Friday, March 09, 2007

Interview with Trish Perry. . .and a chance for a free book!

I’m so excited for the opportunity to chat with Trish Perry. Trish is an award-winning novelist of the chick lit books, The Guy I’m Not Dating (Harvest House 2006) and Too Good to Be True (Harvest House 2007), as well as a long list of shorter pieces. Enjoy the interview and if you leave a comment, I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of Too Good to Be True!

LISA: Trish, what was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? In other words, tell us about. . .THE CALL.

TRISH: Lisa, I still don’t believe it. Was it real or was it Memorex?

Well, maybe I’m not still in shock to that extent. It has been awhile, after all. But the feeling was absolutely bizarre, and I’ll never forget it. My agent was keeping me up to date with the goings-on of Harvest House’s publication committee, but it seemed like the PubCo decision date kept coming and going with no report. I was stressing, a feeling with which other new authors might be able to identify . . .

One morning I knew I just had to hand the anxiety over to God or I’d be unable to function. The resulting peace I felt was palpable, and I was on the phone with a girlfriend, talking about that peace, when my agent’s email chimed on my computer (obviously, I was tying up the phone line). The email said Harvest House needed to ask me a couple of questions before they sent me the contract!

My girlfriend and I gasped and squealed like teenagers before prom night, then I called my agent. I still laugh when I think of how calmly she told me Harvest House wanted to give me a two-book contract if I didn’t mind [insert just about anything here—were they kidding? Of course I’d do it, whatever it was!]. Actually, their requests were minor and very manageable, and I’m still praising God every day for this blessing. I equate it to stepping on a different planet, not knowing what to expect and being thrilled by this kind of unknown.

LISA: Tell us some of the background behind the idea for your story and a blurb about the story itself.

TRISH: While I worked on a more serious novel, humor-novel thoughts kept popping into my head. When I wasn’t in my serious-novel frame of mind, I started playing with ideas for a romantic comedy. The book I developed was the one which just released, Too Good to Be True. (I actually wrote my first release, The Guy I’m Not Dating, afterwards.)

My heroine, Ren’s, overall personality came at me quickly, as did the opening line of the book, which suggested a controlling mother in the mix. Then I heard a news story involving adoption, which got the wheels turning. One of the things I truly love about writing fiction is how one detail can spawn so many other necessary facets of a character’s personality, background, or future. Those flowing details and ideas are like gifts, and we don’t have them all the way through our writing. Sometimes it’s like picking pockets, trying to find the next words, the next step, the appropriate character reaction or dialogue.

The blurb on the book:

Rennie Young is finding out that love and life often unfold in surprising ways.

Your average fairy-tale princess awakens to the kiss of her handsome prince . . . not to his holding her wrist and counting her heartbeats. But that’s exactly how Rennie meets Truman Sayers, an attractive man who comes to her assistance after she faints in the boys’ department at Wal-Mart.

He releases her wrist and looks into her eyes. “Your pulse is racing.”

Yes, indeed.

Tru Sayers, a compassionate labor-and-delivery nurse, seems like a gift from God. But remembrances of love gone bad and a still-mending heart cause Ren to question whether she can trust this path and God.

This clever, romantic, and thoughtful novel demonstrates that, with God’s guidance, a happy life is definitely possible after heartbreak—even when it seems too good to be true.

LISA: I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

TRISH: One of the things Ren has to do in this story is take a chance in trusting God and trusting in love again. She was so hurt by a husband who deserted her and divorced her, she feels hesitant to date anyone else. When she steps back into the dating world with the fabulous Tru Sayers, she panics at the first sign of conflict. She has to learn to trust that God has her best interests at heart, if she can just listen for His guidance. Some of those feelings and lessons parallel those I experienced when I was a young divorced mom considering serious romantic relationships. But the book isn’t autobiographical in any sense.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

TRISH: To never take this blessing for granted or let it consume me. When I’m in my right mind as a believer—and sometimes I have to work to get there—I know I will continue to publish as long as the Lord wants me to. If I ever stop, it will be because He wants me to do something else. I find comfort in that.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

TRISH: My editor and I have tossed a few ideas in the air recently (nothing that’s actually landed on paper yet). A possible third book for this current series. A completely different chick lit series. A series tied to a central theme, as Sue Grafton did with her Alphabet Mystery Series: A is for Alibi; B is for Burglar; etc. (but chick lit—I don’t know how people do mystery!)

