My friend Christina Berry had her first novel release this week! Familiar Stranger looks like a fascinating book. Congratulations, Christina! She’s agreed to stop by and answer a few questions. Thanks, Christina.
This first question is one everyone wants to know. How did you receive The Call?
My agent, Sarah Van Diest, had been back and forth with me on the phone and over email for a few weeks as two houses were showing a lot of interest in what was then titled Undiscovered. House “A” had said they would be making an offer, but nothing concrete came in. House “B” was rushing the project through so they could compete. Being a compulsive email checker, I actually found out House B—Moody—had come through with an offer about three minutes before I answered The Call. Instead of breaking the news to a clueless author, Sarah had to listen to me shriek with excitement for a few moments before she could even speak!
Tell us about your novel, Christina.
The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.
You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to http://www.christinaberry.net/books.aspx
What fun facts may surprise your readers about you?
I was the team captain and second answerer in the speed round for our family on Family Feud in 2000 … and we won! Also, I grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, while my parents were Southern Baptist missionaries. I remember being awed at the selection of toilet paper in the grocery store when we returned to the States.
Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Any character has some aspect of my personality, for better or worse. I can only write what I know. I’ve seen a richness develop in my writing as I’ve grown in my faith and walked through some valleys in the last decade.
Denise and Craig’s story is based on the lessons of forgiveness God taught me when my marriage fell apart … the first time. Accordingly, many of the emotions Denise goes through correspond to what I felt, though our situations differ. However, I also wanted to really understand the male perspective, so Craig had parts of me in him as well. The path away from God and following temptation is something we can all recognize and, unfortunately, identify with.
During the editing process and years after my husband and I reunited, our marriage of thirteen years unexpectedly ended. The words I had written as a happily married woman ministered to me in my singleness. My heart’s hope is that this book will lead people to Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly!
What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
Even though it’s my one and only so far, I believe The Familiar Stranger will always have a special place in my heart because it comes from such deep personal pain … and shows the strength of the Lord’s restoration.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
~Read craft books (I have a list of my favorites on the sidebar of my blog http://www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com)
~Join a critique group
~Attend writing conferences
~By open to criticism. One always has room to grow!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received on your writing journey?
(If you’ve been writing for years and have yet to get published, this is especially for you!) To start a new novel.
I’m a stubborn girl—just ask my parents. My mother and I reworked and reworked a co-authored story for eight years, each time putting our newly acquired writing knowledge/skills to use. We were determined that it woudn’t end up in a box in the closet or shoved under the bed. I still love that manuscript, and it’s actually very close to selling as I write this, but it wasn’t until I took the advise of others far sager and experienced with writing to start a new novel that I finally made my first sale.
What was the worst piece of advice you’ve received?
At a Christian conference, I met with a New York agent. The conference doesn’t require the faculty to sign any kind of statement of faith, though it is blatantly Christian in tone. The man actually told me replacing “Jesus” with “God” would make an easier sale and not offend as many people.
With all due respect, excuse me? The very Cross itself is offensive. (See Galatians 5:11) I’m going to use the name of Jesus because in His name dwells power and glory and honor. And really, because when you love Someone, even His name is beloved.