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Hallee: Hi, Donna! I am married to Gregg. We have three children and live in the perfect small town in central Kentucky. I’m a full time writer, managing two blogs and writing novels. I love cooking, baking, entertaining, Doctor Who, and shopping – which really works out for me because my 15-year-old daughter could shop on a daily basis. I’m in the process of doing this 30-day blogging exercise so that people can get to know me a little better. One of the first things I had to do was list 15 “interesting” facts about myself – you can read them here: http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee/30-days-of-bloggity-bloggness-day-1/
Donna: To let the reader in on one of the inside jokes within our writing group, we talked about categorizing your books as “edgy Christian”. Tell the readers about Inspirational Romance as a genre and where your books fall.
Hallee: In Sapphire Ice, Robin, the female protagonist, propositions Tony, the male protagonist, for sex. It’s a key element to the story that I really didn’t want to take out. However, according to a large conventional publisher, that element made my book too “risqué” for the typical Christian romance reader.
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There’s a lot of edginess in my books, a lot of real life. Christians have pre-Christ lives. They have daily temptations. They feel love and they feel passion. They make mistakes and have to live with them. Too many Christian romance novels skirt around such feelings and pasts and human-ness. I embrace them. A reviewer of Sapphire Ice on Amazon said, “Love the passion between the characters - love, LOVE the fact that the author so accurately portrays that being a Christian doesn't mean the absence of passion.”
When you and I were talking about it one day, you used the word “edgy.” I immediately embraced it. Edgy! That’s what I write – edgy Christian romance. As I began working toward publishing the first book in the series, I discovered that "edgy Christian romance" is actually a genre – a huge independent publishing genre. So while it may not be “original” – it fits so perfectly that it has become my tagline.
“Hallee Bridgeman, author of edgy Christian romances.”
Donna: What should readers know about reading your books?
Hallee: The Jewel Series is about three half sisters who were daughters of an addict who was murdered along with her rapist boyfriend when the oldest of the sisters was 15 and the youngest was 9. There are memories that surface, nightmares that haunt, and stories that slowly come into the light. While I don’t go into gross detail, I don’t pretty life up much either. But, the beautiful thing is that in Christ, we are all new creations. Our past means nothing. It’s the here and now and what we do with it tomorrow that counts. In different ways, each book reveals that truth.
In Sapphire Ice, Robin doesn’t know anything about God or what being a Christian means. She thinks that men just use women and discard them. Because she’s attracted to Tony, a Christian, and he shows a very active interest in her, she feels like maybe he can teach her about a kind of sexuality between a man and a woman that doesn’t involve violence and pain. It surprises her that what she gets instead is a man who wants to love her, to treat her with respect, and to take care of her and cherish her.
Donna: Was there a real life inspiration for the story line? If not, where did you get the idea for the story?
Hallee: I don’t know where I got the inspiration for the story. I had a vague idea about an older sister working two jobs for her younger sisters, but it was just shadows of an idea. When I sat down to write it, as soon as I started typing, my brain was flooded with the story. I wrote it as quickly as I could, and had the (very) rough draft done in about a week. This was a fantastic story and until I wrote the third book, Tony was my favorite character I’d ever written.
Donna: Want to tell us about the other books in the series? What’s the next book and when will it be released?
Hallee: Emerald Fire is releasing on April 23rd. There are spoilers here, so be warned. This is the story of Maxine, the middle sister. Her male love interest was a cuckold husband whose wife died in an accident not long after telling him she was pregnant with another man’s child. He was very angry with God for his marriage, his wife, and her death that resulted in the death of the innocent life she carried. He and Maxine, who had always been friends, grew closer after his wife’s funeral. He invites her to Las Vegas to attend a college football bowl game, and they get married on a whim. Maxine realizes she loves him, but he feels very gallant and would rather spare her the embarrassment of their rushed elopement so soon after his wife’s demise. He promises her a quiet annulment, but Maxine determines that she will be his wife and moves into his home, making it clear to him that she is there when he is ready to have her.
Topaz Heat will release May 21st. This is the story of Sarah, the youngest sister, and Derrick, Tony’s protégé. Sarah has no memories of her broken young life leading up to the tragic murder of her mother – her first memory is waking up in the home of her adoptive parents. She doesn’t even know she has sisters until the morning of her 15th birthday. As an adult, she forms a relationship with them, but always feels a little left out. Derrick has been in love since the first day he met her, when he was fresh off the streets and being rescued from a life of crime and given a home by Tony. He sheds his old life, trading the ripped leather jacket for silk suits; trading dealing drugs for mentoring at risk youth; trading lock picking and slipping through windows for the rigors of mountain climbing and hotel management. He lives away from Boston for several years and returns to find his feelings for Sarah are as strong as they’ve ever been. Sarah becomes ill and Derrick nurses her back to health. She realizes she returns his feelings and is angry with herself for wasting the last ten years. They finally come together only to be ripped apart by a criminal indictment that brings Derrick’s past back to the present.
Donna: What’s next for you creatively? Are you working on something else?
Hallee: I used to write contemporary romances, and have seven novels completely written. Right now, I just plan to pull each one out and convert it to an “edgy Christian romance” before starting anything new. Some may have to be completely re-written, like I had to do with Emerald Fire. Some will just need a few added elements and some character tweaking like I did in Sapphire Ice. I believe that my next series that will be released is called The Renkoff Brothers Trilogy. It’s about triplet men from a Russian family living in Seattle, Washington. Each brother will have his own book. The titles as they stand now are Shelter with Brad, Love with Jon, and Life with Ken. They were fun men to write – I’m excited to see what happens to them when I add God to the mix.
Donna: How can readers contact you?
Hallee: I blog about writing at http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee. You can find me on Twitter at @halleeb, on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/105383805410764959843/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hallee-Bridgeman/192799110825012
I also blog about everything homemaking from how to make homemade bread made from flour I ground out of wheat to making homemade laundry detergent to organic gardening and a thousand different things in between. You can find me there at http://www.halleethehomemaker.com.