Hey ! I know it’s been a while, but I’m crying deadlines and summer vacation to be at fault. While I’ve been hard at work on my series (more deets to come later) my friend Valerie Comer has been hard at work getting her new release, well…released. Valerie graciously allowed me to drill her with merciless questions but before we get to the interview, I want you to read about her new book. I know I’m doing things out of order, but this is a unique release and I think you’ll appreciate the interview that much more by hearing about the book first.
Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.
Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can’t handle? And surely there’s something sweet beneath all that tart.
Interesting concept. Some might even call it…*fresh*!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
What compelled you to write Raspberries and Vinegar?
They say to write what you know. After writing a few speculative novels, I decided to try my hand at something contemporary. I knew I couldn’t pull off the whole designer handbag/ stiletto/ city girl kind of story. I know nothing of it, and (frankly) I’m not interested. Farming, though…that’s where I live. I hoped readers would enjoy the change of pace. Who knew that http://farmlit.com would be the next big thing?
How did you become interested in writing?
I enjoyed writing in school and started a bunch of stories as a child that I never finished. I definitely wasn’t writing what I knew back then! And of course, I loved to escape into stories. It took a long time for me to realize that normal, every day people could write them. Once I began to grapple with the process of doing so, I was hooked and have written about a dozen over as many years (most of which you’ll never hear about again, which is a Good Thing.)
Now, of course, I know that novelists are NOT normal every day people but are simply able to impersonate them fairly well.
How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?
Totally. I grew up a Mennonite farm girl in Manitoba, Canada and, while the Mennonite part didn’t particularly stick, my rural roots provided a strong foundation for my writing life. I want readers to respect farmers, realizing that those who provide the food we eat should be an important part of society.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Friends talk about quilting or knitting projects. I’m quick to say, “Oh, I don’t have the patience for that sort of thing.” They look at me rather strangely, because they know it can take me the better part of a year to write, revise, edit, and polish a novel. I guess I pick my battles! But yes, the challenge is how long all the steps take to get it right. I’d like to be one of those writers who plot out a story, write it, then only require a bit of tweaking to make it shine. Amy, don’t tell me if you are one of them—I don’t want to know!
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
I’m always up for giving advice! I love to teach writing workshops and have done so both online and in person. Something I have found is that many new writers don’t have a clear grasp of the big picture. Just what does this new hobby or career really entail? How do you go about preparing to write? What do you really DO?
A few months ago I started a new website at http://towriteastory.com and incorporated a free writing course via email. Students can sign up on the sidebar at any time and get a new lesson in their inbox weekly. It’s not meant to be a definitive course but to guide and provide an overview of the process.
I blog weekly on a topic related to the course, which covers planning, plotting, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.
Do you have a favorite part of Raspberries and Vinegar?
I don’t want to give away my very favorite scene, but there are several I love to read over and over. One shows Zach and his best friend Gabe, who owns a health food store. Gabe has been struggling to assemble a new display rack when Zach arrives. He asks Zach if he has a degree in engineering. Their camaraderie as they try to figure out where all the parts go just amuses me every time I read it. Of course, the majority of the dialogue in that scene has deeper meaning.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
I have three young granddaughters, and they’re my inspiration for nearly everything I do. I care deeply about the world we’re leaving to their generation, about the food they eat and the health they will (or won’t) enjoy as a result of our current choices. There’s so much more to life than getting through today.
What’s next for you?
The other two books in the Farm Fresh Romance series will release in 2014. Wild Mint Tea releases in March and Sweetened with Honey in December.
Where can we find you on the web?
Other (my website for writers): http://towriteastory.com
Now for the fun questions–20 fun facts about you:
Birthday? May 22.
Favorite color? Green, of course!
Favorite animal? To pet, or to eat? ;)
Siblings? Four older sisters. I got bossed around a lot. Now I take it out on my characters.
Favorite drink? Raspberry Vinegar!
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? Is this a trick question? I don’t eat jellybeans. They’re not chocolate. (Maybe I should say raspberry flavored?)
Favorite Author? So many! But let me give a shout out to Krista Phillips.
Favorite Book? Krista Phillips’ debut Sandwich with a Side of Romance is hilarious and yet thought-provoking. A perfect combination.
Favorite dish? Grilled lamb chops (which answers half of the above animal question!)
Ice Cream flavor? Chocolate with brownie bits and fudge ripples. Why no, it is NOT possible to get too much chocolate.
Favorite Season? Spring.
Dream Vacation? A Mediterranean cruise.
Favorite TV show? I watch almost no TV, but when hubby has Duck Dynasty on, I find it hard to resist watching.
Pet peeve? Excel. They call those teensy boxes cells for a reason. **shudder**
Favorite Place to Write? In my home office, looking out over our garden and farm to the mountains beyond.
Favorite Superhero? Mr. Incredible’s wife, Elastigirl.
Cat or Dog? Meow.
Favorite Candy Bar? I’ll take my chocolate organic and fairtrade. Camino Dark is my usual, but when I can get Dark Chocolate Cinnamon from Galerie au Chocolat, I’m in chocoholic heaven.
Favorite guilty pleasure? See above!
Favorite vacation spot or place you’d like to visit but haven’t yet? My favorite spot is near Tofino on Vancouver Island, off Canada’s west coast. We don’t get there often, but I love the majesty of God’s creation along the ocean beaches. It brings life and the universe back into perspective.
~*~*~*~ About Valerie ~*~*~*~
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her characters enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit with the voice of experience laced with humor. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released August 1, 2013. Visit her at http://valeriecomer.com.
A Farm Fresh Romance Series:
A Farm Fresh Romance. This unique farm lit series follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to invite Valerie back and find out more about growing up Mennonite. Until then, don’t forget to check out Raspberries and Vinegar–available now!