Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
I’m so excited today. I’ve got the awesome Bethany Tuner here with me. She’s stopped by to talk about her debut novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. Y’all it’s a must read so I hope you’re ready to celebrate it’s release tomorrow. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us!
About the Book
The Blurb: “Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a “scandalous” book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.
With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.”
Toni: Yay! Bethany’s here!! Y’all, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have Bethany here to talk about her debut novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. It is a FANTASTIC rom com (romantic comedy). Bethany, what was your source of inspiration for this novel?
Bethany: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on your blog, and for all of the fantastic support! I’m so glad you enjoyed Sarah’s story! My inspiration for the novel actually came from the worldwide, unprecedented-in-its-genre success of some, ahem…risqué novels (and eventual movies) a few years ago. (You know the ones I mean…)
Toni: I’m pretty sure I can figure it out. 🙂
Bethany: Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck wasn’t inspired by the content of those novels. But as I thought about how the author of those books had become synonymous in pop culture with all things provocative, a thought grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. How would the world react if she suddenly announced she had become a Christian?
Toni: Wow! Such a great question! Now I have to ask, why did you write this novel?
Bethany: The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the whole concept. It challenged my thinking on so many levels, and each new level was more compelling than the last. How would the fans of her books react? How would people in church react when she walked in? And what in the world would that woman’s love life look like?! When you’re a Christ-follower whose name is associated with something the global church has spoken out against, how do you find a way to carry on a “normal” romantic relationship? Well, obviously, you don’t. There’s not going to be anything “normal” about it. Especially if the man in the relationship is not just a Christ-follower, but a pastor! And that was the point when I knew I had to write this story. I wanted to go on that journey with that woman.
Toni: And the journey is amazing! Seriously, I laughed out loud the entire time I read TSLOSH. How on earth did you bring such humor to this story?
Bethany: Oh, thank you! That makes me so happy! You know…I went to a writing conference last year, and when I told people I wrote rom-com, the question I got more than any other was, “Are you funny?” Well, I think that question is funny! And my answer was always, “Well, I sure hope so!” The truth of the matter is I didn’t try to bring humor to the story – I just wrote the story without any guidelines. I didn’t plot or plan, and I never tried to craft a joke. I just got to know Sarah Hollenbeck. And she cracked me up, from the moment I met her.
Toni: I’m so glad I didn’t ask you if you’re funny, lol. Now, Piper and Sarah have a conversation on what Christian romance should look like. Who are some writers who exemplify this in your opinion?
Bethany: The truth is I am still educating myself on Christian romance. (I bet that sounds silly, as I sit here promoting my Christian romance novel!) I was actually a lot like Sarah. I had never read a Christian romance in my life, and I didn’t until after I had written one. Since then, I’ve been scooping them up as quickly as I can, and I’ve discovered so many great authors. But I hesitate to name any, because the readers out there who are much more knowledgeable than I (and, let’s face it…that’s most of them…) will probably take note of some obvious choices I neglected to mention. (Having said that…if anyone wants to read TSLOSH, see what Piper and Sarah are looking for, and then send me recommendations, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Toni: I’m such a book pusher I have PLENTY of recommendations. 🙂 I think it’s great that you’re checking out the genre. I did the same thing when I first discovered it. What are three elements that are always present in your writing and why?
Bethany: Believable dialogue is a must. A friend once said, “Bethany doesn’t write novels. She writes movies in novel form.” I think there is truth to that, and dialogue is a big part of it. My biggest pet peeve is when fictional characters speak in an awkward, unnatural way. If the dialogue in the book wouldn’t translate straight to the script of a film adaptation, then it’s gotta go!
Humor will always be there. I may not always write comedy, but there will always be wit and humor, because life is funny. Love is funny. People are funny.
And then you’ll always find a challenge to think new thoughts and have new conversations.
Toni: Having read TSLOSH, I can agree with all of the above. I love the idea of challenging us to think new thoughts and have those conversations. They’re so vital to our relationships. And because you’re my new favorite author, I have to ask the non-book questions. It aids in stalking…I mean getting to know you better. 😉 Coffee or tea?
Bethany: Coffee. Absolutely. Though I won’t tell you where I get my coffee. You know…because of the stalking thing. (Just kidding, Toni! You can stalk me anytime you want.)
Toni: Lol. I might have to skip the coffee stalking since I’m a tea drinker. Unless of course they sale tea. 😉 Favorite candy bar?
Bethany: Ooh, Peanut Butter Twix. In fact, this is a bit of a hot button issue for me. Twix has been having that ridiculous Left or Right debate, and it means absolutely nothing. They make two different packages, all for Caramel Twix. And yet millions of people are being deprived (except in select markets) of Peanut Butter Twix? It just doesn’t make sense!
Toni: I have never heard of Peanut Butter Twix. Never. Mexican or Italian food?
Bethany: Well, I may get kicked out of the town I live in (in Southwest Colorado, where we have more Mexican restaurants than ATMs) but I’m going with Italian food. Mostly because I don’t like beans or guacamole. Or anything too spicy. Mexican food is wasted on me.
Toni: I think my heart just broke. But I love Italian food too so I forgive you. Favorite vacation spot?
Bethany: I love Las Vegas. Where else can you pay $100 to see Bee Gees impersonators, but get shrimp cocktail for 99¢? It’s a magical place.
Toni: And the Jabbawockeez are there. Before you go, can you tell us what’s next? Please tell me you’re currently working on a new story. (*cutie eyes* as my boys would say)
Bethany: Cutie eyes must totally work on me. I AM working on a new story. But truthfully, I have no idea what readers will see next. I have a rom-com complete and a romance in the works, and I’m as anxious as anyone to see what God has in store for them!
Toni: Yay for more books! Praying God puts them where they need to be. Thanks again for hanging with me. It’s been fun! Readers, do you have any questions for Bethany?
Bethany Tuner’s debut novel is the quintessential rom com. I laughed out loud so much my husband questioned my sanity and of course the actual hilarity of the book. And I smiled so many times I was pretty sure my cheeks were going to get stuck in that position.
This is such a great Christian rom com and it touches on sooo many issues. For one, what’s next after praying the salvation prayer. The other talks about Christian fiction and what readers want. The struggle of staying pure before marriage. The struggle of divorce. Seriously, I can go on. But even though there are so many issues, the book is no way weighed down by it or preachy. It’s just…awesomeness.
I can’t wait to see what Bethany Turner writes next because she’s made me a fan for life. I’m looking at my TBR pile and wondering if I can reread the book and sigh over those heart-stopping romance moments and laugh once again at the jokes.
It has everything you want in a rom com. The heart stopping, cheek-splitting grins filled with quotable lines and happily ever afters. And the comedy…seriously epic! It’s a book you want to read again because it’s just that great. I’m praying someone turns this into a movie because it would be AWESOME!
If you haven’t read this book, go buy it. If you can’t afford it, bug your library to buy it. It’s worth it my friends!
*I received a copy from the publisher. This is my own honest, opinion.
About the Author
Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned thirty-five), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. For more, visit www.seebethanywrite.com.