Friday, March 23, 2007

Trish Perry Interview and More!

It's Too Good to Be True! Author Trish Perry has graciously agreed to an interview, but first, here's a synopsis of her latest book:

Your classic romantic heroine swoons after meeting Prince Charming in, say, an enchanted forest. But Rennie Young would never have met the gallant Truman Sayers if she hadn’t fainted immediately beforehand—in the boys’ sportswear department of her local Wal-Mart.

Ren, a 20-something elementary schoolteacher, has reluctantly accepted that her husband—who divorced her over a year ago—is not coming back. Tru Sayers, a handsome young labor-and-delivery nurse, seems like a gift from God. Ren’s friends and Tru’s siblings are supportive and excited about the match. But there are . . . complications.

Ren’s control-freak mother is desperate to match her daughter up with “more suitable” men. Tru’s mother wants Tru to remain a bachelor—and at her beck and call—forever. Is it possible to honor your parents while on the verge of killing them?

And now, the interview!

Give me a quick glimpse of your writing journey.

Katie, while I worked on my Psychology degree, I found I loved doing the homework for my English classes, especially Composition. My professors gave me wonderful encouragement about my writing. By the time I was able to take Creative Writing classes, I had read countless books and magazines on the craft of writing, and I started working on my first novel (which is still unpublished). When the time came for me to go to grad school for Psychology, I was blessed enough to be able to take a few years off to write more seriously. I’ve never gone back to the Psychology; writing is definitely my love.

In the meantime I dabbled in a number of other writing endeavors, getting my feet wet (and a few things published). I joined a local writers’ group (Capital Christian Writers) and learned from other members and guest speakers. I entered contests, dealt with rejection, and wrote enough stories, poems, and essays to eke out a few gems from the mass of stinkers.

I wrote and submitted, wrote and submitted, and halfway into my second novel, I was blessed in finding my agent. She worked on my behalf until she found a home for my second and third novels with Harvest House. So my journey began around 1994, and I received my first contract in 2005.

My writing obstacle is usually just life. Life gets in the way. You know how much self-discipline is required for the professional writer. Self-discipline is not one of my greater strengths. And sometimes my family has a difficult time seeing my writing as something they shouldn’t interrupt, except in dire emergencies. If I were sitting here with a scalpel in my hand and a patient on a gurney, I’d be less likely to be interrupted. But writing simply doesn’t look intense until that moment I’ve read the same line ten times and someone walks in yet again, asking where the butter is or whether I remembered to feed the fish. At that point my eyes take on that intense, crazed-writer’s glare, and my family members run like Argonauts fleeing Medusa.

What is the premise of Too Good to Be True? How does it differ from The Guy I'm Not Dating?

Too Good to Be True centers on Ren Young, a twenty-something elementary schoolteacher whose nonbelieving husband divorced her a year ago and recently contacted the adoption agency through which they planned to adopt, telling them to stop the process now that he and Ren were divorced. Under much emotional stress, Ren passes out in the middle of the boys’ department at her local Wal-Mart. She is "rescued" by the handsome Tru Sayers, a labor-and-delivery nurse who sweeps her off her feet (not that she was standing on them when he showed up). Too Good to Be True is the story of their romance and Ren’s internal debate about stepping back into the dating world.

Both Ren and Tru have formidable mothers with agendas of their own, as well as plenty of interesting siblings and friends. Family dynamics play a major role in this love story, as Ren struggles with her earthly relationships, her relationship with the Lord, and with her questions about whether this new man is too good to be true.

Too Good to Be True differs from The Guy I’m Not Dating in a number of ways, the most prominent of which is the fact that Ren hasn’t made a decision against dating, as Kara Richardson did in The Guy I’m Not Dating. But Ren is intimidated by the idea of trusting another man with her heart. The books share a number of the same characters: Ren and Kara are best friends, so some of Kara’s story continues in Too Good to Be True. And some of the same characters are featured in both stories. Ren’s family dynamic is less healthy than Kara’s, and, while that unhealthy dynamic is a total pain in the patootie for Ren, it’s mighty fun for us to read about.

What genres do you enjoy reading? How do you decide which novels to read?

I read a wide variety of genres, and I read both Christian and secular books. I don’t tend to read many mysteries or thrillers these days, but I bounce back and forth from serious to humorous, from literary to bestseller, from light to intense. Sometimes I read chick lit to get myself into a good frame of mind for writing chick lit. Or I’ll read a "British book" to get a feel for the lingo and British style of speech prior to writing a book or scene involving British characters. But usually I decide what to read based upon what I’ve just finished. If I’ve just read a literary character study set in Viet Nam in the Sixties, chances are I’ll choose something breezy and funny, set in the US or England.

I hear about most of the Christian fiction I choose through word of mouth. And lately I’ve served as a possible endorser for several new novels, so I spend time reading Christian novels before they’re released. That’s fun. I learn about most of the secular books I choose through The Washington Post Book World and other book reviews I come across (okay, I’ll admit it; I read People magazine’s reviews, too). I often follow up the critics’ reviews by reading what Amazon readers say about books. That’s why I love when readers post comments (the good ones, anyway) about my books on Amazon and and other book sites. I think plenty of people base their decisions on those reader comments.

What is the best advice you've received as a writer?

Probably the best advice is also the most common: write every day. I’d like to say I’m there, and I do write something every day. But I haven’t quite achieved the pace I’m striving for. When writing every day, you think differently, you view the world differently (everything is fodder), and you simply become more poetic, more creative, and more disciplined. Discipline. Ugh, there’s that ugly word again.

What is your favorite way to promote your novels?

Being the promotion wimp I am, I’ll have to get back to you on that one, Katie! Like many new authors, I’m not keen on tooting my own horn. I know I need to get over that, but promotion goes against my grain. So my most active efforts at promotion are generally tied to events, like book signings, book releases, and speaking engagements. I haven’t had many of those events happen yet, to be honest. But when they do, I have something to announce beyond the fact that I have a book I hope you’ll buy.

Added Bonus - a Waterfall Books review of The Guy I'm Not Dating!

Kara Richardson has stopped doing that dating thing, but what is she supposed to do when a gorgeous, Christian guy shows up in town and seems interested in her? Fortunately, her friends, a trio of teens, and a road trip to pick up an obscure relative seem to all be conspiring to let her get to know Gabe better.

I first was interested in this novel because, like the protagonist, I have decided not to pursue dating. The teenager-like awkwardness and raving over looks in the first few chapters almost made me stop reading, and the early POV change to Kara's mother in Florida made it a little harder to connect to the main character. But by the time Gabe's siblings arrived, I was loving the book and hated to put it down. The combination of matchmaking efforts by well-intentioned friends, a smart little sister, and an eccentric elderly aunt make the book hilarious. Add a slinky "villainess" you love to hate, a few wacky adventures, and some bacon and mayo to go, and you're ready for a lighthearted read with a strong spiritual core. I give this a Waterfall Books rating of Splash.


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