Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

The Cross and the Pen: Author Denise Hildreth

  • Eva Marie Everson Author & Contributing Writer
  • 2005 24 Oct
The Cross and the Pen:  Author Denise Hildreth

Welcome to’s author-to-author interview column!

I’m from the Savannah, Georgia area, so when I saw a book titled "Savannah From Savannah" (Westbow, 2004), I immediately purchased it. I have to tell you, the author Denise Hildreth nailed the people and places of Savannah most perfectly! When I was done with the book, I contacted a friend at Westbow and begged for an introduction. Now, weeks later, I consider Denise not only a sister in Christ and a fellow novelist-girl, but a friend as well.

Recently we got together for a little chat. Wanna listen in?

Eva Marie:  Miss Denise! You rock, girlfriend! So, tell my readers:  Where have you been all our lives?

Denise:  Coming from a girl after my own heart I take that as the highest form of flattery.

Eva Marie:  It is!

Denise:  I've been tucked away telling other people's stories for the last 10 years.

Eva Marie: As a ghostwriter? Or just gossiping?

Denise:  Both.

Eva Marie:  (laughing) So then, how did the "Savannah" character come about?

Denise:  No, I've worked as a ghostwriter or co-collaborator on multiple projects, but "Savannah" was my first walk into fiction. "Savannah" came about over a strong glass of Coca-Cola and the thirteenth rejection letter of a non-fiction book that I had written. I thought, "I know three things: 1) rigged beauty pageants; 2) crazy people; and 3) the South. Why not combine all three and see what happens?" "Savannah" is what happened.

Eva Marie:  As you know, I'm from the Savannah area. Why that city?

Denise:  Well, the first thought was my hometown in South Carolina, but I figured an old high school flame might sue me!

Eva Marie:  (laughing) And then?

Denise:  I had been to Savannah once and fallen in love with it. So I decided to take a city that I knew little about and force myself to learn their culture, their idiosyncrasies, and their history. Savannah did not disappoint on any count.

Eva Marie:  Yes, Savannah is quite a town. What did you love the most about it?

Denise:  Its mere presence. It's like it has its own character. It has charm and history, and it's beautiful. And it's like everywhere you go, it's telling a story through its architecture or its people or its squares. You just walk through and know great things happened there before you arrived.

Eva Marie:  You picked the name Savannah Grace as the name of your main character. Of course what you didn't know at the time was that this is my granddaughter's name. So, you won my heart, right away, no doubt. Was there a purpose behind the "Grace?"

Denise:  Honestly, they are both just two of my favorite names. I chose Savannah because it made for such great folly in the book! And Grace because it just fits perfect with Savannah. As you can attest. But Book 2 reveals a little something behind the power of a name.

Eva Marie:  Oooh! I can't wait! (And it's sitting on my bookshelf right now!)

Denise:  Well, dust it off and get to reading!

Eva Marie:  Yes ma'am! Tell us a little about the story. …

Denise:  Savannah is a young woman who is very opinionated and stubborn. She gets it honestly, I assure you. She has one dream:  literary fame. The Barnes and Noble window. And she thinks she has achieved it when she wins a fiction contest with a piece that her college dean submitted. But then she comes to the conclusion that her mother rigged the contest. This leads her back to Savannah, and to the halls of the local Savannah Chronicle, where she begins writing a human interest story about a rigged beauty pageant of which her momma is a former queen!

Eva Marie:  Whew! And what a story it is. Couldn’t put it down. Okay ... now for some inside scoop ... ready?

Denise:  Ready!

Eva Marie:  It seems to me that Savannah's favorite Christian recording artist is a young singer named Jonathan Pierce. She’s always listening to his CD. What's up with that?

Denise:  Well, he is a cutie!

Eva Marie:  That's true ... that's true. ... But, inquiring minds want to know: could there be any other reason?

Denise:  I've been accused of shameless cross marketing and few other things, but I can't help it if Savannah likes his music. Jonathan Pierce is actually my husband. We've written songs together for years, and I thought it might be fun to throw him in there to give people something to talk about. I can honestly say it worked! We're talking about it! Someone told me the other day they thought it was a good idea, because they went straight out and bought his album!

Eva Marie:  All it takes is a look and a listen to see why Savannah likes him so much! Okay...a final question or two.

Denise:  Go right ahead!

Eva Marie:  You did a wonderful job of capturing the city of Savannah and her people. How much time did you spend there?

Denise:  I actually went on two separate occasions for the first book. The first trip I spent almost ten days and the second trip I just went back for a long weekend, to make sure I had all of my information correct. It was downright torture, I tell ya!

Eva Marie:  Oh, I can imagine! The beautiful city squares, the ornate buildings, the moss dripping off the oaks. How did you ever endure it all?

Denise:  You forgot the fabulous food! I just unhooked my belt loop a notch and kept trudging along!

Eva Marie:  Well, thank you Miss Denise for taking the time to chat with me. One final thing: what's next for Savannah?

Denise:  Savannah takes on a very large, concrete monument that has been planted in front of the courthouse and has her mother strapped to it, in "Savannah Comes Undone," which just came out. And the third in the series, "Savannah by the Sea" will hit stores July 2006. And thank you my friend, for spending some time chatting with me about a city we both love!

Eva Marie:  Take care, my friend.

Denise Hildreth is a Nashville author and an international speaker.  She has been involved in numerous writing projects, including co-writing a #1 hit single with her husband, recording artist Jonathan Pierce.
Denise Hildreth is a Nashville author and an international speaker.  She has been involved in numerous writing projects, including co-writing a #1 hit single with her husband, recording artist Jonathan Pierce.

Denise Hildreth is a Nashville author and an international speaker.  She has been involved in numerous writing projects, including co-writing a No. 1 hit single with her husband, recording artist Jonathan Pierce.  For more information about Denise and her work, please visit
Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary.  Her work includes the upcoming "Sex, Lies and the Media" (Cook) and "The Potluck Club" (Baker/Revell).  Share your comments or inquire about speaking engagement bookings at