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The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle (Interview & a Recipe)

An Interview with Brenda Gayle, author of The Hungry Heart a first in her new series.

Brenda Gayle! *waving you up on the porch* I made sure that the deck heater is running hot so we can enjoy a cup of my famous Aztec Chili Hot Cocoa and chat a bit while enjoying the beautiful snow in my woods. I am glad you had time and braved our early snow fall for the  interview and hope you enjoy yourself!

The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle (Interview & a Recipe)

Hi Cabin Goddess, I am so glad to be here today. My name is Brenda Gayle and I write romantic fiction.

My love of romantic fiction began when my parents foolishly purchased a cottage on a quiet lake just as I was entering my teen years—who wants to leave their friends and go up to a remote cottage just when life is getting interesting? A woman a couple of doors down lived there year-round and was a voracious reader of romance novels. Each summer when I arrived, she’d give me shopping bags full of them. I loved losing myself in the wildly romantic exploits of heroes and heroines as they fell in love. I was never without a book, and by the end of each summer I had pretty much read everything she’d given me.

Fast-forward many years (not saying how many) and I found myself as a writer, but of media releases, annual reports, and news articles. I began writing fiction as a way to arouse my creative muse, which was feeling unloved in the world of corporate communications—although some might argue there’s plenty of opportunity to write fiction there, too.

While I am a fan of many genres, I am drawn to contemporary romance and enjoy creating deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense. My first book, SOLDIER FOR LOVE, was published a few years ago by The Wild Rose Press. My current release, THE HUNGRY HEART, is the first book in my Heart’s Desire series. The second, THE DOUBTING HEART, will be released in January. (Shhh: If you have a Kindle you can get it now!)

I live in eastern Ontario with my wonderful husband, two fabulous children, a rescued cat, two Siberian Huskies, and assorted aquatic wildlife.

CG –Brenda, is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

Women’s fiction. Mostly because it provides a broader canvas on which to work. Romances follow fairly strict conventions. There has to be a love story; there has to be obstacles thrown at the couple that threaten their relationship; they have to live happily-ever-after.  The challenge in writing romance (and the reason readers love it) is creating a unique story around those elements. But the love story has to be the front and center. In women’s fiction, a writer can focus on other elements, and sometimes the girl doesn’t get the guy. I think it would be an interesting challenge to write a women’s fiction novel.

CG – What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

That’s a tough one. There was a Facebook survey going around a while ago asking how many of the top 100 most influential books in the English language you had read. I think I had read about two-thirds of them, but I can’t necessarily tell you how any of them have influenced my writing.

In terms of actual influence, I’d have to give credit to the hundreds of Harlequin romances (compliments of my cottage neighbor) for introducing me to the genre. Before that, I was heavily addicted to Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins , and the Hardy Boys. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to throw some mystery and suspense into my books. (For those who want your daughter to be able to fall in love with some of these classics, such as the Bobbsey Twins, Amazon has many of them converted in Kindle versions for free. The Bobbsey Twins link I shared is one of those books. I discovered this while linking this interview and I grabbed every single one onto someones new Paperwhite just in time for Christmas!)

Another influential book is The Lost Hours, by Karen White.  This was given to me by my critique partner a few years ago and after reading it, I think I went out and bought just about every Karen White book I could find. The Lost Hours isn’t her best, but the feel of the book—it’s a women’s fiction—was similar to what I was aspiring to.

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series has a prominent place on my “keeper” shelf. She is an amazing storyteller and I am in awe of how she is able to keep so many story threads woven together. I love the head-slapping revelation you have when some small thing that happened earlier in the book ends up having a major impact on the story’s resolution. She’s genius at planting small clues that have major effects, and leave the reader gobsmacked.

CG -I f you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your 2 main characters?

Darn, if I could figure out a way to cast Gerard Butler I would. Maybe I could just get him to audition.

For THE HUNGRY HEART, I think Chris Evans has the proper balance of irreverence and sweetness, as well as the physical attributes to play Hunter Graham, the playboy celebrity chef hero. The role of the uptight executive Nora Cross is harder to cast. Sandra Bullock is probably the actress I could see being closest to how I envision her. The character Bullock played in The Proposal is not too far removed from Nora.

CG - What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I’d call my parents. (I’m assuming my husband and kids could hear me screaming it throughout the house, so I wouldn’t have to tell them.) My mother and father are both avid readers and they instilled a love of books—all kinds of books—in my sister and me. If I ever make it to a bestsellers list, it will be in large part due to them.

CG – Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing (as in what candy / snack food / drink / 80’s hair band you break out in song too when you just cannot figure out the next line to write)?

I usually log onto E Street Radio and get my Bruce fix. I’d keep it on while I write, but I find it too distracting. The few times I’ve tried, I ended up singing along to the songs or thinking of a Springsteen concert memory, and my word count for the day was really low. Now I use this as my reward for finishing a scene and my “break” when nothing seems to be coming together and I need a little space from the manuscript.

