Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry

For heart-gripping fiction with a strong voice, check out Christina Berry's debut novel, The Familiar Stranger. I had the opportunity to endorse this book before it even had a publishing contract. Here's what I said:

"The Familiar Stranger crackles with energy and intrigue. The characters gripped me; the situations haunted me. I didn't want to put it down."

You won't want to put it down either!

Any comment left at the end of this post has two chances to win a copy of the book--one from me and one from Christina at the end of her 61-day blog tour on October 31.

Christina graciously agreed to a brief interview about herself and her new book.

1. How did you come up with the idea for The Familiar Stranger?

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.

2. What do you hope readers will take away from the story?

The recent changes in my life—losing my husband, facing finding a “real” job, selling my home—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading this book makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

3. Tell us about your road to publication.

My mother, Sherrie Ashcraft, and I began writing in the summer of ’99. We figured the accountability of having a co-writer would make us actually do what we’d always dreamed of but never put action to. It took a long road of learning how much we didn’t know, tons of re-writing, brooding over rejections, making connections, pitching at conferences, and directional prayer to make our writing salable.

In the summer of 2007, when Mom was busy caring for her dying mother-in-law, I got the itch of a new story idea. Undiscovered was written by February 2008, edited by June, won second place in the ACFW Genesis Contemporary category, and was renamed The Familiar Stranger and contracted by Moody Publishers in October.

One decade from naïve first scribbles to debut novel!

4. You and your mom work on writing together and put out a joint newsletter. Tell us a little bit about your collaboration. Is she your best critic or your greatest fan, or both?

When we write together, we share the same brain and voice. Editors can't tell two people have written our joint book. We can't even remember who wrote what sometimes!

As for critic or fan, she really is both. She can push me to achieve what she knows I'm capable of. But, because she's had the same classes and training for the same number of years, she is iminently qualified to approve or critique my writing. Accordingly, it carries more weight then usual when I say, "My mom likes my writing!"

5. What are you writing now?
I’m about 1/5 of the way through my next manuscript, Unafraid, a story about a girl’s kidnapping, and how her life unfolds because of the trauma. One of my characters is a PI, so I’m having loads of fun with the research.

The humor Sherrie Ashcraft (my sometime co-author and always mother) and I display in our infrequent, humorous newsletters--sign up at www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx--has garnered the attention of an editor. You just might see a funny, non-fiction cooperative work from the Ashberry Ladies at some point in time. Plus, I have a funky TV-based devotional a house is interested in … Busy, busy, busy!

6. Show us a little bit of your private side. What would you most like your readers to know about you on a personal level?

I'm living in joy. But I'm also in a very fluxy(is that a word?) time of life. I'm trying to survive and thrive, while trusting the Lord to provide. In almost every area of my life, God is teaching me patience and to rest in Him. I don't enjoy every minute of it, but I know I'm growing and will be stronger when I come out on the other side.

Thanks, Christina. Awesome insights!

A fresh start or a double-cross?
Why is Craig so cold and distant? Denise wonders. Is it his job? The family? Or is it me? Though she's poured her heart into her marriage, years of enduring his long hours, frequent times away, and short temper have left her with a deep sadness.

Then one morning in the middle of church her cell phone rings. Embarrassed, she heads to the lobby, takes the call . . . and is shocked by the new she hears. Craig's been in an accident.

So beings their fresh start. While keeping vigil by his bedside she wills herself to make their marriage work, whatever the cost. And when Craig finally regains consciousness, he appears to want the same thing--except for one detail. He doesn't know who she is.

Nor does he remember anything about their life, their children, or why he was parked on the side of the freeway when the accident occurred. As he struggled to recall the past, he also shows a new love for Denise characterized by tender strength and consideration. So what is she to do when ugly betrayals emerge? Is it possible to forgive a man who thoroughly violated her trust? How many more lies and secrets are yet to be discovered?

And then, without warning, his memories come flooding back . . .

As a single mom and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time out of her busy schedule to write about the heart and soul of life. She’s one of those crazies who enjoys Math and Literature, majoring in both with a minor in French. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud. Get to know her better at www.christinaberry.net

Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers. Find her at www.christinaberry.net and www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com


Jo said...

I always love to hear about new authors as am always looking for new authors and new books. This book sounds quite interesting. Add my name for the drawing, please.


Martha A. said...

I love to try new authors! Please enter me!

Linda said...

Christine is a new author for me also. Would love to win her book. Please enter me.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Cherie J said...

Would love to read this book. Plese enter me in the drawing. Thank you!


Christina Berry said...

Good luck to you all! Jill, thank you so much for mentoring and endorsing me. :) You are a treasure ... and a really good writer!

Melissa said...

Add my name for the drawing as well

parcelhome @ comcast.net

Suzanne said...

Oooh, sounds good! Please enter me in this one too. I've followed her journey for a little while, good to see she's in print!


Janna said...

I really want to read this book, following her blog tour has me very interested...

ryanx6 at msn dot com

Carole said...

I bought this book recently but haven't read it yet, so I really enjoyed the interview. This will be a good read for January.

Christina Berry said...

Thanks again to all of you for leaving a comment! I've put all your names in the 10-book giveaway for Oct 31, but if you'd be interested in winning free books for life, come by www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx and subscribe to the infrequent, humorous newsletter.

Cafe Lily said...

I heard about you from Clicking Her Heels.

Please include me in your give away! I love to read and always enjoy discovering a new author. Thanks :)

avesian3 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Would LOVE to read this novel...please count me in.

karen k

Deborah M said...

I have been trying to win a copy of this book as many others have. It has had such a good review and I think her personal story is inspiring. Sign me up.
Deborah M.

Jill said...

Congratulations, Cafe Lily! You win the book.