Spotlight & Giveaway: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Posted December 29th, 2014 by in Blog, Spotlight / 38 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome internationally bestselling author Kristin Harmel to HJ!

Hi Kristin and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Life Intended!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

The Life IntendedThe Life Intended is a P.S. I Love You­­­-meets-Sliding Doors tale that asks, “What does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?” After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

Please share the opening lines of this book:

It was 11:04 when Patrick walked through the door that final night almost a dozen years ago.
I remember the numbers growing red and angry on the digital clock by our bed, the sound of his key turning in the lock. I remember his sheepish expression, the way his five o’clock shadow had bloomed into an almost-beard, the way his shirt looked rumpled as he stood in the doorway.

Please share a few Random facts about this book…

1. With all of my previous novels have developed over months and months, this one literally came to me, almost whole, in a dream. As in, I woke up one morning and the entire book was already in my head. I sat down and began writing just as fast as I could before it all disappeared. Of course I did a lot of work to fill the details out after that, but the skeleton was there from the start. Funny, since the book is about a character who has vivid dreams of the life she might have had.

2. Every one of my novels has a minor character named Jay, named after my childhood best friend who died in a car accident at the age of 24. In THE LIFE INTENDED, he’s the boy one of the teenage characters has a crush on.

3. I wrote a song to go along with this book! You can find it for 99 cents on iTunes here ( or by searching for The Life Intended or The Kristin Harmel Project.

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Oh yes, I’m always surprised by my protagonists as soon as the start coming alive on the page. With Kate Waithman, the main character of THE LIFE INTENDED, I think I was surprised most by the depth of sadness she carried with her. She spends her life trying to fix other people in her job as a music therapist, but she doesn’t really realize that she hasn’t yet fixed herself. She’s still making decisions based on the grief that remains from her husband’s death twelve years earlier, and she’s living sort of a half-life, because she believes deep-down that she doesn’t deserve happiness the same way other people do. As the book progresses, she works through some external issues, and those finally open her up to working through the internal ones.
I also really loved developing the characters of the foster kids in this story, especially Allie.

What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?

I think that it explores the concepts of what might have been and what still could be in a different way than has been done before.

The First kiss…

THE LIFE INTENDED opens twelve years in the past, so the first kiss we see is one with her husband, Patrick, just before he dies. And when the story picks up twelve years later, in the present-day, Patrick is once again a part of Kate’s life after she has a very vivid dream of him. I think that the most romantic scenes in all of my books feature a hero who connects with the protagonist on a deep level. Not just surface-level love, but truly made-for-each-other love. There’s no doubt in Kate’s mind that she had that with Patrick, and after he dies, she loses a lot of her own identity, because it was so tied in to him. I think when we truly love someone, our identities become a little intertwined, and so losing that person can be devastating.

What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why?

I liked writing the first dream scene in the book, where Kate wakes up in a reality that isn’t hers… or is it? It doesn’t feel like any dream she’s ever had, and its vividness makes her wonder if it’s something more than just a dream. Is she really seeing a world in which Patrick, her long-dead husband, still exists? I really enjoyed playing with the details of that world and trying to balance Kate’s astonishment, joy, hope and fear about what’s happening. Here’s a short excerpt:

The room is oddly familiar, but I can’t put a finger on why.
Had Dan put me to bed at a friend’s apartment last night for some reason? Had I been so drunk that he couldn’t get me home? I struggle to remember, but the last thing I recall is falling asleep in his arms just after leaving the bar.
“Dan?” I call out tentatively.
I hear footsteps in the hallway, then the sound of someone whistling softly. Again, I have a strange feeling of familiarity, but it only unsettles me. Dan never whistles. In fact, he’d told me on our first date that he considers his inability to whistle one of his greatest failures in life. It was the first time he’d made me laugh.
“Babe?” I venture a bit more uncertainly.
And then the person whistling rounds the corner into the bedroom, and my heart nearly stops, because it’s not Dan standing there at all.
It’s Patrick.
My husband, Patrick.
Who died a dozen years ago.
“Morning,” he says with a smile, and the sound of his sweetly familiar deep voice hits me like a punch to the gut. I was so sure I’d never hear it again. This is impossible.
I realize as I gape at him that he doesn’t quite look the way he used to. His dark hair is a little thinner around the temples, his laugh lines have deepened, and he’s more solid than he once was. It’s how I always imagined he might have looked if he’d lived to grow older with me. His eyes are just as brilliant and green and warm as I remember, though, and for a long moment, I forget to breathe.

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?

Hmm… I might want to see Kate acting emotional – one of the rare times she wears her heart on her sleeve –and this scene with Patrick’s mother Joan (her former mother-in-law) at Kate’s surprise engagement party is particularly poignant. Kate has just gotten engaged to Dan, the guy she’s been dating for a couple years, and Patrick’s mother, whom Kate still considers family, shows up late to congratulate her.

