Dr. Lin Stepp had an active imagination as a child, but it wasn’t until her children were grown that she had the idea for her Smoky Mountain novel series. In 2007, armed with two completed manuscripts, she began submitting to agents. Success came when she sent her work to a small, regional publisher. In 2013, she signed with Kensington Publishing.

Lin now has nine published novels, and her work has hit the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly best selling lists, as well as the Amazon best selling list.

A native of East Tennessee, she resides in Knoxville with her husband J.L.


Let’s talk about your new book, Saving Laurel Springs (Kensington, September 29, 2015), Book 8 in your Smoky Mountain novel series. Please tell us about it.

The publisher’s note on the back of this new book reads: “In a heartwarming novel set amid the lush splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains, Lin Stepp reunites two kindred spirits in a charming story of first love and surprising second chances…”

Rhea Dean and Carter Layman grew up together on the grounds of Laurel Springs, a wonderful old resort and campground in the quiet community of Cosby in the Smoky Mountains, not far from Gatlinburg. Childhood friends, and later sweethearts, the two had always dreamed of bringing the aging resort and campground back to its former glory.… But Carter went away to college, married someone else and had a child, while Rhea stayed behind at the resort…. Now he’s back, wealthy and widowed, and acting like he wants to pick up right where they left off!! Well, obviously the sparks fly.… and the two have a lot of issues to work through, if they can — Carter with his new money ready to fund their old dream but Rhea bitter that she’s kept the resort afloat all these years and that Carter betrayed her and broke all his promises to her as well. Around the couple’s ongoing issues, a spate of unresolved vandalism attacks have been occurring at the resort, soon escalating and becoming dangerous, while old secrets begin to come out of the closet.. It’s hard to imagine how things will sort themselves out.

As one reviewer said, this is “a heartwarming story of miscommunication, love, friendship — when things are not always as they seem.”

I think readers will enjoy the setting of this story on an old campground in the Smoky Mountains, with hikes, picnics, and visits to familiar places around the area… along with an under-plot of suspense tucked into the drama between Carter, Rhea, their families and friends.

This is my eighth book set in the Smokies and I’m often asked if the novels need to be read in order. The answer is “no.” All are stand-alone stories, each with a new cast of characters, set in a new place around the Smoky Mountains each time. So readers can pick up this book and enjoy it without needing to read any of the past books first.

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Is there a faith element in this book?

I always tuck “faith seeds” into all my Smoky Mountain novels. In this book one of the issues dealt with — hard for anyone to work through — is forgiveness. It is hard to forgive when someone has hurt you, hard to trust again, hard to let love back into your heart, hard to let go of old bitterness. Carter’s grandfather, a minister, helps both Rhea and Carter as they work to forgive each other for past hurts, as does Rhea’s wise grandmother. In one scene, when Carter has been hurt, he wakes to find his grandfather in his room, praying for him. “How long have you been here?” Carter asks… “Long enough to see that things are not well with your soul,” he replies. He gives Carter needed counsel in the quiet of the night hours and, before the scene is done, prays with him to help him get back into a right place with the Lord.

This is a totally natural scene in this story, in character with Carter’s grandfather. When people know the Lord and live a life in the Lord, it spills over in a natural way into all they do… so scenes where faith drifts into their conversations doesn’t need to feel “preachy” or stilted. It has always been a desire of mine to show this in my books, as there is nothing more off-putting to anyone than a smarmy self-righteous or overly pious person, giving off that “holier-than-thou” feeling.

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The Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist, creating detours that bless us more than our original plan. As authors, we often write in twists to improve the plot of our stories. How do you go about writing those “detours” into your stories?

I am a consummate planner in my writing style, spending approximately three months researching, planning, and outlining a new book and another three months writing it. However, even in my planned journey many detours occur. A “detour” is defined as a roundabout route or a deviation from the usual route or procedure. I run into these delightful turnings all along my writing journey.

