Author Interview + Giveaway!!! - Bethany Turner

Monday, October 9, 2017

About the Book

Becoming a Christian is the best--and worst--thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. 

Up to now, Sarah Hollenbeck 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 she's 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 discovering 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 . . . well, let's just say that doesn't make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of humor, novelist Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a witty debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life. 

"The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a rare treat packed with humor, hope, and heart. Sarah's struggles are real and nearly tangible, and she feels like a friend we've all had. I laughed with her and fell in love alongside her and couldn't wait to hear her whole story. What a charming, delightful book!"--Liz Johnson, bestselling author of The Red Door Inn


Welcome to Bookworm Mama, Bethany! I am so honored to have you here today!

I’m thrilled to be here, Rachel! I am definitely a Bookworm Mama reader and fan!

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
91244Bethany: It started with my mom, who has always been a reader. As far back as I can remember, reading was just part of life. And then it became more of a specific love of books when she introduced me to Beverly Cleary…and Ramona Quimby, in particular. The Quimbys were the first characters who became like family to me. And then I think I have John Stamos and George Clooney to thank for it eventually becoming a love of writing. (Oh, how I would love to just leave it at that and let people make up their own stories. Actually, I think I will!)

Rachel: Wait! What? You are going to leave us hanging like that? But I DO see how those 2 can be inspiring haha! Fiiiiiiiiiine, I guess we will move on to the next question....

When did you KNOW that you wanted to be an author?
George Clooney - even though he is old enough to be my father, age has nothing to do with looks.  I see this photo as rather symbolic as it portrays the individuality of a unique persona. While I don't really know he, the impression I get is that he has the quintessential qualities of humanism, compassion and the honesty and conviction to engage in challenge of self realization and social pragmatism.
Bethany: Well, doggone. It goes back to Stamos and Clooney, so I guess I’ll elaborate.

Rachel: Oh good! I thought I was going to have to tackle you for an explanation! 

Bethany: In second grade I wrote an essay about John Stamos that won a state-level award. That stuck with me through my life, because this was a serious essay contest, and I wrote about Uncle Jesse…and was rewarded for it! And then I cast George Clooney as a character in the first thing I wrote as an adult. Well, he was one celebrity among many, actually. It was as if I was finally watering the seeds that had been planted in the second grade. It was okay to be quirky and pop culture-driven, and to deal with serious things in a fun way. When I wrote, it was okay to be myself. I guess I’ve known that since the second grade, but it probably wasn’t until I wrote The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck that I finally understood how powerful that could be. And once I understood that, well…I was hooked.

Rachel: Oh my goodness! That is AMAZING! I love when things in our childhood stick with us and continue to inspire us throughout our lives. What an accomplishment! And Clooney...I mean, who WOULDN'T want him as a character in their book? Hehe!

What literary character is most like you? Why?
Bethany: Oh, this is going to sound so driven by self-promotion, but the honest answer is Sarah Hollenbeck! We’re in such different places along our faith journeys – Sarah is a new Christian in her mid-thirties, while I grew up in a Christ-honoring home and was saved at age eight – but personality-wise she is so me. Even as a thirty-year Christian, I can only accurately quote six or seven Bible verses, but I can name the entire cast of every Robert Redford movie, and recite every single word of You’ve Got Mail. That’s so Sarah! And like Sarah, I am self-doubt dressed in bravado’s clothing. I think there are probably a lot of us who can identify with Sarah in that way.

Rachel: You write what you know right? Personally I LOVE seeing an author's quirks and personality bleed onto the page. The book is a part of them. How appropriate to have the characters reflect the soul of the one who penned it?

What were your goals and intentions in The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck?
Bethany: It all started with a “What if…?” What if someone who was known for something pretty salacious made the decision to turn her life over to God. And not just turn it over. Do a complete 180 in her life. And from there the goals and intentions made themselves known organically over time. I wanted to talk about sex, from a Christian standpoint. I wanted things to get more difficult for Sarah after salvation, not less difficult. Better, but not easier. And I wanted Sarah to face challenges from both the secular world (because they didn’t understand her after she became a Christ-follower) and the church world (because they didn’t accept her and her past). Because all of that is reality.

Rachel: Ah! *resists the urge to drop everything and start reading this book* While I can't personally relate to Sarah in that way (being the lifelong Christian that I am), I know that life ain't all cupcakes and rainbows. It is a hard path to walk. Especially if you are trying to break away from everything that people have labeled you as your whole life. 

Rocky Balboa gives his son Robert Balboa a life's lesson - 'Rocky Balboa' (2006) “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but its not about how hard you hit, its about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward, thats how winning is done!” ...
What type of research was involved for The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck?
Bethany: Let’s see… I listened to “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks over and over again, until I had a clear image of Stevie twirling away as the devil on Sarah’s shoulder. And I watched a clip of “Touched by an Angel” on YouTube so that I had a good sense of what I thought Roma Downey would say as the angel on the other shoulder. I re-watched all of the Rocky movies, until I knew which one would be Ben’s favorite. And…well, no…that’s about it!