CG - What do you do when you’re not writing? (what festive things do you do for fun? What things do you do when you make yourself have fun, and what is on the top of your list to do when you actually take two days for you (and family)

I have a fifteen year-old daughter who is very community involved, and a thirteen year-old son who plays competitive water polo. And we live outside the city so there is no public transportation. When I’m not writing, I’m usually chauffeuring them to their various activities. Our lives tend to be pretty busy, but when we can find some free time we like to go on road trips (strange given how much driving we do normally, right?). We’ll drive down for a week in Myrtle Beach or Vermont, or head to Toronto for a long weekend. We like to just hang out as a family.

CG - Since your book is about a chef please share your favorite dish (if you care to send the recipe awesome or write up why you would never share, or share it but let everyone know you omitted an ingredient because it is closely guarded)

I love to take advantage of seasonal ingredients when I cook. In honor of autumn, I’m going to share my favorite apple pie recipe. But just as THE HUNGRY HEART isn’t only about romance (it has some suspense and mystery thrown in), this pie isn’t only about apples. I love how the flavors of maple and cranberry mix to put a new twist on a traditional recipe.

Fall Fresh Apple Pie

The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle (Interview & a Recipe)


  • Pastry for two crusts
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  •  8 – 10 apples
  • 1 c whole cranberries


  1. Refrigerate pastry while preparing filling.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk maple syrup, egg & Vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core & slice apples into ½ inch wedges and place 7 cups in a large bowl.
  5. Slice or coarsely chop cranberries to measure a scant ½ cup. Add to apples.
  6. Sprinkle with flour mixture with flour until evenly coated. Stir.
  7. Sprinkle with maple mixture. Stir.
  8. Roll out ½ the pastry on floured surface. Line pie plate.
  9. Stir apple mixture & pour into pan.
  10. Place remaining pastry, rolled out, over apples. Seal & trim edges, and make several slits on top.
  11. Bake on bottom rack at 425oF for 10 – 12 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  12. Lower temperature to 350oF and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until apples are tender.
  13. 13.  Cool on rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. (Go for a walk and enjoy the autumn leaves so you’re not tempted to cut it too soon.)


Thanks so much for hosting me today. I had a blast.

Thank you SO MUCH for doing this considering what happened (winking) This was a great interview and wow what an amazing recipe! I just squealed and told Geoff, my wonderful ManBeast, he is getting a special apple pie this weekend!


The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle (Interview & a Recipe)


by Brenda Gayle

  • 324 pages
  • Romance

Child advocate Nora Cross doesn’t have time for the private cooking lesson her sister won at a charity auction. Hunter Graham, the young chef, is the last person she needs telling her she’s forgotten how to have fun. So why can’t she get the very hot, very eligible man off her mind?

After a stellar debut in New York City, Hunter’s back in Santa Fe to open a new restaurant. He lives a charmed life and he knows it. He isn’t interested in a workaholic who’s glued to her smart phone. So why is he trying to convince Nora to relax and enjoy life–with him?

When Nora’s apartment and office are ransacked, Hunter comes to her rescue, surprised to find himself playing knight-in-shining-armor to the uptight executive. But when it becomes clear Nora is no random target, Hunter realizes he’ll do anything to keep her safe.

Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The Hungry Heart? Well, there are two ways to enter…

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Hungry Heart tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I’ve posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.

All about the Author

Brenda GayleBrenda Gayle has been a writer all her life but returned to her love of writing fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communication—although some might argue there was plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. A fan of many genres, she is drawn to contemporary romance and enjoys writing deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense. Her first book, Soldier for Love, was a recommended read by a number of reviewers. Her new book, The Hungry Heart, is the first in her Heart’s Desire series, which chronicles the difficult road to finding love and family acceptance for the three Graham cousins. Brenda lives in eastern Ontario with her wonderful husband, two fabulous children, two Siberian Huskies, a rescued cat, and assorted aquatic wildlife.

Find and follow Brenda Gayle around the web:


Get The Hungry Heart on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. Chris Evans and apple pie? SWOON! Great interview, ladies. I’m going to eat a pumpkin muffin in your honor… Okay, I already ate the pumpkin muffin but now I have an excuse. Bwahahahahah!

    Em 😉
    Show me some love!

    • It rocked I agree! WOOHOOO

  2. This is an awesome interview! Thanks for the delicious-looking recipe too, I absolutely love apple pie ?

    • …those question marks showed up as hearts on my keyboard, but I guess WordPress messed them up…….. LOL. Anyway yeah that was my face of approval – hearts as eyes, yes, classic.
      Show me some love!

      • WordPress is EVIL! HEHE it was an AWESOME Interview! And I have almost this exact recipe but I am making this one tomorrow!

  3. Thanks for a recipe which uses maple syrup.

    • Author really outdid herself!

  4. Womans fiction sounds like an interesting genre to try.
    Show me some love!

  5. Using maple syrup…interesting. I will ask Mom to consider adding, if Dad doesn’t object. And thank you for a delightful interview post.

  6. Growing up maple syrup was a special treat. But my husband’s family makes their own so for the last 23 years I’vebeen able to have as much as I wanted, but it still feels decadent everytime I do. Thanks for stopping by everyone.

    • So glad you came over! This was SO fun to do!

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