Carol Van Den Hende is an award-winning author who pens stories of resilience and hope. Her novel “Goodbye, Orchid” won the American Fiction Award for urban fiction and Pinnacle Achievement Award for multi-cultural fiction, and has been named a most anticipated fall read by Buzzfeed, Parade and Travel+Leisure. She’s also a speaker, strategist, and serves on nonprofit boards. One secret to her good fortune? Her humorous husband, fun-loving twins, and rescue cat, who prove that love really does conquer all.
- What came first, the author or the marketer? And how has your expertise in marketing folded into your career as an author?
My author life started as a child, so that definitely came first. Being a marketer simply means finding ways to fulfill the needs of an audience, and then letting them know about that brand promise. Once I decided to pursue publication, my expertise in marketing came in handy. Though I’ve written for myself over the years, the story of Goodbye, Orchid begged like no other to be shared more broadly. I’ve been heartened by readers who loved the messages of empathy and hope:
“As a combat decorated and wounded veteran, I was truly captivated by Carol’s storytelling. Phoenix Walker captures the mindset, roller-coaster and daily heroics of my experience after being injured. 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 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
“Goodbye Orchid tugs at readers’ heartstrings and takes us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through this serious romance, layered with trauma and lost love. The characters—including Phoenix’s twin brother and friends—are richly drawn, and the themes are timeless. But it’s the story that kept me turning those pages and hoping for a satisfying ending. Van Den Hende did not disappoint.”
—Susan Cushman, author of Friends of the Library, and Cherry Bomb
- What are the kinds of books you like to read? Which are the most memorable and influential? What’s your favorite childhood book?
I gravitate towards fiction that poses fresh and intriguing “what-if” questions. I recently completed and adored Karin Tanabe’s A Hundred Suns and Caroline Leavitt’s With or Without You. I also admire and devour non-fiction for my business life. For example, the book Range explores the hypothesis that success doesn’t only come from deep expertise in one area, but also across multiple areas. As someone who’s traversed careers in far-flung fields like digital technologies/engineering, marketing, and strategy, I love evidence that innovation can spring from applying ideas from one field to another.
In childhood, I would lose myself in fictional worlds, such as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Secret Garden. As my kids grew up, I shared their joy in Phillip Pullman, and Sarah Maas.
- What do you think is unique about your writing process?
Perhaps this isn’t wholly unique, but for me, my writing has a higher-order purpose. Beyond telling the story, my writing aims to inspire hope and deepen empathy for people and planet. Writing is a wonderful medium to achieve this purpose, because my strongest flow states are when I’m in deepest empathy with my characters.
- What is the most important lesson you learned from the writing/publishing process? What was the hardest part?
As a marketer and strategist, I definitely applied the lessons that I teach at writers’ conferences to my own launch. I started with my inspiring purpose and personal brand to craft a visual identity and marketing plans. It takes perseverance and time to find and engage with the most relevant readers, but it’s also incredibly rewarding, and another way to be creative!
- How many unfinished books have you written? What’s your biggest obstacle to completing a story?
The unfinished book I’m working on is the sequel to Goodbye, Orchid. Phoenix’s tattooed twin, Caleb, has unresolved tension with his ex-girlfriend, latex-wearing Sascha.
Right now, my biggest obstacle to completing that story is a full life, one in which I enjoy my career, family time with my husband and twins, work in the community as a board member for a special needs school, and as a Climate Reality leader.
- What motivated you to tell this story now?
Goodbye Orchid tells a story about what defines us and defies us, about the strength of human resilience, and how love really does conquer all. These are universal themes that have stood the test of time, and amidst today’s chaos, they’re especially resonant.
Here are links to upcoming author events:
Wed Sept 9th, 9-10pm EST “Wine and Words” Author Carol Van Den Hende in Conversation with Main Street Reads (Virtual Event)
Wednesday Sept 16th 7-8pm EST Goodbye, Orchid and With or Without You Virtual Launch Party, in conversation with award-winning author Carol Van Den Hende and NY Times best-selling author Caroline Leavitt
Rising from ashes is hard. Giving up the one you love is harder.
Thirty-two year-old Phoenix Walker is an entrepreneur who has built an agency with a heart almost as big as his own. To add to his good fortune, he’s falling for Orchid Paige, the beautiful half-Asian marketer who’s collaborated with him on a winning military campaign.
Until an accident changes him forever.
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?