Thursday, June 5, 2008

Meet Author Trish Perry!

I first met Trish in Dallas a few years ago when I was a somewhat nervous first time attendee at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. We somehow struck up a conversation and Trish put me right at ease. With two successful books behind her and a third on the way, I asked Trish if she had a moment to put her feet up with us. Lucky for us, she did!

Hi, Trish, welcome to Writers' Rest!
Thrilled to be here, Cathy!

You've got a new book, Beach Dreams, from Harvest House, coming out in July. Would you tell us about it?
People who read The Guy I’m Not Dating and/or Too Good to Be True will recognize the protags of this new release. Beach Dreams features reforming bad girl Tiffany LeBoeuf, who recently lost both her mother (to cancer) and her job (for taking time to be with her dying mother). She escapes to a wonderful San Diego beach house to relax and regroup. Due to a scheduling mix-up, Tiff ends up sharing the house with a less-than-genial woman named Eve. When Eve’s charming British boyfriend, Jeremy, arrives to surprise her, he’s surprised to see Tiff there, as well. The ensuing two weeks involve secrets, deception, revelations, more unexpected arrivals, and a healthy peppering of humor and romance.

Sounds like the perfect summer read! Where did the inspiration for this particular story come from?
Both Tiff and Jeremy were characters in my first two novels. Not only did readers express the desire to know what happened to those two, I wanted to see what would happen, especially if I threw them together. I started writing their story, set in the Washington, D. C. area, where the first two novels happened. But when Harvest House asked me to write the book as an installment in The Beach House Series, I started over, and engineered matters to get Tiff and Jeremy to the other side of the country. The change in setting was fun and made for an entirely different story than what I originally planned.

I'm looking forward to reading it. What are you working on now?
I have another romantic comedy proposal floating around out there, and I’ve started working on a historical, set in 1890s America. As I foresee the historical so far, the heroine’s story will begin in New England but move out West early on. I also plan to use humor in the book, regardless of whatever else happens. Of course, I’m fairly new to historicals. So I hope to be funny on purpose, rather than by making a huge gaffe, such as having my heroine leave her cell phone in the carriage or gushing, “Why, Rhett, darlin’, how could you doubt I’d be here for you twenty-four seven?”

Interesting. Good luck with those projects! Let us know how it goes.
Trish, can you share a bit of your writing journey with us?

I wasn’t an avid writer growing up. I dabbled at poetry and short stories, just for myself, but I didn’t have the slightest thought of actually publishing anything. I returned to school in my adult years and earned a Psychology degree. While there, I got the bug for writing, just by working on projects for my required English courses and hearing such positive feedback from my professors. Subsequently, I took as many creative writing credits as I could, and by the time I got my degree, I wanted to write fiction more than I wanted to practice therapy. So I scratched the grad-school plans and focused on writing, learning about writing, and submitting. I actually started submitting before I finished college. Amid plenty of rejections, I published a poem here, a short story there, an essay here, and (finally) a novel there!

There's been some talk lately of the Chick Lit genre being put on the back burner. What's your take?
Yeah, what’s up with that, right? As if! You can never have too many stories about designer fashion and chocolate—isn’t that what makes the real world go ‘round? Actually, I think good romantic, comedic stories will always find an audience, but they might not be billed specifically as Chick Lit. You’ll notice I didn’t use the term anywhere above. There have been so many books released in the Chick Lit genre that were about as deep as a topcoat of nail polish. Novels like that start to run together in readers’ minds. But humorous young heroines who confront heavy-duty challenges? I think there’s still a market for them. My books have all contained humor and romance, and the heroines were in their late twenties or so. But my typical gal has more conflict in her life than mismatched earrings or toilet paper stuck to her shoe in the middle of a job interview. My heroines have struggled with issues such as purity, infertility, adoption, infidelity, divorce, cancer, diabetes, controlling parents, dying parents, being unequally yoked, and more.

What do you love about being a published author, apart from the royalty checks...
Ah, yes, those massive royalty checks. Hang on, let me just move this pile of money out of the way so I can get to the computer. Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m a published author. For me, this is an absolute dream come true. I love hearing from readers, probably more than anything else. You know, you try to put together an entertaining story that will honor God and connect with readers somehow. When a reader takes the time to write to you (or Amazon or any other online venue) to explain how your book made her laugh or how it fit perfectly with a concern she faced or how she and her daughter read the book together and had a good talk about it, WOW. God totally blesses me with that.

