberry Lake that I can’t wait for readers to discover.
Carrie: now I need to go back and re-read the scenes with Sofia & Mimi in them! 😀
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from On Moonberry Lake?
Holly: I want my readers to finish the book smiling. That is my goal when I begin a story, and my hope as I write the last sentence. There is so much distress in the world, I feel as though we all need something to give us distraction sometimes. I want a reader to pick up my book and for a short while forget about their pain, whether it is physical or emotional.
Too much of life demands that we deal with really hard stuff. I simply want to give readers the space to breathe or maybe even chuckle.
Carrie: This book is a smile from beginning to end – I loved it so much!
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Holly: What’s coming up next is a lot more news, romance, small town drama, and mishaps from Moonberry Lake characters! The next book in the series centers around Delphinium Hayes, who owns the flower shop on Main Street. A group of seniors absolutely turns her life upside down. She (and hopefully the readers) come out the other side with a new perspective of family. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the romance that happens not only proves opposites attract but that differences in couples can be their superpower.
Revell is offering a print copy of On Moonberry Lake by Holly Varni to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read On Moonberry Lake by Holly Varni?