Rachel: I say that's gotta be some pretty good inspiration there! I have to admit I have only seen the first Rocky movie, but my sister...has seen them ALL, multiple times haha!

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by [Fielding, Helen]Bethany: I can’t ever answer this question without a nod to Jane Austen. My preferences about what an intriguing female protagonist should be (as well as the characteristics her male counterpart must possess in order to keep up) all come from Austen. But for writing style, I honestly don’t think any single author has been more influential than Helen Fielding. In my favorite work of hers – Bridget Jones, of course, but also a lesser known gem called Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination – I’m in awe of the way she makes the absurd relatable. I think some of that comes through in Sarah Hollenbeck.

What hidden talents do you have?
Beauty and the Beast (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Deluxe Edition)
Bethany: See, that’s a tough one for me. I’m the type of person who, if I have a talent, I’m going to make sure everyone knows it! Nothing hidden here, folks! But I can sing “Something There” from Beauty & the Beast by myself. Belle, the Beast, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth…everybody. And never miss a word. (I do have to cheat on the harmonies a bit, of course.) Does that count?

Rachel: YES! That most definitely counts! I.ADORE.THIS.STORY! And that is impressive! 

What are you reading right now? What made you pick it up?
Life After: A Novel by [Ganshert, Katie]Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by [Acuff, Jon]
Bethany: I usually have a fiction and a nonfiction read going at the same time, and right now is no exception. I’m reading Katie Ganshert’s Life After, which I picked up because of all of the wonderful things I heard about it from, well…basically everyone. Her writing is absolutely exquisite. I am reading it very slowly – partially because life has been so busy, but also because writing that good should be savored. And then I just started Jon Acuff’s Finish. I picked that one up because Jon Acuff is hilarious and insightful, and I love to start things. Finishing is a bit more difficult for me, for various reasons. I’m hoping Jon will use his hilarious, insightful brilliance to help me get better at that. (I’m realizing too late how funny it would have been to not finish that answer…)

Rachel: Oh I would have laughed so hard! Let's just hope you finish the book right? I NEED to read Life After so bad! I adore Katie!!!

femme mime, une autre suggestion deguisement halloween facile
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Bethany: I don’t know how unusual it is, but I know I sure get funny looks from my husband when he walks into the room and I am sitting in my chair with headphones on, having an entire silent conversation, all by myself. I’m constantly trying out the dialogue that I write, but not just the words. Facial expressions, body language and all. I need to know that it’s realistic and natural. But I’m sure it looks ridiculous when you walk in during the middle of it!

Rachel: Hahaha! I LOVE it! While I personally don't consider it strange, I am sure it looks hilarious! 

What writing advice do you have for pre-published authors?
Bethany: Know the rules, but don’t be limited by the rules. I wrote this story not having read a single Christian romance in my life. I wrote this story not having sat through a single writing class or seminar or webinar in my life. Now, I’m not recommending that. Now I’m reading all I can and learning all I can, and continually trying to improve. But sometimes God wants us to be the lump of clay He can mold. He wants to use us because we don’t know what we’re doing, and because it’s different from the norm. God led me to leave my successful career in banking, and then I wrote this story in six weeks, start to finish. I didn’t have an agent, but I submitted to Writer’s Edge, and thirteen days after Writer’s Edge accepted the manuscript, I was contacted by Revell. That’s not the way it normally goes. And trust me…I’m not taking credit for that. That is all God. So, yes…work hard, learn lots, steel yourself for rejection, go to conferences, read everything you can. But just don’t lose sight of the fact that sometimes God uses the boy taking sandwiches to his brothers in the field, or the girl who doesn’t want to be queen, or the woman who stays loyal to her mother-in-law. Just pray that God will use you, and trust Him to do it the way He knows is best.

Rachel: I LOVE this and I think it's safe to say, that we can apply this to all areas of our lives. What an amazing testimony of God's faithfulness in your life! WOW! Someone recently said to me, "God will be responsible for the consequences of your obedience." And I couldn't agree more! 

Before we go can you tell us about your current WIP?
Bethany: I would love to! It’s a Christian romance (not quite rom-com, but pretty doggone witty…if I do say so myself!) about a politician whose career is at its peak until a scandal breaks, which basically destroys his White House-sized aspirations in an instant. His best hope at public redemption involves going back to the hometown that he left in disgrace years earlier. Unfortunately for him, the girl he left behind (and left at the altar) is also back in town. And now she’s ex-CIA, and not inclined to put up with any funny business. So that’s what I’m working on at the moment, but I honestly have no clue if that will be the next book published. We shall see!

Rachel: Oooooh! This sounds awesome! Is it bad that I find political drama entirely intriguing? And a former CIA agent, person, thingy...oh YES PLEASE!!!! EEEEEP!

Thank you so much for joining us today Bethany, I can not wait to dive into The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck!

Bethany: Thank you! It was an honor to be here, Rachel. Thanks for all you do to spread the word about Christian fiction!

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 35), 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. Her new release, a Christian rom-com for Revell entitled The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, is available now. 


Revell has graciously provided a print copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck for giveaway. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Please see Policies & Disclosures for more information. Void where prohibited.

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