New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. Visit her at www.raeannethayne.com or on Instagram @raeannethayne
Girly Book Club: What can you tell our members about your new release, The Path to Sunshine Cove?
RaeAnne Thayne: I loved writing this book about two sisters who have dealt with their childhood trauma in very different ways. Jess Clayton has become fiercely independent and travels the country living out of a Airstream trailer while she helps older people clean out their homes in order to downsize to assisted living or senior apartments. Her sister Rachel has created her own happy ever after, though the perfect image she portrays to the world isn’t the entire picture. When Jess takes a job in her sister’s town of Cape Sanctuary, the two sisters have the chance to finally begin to forgive each other for past mistakes and perhaps come to truly understand each other. And of course there’s a romance!
GBC: The Path to Sunshine Cove is the third book in the Cape Sanctuary series; does the book read well as a standalone?
RT: Yes. Absolutely. Each one of these books is a true standalone with no characters in common. The only link is geography. All three books, THE CLIFF HOUSE, THE SEA GLASS COTTAGE and THE PATH TO SUNSHINE COVE, are set in my fictional community of Cape Sanctuary. Here’s a little backstage secret. To create Cape Sanctuary, I took two of my favorite beach communities, Cannon Beach, Oregon and Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, combined them and plopped them into Northern California, roughly near Eureka.
GBC: Where will the Cape Sanctuary series take readers next?! Any hints you can give us?
RT: The next book is still in the early planning stages but I can tell readers it involves two sisters grieving the loss of a third, a newly rekindled reunion romance between their long-divorced parents and glamping!
GBC: Your characters are thoughtfully developed; they are lovable for their relatability, genuine nature, and being multi-layered. Do you ever base your characters off individuals from your life or include snippets of your personal life into your novels?
RT: First, thank you for the lovely compliment. I love hearing from readers who are drawn to my characters! While I never base characters on people I know in real life, I might borrow a hairstyle or a mannerism or a particular turn of phrase from people I know in real life. I think all writers are magpies in a way, gathering shiny bits of ideas from things around them.
GBC: How did you get into writing and what inspired you to write your first book?
RT: I was a voracious reader when I was a child, always happiest when I was deeply engrossed in a book. When I was in high school, I ended up writing for the student newspaper and fell in love with storytelling. I decided early that I wanted to write a romance novel, the kind of book I adored reading. I started my first book in my mid twenties while I was home on maternity leave with our oldest daughter, who is now 31 and a teacher. I sold my first book five years later and have been doing it ever since.
GBC: When you start writing a new book, what is your goal? What do you aim to invoke in your readers?
RT: For me, it’s all about the characters and the emotional journey they take. I want the readers to feel like they’re completely invested in my characters and in watching them overcome their conflicts and problems to find their happy endings.
GBC: What does your writing process look like? Do you map each story out from start to finish or do you begin with an idea and see where it takes you?
RT: I am very much a plotter, otherwise I end up completely off track! I always start with characters first and the basic conflict and issues they’re facing. I sit with that initial idea for as long as it takes until the story starts to come together. Ideally, I have a plot group of three other writers that meets 1-2 times a year. We usually go to a beach house not far from LAX and spend three days plotting each others’ books. THE PATH TO SUNSHINE COVE was the last book I was able to plot with them in person in February 2020. I miss them dearly! When we come away from plot group, we know the turning points, the dark moments, the resolution and hopefully have several scene ideas to help move the story forward. I then take the idea home and keep working away at it until I feel like I have enough to start writing. I write a very rough draft first then two or three more drafts until I feel like it’s ready for my editor.
GBC: What makes a book great, in your opinion? What elements does a great story possess?
RT: A great story is compelling, memorable and well-written, one that allows readers to immerse themselves in the words and temporarily live in the book. I am a reader first, before being a writer, and I absolutely love a book that leaves me sighing with happiness when I turn the last page.
GBC: Having written – and published – dozens of books, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about writing?
RT: Telling stories feels like amazing magic sometimes. I love holding a book I’ve written and knowing this came out of my brain and my hard work. I’m very grateful I have the opportunity to make people happy with my words.
GBC: Any advice you can share with the aspiring writers within our community?
RT: It’s hard work and sometimes the words don’t flow as well as I would like but it truly does feel like a gift to be able to create stories that bring comfort and joy to people when life can feel overwhelming.