My guest today is Christina Berry, author of The Familiar Stranger. Christina's debut novel is available now.
Christina, tell us about The Familiar Stranger.
The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.
How did you come up with the story?
In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger. It will be interesting to see if readers can figure out which stories inspired the book.
Wow, I'll have to use a cliche here and say truth is definitely stranger than fiction. What an interesting way to find a story from the news. I love it when that happens.
What takeaway value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?
If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.
Writing is such hard work, especially with other priorities. What challenges do you face with your writing? What comes easy to you?
As a single mother of young children, and currently serving as a foster parent, time is my biggest challenge. I have to make sure my family knows they come first, but to balance that with treating writing as a career.
Strength-wise, while the idea of writing or editing may seem hard, I usually get quite a lot done in a short amount of time once I start. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. That applies to our writing. A little momentum can go a long way!
Since we're talking about time management, what would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
I would be reading the way I did years ago. Book after beautiful book. I’ve found budgeting time to write, blog, and market leaves very little time for pleasure reading. I also enjoy playing simple songs from musicals like Oklahoma or Sound of Music on the piano. Maybe I’d even sit down with my kids and squish Play-Doh with them now and again.
Many times our life can influence our books. What themes do you like to write about?
The recent changes in my life—a divorce, working part-time outside the home, putting my home up for sale, moving toward adoption with a foster child—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.
What are you currently writing?
I’m about 1/5 of the way through my next manuscript, Unafraid, a story about a girl’s kidnapping, and how her life unfolds because of the trauma. One of my characters is a PI, so I’m having loads of fun with the research.
The humor Sherrie Ashcraft (my sometime co-author and always mother) and I display in our infrequent, humorous newsletters--sign up at www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx--has garnered the attention of an editor. You just might see a funny, non-fiction cooperative work from the Ashberry Ladies at some point in time. Plus, I have a funky TV-based devotional a house is interested in … Busy, busy, busy!
Oh, Christina, I certainly can relate to a full schedule. Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to seeing more of your books on the shelf.
As a single mom and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time out of her busy schedule to write about the heart and soul of life. She lives with her family in rural Oregon. The Familiar Stranger is her debut novel. Get to know her better at http://www.christinaberry.net/.
And on October 31, Christina will be giving away 10 copies of The Familiar Stranger at the conclusion of her blog tour. So leave a comment to be entered in that drawing! Thanks for stopping by, everyone!