Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, Hope published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. A native North Carolinian, she knows how to barn tobacco, chop cotton, pull weeds out of soybeans, and drive a tractor.
Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in Raleigh, North Carolina and have two daughters and twin sons.
What started you on your writing journey?
In May of 2009, my oldest daughter was weeks away from high school graduation. I was staring at the rest of my life as I knew her three siblings would follow after her in the next few years. I decided it was time to get serious about writing.
Just as all good novels include a plot twist, the Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
I love that phrase, “Divine Detour.” As an English major and instructor, I’d published essays and articles sporadically in magazines and newspapers. I’d tried unsuccessfully to write fiction. In 2009, I decided to write something for Guideposts magazine. When I began to write, I immediately started daydreaming about a woman in a café in Ireland, not what I’d intended to write. That daydream led to my debut novel, Irish Encounter, a definite “Divine Detour,” for sure, because I didn’t think I could write fiction and wasn’t seeking that direction. I’m so glad God wooed me onto the fiction path with the story of Ellen and Payne.
Let’s talk about Mars with Venus Rising (White Rose Publishing, August 2015). Please tell us about it.
It’s a love story set in Mars, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Pittsburgh with a flying saucer on the town square. The residents are called Martians.
Penn Davenport is someone who loves a quiet, structured life because of a tragedy she endured in her childhood. She lives with two aunts who love her dearly and show their love through food.
John Townsend is a live-life-with-gusto free spirit who moves to town and shakes up Penn’s status quo. He helps her discover how to live the full life God has planned for her.
The location adds to the quirky tone along with the secondary characters, especially the Southern aunts. It’s a fun story with recipes in the back, including an award-winning one. Second place is award winning, right?
What’s next for you as a writer?
My agent has my third story, tentatively titled Rescued Hearts. It’s a romantic suspense with guns, a kidnapping, and an attempted rape. The romantic leads are funny together, and the protagonist discovers she’s stronger than she thinks she is. I’m about halfway into a fourth story, a sweet romance set in Charlotte, North Carolina.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chocolate ice cream with nuts for a sweet food. Mashed potatoes and gravy for a savory food.
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what dream would you pursue?
Singing/playing the banjo in a bluegrass or folk band.
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
When God invited me onto this Divine Detour of writing fiction, I’d just studied the Life of Moses. Moses’ hesitations and prayers were fresh in my mind. Every day when I’d begin writing, I’d pray at the beginning. I’m paraphrasing here, but I’d pray something like, “God, I can’t do this. Please help me;” or “God, I don’t know how. Please show me;” or “God, this is hard. I need Your help.” And I’d claim His promise from Exodus 4:11, “I will help you speak (in my case, write) and will teach you what to say.”
Now I continue those prayers when writing and especially when I have to do marketing stuff.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I’d love to be the strong, female lead because she always gets the cute, romantic male lead (but since I’m happily married, I already did, right?), and I love being mysterious. My husband tells me that all the time. But—I’m probably the girl next door, the good friend who’s always ready to encourage, to share a good book, to enjoy a chat over ice cream.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
We’ve enjoyed several pets since we moved to North Carolina and they can live outside. Some of my family members would stop breathing if we had indoor pets. One of our favorites was Claney, a Black Lab-and-something rescue dog. He limped up to my aunt’s house with a broken chain around his neck when he was about six months old. We adopted him and loved him until he died in 2013.
He was a lean, but massive animal, 110 pounds. Our vet commented on his size at every visit. Claney could rest his paws on my six-foot tall sons and look them in the eye. He hated UPS and FedEx drivers but loved baby animals. He took his job as our protector seriously. We loved that dog and miss him still.
Thank you, Hope! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you so much for having me!
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