For example, while in the planning stages for my ongoing novel, set in a charming rural area on the northwest side of the Smokies called Happy Valley, I posted some photos taken there on my Facebook page and mentioned the book in progress. This brought me a flurry of interested messages and calls — as I learned the Happy Valley Book Club had been reading my novels and loved them. These women, and soon others in the area, began to send me information to help with my book and to my delight invited my husband and I to the annual Homecoming at a small historic church in the valley. Through this “detour” I found a wealth of new material to tuck into my still-developing novel.

Often, too, in the midst of writing a story, a twist or “detour” will come to me, shifting the planned story in a slightly different direction than intended or creating a scene or happening for a character not originally planned. In my book Down by the River, I had a rascal of a character, Jack Teague, who needed to make a turnaround in his life. As the story developed, Jack walked the aisle in a revival service going on in a small Townsend church… but as I created the scene, I felt led to have Jack take the hand of another character, Margaret, also reprobate in her faith, as he slipped out of his pew. So both walked hand-in-hand down the aisle in the same scene. I had not planned that exact turn of events for either Jack or for Margaret… but it proved a “detour” scene perfect for the story – and it seemed totally natural and right for these two characters.

Down by the river.LGjpg welcome back LG Makin Miracles

You’re a prolific writer. Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

People ask me — as you have — where I get the inspiration and ideas for my stories and my answer is that I simply have a very active imagination! Stories are always popping into my mind… while I’m flipping through magazines or reading the newspaper, when I’m out visiting in the mountains or hiking a mountain trail, sitting in a restaurant visiting with a friend, or teaching at my college. All sorts of things trigger ideas for books for me. I’m a very “visual” person… so it is often while looking at pictures or scenes or in the outdoors “seeing something” that ideas come to me the most freely. I could never sit down and “will” or decide to get an idea… they just flow in as I go about my life. Often the busier and more active I am, the more the ideas flow. And I have many more book ideas than time to plot and write them all out!

A few fun questions…

You live in – and write about – the Smoky Mountains. What’s your favorite regional food?

I grew up in a rural area of south Knoxville, TN, heading toward the Smoky Mountains, and my parents — and most of my aunts and uncles — had rich, abundant gardens. So my favorite regional foods are “home-grown” and “home-made” ones… fresh corn-on-the-cob, garden ripe tomatoes, crisp green beans with bits of bacon and onion, homemade pinto beans, meatloaf and fried chicken, strawberries right from the patch, warm grapes snatched off the vines, and homemade ice cream churned up on a warm summer evening in a hand-cranked ice cream maker.

You are currently on a book signing tour across the South. What’s your favorite thing about these tours?

My favorite thing when on Book Tour is meeting my fans and readers. I’ve always written what I love to read, hoping others will love it, too… and there is nothing more joyous than having readers drop by my signing table, wreathed in smiles, eager to tell me about all the things they have loved about my books. To me, it’s a “high” like no other. As an extroverted person, I love this interaction with my readers and fans. In the Anne of Green Gables books Anne Shirley talked about finding friends with “kindred spirits.” When I began writing it hadn’t occurred to me that the people who would most love my books would also be those who usually had “kindred spirits” to mine. So traveling on tour connects me with my new friends. I find that as soon as we spend a little time talking and laughing together that they are often much like me in heart and spirit. It has been an unexpected treat and joy that I have made so many new friends as a writer. And on book tour I get to meet my friends.

If you had to describe yourself with one word, what would it be?

Hmmmm…. I think I’d say “POSITIVE” would be the one best word I’d use to describe myself. I work hard to be positive in outlook, positive in my speaking and interactions, positive about my life, my work, and positive toward the people I interact with. As a psychologist and a Christian, I know how damaging living on the negative side of life can be. Beginning to speak, think, and expect negative problems and negative results draws them to your life like a magnet… and negativity soon becomes habitual and destructive. Fortunately, deciding to speak, think, and expect good experiences and possibilities, and to look on the positive, sunny side of life, draws positive good to your life like a magnet, too. Willie Nelson wrote: “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Positive thinking and positive living will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. And you’ll be happier for it… and much more enjoyable to be around!

Thanks, Lin! It’s nice to have you back at DivineDetour.

Thank you, Kathy Harris.

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For more information about Lin, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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