Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

A Sweethaven Interview

Welcome to Day Four of Sharing Great Books!

I am having so much fun with this series. Thank you for stopping by! Congratulations to Kerry Bartley who was the winner of The Secret of Counting Gifts!




I am so excited to have Courtney Walsh with me on the blog today. I had the honor of interviewing her after her first book came out. You can read about it here. Since that time, two additional books in her Sweethaven series have been released.

I absolutely LOVED this series, and was disappointed when it ended. I was reading A Sweethaven Christmas on the beach in Mexico, though, so my disappointment didn’t last too long! :)

I am very excited to give away autographed copies of A Sweethaven Homecoming and A Sweethaven Christmas. Be sure to leave a comment or Tweet a link to the post to be entered.  Click to Tweet.  I’ll pick two winners tomorrow.

Tammy: I loved how you recently posted about the idea for the Sweethaven series starting with a “What if” question. Did you immediately know that your idea would turn into a book? How long after that initial idea did you start the process of writing?

Courtney: Actually, I didn’t know right away that it would turn into a book. It started more as me visualizing a group of women together, hanging out in their summer homes and being kind of enamored with the idea…but I was writing a different novel at the time. That novel (which will never see the light of day) was my trial run…so when it came time to pitch something, it became clear I needed to tie the scrapbooking angle in (because that’s where all of my previous experience had been…) and that’s when I remembered those women I’d created in my head by asking “What if there was a group of women who got together every year to scrapbook in a tiny cottage town on the lake…?”

Tammy: I want to visit Sweethaven! Since we are from the same home town, I just have to ask. Did any of the small town feel and warmth of the town flow from your experience of growing up there?

Courtney: I think all of it probably did. You know, when you grow up in a small town you can’t wait to get OUT…then you get out for awhile and for me at least, when I go back to visit it’s pure nostalgia. If they had a Target, I would move back in a heartbeat!

I LOVE the whole idea of small town life…and this from a person who was SURE she’d live in NYC. I think that small community, everyone knows everyone kind of feeling has a unique way about it, and having lived it and grown up that way, I think that seeps in. Those experiences weren’t hard to imagine…because they were largely, real.

Tammy: One thing I loved about the book was how you developed all of the characters. You didn’t just keep expanding on the characters who were the most popular in the first book. Can you talk more about how that happened?

Courtney: Well, I created “The Circle” first and knew each of those women had a story to tell. I wanted them to be unique but hoped it would be believable that they’d all hang out together. As the books progressed, I was able to really hone in on a different one or two women each time…deepening their stories the more the reader got to know them.

I think the flashbacks were my favorite parts, and many of those were cut out of the books…(because it slows the pace for the reader)…but for me, as the author, discovering the WHY they were the way they were was the most beneficial side to creating their characters.

Tammy: The characters were all very real and I think most of us could relate to their challenges. Were any of these based on personal friends or experiences?

Courtney: Jane’s experiences are similar to my experiences. She is a pastor’s wife (as I was for 12 years until my husband chose to leave church ministry), she struggled with her weight (as I did, especially growing up…) so her experiences were largely my own. When Jane was teased in the flashback in book one, that was very similar to some things that happened to me growing up… but the other characters were mostly fictitious. That’s when you employ your overactive imagination. :)

Tammy: Can you talk about the process of developing the characters? What advice would you give to first time authors for doing this well?

Courtney: Take an acting class. Ha. TRULY, I think this is my favorite part of writing, and it dawned on me early on that everything I’d learned as a theatre major in college was still helping me, only this time, in writing. Creating a character is about becoming the character. Letting yourself feel their feelings, figuring out how they’d respond.

When I write, I am shifting from character to character… and trying to really put myself in their shoes. It’s an involved (wonderful) process!

Tammy: How did you feel when the series ended? Were you slightly disappointed that it was ending?

Courtney: You know, I wasn’t. I was good with it ending because I felt like I’d told their stories. Now, since that time I’ve gotten a few new ideas I wonder if I’ll pursue one day… but it was a little bittersweet. They really become your friends…so in some ways it’s hard to say goodbye. In other ways, you’re ready to move on and find new characters to talk to for awhile. :)


Thank you, Courtney, for spending time with us. You can check out Courtney’s beautiful blog here or her Facebook page here. Stop by and give her a Like! She’s been having some great giveaways for her Reader Appreciation month.

Have you ever wanted to escape to a beach town like Sweethaven? What would you do there? Leave a comment below.





  1. I would love to just sit with Courtney and have a nice chat. She seems like such a genuine person. Love the interview! I read the first book and loved it. I hope to get the last 2 books and finish them during our holiday break. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Great interview! I’ve read the first two books and can’t wait to finish up the series!

  3. I love the interview! So great to hear more from Courtney! The books are just wonderful!

  4. Read the first book and can’t wait to read the other two!

  5. I have only read the first two, still waiting to get Sweethaven Christmas. I grew up in a small town, and went to a small town in Northern Wisconsin for a few weeks every summer to my grandparents’ resort. Loved the beach setting of Sweethaven.

  6. I read the first two and can’t wait for the last one. Great characters, I love Courtney’s books

  7. I loved the first book and am saving Homecoming and Christmas books for my Christmas Vacation! I know I won’t be able to put them down so I want to read them when I can really savor them! Thanks for the chance to win….

  8. I haven’t had to opportunity to read these but they sound awesome. Since I scrapbook and have gone on retreats with friends, you get to know some of their history plus you met new ladies, leading to hearing about their history. There have been many times when I learn of a person’s history that God has allowed me to go through something similar and we because very close friends, even if we don’t see each other than at retreats. We can always pick up where we have left off.

  9. Fun interview to read. I like the rapport you two seem to have, as well as the fun “conversation” between you two. I am also from a small town. My oldest just started college and couldn’t wait to leave here. Already, she says she misses home! Can’t wait to read the books!

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