Return to Walhalla by Laura Hodges Poole

Posted by on May 11, 2018 | Comments Off on Return to Walhalla by Laura Hodges Poole

Return to Walhalla by Laura Hodges Poole

Return to Walhalla, a delightful page turner by Laura Hodges Poole centers around a woman forced to return to a small South Carolina town filled with people and memories that challenge long-held ideas and secrets. I know you’ll enjoy meeting Laura and hearing about her newest book!



Fabulous Fridays

Return to Walhalla

Welcome, Laura! I am so excited about your debut novel and the opportunity to introduce you and Return to Walhalla to my readers! 

Please introduce yourself and tell us when you first discovered you were a writer. 

Thank you, Norma, for hosting me today! I can’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer. I’ve always loved literature! But I began writing seriously toward publication twelve years ago. I’m a Christian writer with a heart for hurting people. Life is difficult, whether you’re a Christian or not. I’ve dealt with a lot of heartache and death in my life, particularly that of my sister and, more recently, my daughter. I’ve written a blog for the last six years, A Word of Encouragement, and a devotional, While I’m Waiting, because people desperately need encouragement in this broken world. I love to hike in the mountains; actually I love just being outdoors in nature. I enjoy playing the piano and taught both of my children to play some. I live in the upstate of South Carolina, only a short drive from the mountains and the small town of Walhalla where my current book is set. 

What inspired your latest book, Return to Walhalla? Please introduce us briefly to the main characters. 

Walhalla is an actual town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or as the locals call it, the upstate of South Carolina, about an hour from my home. I was attracted to this town because of the beauty of the mountains, as well as the Southern charm evident in many small towns in our state. The first time I rode through Walhalla was on the way to one of South Carolina’s numerous waterfalls, Isaqueena Falls, although in Return to Walhalla, another well-known state park, Twin Falls, is featured. The beauty and charm of Walhalla caught my attention on this excursion, so I returned another day to sight see. I noticed quilt blocks on various businesses around town. I stopped into the Oconee Heritage Center Museum, where I learned about the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail, which commemorates the quilting heritage of the community. Each quilt block had a story behind it, which intrigued me.

One day, as I thought about more about the town, the title Return to Walhalla popped into my mind, along with two characters, Penny Ruskin and Tommy McAllister. I knew I had my next story. I followed the story where Penny and Tommy led me, through past heartache, forgiveness, and redemption, along with the humor of Southern family and church get-togethers. Secondary characters like one of the church ladies, Miss Betty, and teenager Emma Johnson play important roles in Penny’s life, and of course, the quest to keep her in Walhalla. Naturally, I also included a quilting storyline.

Penny has inner strength that she kind of has to grow into during the course of the book. Everyone else sees it but her. Some of this is because of the guilt she wrestles with, but ultimately, her strength comes from God and the legacy of her grandmother within her. Tommy is the traditional small-town guy with a big heart for everyone. He’s rugged but gentle, the perfect hero for Christian romance.

How would you like to inspire your readers?

Ultimately, Return to Walhalla is as much about facing life’s tough challenges with God’s help as it is about romantic love. No matter what we go through, we can count on God’s comfort and peace to see us through. You’re never so far from God that turning back isn’t possible. I hope readers are both entertained and inspired as they read Penny’s story of returning to Walhalla.

Do you plot your stories out ahead of time, or just sit down and write from the seat of your pants? 

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. I have a general idea what the story will be and who my characters are. I write my plot as I go. When I finish the manuscript, I review the plot and see if there are any holes. This works best for me because I grow into my characters as I write. Even though I generally know the beginning and end and what the “black moment” will be for my characters, I honestly can’t see the whole story ahead of time. I let my characters lead and often a secondary character will jump into the story when I least expect it. Then I scratch my head and say, “Where did you come from?” I go back and make sure they’re incorporated into the story correctly. It may sound like a lot of work, and maybe it is, but it keeps my creative juices flowing through the writing process. 

Return to Walhalla meme

What was your greatest roadblock in writing Return to Walhalla, and how did you overcome it? I didn’t really face any roadblocks while writing the story. It flowed pretty well. The challenging part was after I finished and signed the contract, which I did four days before my daughter passed away unexpectedly. There was a year and a half publishing process with edits and deadlines to meet when I often didn’t feel like sitting at the computer. I did a lot of talking with God and definitely felt His hand on me in the process. 

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love to bake, which I incorporated into the storyline of Return to Walhalla. All good Southern stories feature food, right? ???? I also like to do crafts when I have time and play the piano. Hiking in the mountains gives me that alone time with God uninterrupted by daily life. 

Can you tell us something that your readers might find surprising about you?

I came from a family of nine. I guess that would be considered surprising in today’s world. 

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve self-published three novellas, A Christmas Chance, Silent Stars of Christmas, and The Trouble with Jasmine. I’ve also published a devotional, While I’m Waiting, and ghostwrote/collaborated on a few other projects, including My Journey Through Fibromyalgia: Rumors, Ravages & The Rescue.

Please share the opening passage of Return to Walhalla with us.

Read a FREE Preview by clicking HERE.

Book Blurb:

When financier Penny Ruskin returns to Walhalla, South Carolina, she has one purpose—to settle her grandmother’s estate and sell the Victorian house she grew up in. Not an easy task with the downturned economy. What she doesn’t count on are all the roadblocks thrown in her path.

Walhalla is Tommy McAllister’s life. Between his family’s feed-and-seed store and the bank he’s vice president of, he’s stretched thin trying to survive the recession. But when a girl he hasn’t seen since high school breezes back into town, he’s ready to push himself even further to help her feel at home—and convince her to stay. He reaches out to Penny, but the last thing she wants is to be trapped in a small town that holds painful memories—one dark secret in particular.

The town matchmaker and bank manager, Miss Betty, a motherless teen Emma who lives down the lane from Penny, and the church ladies of Walhalla’s First Baptist add both heartwarming and challenging moments to Penny’s life.

With the past dogging Penny’s steps, dredging up painful memories she’s tried to outrun, relatives threaten the future she has begun to hope for…But somewhere deep inside her, a spark of hope remains. Tommy isn’t the only one praying for a miracle.

Laura Hodges Poole author

About the Author:

Laura Hodges Poole is a freelance writer with dozens of articles, devotions, and short stories in publication. Her books are available on Amazon. Laura is the 2016 ACWC Badge of Honor winner, a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, and a 2012 RWA Emily finalist. As an editor, she enjoys mentoring and helping other writers polish their work.  Laura is also a non-fiction ghostwriter/collaborator. Her passion is encouraging others in their Christian walk through her blog, “A Word of Encouragement.” When she’s not writing, you might find her hiking, playing the piano, or being crafty. A mother of two, Laura lives in South Carolina with her husband and son.

Connect with Laura:


Book Trailer:


Facebook Author Page:!/LauraHodgesPoole





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