“I just wish I’d been on time!” Joan rolls her eyes. “Wouldn’t you know I missed my train? It threw my whole schedule off.”
Joan lives in Glen Cove, a small town out on Long Island, in the same house Patrick grew up in. Sometimes I worry about the fact that she’s living all by herself, surrounded by the past. I’d had to move out of my downtown apartment three weeks after burying Patrick because I couldn’t stand the emptiness in the space we’d shared. Every time I walked through the door, I had half expected to see him standing there. Besides, the neighbors had started to complain about the fact that sometimes in the middle of the afternoon, I’d stand in the living room and start to scream. I couldn’t stop. The landlord had been only too happy to let me out of my lease.
“Don’t worry,” I say. “You’re here now. That’s what matters.” I’m startled to realize that tears are rolling down my cheeks. “Listen, Joan, I’m sorry.”
“For what?” She looks at me blankly.
“I … I don’t want you to think I’m forgetting Patrick,” I sniffle as I wipe my eyes. I avoid her gaze for a moment, then I look up.
“Sweetheart,” she says gently, “you’re allowed to move on. You’re supposed to move on.” She puts her arm around me. “Let’s go get a breath of fresh air, shall we?” She leads me out of the restaurant, and once we’re around the corner, she takes a tissue out of her purse and hands it to me. “Kate, sweetie, it’s been almost twelve years. Patrick would want you to be happy. I know he’s up there in heaven, smiling down at you.”
We both glance skyward at the same time, and I wonder if she’s thinking, as I am, that the city is covered tonight in a canopy of clouds, obscuring all the stars. It makes heaven feel very far away.
“Do you still wear the coin?” she asks softly when I don’t say anything.
I nod and pull the silver dollar out from beneath my shirt. It was the last thing Patrick gave me, and a few months after he died, I found a jeweler who agreed to drill a hole through it and string it on a long chain.
She smiles slightly. “Patrick believed in all kinds of good things in the universe, Kate,” she says, reaching out and touching the coin. “He believed in love and luck and happiness, and he would have wanted you to find all that. That’s what these coins are about. You have to remember that. He would want the brightest possible future for you, dear.”

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?

I think the message I would give my main character and the message I hope readers take away are one and the same: Choose happiness. So many times in life, we settle for second best or let ourselves believe that we don’t deserve to be happy. But you’re responsible for your own happiness. Choose to be happy. Make choices that lead to happiness. And let the grief and pain from your past become building blocks instead of stumbling blocks.

What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2015?

I’m currently writing a new, currently untitled novel, which I hope will be out in late 2015. Like my last novel, THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING, it deals with a secret from the WWII-era past, which is impacting the main characters today.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

Giveaway: 2 Print copies of THE LIFE INTENDED

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: As we move into 2015, what resolutions will you make about choosing happiness in the new year? How will you build a better, happier life for yourself?

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Book Info:

From the author of the international bestseller The Sweetness of Forgetting, named one of the Best Books of Summer 2012 by Marie Claire magazine, comes a captivating novel about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.

In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

Buy links:

Meet the Author:

KristinHarmelKristin Harmel is an internationally bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into numerous languages and are sold all over the world. After spending many years as a freelance writer (with a steady reporting gig for People magazine for more than a decade) Kristin now freelances only occasionally, focusing on book tours, book club visits and, of course, writing her next books! THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING was a bestseller in many countries and in fact won the reader’s choice prize for Romantic Novel of the Year in Germany in 2013. Her new novel, THE LIFE INTENDED, will be out January 6, 2015 from Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Kristin graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Miami and now resides in Orlando, Fla., with her husband, Jason.

38 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel”

  1. holdenj

    I will definitely try harder to leave work at work. I think that is a good goal at helping make a happier home.

  2. Susan T.

    Wow! This is an intense question to answer! I do hope to be happier in 2015 because this last year wasn’t great for me. I want to stress a lot less and do things that make me happy without worrying about what others think.

  3. janinecatmom

    I would love to be happier and less stress. but I haven’t put a plan into motion yet. I usually don’t make any kinds of resolutions.

  4. Joye

    I have always thought that if you want to be happy it is up to you. You make yourself happy-no one else does. It is your responsibility not someone else’s. So I am going to resolve to do just that.

  5. Mary Preston

    I tend not to make resolutions – too many years of just breaking them. I suppose I want peace most of all. A calm life.

  6. doveknoll

    I haven’t made a resolution in a few years but this year I plan to. I want to try and eat right, exercise regularly, and be more Zen. I want to find a job during the upcoming year so I can travel more. Thanks for the review and giveaway. Happy New Years everyone.

  7. mrsmac19

    I’m going to try harder to manage my grading & paperwork so that I don’t have these overwhelming, time consuming experiences when grades, progress reports, & IEPs are due. We’ll see… 🙂

  8. Melody Gonser

    I decided not to make any resolutions this year. It is too easy to not follow through. There have been many times I have followed through. I have decided to take better care of myself. More exercise and eating better. I will also go out with friends more often.

  9. Trudy Dowling

    I don’t make resolutions. I try to make corrections as needed or hope the problem will go away.

  10. Irma Jurejevčič

    I don’t do resolutions, but I kind of promissed myself that I’ll try to spent less time on Facebook.

  11. carol L

    To think more positively. Avoid all those people that literally drain my energy by their constant whining and negativity. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  12. Terri C

    I need to find a way to spend more time with my mother (my father passed away in November), without letting her drive me crazy.

  13. Kelly C

    Ive made many changes this year to lead a happier life including walking away from a high stress, hig-paying job that I hated for 7 years. ( I stayed for all the wrong reasons.) Next year I’m focusing on developing better eating habits and increased fitness activities.

  14. Glenda S. Hefty

    I usually don’t do resolutions but I do know I need to get back on track to losing the weight again that I had lost before the steroids I was on when doing chemo plus stress eating. I think things will get better if my husband can get a job.

  15. Bonnie K.

    I’ve recently become a grandmother. I’m finding true joy in watching my grandson and the many changes as he grows older. I’m also very careful about what I eat. I hope to lose some weight so that I can keep up with my grandson. I will still continue to love books–this will never change. 🙂

  16. darholley1

    I am going to try not to let things bother me and bring me down like I have been doing. I plan to get rid of the people that drag me down and use me to get what they want. Taking the garbage out lol

  17. laurieg72

    I’m going to enjoy myself and not let my mom’s negative comments bother me. She’s 90 years old and not dealing well with the aging process. I’m going to pursue activities that make me happy:swimming, hiking and reading.

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