Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Author Interview - Christina Berry

1. Welcome to Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Christina. To open our discussion, please tell us about your story.

The Familiar Stranger is about a couple going through a 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.

2. Some Christian writers argue that fiction is first and foremost entertainment and decry any "agenda driven" stories. What's your opinion on the subject?

I say we're all writing with an agenda, whether we recognize it or not. Maybe it's to show what a godly romance looks like or to draw attention to child abuse, maybe to attempt to understand why people are capable of such evil. I felt called to share what God has taught me about forgiveness. That is definitely my agenda, which correlates with my tagline, "Live transparently -- Forgive extravagantly." 3. How do you manage wearing so many hats: mother, teacher, author, foster mother?

As a mother of young children (2, 8, & 10), and currently serving as a foster mother, 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. Summer is easier because it tends to be a dry time for substitute teaching. My recently- launched editing business has consumed all of my writing hours for a month and a half. Time for me to set better boundaries so I can progress in my writing as well.

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. My pastor reminded me in a sermon that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. That applies to our writing. A little momentum can go a long way!

4. Where are you in the process right now?

I recently turned in my dedication, acknowledgments, and discussion questions. The manuscript has also been sent to a number of my mentors, who've agreed to read it for endorsement.

As writers, I think we dream about our dedications for years. I've pondered this particular book's dedication for months. And yet, when I wrote it on paper, it looked like mere words. Hopefully, I was able to capture some emotion.

With the acknowledgments, I'm still terrified I missed someone. In fact, I was all set to send it to Moody when I realized I'd left my wonderful agents off the list! I probably won't rest easy until the book has been out for a few months and no one asks why I left them out.

Oh, the release date might be helpful. LOL! September 1, 2009! Though I've heard rumors that Moody's books tend to release a few days early. You can pre-order Familiar Stranger at Amazon or Christianbook.

Thanks, Christina, for a great interview. I'm looking forward to reading Familiar Stranger.

18 comments:

Christina Berry said...

Susan, thanks for highlighting the book!

I'm really interested to see what your blog readers think about the agenda vs. entertainment issue.

(If any of you want to follow my journey, come sign up for the infrequent, humorous newsletter at www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx)

Sorry, Susan, couldn't resist! ;-)

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow! Sept. 1 will soon be here! I didn't realize Christina's book was releasing so soon! Congrats and how exciting!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Thanks for sharing. Great interview! Looking forward to the book.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

You're welcome. Have a great day!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Good Morning, Christina -

Thank you for doing the interview. It's always a joy to work with you.

I'd also like to see some discussion on the agenda vs. entertainment issue.

No problem about the newsletter plug. I wanted to include it in the interview, but it slipped my mind. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

Yes, September is around the corner. I'll have to mark the release date on my calendar.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Cindy said...

Susan, thanks for posting the interview. And thanks Christina for sharing some about your book and your life.

That was an interesting way to start off, talking about agenda vs. entertainment. I love that forgiveness is your agenda in this and never thought to really try to pinpoint my own agenda in writing further than the reason I was writing in the first place. But I suppose it can change with every book.

I think a good book does both, accomplishes an "agenda" but entertains. By entertains, I mean moving someone. Making them laugh or cry--making them pause at the end and appreciate what they've just read.

Thanks again!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

You bring up a good point: It's not either agenda or entertainment. It's both.

I think the objection to agendas has more to do with the manner in which it's done. If it's a natural part of the story, the author is not staring from the pages at the reader and pointing a finger.

Thanks for joining the discussion.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Great interview, and interesting question about agenda vs entertainment.
When you say agenda, do you mean theme? Because I think every work, regardless of genre, may have a certain theme to it, with or without the author intending it too. But agenda to me means purpose, as though the author is writing that particular story and those particular characters for an intended purpose, to drive some point home, maybe.
For me, agenda has a negative connotation. And it seems more suited for non-fiction.
But there are plenty of books that are good with agendas. Like Francine River's The Atonement Child. That book clearly had an agenda of exposing how abortion affects families, but she also wrote it in such a strong way that the agenda didn't take from the writing, or the entertainment.
I liked what Susan said too.

How's this for a long opinion. LOL Hopefully it's coherent.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Defining our terms is important. Whether we're stressing forgiveness or speaking out against some evil through our stories, I'd call that an agenda.

You're right when you say agenda has a negative connotation, but it means a list of things you want to cover in a meeting or get done. In the context of our discussion, we're writing to bring out a point, express a conviction, and influence others through story. Jesus did it all the time.

I like your word, "purpose," much better. There are very few things written in either the general or Christian market that don't have an aim or goal. Even the Bible has a definite purpose: to reveal God and His plan for all of creation.

Entertainment is rarely without a purpose or agenda. It can promote a particular cause, lifestyle, or inspire.

Space does not permit, but I hope this clarifies what I mean.

Everyone -

Feel free to jump into the fray even if you've already commented.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Terri Tiffany said...

Great interview. I always enjoy reading them when they come across real and share.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Thanks for the compliment. I try to avoid the same ol', same ol'.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sue Dent said...

I write for entertainment period with no agenda or theme whatsoever and have garnished many readers from the very targeted CBA and ECPA market. I'm happy to have these readers enjoy my work as I am a Christian as well. Writers successfully write every day strictly for entertainment with their world experiences and even their faith shaping their words. That doesn't make it an agenda IMO. :) Of course, that is just an opinion.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sue -

Welcome to my blog! Thanks for weighing in on agenda vs. entertainment.

Everyone has an aim or purpose in their writing. You want to give people a pleasurable reading experience.

One of the other commenters talked about agenda having a negative connotation. Perhaps the difference between agenda-driven fiction and strictly entertainment fiction is the writer goes into the former with a definite theme, while the other does not.

Any more ideas out there?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Christina Berry said...

I don't know how many of you always click the "email follow-up comments" button, but in case you do ...

I added everyone's name to a drawing for a free copy of The Familiar Stranger! I'll draw to give away twenty copies during Sept-Oct as the blog tour progresses.

Thanks for leaving a comment!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Christina -

Thank you for entering all of us into the drawing! Whether or not I win, I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing your book.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Christina Berry said...

Cindy!!! You won a free copy of The Familiar Stranger by commenting on this post!

Send your mailing address to christina [at] christinaberry [dot] net and I'll get that puppy right off to you. :D

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Christina -

This post is so old that you might want to contact Cindy on her blog. :)

Congrats, Cindy!

Blessings,
Susan