Here we are at the last Wednesday in October. Today I'd like to introduce you to Bethany Turner. Welcome, Bethany. How did you develop a love of story?
Honestly, I think it began with Beverly Cleary, when I was very young. I was into the Ramona books more than anything else, but I loved the other stories, too. But then you get Dear Mr. Henshaw. That book was so bold, and ahead of its time. It grew from there. My mom would “make me” watch classic movies. My family watched television together. Story was always everywhere. And at a certain point, when you fill your life with story, you begin to see the story which always exists in life.
Ooh. I like that. Very well said. What is your 'how I got published' story?
In April of 2014, my husband and I became confident that God was calling me to leave my full-time, long-term career in banking. That meant leaving behind a large percentage of our family’s income, not to mention insurance and other benefits. But we knew it was what I needed to do, though we didn’t have any idea why! Within a couple of months after I left banking, I had written the first draft of what is now The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. I submitted it to Writer’s Edge, which is a manuscript submission service. Thirteen days after I was added to Writer’s Edge’s list, I was contacted by Revell. I signed my contract with Revell in August of 2015. I still don’t know God’s long-term plan, but I have absolutely no doubt that He’s had a plan since the very beginning.
Wow! Definitely a God thing. What do you want readers to come away with after reading your books?
Some of it just comes down to entertainment. I want them to laugh and maybe cry some, and I definitely want them to swoon. But I also want them to come away with the knowledge that it’s okay to have some difficult or unexpected conversations — with God and with other people. I want them to know that becoming a Christian isn’t a cure all, but it’s the best and most important decision in life. And I want them to know that you can fall in love with someone you are attracted to, and still conduct your relationship in a way that honors God. It probably won’t be easy, and it will most likely require a lot of frank conversations (with God and each other) and fiercely-guarded boundaries. But it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Those are some great take-aways. Tell us about your new book.
Sarah Hollenbeck (under her pen name, Raine de Bourgh) is an extremely successful author of steamy romance novels. Extremely successful. Bestseller lists, huge advances, Tonight Show appearances, and talk of film adaptations. And in the midst of all that fame and success, she becomes a Christian. She then has to figure out how to reconcile her public image (not to mention her publishing contract) when she no longer wants to write that type of story. Romantic relationships are bound to be complicated too, of course — particularly since the guy she is interested in dating is her new pastor.
Chuckle. Sounds intriguing. What is your passion as a writer?
Not shying away from the topics and issues that maybe aren’t being addressed. I’m not talking about shock value, or even, “Hey, let’s do something different.” I’m talking about the things that we all deal with in life, but for some reason pretend don’t exist in fiction. I know that’s a broad generalization, and that some books do address those topics. And I also know that not every book should address those topics. But my passion is addressing some of those issues in my specific way. For this season in life, my specific way seems to be romantic comedy!
Romantic comedies sound like fun. What is your most difficult writing challenge?
Balance. It’s usually one extreme or the other for me. Either I’m so busy (or at least unmotivated) that I can’t find time to focus on writing, or I’m so focused on writing that I risk neglecting everything else in my life. That’s my continual challenge, and something at which I am always striving to improve. Actually, if I’m being honest, that is a challenge for me in every area of my life. Not just writing. Thankfully I have people in my life who hold me accountable, and who know me well enough to say, “You need to take a break,” or “Why aren’t you writing?” Or, “Will watching that Colin Firth movie really help you get that book written?” And, of course, the answer to that one is always, “Yes!” :)
I can identify with you. BTW, I ordered your book and look forward to reading it. Thanks for being with us here today.