Thursday, September 29, 2022

Q&A with Christine Nolfi




Christine Nolfi is the author of the new novel A Brighter Flame. Her many other books include The Passing Storm. She lives in South Carolina.


Q: What inspired you to write A Brighter Flame?


A: For weeks a question kept popping into my head. What would happen if estranged sisters—unexpectedly living under the same roof—were forced to reexamine their shared past?


A Brighter Flame explores the unreliability of memories as Vale and Blythe examine the secrets that tore their family apart. In many ways, they’re both victims of a past hidden since they were children. Together they forge a surprising path forward. I hope readers will be surprised—and delighted—by the choices they make to heal their relationship.


Q: How did you create your characters Vale and Blythe?


A: In all the novels I’ve written, the key players appear fully formed before I nail down the plot. I have four sisters and three daughters, and for some time now I’ve wanted to write a sisters’ story.


Although Vale and Blythe weren’t directly inspired by personal experience, they were colored by past interactions within my family. There’s something deliciously competitive about sisters. At the same time, there are few relationships as close and devoted.


Our closest relationships are often the most nuanced, frustrating, mysterious—pick your poison. And finding solutions for past grievances (whether real or imagined) takes effort. A Brighter Flame also required medical research and related interviews that were quite fascinating. I hope the story will have book clubs debating the novel’s secrets long into the night.

Q: The author Kerry Anne King said of the book, “In this layered family drama, Nolfi explores the unreliability of memories and how perceptions of past events impact the present.” What do you think of that description, and what role do you see memory playing in the novel?


A: Kerry’s description captures the essence of A Brighter Flame. The memories of childhood carried by Vale and Blythe ignite the story and highlight the reasons why they’ve never been close. Their memories are utterly divergent.


As the story progresses, they must discover how past events affected each other. And once they begin to compare those memories, they both realize there were undercurrents in their childhood that they were both unaware of.


Coming to grips with those undercurrents—and learning how to forgive the hurts of the past—made for some very poignant scenes that will carry readers through the gamut of emotions.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make changes along the way?


A: Before writing any manuscript, I have a general idea of the book’s pivotal scenes including the ending. However, I never attempt to flesh out those scenes during the outlining stage. Once I begin writing and the characters lead me through the story, I know they’ll guide me in how to craft those scenes. It’s a nearly magical process I’ve learned to trust.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My current WIP is a bit darker than A Brighter Flame, with a cast of complicated and deceptive characters. The book will feature a dual timeline and lots of surprising twists. It’s a story with similar drama and tension as my 2021 bestseller, The Passing Storm.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love hearing from readers! They can find me at:


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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