For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Penny Frost McGinnis. She pens romance with a dash of mystery and the promise of hope. Her life’s goal is to encourage and uplift through her writing.

Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!

Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.

I love lighthouses and visit Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie with my husband, any time we can.

Can you tell us about your latest novel?

Home Away From Home 

Will Marigold and Johnny embrace love late in life?

When Marigold Hayes turned fourteen, her mother died, and her father went missing. For forty years, she has searched for her dad and lived a quiet life on Abbott Island, until she met Johnny. As her love for Johnny grows, her sorrow from the relentless search for her father breaks her heart. She begs God to help her move forward with her life before she has no love left to give. Then three mysterious strangers show up who could change her life.

Johnny Papadakis moved to Abbott Island ten years ago. His ex-wife had pushed him away and discouraged him from having a relationship with their daughter. After years of hard work, his restaurant flourishes, so does his relationship with Marigold. As he seeks Marigold’s hand in marriage, his daughter shows up on his doorstep, looking for a place to call home. 

Can Marigold and Johnny settle the past and move toward the promise of a blessed future?

Why did you choose to write a story set on Abbott Island, a town inspired by Kelleys Island, Ohio?

When my husband and I visited Kelleys Island, I fell in love with the beautiful nature on the island and the laid-back atmosphere. There was no hurry and bustle. On one of our visits I’d had the idea for book #1 in the Abbott Island series and it clicked that I should set the book there.

Can you tell us more about Kelley’s Island? What is the same/different from Abbot Island?

In using a real island as inspiration, I had to be careful to honor the original place. Nothing I wrote should mar Kelleys Island. I changed the name of the island, added new businesses, renamed current businesses, kept a few of the prominent ones, and referred to a few I left unnamed. I incorporated events and activities from the real island calendar for authenticity and included a lot of the natural setting.

Have you lived in or visited Kelleys Island? What research was required to set a book there?

I have visited several times. Along with talking to locals and enjoying the island food and atmosphere, I read a book written about year-round island life on Kelleys Island, that was insightful. I also read the history of the island for a better understanding of how it evolved into what it is today.

Your hero owns a Greek restaurant. What was the most interesting piece of information you discovered while researching for this detail?

I enjoyed researching the recipes. One of the times we visited Kelleys Island the restaurant we stopped at had a few Greek items on their menu. I thought it would be fun to make Johnny a chef with Greek ancestry who created these Greek comfort foods.

Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?

I do use Google to get my search started sometimes. The Greek recipes were readily available, and I had a friend who visited Greece and she gave me some information, like women can’t wear high heels around some of the artifacts, for fear the heels would damage them. Researching the parts about a missing person and the reasons they might not be found took some digging. I read a book and several articles to find what I needed. My favorite resource is the library. I found some great books and articles there.

What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?

Some of the information I found surrounding why a person could be missing for years and not found. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I found it quite interesting.

Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?

I am beginning research for book #3 in The Abbott Island series. Each of the three books focuses on one woman on the Island and of course a love interest. Book #1 is Sadie’s story, book #2 is Marigold’s story, and book #3 is Lucy’s story. Book 3 may involve a treasure hunt and a tiny house.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

I’d love for readers to know how much I appreciate them. So many wonderful people have read book #1 in the series. I hope readers will enjoy book #2 Home Away From Home.

The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Penny, thank you for joining us today!

If readers would like to purchase a copy of Home Away From Home where might they be able to do so?

Amazon, Mt. Zion Ridge Press, and other retail sites.

If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?

Website/Blog | Facebook Author Page | BookBub | Goodreads

Over Sunday Dinner next week, historical romance author Crystal Caudill will be joining us. See you then!