Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend Valerie Comer. Valerie started the InspyRomance blog where I am a regular contributing author. She LOVES whole food, real food – like me! We are also in the Love Brings Us Home, Seven Christian Romances Celebrating Faith and Love together. I hope you enjoy the interview — and be sure to check out Valerie’s giveaway at the bottom of this post!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m Valerie Comer, and I live on a small farm in British Columbia, Canada. One of my passions is food, something Hallee and I definitely have in common! My husband and I, together with our adult kids and preschool granddaughters, grow much of our own food (vegetables, fruit, nuts, honey, and meat).
I haven’t seen much fiction like mine, addressing food issues from a Christian worldview. I’ve tagged my website as the place “where food meets faith… and fiction.” Answers to the question, “Does God care what we eat?” are a central issue in my novels.
Tell us about your current release. SWEETENED WITH HONEY, the third story in the Farm Fresh Romance series, finds beekeeper Sierra Riehl hopeful to catch the eye of widower Gabriel Rubachuk, knowing he must first face the past. Yet as he begins to embrace hope and fall in love with her, reality changes. Sierra begins to suspect she can’t give Gabe what he deserves, and their budding romance fizzles. But how can she trust him with her devastating secret?
With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? LOL, I can’t keep up. They have to get in line. Sometimes they get their elbows jammed in each other’s ribs, trying to push ahead in the queue, but it rarely works for them! I’m in the midst of the Farm Fresh Romance series (three books out, three more to come), so unless the new idea comes wearing a pair of Farm Fresh overalls and carrying a garden hoe, it gets relegated to the way back burner of my mind.
I know there are parties going on back there, because sometimes I can hear the music. I can feel the zing as several ideas bump into each other and grab hold, creating a stronger idea between them. But they still have to wait their turn!
Do you have a pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? I’ve written thirteen complete stories now (many of which you will never see) in various lengths from novellas of 20,000 words to full-length novels at 100,000 words. I’m getting better at feeling the pacing intrinsically as I write, and my first drafts usually land up within 3000 words or so of my planned-for length.
What is your inspiration for writing? I have to say my three young granddaughters inspire me. I want to leave a legacy for them in a variety of ways. One is the financial reward I hope will continue well into the future. Another is to follow the creativity God has given each of them and use it for His glory. Another is to show them in story form (as well as the farm life they’re familiar with) how Christians grapple with issues of food and the environment.
I love my grandgirls! The youngest is two and a half and was the springboard for the character of young Maddie in Sweetened with Honey. The little monkey never sits still and ricochets from one adventure to the next. Like little Maddie, my granddaughter adores her grandfather, about the only person she’ll sit and snuggle with for more than a few seconds.
Who do you envision your typical reader to be? I’m not sure if my typical reader and my ideal reader are the same person. I write for women in their thirties and forties who are concerned about their families’ health and food consumption. In reality, many of my readers are women in their fifties and sixties as well. Plus, one of my enthusiastic local fans is a nonChristian man in his 70s who is passionate about food. He loves this series of books!
I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. LOL, then you’d assume incorrectly! That’s how I wish my brain worked. I love organization in my “real life.” Whenever I’ve tried to envision a novel’s details in advance, I see mostly fog with occasional wispy glimpses into scenes. It’s very frustrating.
The reality is that I have to know my characters and my setting clearly before I start writing. The two main characters in Sweetened with Honey, Sierra and Gabe, have been secondary characters in previous books, and that helped a lot. The setting of Green Acres Farm also has been well established earlier. (By the way, this doesn’t mean you have to read the other books to understand this one. I hope you’ll want to, but it isn’t necessary. Each is complete in itself.)
I jotted down the few things I knew had to happen in the story and started writing, trusting God to use my imagination for the story He wanted told. It was a true adventure, and I met with several surprises. Gabe made a choice I did not see coming. When I realized what would happen a few chapters ahead, it stalled me on writing for a few days. I paced my office—the whole house—trying to figure out what impact his decision would have on the story’s ending. It came together, but I just couldn’t believe he’d do that to me!
Why yes, I think of them as real people. Aren’t they?
In Sweetened with Honey, Gabe owns a health food store and two boys from his tween Sunday school class come in. He suspects them of stealing from him. In the story, these are Gabe’s thoughts: God? I could use an idea here.
In reality, that was my prayer, too. I had no idea what Gabe should do with his suspicions. I typed that brief prayer and stared out the window, and I believe God answered. What happened next certainly fit Gabe’s personality and the story.
Is this a Christmas story? No and yes. Sweetened with Honey takes place from late September to just before New Year’s Eve. The few Christmas scenes are pivotal. So, if you’re looking for something that touches on Christmas without being a full holiday story, this is a great novel to pick up.
If you’re looking for a true Christmas title to read in these few days surrounding our celebration of the birth of Jesus, may I recommend Snowflake Tiara? It contains two long novellas, a historical written by Angela Breidenbach and a contemporary by me. These are set in Helena, Montana, 125 years apart, both against a Christmas beauty pageant backdrop. My character, Marisa Hiller, is an organic farmer who is passionate about helping needy families in her community, so, if you are intrigued by my mash-ups of contemporary romance and farm lit, you’ll enjoy Snowflake Tiara, too!
I’ve loved sharing my writing with you. If you’re interested in my Farm Fresh Romance series, you’ll want to know that I’m offering a short story free to folks who join my email list. Peppermint Kisses is a Christmas tale set between the second and third novels. You’ll find it here
Be sure to enter to win either Snowflake Tiara or Sweetened with Honey :
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