BIOGRAPHY: Author Christina Berry is a single mom and foster parent, carving time out of a busy schedule to write. The Familiar Stranger is her debut novel. She resides with her family in Oregon.
Thanks for being here, Christina. It’s a pleasure.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
Does life exist outside writing? Oh, I guess it does! The single mom and foster parent thing takes up quite a bit of the usual hours of the day, but I also substitute teach and do freelance editing. In my leisure, I attempt to play the piano, read when I can sneak the time, and spend way too much time “networking” on facebook.
#2- Your debut book, THE FAMILIAR STRANGER, had a lot of elements to target several different audiences like romance, inspirational, and general fiction. Where do you feel you got your idea for this story and inspired you to write it?
In the summer of 2007, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger. It will be interesting to see if readers can figure out which stories inspired the book.
Though the plot came from the news, I’d been looking for a fictional vehicle to express the lessons I’d learned regarding forgiveness in my own marriage. I knew no one was interested in reading my particular story, but I still felt God had given me something to say. My husband and I worked through a major issue six years ago and found a vibrant, completely renewed marriage on the other side.
However, eight months ago, a reoccurrence of that same issue broke our bond. Now, as a newly-single woman, I’m in the midst of promoting a book that touches far closer to home than I would have ever dreamed.
#3- As you know, I reviewed your title THE FAMILIAR STRANGER for Bookpleasures and loved it. But how do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
I pout and throw things.
No, really, I believe my skin has thickened from the 47 formal rejections I’ve received over the years. I tend to get down for a day or two, but know God directs more clearly (in my life) through “no” than through “yes.”
So far I’ve only received one “negative” review and I was happy to get it. I knew one HAD to show up sometime, and the difference of opinion on amazon validates the 5-star reviews.
As I get more of them, as I surely will over the years, I hope I will always look for the truth in them and seek to do better on the next project.
#4- How do you work in time to write being a single mother and foster parent?
All the kids are in school in the morning, then the little one comes home and naps for a few hours so I actually get a good chunk of time to devote to writing and marketing … if I don’t have a substitute job that day. After the kids go to bed, I put in a few more hours of writing-related work. My brain really kicks into a higher gear from midnight to 3 AM, but I make myself go to bed at a decent time.
Also, I’ve cut back HUGELY on my TV watching. It’s amazing how many more hours are in a day.
#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?
Most of my favorite authors have voices I never dream to come close to: Nancy E. Turner, Jane Kirkpatrick, Leif Enger, Francine Rivers, or Randy Alcorn, to name a few. The writers that really influence my stories are ones that examine the real grittiness of life like Roxanne Henke, Bette Nordberg, and James Scott Bell.
I really enjoyed fairytales from around the world when I was younger. Loved Heidi and The Secret Garden. Oh, and I still have my tattered copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. Anything by Beverly Cleary. ( I now live about fifteen minutes from her childhood home!)
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
Nothing under contract at this point, but I pray I’m headed for a long, fruitful career as a novelist.
Still, come by www.christinaberry.net and sign up for the infrequent, humorous newsletter. Then you’ll never miss a release, PLUS you’ll be entered to win free books for life or a 4Gb iPod Shuffle. (Back issues are here: www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx)
And I’m always spilling some of my brain out on the screen at www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thanks for having me here! I plan to stop by often and answer any questions left in the comments, so have at it.