Welcome to the blog, Bethany. I’m so excited to have you join us! Congrats on your recent release, Strains of Silence. Let’s talk about your story.
Tell us how you came up with the idea for Strains of Silence.
It’s loosely (VERY loosely) based on a rough series of my own relationships. I never got into as dangerous a situation as Kasia, but I certainly put up with a lot and made excuse after excuse for guys who just weren’t marriage material. And I was also stalked in both high school and college. Roll all those experiences up into one real creep, and you’ve got Blake Hamilton. But actually writing the story? I can’t even tell you how often I wished I could go back and talk some sense and some strength into myself. Tell young me I was worth so much more than I believed. That a few mistakes and a lot of poor choices didn’t have to equal ruin. I knew, too, that I wasn’t the only woman who felt that way. And some women I knew had never learned what I did that made me able to stand again, to believe in my own worth. So I wrote it for them.
Wow. I love hearing how your life lessons influenced the story! Can you share a favorite quote from your book?
There’s an analogy that I love. Kasia has just revealed something—a horrific memory she’d stuffed down into the darkness—and she tells Zan that she wishes she’d never remembered it. Things were easier when she was numb. And Zan talks about what would happen to an athlete or a dancer if they broke a bone and let it heal without resetting it. The dancer would walk with a limp for the rest of her life. And then there’s this bit of conversation.
“I think your heart works the same way. You can shut out the memories and keep going, but you’ll have to live with a heart that’s healed wrong.”
“I don’t know. I’m sort of a fan of numb at the moment.”
“Kasia, you’d be able to dance again.”
For a moment, hope filled her eyes and then flickered out just as quickly. “What if I’m too afraid of the pain?”
He needed her to see how serious he was. He cupped her face in his hands, ducked enough to gaze evenly into her eyes. “You deserve to dance. And if you’ll let me, I’ll help you.”
Jayce might kill him, but he meant it.
Besides, they weren’t going in such different directions anymore.
He tucked a curl behind her ear. “I’m not going anywhere. If you wake up and need to unload at three in the morning, I’ll listen. If you get angry, I’ll take whatever punches you need to throw. When you’re finally ready to cry, I’ll hold you if you’ll let me. And when you’re ready to dance, I’ll be there.”
What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?
I hope they’ll put the book down knowing, believing, that they are worthy of love. Too often, we believe what the world tells us about ourselves. We find our identity in others’ opinions and begin to live up to those—or to lower the bar and live down to the expectations of the hope-stealers. But there is hope, genuine hope. We can replace the lies the world tells us with the Truth, and we can find healing and purpose, wholeness and joy in life. When we know that we were made for more than just surviving, just existing, we can truly find the courage to fight for joy.
Beautiful. Such a great message. Thanks for sharing that.
What has been the most memorable book you’ve read so far this year?
It wasn’t a novel, actually. It was absolutely Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Before I clocked my evening hours editing and writing, I spent the day homeschooling my kids and teaching two English classes. It was getting to the point that I never ever had time to relax. My younger kids didn’t even know how fun I could be. We didn’t read or play or laugh together like I had with my older kids. They knew me as teacher, cook, and editor/author. And I had a huge problem with that. I love books and writing, but not more than my family. My heart ached to lighten my load, and I missed my husband too. His schedule wasn’t any better. The message of Shauna’s book gave me the courage to say out loud that I couldn’t keep going. That my lifestyle simply wasn’t sustainable. We both agreed we needed to make some real changes for our spiritual, emotional, and physical health—for the health of our whole family. Rob had already been praying about his own calling, and my determination to make changes no matter how drastic gave him the nudge he needed to jump. So we did. Together. And we’re all enjoying the changes.
I’ve heard so many wonderful things about that book. I must check it out soon! 🙂
What do you enjoy most about being an editor?
I love working with authors who have hit a plateau, because it gives me a chance to help them love their stories—and writing—again. Sometimes people need change, and sometimes they just need an infusion of joy as they persevere. I work with the authors and not just the manuscripts, and I make the process fun. Hiring an editor doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It shouldn’t be. Invigoration. That’s what I love.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I’m halfway through the sequel of Strains of Silence (working title: Chaos and Chemistry), and I have a third book in the series outlined.
And I’ve just finished another novel—vastly, vastly different. It’s a fairytale/myth mash-up. I wrote is as a sort of experiment, born out of what-if dinner table conversations with my crew. The writing process was super challenging, but a lot of fun too.
Bethany has graciously offered to give away a copy of Strains of Silence. Enter below and it could be YOU!
Thanks for entering! Contest ends August 15, 2017. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!