Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Stuck in the Middle
Revell (February 1, 2008)
by Virginia Smith
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle (Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.
Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.
That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.
Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.
"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read." ~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets
"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith." ~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries
My publisher and I are conducting a contest to promote Stuck in the Middle. I'm giving away a $500 shopping spree on March 31st. All you have to do is subscribe to my bi-monthly eNewsletter to be entered into the drawing. And if you refer someone, you can get more entries. Just tell that person to state your name as the referral when they subscribe. Details are here: www.virginiasmith.org/contest.html
1. This is book 1 in your new Sister-to-Sister series. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
The initial thread of inspiration for Stuck in the Middle came during a family gathering at my mom's house. My sisters and I are very close, but they have so much in common with each other that I sometimes feel left out. They have children the same age, while I had mine ten years before. They're both very much into dramatic arts – they're actresses, directors, and choreographers – while I have never set foot on a stage. They're both really bubbly and outgoing and energetic. I'm by far the quietest person in my family (which some find hard to believe!) So during this gathering, my sisters were holding court in their usual energetic, boisterous way, and I found myself sinking quietly into the background, just watching. I know they love me as deeply as I love them, every bit as much as they love each other. It's just a difference in our personalities, but at times I feel a little left out.
So I decided to translate those feelings into a story. But I wanted to reflect all my feelings about my sisters – the deep love we have for each other, the sense of belonging, the certainty of acceptance no matter what. All those things come from sharing a lifetime of struggles and joys and tears and laughter. My relationship with my sisters is one of the most precious blessings God has given me. They've been with me through. . . well, everything! I wanted to write a book that reflects how important sisters can be to each other.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Allie and Tori and Joan? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
The main points of this book all come from my own experiences. Joan and her sisters are twenty-something adults who are experiencing the ripple effect of their parents' divorce when they were young. My parents divorced when I was nine years old, and I have struggled to overcome the effects of that divorce as I tried to establish lasting relationships as an adult. In Stuck in the Middle, Joan's father deserted after the divorce was final, so she's also trying to work through the impact of those feelings of desertion. Though I still did have contact with my father after my parents' divorce, it was sporadic, and I felt emotionally deserted.
But as you are well aware, fiction takes on a life of its own. I became a Christian when I was twelve, but Joan never had a real relationship with her heavenly Father – which, of course, is an important part of the book! Plus, Joan isn't close to her mother, while my mom and I are extremely close. Joan falls for a gorgeous doctor, which I've never done. And I have never in my life paid $250 for a pair of jeans!
3. What themes exist in Stuck in the Middle that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
The major theme in Stuck in the Middle is God's desire to be a real Father to us. He's not just 'out there' somewhere, loving us from afar. He's right here with us every single moment of every day, loving us intimately and intensely.
The thing that developed as I wrote isn't a theme per se, but it supported the central theme. God will go to great lengths to prove His love for us, even miraculous lengths. One of my favorite scenes is when God sends a very powerful and clear message to Joan through her sister Tori in a simple action. I get chills every time I read that part!
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
The most difficult part for me was the medical detail I needed to include to make the hero believable. Ken is an emergency room doctor, and I don't know the first thing about ER treatment! But thank goodness for ACFW, where I found help from Ronda Wells M.D. and Crystal Laine Miller. They served as my subject matter experts for medical treatments, and also for the process of becoming a doctor.
My favorite part was a scene that takes place in a contemporary mega-church. Joan has been raised in a conservative, ritualistic church and ventures into a worship service like she's never seen before. I had a terrific time writing her reactions to the service. Like when she thinks, "If anybody does anything weird, like drop to the floor and roll, I'm outta here!" She had no idea what to expect, and thought somebody might even pull out a box of snakes or something. It made me laugh out loud as I wrote. And then, a missionary lady stands up in the service and talks about God's miracles on the mission field, and I got goose bumps right along with Joan. When I do readings from this book, that's the part I read. I just love it!
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
The next Sister-to-Sister book, Age before Beauty, comes out in February of 2009. But I have two being released before then. Sincerely, Mayla is the sequel to my debut novel, Just As I Am, and follows my wacky heroine as she faces some unpleasant facts about her family and herself. Namely, that being a control freak is an inherited trait. It's an edgy book, which is appropriate since Mayla is such an edgy character, and since her friends are pretty 'out there.' This book answers the question so many readers have e-mailed and written to ask me: "What happens between Mayla and Pastor Paul?" The wait to find out is over – Sincerely, Mayla comes out in March.
And A Taste of Murder is a romantic suspense novel being released in October from Steeple Hill. In that one, a classical violinist goes to a barbeque festival in Kentucky, and when she checks into the hotel she finds a body in her bathtub covered in barbeque sauce. (Yes, I did say it's suspense, but I had to put something wacky in there, too!) This is the first of a 3-book series, so I'm excited about it.
Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog! I really appreciate the opportunity!
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Thank YOU, Ginny, for the bonus interview and the spotlight. :)
Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book.
And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the 'email follow-up comments' box when you leave a comment and fill in your email address there if it isn't already showing. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.
This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.
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