As The Story Dramatically Unfolded

Cinda K. Swalley Author Interview

The Golden Hearts Club follows two sisters as they take a road trip across the country where they find adventure, drama, and new friends. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My debut novel, The Golden Hearts Club, was inspired by a road trip my sister and I took when we were in our twenties. The first two chapters of the book have a lot of truth to them. We planned the trip for a year, saved our money, and bought a used red car. Our budget allowed only for camping, no motels, so we filled the car with all the necessities. During our year of preparation, many people we shared our plans with offered us names and phone numbers of their friends and family to visit if we were nearby them during our travels. Across the country we visited people; many whom we had never met before. We entertained them with our travel stories, and they offered us the sweetest hospitality as if we were part of their family. That made the trip very special, and as I started writing the story, I remembered the kindness that was offered to us. I wanted to use the premise of offering kindness to others in the book. I felt the characters and the story were leading me, and not the other way around. As the story dramatically unfolded, human compassion became the heart of the story.

After we left Texas, I got very sick. Probably from jumping in the freezing pool water in El Paso. Because I was so ill, we stopped at a run-down motel in Arizona that was listed in the Youth Hostel book we had with us. A Native American woman with a long grey braid greeted us and showed us to our room. As I started writing the story, I found my old photo album from that trip. One of the pictures was of our car parked at The Wagonwheel Inn. Our red car was packed full; the big red luggage box strapped to the top and our bicycles on an attached bike rack. The car was so weighted down I couldn’t believe it held up as we drove across the country. As I studied that picture, I began envisioning a story about the Indian woman that owned the motel and why she was living there by herself. Research about American Indians living in Arizona led me to create a detailed and emotional story about Rose and the tragic loss of her family. Chapter three has its own special story and left me heartbroken. From there, the story took wings and led me on a fictional and emotional journey that I thoroughly entrenched myself into.

There are a lot of memorable characters in this novel. Which character in the novel do you feel you relate to more and why?

I related mostly to Katie, and I put myself completely into her character because parts of her were me. Katie was the Midwest girl-next-door; innocent because of her small-town upbringing, and not wanting anything to change in her seemingly ideal life. I have always loved horses, so I wanted the main story to take place on a horse ranch … and the romance was imperative. Everyone will fall in love with Luke. During my years as a flight attendant, I experienced the lifestyles of wealthy people and thought that element could add intrigue to the story. In the book, when Katie trespasses on private property, she meets a family from a pharmaceutical fortune which includes dishonesty and discord in the family. Katie was introduced to an affluent lifestyle she had never imagined, and she didn’t understand why there were people who didn’t want her around.

I imagined each scene as if it was a scene in a movie; the way she stood, her actions, what she was thinking and feeling. Because I dream a lot, and sometimes I really do wake up laughing, I wanted Katie’s dreams to be a key element of the story. Katie had detailed dreams, but she didn’t know what they meant; were they just dreams, were they wishes and hopes, or were they visions of past and present. I also wanted Megan and Katie to be soul mates and best friends, but at the same time, I wanted them to have completely different personalities so I could play them off each other. Their relationship shines and people have said how much they love the commitment the sisters have for each other.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted this story to be a journey of hearts, of learning and sharing, and I wanted to create a story that would share life messages. My focus was about love of family and how consideration and love can heal wounds and hearts, and even alter lives. I believe we can change this world of disdain and discord if we offer respect and kindness to others. I also wanted the story to be about having hope and how the decisions we make in our lives can affect many other lives.

One of the foundations of my book is about dreams and hopes, and as I started writing this story I was forced to look back on the various aspects of my life and how or why they happened. I recalled yet another coincidence—or fate—if you will, which has further reassured me that if you believe strongly in your dreams the universe will help you achieve them.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a flight attendant more than anything and I applied to many airlines. I envisioned myself flying around the world and meeting new friends. But the airlines were not hiring at that time, so I went to college. But something that is not in the book, is that we actually did drive through a dust storm, and we ended up stranded in El Paso, Texas because our car broke down. We had to get jobs to pay for the new transmission. During our time there I met a man that worked for Continental Airlines who said the company would be interviewing for flight attendants and if I came back to El Paso in six months, he would schedule me for an interview. After we finished our trip, both my sister and I returned to El Paso. I interviewed and was hired as a flight Attendant. My dream came true.

Looking back on this, I questioned how this had happened, whether it was a coincidence, or destiny, or were my dreams leading me. Was it not completely ironic that my dream of being a flight attendant came true because our car broke down and we were stranded in the west Texas desert? We had no intention of stopping in El Paso. How intriguing is it that in a place we had no plan to stop, I met a man that offered me an interview for the job I dreamed about? So, I became convinced that destiny does exist, and I wrote about it. “Nothing in life happens by accident. Paths cross for a reason and for every action there is a reaction.”

Writing this book was a tremendous learning experience for me. It was exhilarating and fun, nerve-racking and exhausting; and because I was rooted so deeply in the story and inside the minds of the characters, it was emotional. I didn’t realize when I was writing it that all the random pieces of the puzzle, that sometimes felt insurmountable, were being custom fitted for me; not only for the content of the book I was writing, but at the same time, different puzzle pieces were coming together to form a new foundation for my life. I was finally able to appreciate and believe that the sensations I was experiencing during the research and writing process were being designed specifically for me—to create a blossoming new adventure for me.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

At this point I have not started another book, although I do have some ideas. Right now, I want to tell women to follow their dreams no matter where they are in their lives. I was in the third act of my life when I finished writing this book and I know the universe was leading me. As I wrote in the book, “Destiny is your potential waiting to happen, and when you’re ready to accept it, you need to be open for a change. It’s the grandest of possibilities—where your dreams come true.” I want women everywhere to know that no matter what the circumstances in your life are now, and no matter what your age is; your dreams can still come true if you reach out for them.

I wholeheartedly stand and say out loud with my Dream Weavers message to all women, “Dream Beyond. Love Beyond. Live Beyond.”

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

“A charming story about dreams, hope, and how human compassion can help make the world a kinder place. This magical journey is rich with sweet life messages and inspiration that lead a young woman on a quest to discover her destiny. It is a memorable and meaningful story I didn’t want to end.” Angela Aja, author of Summoned To Soar.

The cross-country road trip began innocently enough–but unexpected detours lead them down a road that will change their lives.

Megan and Katie Summers are leaving on their long-planned road trip and are thrilled when the departure day finally arrives. But Katie is apprehensive because her dreams are confusing; a mysterious fire, two sisters screaming, an Indian woman with a long grey braid, a white horse, and trees that want to hurt her. She didn’t know how to interpret them.

Katie believes her mission in life is to spread the word that kindness toward others can change people’s lives, so she creates a club called The Golden Hearts Club and initiates new members when they do something nice for others. When she becomes ill, they stop at a run-down motel and meet Rose, an American Indian woman who nurses her back to health. The sad story of Rose’s family lost to tragedy sparks Katie’s determination to return to Arizona to help Rose find a new home so she will have a family again.

Things get complicated when they trespass on a California horse ranch and meet Jay and Luke Larone. Suddenly they are entangled with a family of a pharmaceutical empire that also includes a world of deception and family struggles. But when a tragic accident threatens to destroy many lives, the family unites to help a young woman they hardly know.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on March 5, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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