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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Spotlight on...The Guy I'm NOT Dating -- Trish Perry

No, this is not a feature on my lack of romance or a love life. :) True as that might be. However, it is a spotlight on this week's special guest. And you'll be hearing from her shortly in a follow-up personal post right after this one.

For now, enjoy this invitation into the exciting world of romantic comedy and chic lit with a fresh voice and engaging characters. Even better, it's her debut novel! If the first chapter is any indication, this book is going to a real winner. And it hits bookstores nationwide today!

Don't forget to post a comment on this post or the one above for a chance at a FREE AUTOGRAPHED BOOK by TRISH.

Now, let's get to the spotlight...

1. First, I love that you wrote in third person instead of first, as they tend to allow a broader scope of exploration inside the heads of your characters.

That third person POV turned out to be a more far-reaching decision than I expected, Tiff! I really only used third because I had a couple of chapters that I wanted to take place independent of Kara, my heroine. So I just wrote the whole shebang in third.

Since then, though, I've had to go back and rewrite the follow-up book (Too Good to Be True), which I originally wrote in first person, just so the two would conform in POV. That's a lot of consequence from a relatively minor decision; I didn't quite think that one through. I'm choosing to consider the rewriting a God thing, so I'm glad to hear you liked the POV!

1a. Now, from the first chapter excerpt, your debut novel features a humorous and somewhat sassy heroine who seems to suffer from an incurable case of foot-in-mouth disease. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Kara? What aspects of Kara became traits that were hers and hers alone?

You're right, Tiff. Kara's plenty confident when helping other people, but she does experience her share of verbal and physical stumbling when she's around our hero, Gabe. I wouldn’t say Kara's self-conscious klutziness is autobiographical, but I do remember, during my single days, worrying that I might do or say something awkward whenever I was around a hot guy. I think many people are like that. Kara misspeaks. My solution was to clam up. These days my hubby would laugh to hear I used to clam up. Ever.

But Kara's very own personal traits? She's a seat-of-the-pants kind of gal, for the most part, usually going with the flow. Honey, that ain't me. And while Kara might have to work at being patient with high-maintenance people, she tends to be successful. Also not one of my strengths. Are you seeing the pattern here? I like Kara's foibles because so many of us can identify with them. But I like her fine qualities as well, because I'd like to share them. That's why she's my hero!

2. What themes exist in in The Guy I'm Not Dating that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The overriding theme is that it's noble to make the choice to lean on the Lord for a specific need, but making the choice and living the choice are two very separate things. Personally, when I was Kara's age, I was an unsaved, clueless young woman. I have deep admiration for anyone who chooses not only purity but the no-dating approach to the opposite sex. I can understand how very difficult it would be to give something like one's love life to God and not try to snatch it back again when the "right" guy came along.

And certainly other themes showed up in the process of writing Kara's story. One of my favorites was the value of developing relationships with members of other generations. Older women traditionally offer worldly wisdom to the younger. But in this story the younger women (who knew the Lord) were able to share spiritual wisdom with their elder friends. No one should discount another for what she might offer.

3. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

The Guy I'm Not Dating involves a road trip. Most of us have heard that quote from Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler: "Life's a journey, not a destination." But if you think about it, most road-trip stories barely touch upon the physical journey part of the story. Why? Because transportation is boring, unless you're hurtling through a subway tunnel plastered across the front of the train, a lá Spiderman or Mission Impossible's Ethan Hunt. So when an author takes on a road trip, she'd better be ready to get everyone in and out of that car as often as possible—to provide plenty of minor destinations along the journey. That's not as easy as it might sound, because you want to avoid the "episode" pitfall of stories that involve travel. You want your characters to carry the story with them; you don't want them forever leaning on the kooky people they meet along the way.

My favorite part (or parts, really) to write was any moment involving Kara's awkwardness. When I read a story or watch a film that makes me cringe in embarrassment for the main character, I care so much about the character's getting past that moment. I feel the same way when I write a character into that kind of emotional corner. Makes me just love her.

4. You mention on your web site that a writing instructor told you to write the books you love to read. Another piece of advice is "write what you know." The setting of The Guy I'm Not Dating begins in northern Virginia, where you live. Where did you get the inspiration for this particular book?

