Can love blossom after life changes in an instant? One July morning in Manhattan, handsome athlete and entrepreneur Phoenix Walker accompanies his love, half-Asian beauty Orchid, to the airport.Neither believes today is goodbye. But after she leaves, disaster strikes. Phoenix wakes in the hospital, broken, forever changed. He longs for Orchid but remembers the tragedy in her past that makes her panic over images of trauma.
Now, he's faced with the hardest decision of his life. Does he burden the woman whose traumatic childhood makes him feel protective of her? Or does true love mean leaving her without explaining why?
Rising from ashes is hard. Giving up the one you love is harder.
Some Q & A with Carol ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
Hi, I’m Carol Van Den Hende, which seems like a mouthful but is pronounced just the way it looks. Fun fact: if you meet me in person, you wouldn’t necessarily associate me with a Dutch last name (hint, I married into it!)
I’ve always been an imaginative person, and have been writing since I was a kid. True story: I wanted to be an English major in college but my traditional Chinese family persuaded me to use my math and science skills towards an engineering major. No regrets though, as I’ve loved my career path, and am thrilled to have come full circle back to writing now.
This article from Mensa shares my lessons from those diverse paths: https://pubs.royle.com/publication/?m=28885&i=674918&p=26
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Outside of being an author, I’m also a speaker, Climate Reality Leader, Board member, strategist at Mars Incorporated, and most importantly, a wife and mom of twins. The many hats at work and home keep me busy. The other activity I love is dance; I’m missing the gym a lot!
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I work full-time as a strategist for Mars, and have enjoyed careers there as a marketer and digital technologist. I’ve spent more than 20 years applying my MBA to brands like M&M’S®, TWIX®, 3MUSKETEERS, MILKY WAY®, DOVE® Chocolate and more. I like to say that there’s no “sweeter” job!
What are you working on now?
Readers have loved the characters in Goodbye, Orchid, saying they’re like “new friends,” so I’m working to extend that world into more books. For instance, Phoenix’s tattooed twin, Caleb, has unresolved tension with his ex-girlfriend, latex-wearing Sascha.
What was the most unique research you had to do for a book?
Goodbye, Orchid is well-researched. I’m thankful for the input from medical professionals, psychologists, and survivors who vetted early drafts of Goodbye, Orchid. The story is inspired by combat-wounded veterans, so I’m fortunate to have military heroes both shape the book, and love the finished story. Their endorsements have really touched me:
“As a combat decorated and wounded veteran, I was truly captivated by Carol's amazing storytelling. Goodbye Orchid transported me to my post-war self from fourteen years ago. Phoenix Walker captures the mindset, roller-coaster and daily heroics of my experience after being injured. I could relate from many levels, and even gained new insights from seeing the perspective of loved ones. All around excellence.” —Doc Jacobs, Bronze Star with Valor and Purple Heart-decorated Navy Corpsman, CEO Doc Jacobs Foundation, author There and Back Again
"In this most worthy novel, the protagonists’ lives are shattered and they re-emerge champions, showing a true test of character. Phoenix is fiercely independent and successful until something happens to break him. Everything he knew, everything he was, everything he dreamed of is thrown into chaos. He is all of us, unconquerable until we’re conquered. A tale of sacrifice and rebirth; heroism is in the details.” —SSGT Aaron Michael Grant, author of TAKING BAGHDAD: Victory in Iraq With the US Marines
I’m especially proud that a portion of profits is being donated to charities like USA Cares, to help military veterans and their families.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I really enjoy helping aspiring and established authors by speaking at writers’ conferences. In December, I’ll be teaching a class for the International Womens’ Writing Guild. When I speak with writers, I often recommend starting with what you stand for (your personal brand), how that translates into your visual identity (design), and planning your objectives before jumping into tactics. Perseverance also helps!
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
As with many passions, it’s challenging to feel there’s enough time for everything I’d like to do – to capture the myriad story ideas, to reach and respond to so many lovely readers, to meet and support other wonderful authors.
But the lush world of my imagination, and the positive response from readers makes it all worth it!
Readers have touched me with their responses:
“such an amazing story written with intricate details and emotional passages that took my heart and tore it to pieces… unputdownable from the first compelling page to the last touching words. Yes, Phoenix and Orchid expanded my heart.”
“VanDenHende takes a love story and puts it through so many different emotions that will make you laugh and cry together! I highly recommend this heart wrenching novel but advise you have a box of tissues nearby!”
“Could I put Goodbye Orchid down? Absolutely not. The story tore my heart out.”
It’s been especially gratifying to be recognized by multiple awards too, like the American Fiction, Pinnacle, Best Book and IAN awards.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
I love so many, and from talking with book clubs, I know that readers love everything from the inciting incident in Chapter 1, meeting the cast of characters, visiting Walter Reed, all the twists and turns, and especially the emotionally satisfying ending.
Do you have a favorite character?
I love them all, and of course, Phoenix is close to my heart. As reviewers have said, his and Orchid’s story is both “heart-breaking and heartwarming.”
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for joining me on this journey. Brain research shows that the same areas light in readers’ brains when lost in a story as the writer’s brain while penning it, so thanks for connecting with writers in this way! When you love a book, please share the joy with other readers by leaving a review.
To connect with Carol ~