That's great. So what's the hardest thing about being an author and writing as a career?
Hmm, probably being your own boss. I’m not only a laid-back boss, my employee takes full advantage of me.

Self-discipline is a killer for me. I love those moments when I’m so into what I’m writing that time gets away from me and I have to run to the car and drive like a lunatic to get to that doctor’s appointment, arriving late, in a full sweat, disoriented, still in my fantasy world, wondering if Biff really came back to town just to see me—uh, I mean, my heroine. But those moments only happen when one is disciplined enough to stay at the computer without getting up for potato chips every half hour.

Ha, ha. Well, you're certainly busy these days. Do you do any speaking engagements or teaching sessions?
I’ve spoken to writing groups a few times, and I’d like to do more of that. I don’t actively seek engagements or teaching opportunities, but it’s time in my career to take that step.

They say hindsight is 20/20. With regard to your writing, if you could have an opportunity to do one thing differently, what would it be?
Actually, one thing that stands out for me is membership in the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. In hindsight, I would have joined sooner in the journey. I was a member years ago, but I didn’t opt to receive emails from the members, and I didn’t participate or learn much about ACFW. After I had my first contract, my agent encouraged me to join again. This time I interacted, and I was struck by how accessible everyone was—how helpful, especially to new writers. Notice I said, “new writers,” not “published writers.” Highly regarded Christian authors are right there, online and at conferences, contributing advice and giving solid counsel to spanking new authors. Had I paid attention to the talent in ACFW when I first started, I think I may have been published sooner.

What does a typical day in life of Trish look like?
In a perfect world: I start my day with a short, silent time with God before getting myself tidied up a bit. After I drop my son off at school, I get in a quick workout, shower, and then I sit down to work on my current writing project. I break for lunch and occasional peeks at my email. If I’m under a stiff contract, I’ll work while I have lunch. Then I return to the computer and work until late afternoon, when I pick my son up from school. Again, when I’m under contract, I’ll get a couple more hours in before stopping to make dinner and relax for the evening.

In my more typical world, all of the above happens, but the workouts aren’t quite as regular as I’d like, and the email peeks are more like longing gazes. A contract is the whip I need to stay at it. I wish it weren’t so, but at this point I’m willing to admit I allow myself to be distracted all too often. And you know, they say admitting to the problem is the first step in overcoming it.

When you're not at the computer writing, what will we find you doing?
Reading (almost always fiction), viewing films, working on my new town house, getting together with friends and laughing until we cry.

If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
I would have become a psychological therapist, had my career path not veered in this direction. Now I use my psychological training to invent people with problems, rather than trying to help real people solve theirs.

Finally, do you have any advice for new and still-to-be-published writers?
Yes! If you aren’t starting every day by getting in touch with the Lord, asking for His guidance for the next 24 hours, you’re starting each day incorrectly! Imagine that. I swear, if you do that one thing and listen for His answers as you go about your business, He’ll clear your path, even if you don’t quite realize it while He’s doing it. Having started your day with Him, if you feel drawn to write, you absolutely must do it, regardless of how many rejections you receive. If He keeps putting that desire in your heart, He’s telling you to do this for Him. So learn everything you can about the craft and business, make every effort you can to write and submit your work, and get in touch with fellow authors who are Christian, even if you don’t write for the Christian market. The Lord will use those authors on your behalf.

Thanks for visiting us on Writers' Rest, Trish! We'll look forward to Beach Dreams!

My pleasure, Cathy. I hope readers have a good time with Beach Dreams, and I invite them to let me know what they think!

The author of Beach Dreams (2008), Trish Perry lives in Northern Virginia with her hilarious teenaged son. She discovered her love of writing while earning a degree in Psychology. She switched career paths in 1997 and never looked back. Her debut novel, The Guy I’m Not Dating, placed second in the 2007 FHL Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, and her second, Too Good to Be True, is a current finalist in the 2008 FHL IRCC. To learn more about Trish and her novels, visit her web site:


Molly Noble Bull said...

Nice interview. Trish is a talented lady and a friend of mine. She endorsed one of my upcoming novels.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Great interview, Cathy. Trish sounds like a wonderful woman! Thanks for stopping by, Trish.