A few years ago my daughter invited me to her church’s annual women’s conference. While there I met one of her friends, who was a relatively new Christian—we’ll call her Jen for this story. Jen and her boyfriend used to live together. But he became a believer, broke off their relationship, and moved out, which devastated and angered Jen. She couldn’t believe he’d leave her “for all those other people.” In time, though, “those other people” were there for Jen and helped her realize that her boyfriend had left for Christ, not for them. She eventually accepted Him, as well, and she and her old lover became platonic friends—no dating, just friendship. In time, he asked her if she’d allow him to court her, with marriage in mind. Now, I’m not an activist about the dating/non-dating issue; my other books are pro-dating. But I was intrigued with the conflict and humor possibilities inherent in a Christian woman’s attempt at not dating. Especially if she made that decision as a promise to God and then met the guy who seemed perfect for her.

5. Describe your writing space and schedule. How many words per day do you write? Do you have a minimum goal you hope to reach before you push away your keyboard?

Imagine the Tasmanian Devil character from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Now imagine what his office would look like. There ya go—you're in my office (without the pot for boiling the bunny; I don't do that).

I don't actually have a per-day word goal. On a practical level, I'm driven by deadline, more than anything else. People who know me well would call me a pretty retentive person. I love to organize and to schedule right down to 15-minute allotments. But all that organizing and scheduling is so enjoyable to me, I'd never get around to actually writing if I allowed myself to plan everything I'd like to plan. So I look at my writing commitments, I look at when they're due, and then I wail away at the keys until they're done. I always make my deadlines, and I break away to spend evenings with my family. I'm just less accessible when I'm under a deadline. And sometimes there are no clean undies left in the house, and I have to schedule just a little laundry break in there.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book, Too Good to Be True, is scheduled for release on March 1, 2007. It's the follow-up book to The Guy I'm Not Dating. This is the kind of series I enjoy. Whereas Kara, our non-dating heroine, is the focus of the first book, her best friend, Ren, is the focus of Too Good to Be True. So there's a little something there for readers who weren't ready to say goodbye to Kara. But for readers who prefer an entirely new story and new heroine, there's that, as well.

Ren's nonbelieving husband (we don't like him) left her before Kara's book began, so now it's the one-year anniversary of Ren's divorce. She had held out hope all along that her husband might come back, so the anniversary is a tough one for her. She has also just received bad news about an adoption proceeding she and her husband had started before the marriage failed. Combine those issues with a few other items in Ren's day, and she ends up fainting, face first, smack in the middle of her local Wal-Mart. Tru is the charming man who comes to her rescue, and any fool can tell he's just too wonderful to dismiss with a simple thank you. The two of them eventually become a very romantic item, but they both have nutty families and messy histories, which threaten a love that seems...well, too good to be true.

These characters are all such fun that I'm working on a third in the set, focusing on two other characters who play pivotal roles in the first two books. We'll see what sparks fly between them!

Thanks, Trish, for being in the spotlight. Hope everyone enjoyed the interview.


Tina Helmuth said...

I love the chance to broaden my reading horizon and be introduced to new writers. Thanks.

Marion Kelley Bullock said...

I really enjoyed the interview. I'm anxious to get Trish's book and delve into her world.

Jennifer Y. said...

Sounds like a great book! Great interview! I would love to read this book!

Anonymous said...

This book sounds great! Count me in.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Trish, I am so excited by your book! It sounds like a great story with tons of comedic moments! I love stories that make me laugh! I'm looking forward to reading it....and the others that will come out next year!


Anonymous said...

Just popping in again to say thanks to everyone for commenting on my interview with Tiff. I hope you'll all give me your feedback when you read the book.

Thanks again, Tiff, for the interview.

And I can't remember if we left a contact, Tiff, but here's one way to reach me: via


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful contest. I'd love to win Kiss the Bride. Thank you for having this great oppurtunity.

Unknown said...

The guy I'm not dating is full of humor and entrique. I've got two chapters left until I finish the book and I've hardly been able to keep my hands off of it.

Being a single woman, it has allowed me insight into some of my personal behaviors as well as allowing me to embrace the joy and surrender of a life dependent upon God in all circumstances. I look forward to reading "Too Good To be True"