As I've often told you before, I'be known Trish Perry as an online friend for a long time. That's one of the wonderful perks of networking with other authors. She's also in ACFW. Now she's had her first two books published in less than a year. Way to to, Trish.
Oh, Lena, I’m a mess. When my characters behave badly, that’s pretty much me. I have such an easy time writing their embarrassingly human moments, because I’ve been there—not in the exact circumstances they face, but in some of their truly stupid reactions to other humans. And some of the more smarty-pants comments are much like me. Good grief, I don’t sound like a very good egg, do I?
But you sound completely human. Our readers need to know that about us. We're just flawed human beings, who happen to write novels. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have a thing about locking the door to the house. I saw an episode of "America’s Most Wanted" about ten years ago, and it freaked me out to no end, the way the bad guy sneaked into the house while the wife was outside waving goodbye to her hubby. So, when my son was just a wee one and my hubby was in the hospital with appendicitis, I wanted to mow the lawn for him, using his riding mower. My son was inside, napping. I locked the door and mowed a small patch of grass. Then I left the mower idling to dash in and check on my son. As I fiddled with unlocking the door, I saw the lawn mower speed happily across the driveway and toward our pond. I actually took the time to make sure the door was locked before I took off running after the mower. It took out an entire flowering hedge, but when I cried out, “Oh, Lord, please help me!” the mower suddenly slowed, turned to the left and waited for me to come drive it back to the garage, where it stayed until hubby came home. I still lock the door religiously, regardless of what’s going on outside.
That's very funny, but it also shows that God answers prayer, Trish. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Although I didn’t take myself seriously as a writer until 1994 or so, there was a moment when I first got that joy of having written something lovely. I was in the sixth grade, and our teacher gave us the assignment to clip a picture from a magazine and write a poem to go with it. I chose a picture of an English garden with an open gate and a stream. I still remember the short poem that came to me. More vividly, I remember my older brother (now an English Professor at Santa Clara University) reading the poem and saying, “You know, that’s pretty good.” I loved the feeling I got with that affirmation; loved writing the poem. That may have been the first time I discovered that writing was for me.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Wow. I’m definitely an equal opportunity reader. I avidly read both Christian and secular novels. (I’m going to assume you mean fiction reading.) I’ll read something ultra-serious then pick up chick lit and enjoy it just as much—I deliberately follow one type of story with something drastically different. So after Scott Simon’s Pretty Birds, about the Bosnian war, comes Lisa Samson’s Women’s Intuition, an excellent Women’s Fiction novel. Then Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, about the gal who lost her head (literally), followed by Kristen Billerbeck’s She’s Out of Control, about the gal who lost her head (figuratively). Back and forth from secular to Christian, up and down from light to heavy.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
The first book I wrote, Only One, is yet to be published. As soon as I finished it (at least I thought it was finished), I wrote The Guy I’m Not Dating and its follow-up, Too Good to Be True (releasing this month). Only One is a spiritual warfare story, about Shawna Callahan, a young unsaved woman who experiments with hypnosis and thinks she’s discovered a past life. Her misguided beliefs lead her into spiritual danger and manipulation. The Lord graciously surrounds her with believers who might seem ineffective individually but who collectively lead Shawna to the Truth, just when all appears lost.
I’m now writing a third (and final) novel in my current chick lit series, tentatively titled ‘Til Depth Do Us Part. The hero and heroine are characters who were prominent in, and popular with readers of, the first two novels.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I may have to check back with you on that, Lena. I often feel like a woman on the verge—I make no guarantees about my status in, say a week. But the ever-patient Lord rushes in to calm me so often, to assure me that, as I’ve heard others say, “‘Important’ matters are seldom urgent, and ‘urgent’ matters are seldom important.” The way He keeps my sanity intact is by reminding me that I can only get done what I get done each day. If I lean on Him and work to honor Him, it’s all good! Deadlines help me prioritize, and my understanding family members help me cope, even when they don’t have clean socks and underwear.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I often do the Dickens thing, but not as overtly or specifically as he did. I give my spunky heroines short snappy names, while the more vulnerable, feminine gals have softer names, like sighs. My heroes often get melodic names or strong, Biblically based names. My bad guys get sharp, hard-edged names, and the mean girls get the flip-sounding names I associate with spoiled, slightly dense types. The downright evil guys get names with a mysterious feel to them. I’m not always aware of those parameters when I choose names, but I certainly feel around for the name that fits the image I want to portray. I doubt I’ll ever have an evil genius named Floyd or a chick lit heroine named Bertha, you know?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I know this might sound trite, but the role I played in my two kids’ coming to Christ is the greatest joy in my life, next to my relationship with my Savior. I wasn’t even the one who led either of them to Him, but I know I was an important part of the process. What a privilege. And now I have a grandson . . .
Yes, the spiritual role of a grandparent is so important, and one my husband and I take seriously. Now on a lighter vein, if you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
What a fun question! The first critter that came to mind for me was a bird, of course—a mighty eagle or cooing dove, because flying has got to be one awesome experience. But let’s all stifle a yawn on the creativity angle of that answer. Anyway, I figure we’ll get to fly when we get our eternal bodies, so I’m going with the seahorse. All right, it’s a fish. Perhaps I should aspire to greater things than fishdom, but are seahorses cool or what? I know the Lord had fun with that one. Just the cutest. And the male births the babies—need I say more?
I know what you mean. I will interject that I've been enjoying hearing the doves coo in the morning lately. Ah, spring! What is your favorite food?
How much time do you have? By all rights, I should be listed in the Guinness Book under some pro-food category. I love food. How about I tell you what food I don’t like? That would be cooked celery. Everything else is my favorite food.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Too Good to Be True is a romantic comedy—chick lit—about Rennie Young, a young elementary schoolteacher whose husband left and divorced her more than a year ago. On the anniversary of that divorce, she learns that the adoption she and her ex began has fallen through. And the child they planned to adopt is one of her students, whom she loves dearly. The upshot of all of this stress? Ren faints, face first, in the boys’ department at her local Wal-Mart.
Truman Sayers, a handsome labor-and-delivery nurse, comes to her rescue, and the romance is on. Or is it?
Tru seems perfect, but both he and Ren bring their share of baggage on this trip down lovers’ lane, not the least of which is each of their meddlesome mothers. Add numerous siblings, well-meaning friends, old hurts and new insecurities, and Ren wonders if she isn’t hoping for something that’s too good to be true.
I hope readers have fun with the book. I like stories about the human struggle to behave in a divine fashion. We’re so bad at it! See? Christians behaving badly—that’s me!
Sounds wonderful, Trish. It's on my to-be-read pile waiting for me to finish the rewrite on my book that comes out this fall. Thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Too Good to be True. There's still time to leave a comment on Rhonda Gibson's interview for a chance to win The Bachelor's Club.