And now for spotlight #2.
Award-winning novelist Trish Perry is the author of the chick lit books, The Guy I’m Not Dating (Harvest House 2006) and Too Good to Be True (Harvest House 2007). She is the editor of Ink and the Spirit, the quarterly newsletter of the Capital Christian Writers organization in the Washington metropolitan area. Before her novels, Perry published numerous short stories in Pockets children’s magazine. Her personal essays have been published in the Christmas book, All is Calm, All is Bright (Baker/Revell); the pregnancy/childbirth book, The Wish, the Wait, the Wonder (Harper Collins); The Washington Post On-line; and the magazines, The Washington Post Magazine, Whispers from Heaven, and The Sun. She has written devotionals for Keys for Kids and The One Year Book of Devotions for Girls 2 (Tyndale). Her poetry has been published in The War Cry magazine.
A summa cum laude graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, Perry holds a B.A. in Psychology. While studying at Mason, she served as President of Psi Chi, the honor society for Psychology majors. She was a stockbroker in the 1980s, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington, D.C. law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Capital Christian Writers organization, and she is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Perry has served as Literary Judge in the Reflections Creative Writing competition for Loudoun County public schools.
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Rennie Young is finding out that love and life often unfold in surprising ways.
Fairy-tale princesses usually awaken to the kiss of their handsome prince...not to his holding their wrists and counting their heartbeats. But that's exactly how Rennie meets Truman Sayers, an attractive man who comes to her assistance after she faints in the boys' department at Wal-Mart.
He releases her wrist and looks into her eyes. "Your pulse is racing."
Tru Sayers, a compassionate labor-and-delivery nurse, seems like a gift from God. But remembrances of love gone bad and a still-mending heart cause Ren to question whether she can trust this path and God.
This clever, romantic, and thoughtful novel demonstrates that, with God's guidance, a happy life is definitely possible after heartbreak—even when it seems too good to be true.
1. Book two is here, and a seemingly fantastic follow-up to your big success, The Guy I'm Not Dating, from last year. This one addresses a topic that many people think isn't possible -- or at least is rare -- in regard to romance. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
Hmm, this topic may be so rare, even I don't know what it is. I'm not sure if you're referring to the topic of finding "true love" the second time around, or whether you mean finding the perfect man. I'll assume we all know there's only one perfect Man out there (and He's found by all who seek Him).
So I'll focus on the theme of Too Good to Be True, that it is possible to find love after the heartbreak of divorce. Most people feel such extreme loss when deserted by their spouse—as is Ren, our heroine—that they can't imagine ever trusting love again. I didn't set out to write a book about moving on after divorce. Honestly, I think I saw a news story about a failed adoption, and I felt such heartache for the woman who suddenly learned she wasn't going to become a mother, after all. That was the first facet of this story. And I wanted my heroine to be young, funny, lovely, but vulnerable. I wanted her to experience the possibility of infertility and the issue of adoption, so she had to be married.
Now, not to suggest that romance within marriage is impossible, but this is chic lit we're talking here. I wanted the book to offer that wonderful uncertainty about whether a particular, apparently "perfect" man is The One. So I created Ren as an unwilling divorcée, whose nonbelieving husband is clearly not open to reconciliation. And Tru, who is way romantic, comes along a year after Ren's divorce.
Many of Tru's characteristics signal "perfect" to Ren and her friends—he's Christian, gorgeous, single, loves kids (he's a labor-and-delivery nurse, for goodness' sake!). But there are other factors in this man's life, and in Ren's, which complicate the romance. Through Tru, friends, siblings, and much-needed guidance from God, Ren learns about acceptance, trust, humble faith, and the Origin of a love that's too good to be true.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Rennie and Truman? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Unfortunately, I was able to inform Rennie's character as a divorcée, having personally experienced that sad event more than 26 years ago. I wasn't a believer then, and my marriage was an abusive one, but I didn't want Ren to have to deal with that. There were other painful aspects of my marriage which Ren does experience, but I'll leave that for readers to discover.
I know I'm not making this book sound like chic lit. But that's another thing I was able to share with Ren, the ability to laugh and find humor in life, regardless of how sad it can get sometimes. And Ren experiences many amusing developments in this story, whether she wants to or not.
Now, Tru? He's just a thoroughly hot number, and he's not modeled on anyone I know, except perhaps in my dreams. But he's half Latino, and my own past exposed me to some charming aspects of the classic Latino culture which I wanted to share.
Everything else is pure fiction, all Ren and Tru's story, unfolding fantastically before my eyes with such fun I hated to leave them at night to go to sleep.
3. What themes exist in Too Good to Be True that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
I mentioned the main theme, above, but yes, oodles of other themes presented themselves while the book progressed. Here are a few:
Without God's eternal vision, we struggle to see how some events could be His best for us. Consequently we get in His way as often as humanly possible. It's far better to discuss sensitive issues than it is to keep quiet and make assumptions. Yet we dance around the elephant in the middle of the room and act surprised when we step in icky stuff.
True friendship rocks. There are healthy ways for adult children to behave with controlling parents. Entire industries have been built around our inability to grasp this concept.
Sometimes people use "neediness" to control others. As Christians we often rescue people who could use a good self-induced dip in the old dunk tank.
And my favorite: It is possible to respect your parents, even when you're on the verge of killing them.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
I'd have to say that the "making up" parts, after arguments, were the hardest parts for me to write. Even in real life, simply spouting off an "I'm sorry" just doesn't carry a lot of weight for me. The coinciding behavior and the very air of the person who apologizes is what indicates that person's true feeling. So the coming back together of characters, after conflict, was important to me. It needed to feel genuine if it was supposed to be. It needed to feel suspect if it was meant to express mere appeasement or manipulation.
The comical moments were my favorite to write. Always are. I think laughing is my favorite thing to do. When I get to sit here and work my characters into funny situations or have them say humorous things to each other, I'm in Heaven. Even some of the arguments are funny, even though we don't enjoy them in real life.
5. What is next in line for you? Anything new in the genre department, or are you going to stick with chic lit?
I was just chatting about that with my editor last week. I've written the beginning of a third novel in this series. But I may set that aside for a while to work on something else, which is just at the vapor stage of existence at this moment. Within Too Good to Be True, a fictitious book title is mentioned. We're actually considering my writing that book, which would be chic lit. I like the inside-joke nature of that idea.
Should there be a wild clambering for the third book in my current series, I'm sure I'll go back to work on that. The third book is tentatively titled, 'Til Depth Do Us Part, and it features Jeremy Beckett, for those who know my characters. Everyone loves Jeremy.
And we're considering what my editor called an "anticipation series," a la Mindy Starns Clark's Million Dollar Mysteries series and Linda Chaikin's A Day to Remember series. Mindy's titles all involve well-known money phrases, like A Penny for Your Thoughts and Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels, with each title moving up to the next coin. Each of Linda's titles are based upon the Mother Goose rhyme which reads, "Monday's child is fair of face; Tuesday's child is full of grace," etc., with each title moving sequentially through the poem. So if any of you readers have theme ideas for such a series for me, I'd love to hear them! (trish at trishperrybooks.com) I'll mention you in my books' acknowledgments, if you ignite a spark!
Thanks, Tiff, for this interview!
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Thank *you*, Trish, for joining us here. Everyone, don't forget to leave your comments or questions or ideas. Trish will be stopping by to respond. And as always, a drawing will take place next week for the winner of Trish's newest book.