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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Tour - Kathy Herman and Never Look Back

Today, we have a BONUS spotlight and a BONUS THREE-BOOK GIVEAWAY! That's right. Not just 1, but 3 FREE books will be awarded to those who leave comments and wish to be entered into the drawing.

For those of you looking for my personal Monday blog post, it's below this bonus spotlight. So, scroll down. :)

And now, on with the show:


Award-winning author Kathy Herman has been on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and at Better Books Christian Center in Texas. She has conducted educational seminars at CBA conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served as a judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards, and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market. She is the author of twelve novels, including the bestsellers Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden. Kathy and her husband, Paul, live in Tyler, Texas.

By Kathy Herman


1. This is Book 2 in your Phantom Hollow series, and you’ve got Ivy out of jail ready for a fresh start. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

As you pointed out, Never Look Back is the second book in the series, so much of the inspiration for this story evolved out of what took place in the first book. I'm a seat of the pants writer who doesn't follow an outline. My stories evolve naturally as I get inside the heads of my characters. But before I write each story, I choose a Scripture I can build a story around—something relevant that also lends itself to creating suspense. In this case, Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us," lent itself perfectly to Ivy, who has just been released from jail after serving six months for covering up the strangulation death of a high school classmate ten years earlier. She's paid her debt to society. Kicked her decade-long drug habit. And recommitted her life to Christ. But she hasn't even begun to deal with the judgmental attitudes of other people. Or her own haunting doubts that God no longer holds her past sins against her.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Ivy? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

That's an interesting question. I never consciously create characters based on personal experience or people I know, though I've got fifty-eight years of data stored in my brain that's bound to get recycled through my characters. But given Ivy's key role in this series, you would think that I know someone who has dealt with drug addiction and jail time. I don't! The truth is I'm highly intuitive and seem to have an innate understanding of what makes people "tick." That's proven to be invaluable when it comes to creating believable characters. It wasn't difficult to do research on drug addiction and how it affects the addict. But the part of Ivy I wanted my readers to relate to was her struggle to believe that God no longer held her past sins against her. I think a surprising number of believers struggle with guilt they can't seem to let go of. Ivy's drug addiction and dark history set the stage for what I really wanted my readers to think about: the truth of Psalm 103:12.

As for which traits were Ivy's alone, I'm not sure I'm the best judge of that. I see a little of myself in all my characters, yet none is like me. When I'm writing, I honestly never think about whether a character is like someone I know or have met—or even like me. I just work to make them as genuine as possible. My husband and I fell in love with Montana, the little boy in this story. He's so real to us that we've joked about adopting him as our grandson. And yet he's not like any of our five grandchildren.

3. What themes exist in Never Look Back that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The most obvious theme was Psalm 103:12. It's my desire that this truth will come to life in the heart of every reader, and that not one will be left carrying guilt Jesus died to remove.

Another theme the reader won't miss is the need for reconciliation and forgiveness. Ivy's only sibling, her brother Rusty, won't forgive her for the way she treated her parents when she was a drug addict. Ivy's father is still at odds with the sheriff (his closest friend) for allowing Ivy to be questioned without an attorney present when she wound up in the middle of a murder investigation.

Another theme that was hard to miss was the importance of weighing the advice of those who love you against your own good judgment. Ivy was cautioned by her parents and her best friend not to pursue a relationship with a man who had the same bent for addiction as she. Everything about it felt right. It was a huge step for her to make up her own mind.

A less obvious theme was the foolishness of judging a person by outward appearances. The villain in this story turned out to be a surprise to the characters (and I hope to many readers!) and was certainly not sporting the image of a brutal murderer. Looks can be deceiving.

I can't honestly say that any themes went undeveloped. I always start with the spiritual theme and let the others build around it.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult part to write was actually the revision I made to the villain after my editor suggested he should be less obvious. It's surprising how much of the story is affected by having to make changes to just one key character.

As for my favorite, I find dialog the most fun to write, especially when it creates electrifying tension. What comes out of my characters often surprises me and opens the door to twists and turns I never planned. For some reason, dialog isn't difficult for me, especially when I really get to know my characters. I'm a talker by nature and have no trouble creating natural dialog between my characters.

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

The third and final book in the Phantom Hollow Series, The Grand Scheme, will release in April of 2008. This story deals with envy and is based on James 3:16, "For when you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." It picks up where this one leaves off. I don't want to tell you too much, lest I spoil the surprises, but I will say that it has the most intricately woven suspense plot I've ever written and is a very satisfying ending to the series.

* * * * *

Thank you, Kathy, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


tetewa said...

Sounds great count me in!

Unknown said...

this sounds awesome. count me in.

Cara Putman said...

I keep meaning to pick up her books and give them a try. Please enter me! Thanks!

Unknown said...

Great interview and contest. Please enter me.

sarah.nasal (at) gmail (dot) com

Shauna said...

This book sounds great! Can you read it as a stand alone, or do you need to have read the first to pick up the story?

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Thank you to everyone who posted and entered this contest. Three winners seems like a lot with just 5 entries, but I have 3 books, so 3 winners it must be.

And the first 3 names I drew from the pile are:


Congratulations, ladies. Email me with your mailing address and I'll get your FREE book right out to you.

Come back Wednesday (10/24) to see a new spotlight and find out who won Robin Caroll's FREE book!

Unknown said...

Wow! I won something. I just emailed you my information. Thanks!