With regard to dreams, I’m hoping that eventually I can do the kind of thing Liz Curtis Higgs does, speaking to groups who read her books, bringing inspiration to them as writers, readers, believers, women. She’s gone beyond reaching out with her novels alone. Clearly that’s what God called her to do. I don’t know if He’ll call me that way, but I hope to be willing (and not a total scaredy cat) if He ever does.

LISA: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published, especially from someone who has just broken in?

TRISH: As Christian authors we need to write the stories the Lord puts on our hearts. We need to pray specifically about our writing and then shut up and listen to Him. But we also need to be aware of market trends. One reason my first novel (the serious one I mentioned) is not yet published is because it addresses spiritual warfare. At the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas this past September, Chip McGregor asked the editor/agent panel if any of the houses were looking for spiritual warfare fiction. Not a single CBA rep was interested. Maybe the timing will be better in the future; maybe not. But you can bet I won’t be writing any more spiritual warfare novels anytime soon. I know the Lord put that first novel on my heart. But He may have done so simply to help me learn my craft.

So my tidbits of wisdom are these:
• Write the stories He gives you.
• Be practical about what’s selling—this is a business.
• Understand that some of the stories He gives you are just for you.

LISA: Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

TRISH: All fiction writers should join the American Christian Fiction Writers, in my opinion. The group is supportive, godly, informative, enriching. No matter where you are in your writing journey, you’ll benefit from joining the group.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, is a must-have for novelists. The first time I read it, I used a highlighter. Now, before embarking on another novel, I go through it again, reading the parts I highlighted (and usually more than that). I always find mistakes I made in previous works—some things we have to learn over and over again.

If you enjoy writing humor, a fun book to read is How to Write Funny, edited by John B. Kachuba. The book is a compilation of essays by humor writers. Every time I read it, contributors’ comments spark my own humorous ideas. Very inspirational stuff (inspirational in the secular sense—these folks ain’t Christian, okay?)

There are many other fantastic writing craft books—too many to list—but I’d also encourage all aspiring novelists to read the kind of books they want to write. Allow successful authors to draw you into the proper mood; it will do wonders for your imagination. And I’d love to hear from readers and writers at my web site

Come visit!

LISA: Thanks so much for stopping by, Trish!

Remember to leave a comment for the chance to win a free book. I'll hold the drawing next Friday (March 16th).

Coming soon. . .an interview with best-selling author DiAnn Mills who recently returned from a life-changing trip to Sudan.




  1. Lila Briggs5:59 PM

    I enjoyed the interview very much. For many years I read mostly nonfiction,as my time for reading was limited. Then a friend (Farrel) had a book she said I needed to read. It was historical fiction, taking place during the time of Christ. The Biblical facts and history and the Biblical characters were there but the story was a fictional one about a family living during this time. It was a very good book and I found that it helped me understand better the times and people who lived then and also helped to enlighten my understanding of what is recorded in Scripture. Since then I have read many such books, and all have been helpful. I also have migrated to other Christian fiction, such as romances and mysteries. I find them all very helpful in showing how to handle day to day events in a Christian manner.
    I very much appreciate those of you who have been given a gift and can put these things on paper for the rest of us to enjoy and learn from. Never take that gift for granted and thank you for using it so well. May God Bless you!

  2. Susan Page Davis4:58 PM

    Fabulous interview, Trish and Lisa! Thanks. I especially appreciated the tips for writers. Yes, some of the stories we write are meant for the drawer, but nothing is wasted.

  3. Hi, Lisa, Trish's books sound so funny. I'd love to win one. Thanks for the opportunity. And I love the cake-eating picture. Or non-cake-eating, I should say.


  4. Anonymous3:50 AM

    I enjoyed reading your interview and was glad you asked about writing tips. I can appreciate the advice about praying and writing what is on the heart. I understand the market is important but it's refreshing to hear the first part. Thanks so much!