I was incredibly flattered when I was asked to read an advanced copy of Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK, Betsy St. Amant’s latest teen novel. This book exposes the stereotypes others place on us, as well as the labels we place on ourselves in a fun-loving, high school tale full of romance, drama, and gummi bears.
Not only did I get to enjoy this fun read, but I got to meet a sweetheart of a writer through the process. I thought it would only be fair if I shared her darling self with you. She was gracious enough to let me interview her for my blog. So, may I introduce you to Betsy?
1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I've literally been writing since I was seven-years old, on the first computer my dad brought home for us. I wrote short stories and poems and re-wrote Baby Sitter Club books (fan fiction, and didn't even know it! Ha ha!) and just played around for years! But when I was thirteen or so and started reading Robin Jones Gunn's Christy Miller series and her Glenbrook series, I was hooked and knew I wanted to write Christian fiction one day! I wanted to inspire women of all ages like she had done for me - not just about love in general and waiting for the right guy, but about God as well.
2. How did you go about making the itch to write become a reality?
When I was 18, I realized publication wasn't just this simple thing to do. So, over the next few years I began attending writing conferences, taking workshops, blogging, interviewing other authors, learning the industry, writing articles for Crosswalk.com, and making friends with other writers. The ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) was truly invaluable in getting me on the right path!
3. What tips do you have for students who would like to pursue writing?
Write anything and everything! Don't limit yourself. If your heart is fiction, don't be afraid to branch into journalism for a while. Or get creative with a short story, if you're prone to journalism or non-fiction. There are craft opportunities in every genre or style of writing. Also, don't give up. You're going to get negative feedback and rejections - that NEVER stops. I got a rejection the other day from the same publisher who so far has bought 6 of my stories! It happens. Keep trying. ::grin::
4. Okay, so we have the gist of your writing in general, but tell us what sparked you to write this specific story about the identity struggle of a high school girl, who just so happens to be the preacher’s kid?
Addison's story is special to me, because I thought there was a hole in the market I felt called to fill. I grew up in the church, not as a PK but in a similar role of sorts. My grandparents were founders of our church, which had grown to nearly mega-church status, and my dad was a deacon, so I had an idea of what it was like to live in the proverbial fishbowl and be "so and so's granddaughter" or "so and so's daughter" instead of myself. I was in the church almost every time the doors were open the majority of my life, starting in the nursery. I realized as an older teen that I had to get to the point where my faith was real to me, and know why it was real. Did I believe what I believed because I'd been in the pew all my life? Or because I'd made it real for myself? There are a bunch of stories out there for teens who grew up outside church or for "new Christians", but I didn't know of many that were for those who had been saturated in church their entire lives. I wanted to fill that void.
5. After a recent trip to Germany, I enjoyed the dose of German you injected into your latest book. What inspired you to create the character of Marta, the German exchange student?
Thanks! I love Germany and have always wanted to visit. I wanted Marta to have a unique background, and I also wanted the setting to be something fun to research later if I ever got to go there or do a second book in the series. ::grin::
6. You talk about lemon drops and gummi bears as people’s personalities in your new book. What kind of candy describes your personality?
I'm pretty gummi bear myself it seems. Ha ha! But to branch out from those options, I'd say maybe a SweetTart. A purple one :)
7. You also have a lot of coffee drinking in your book, which quite frankly, gave me caffeine cravings. My favorite drink is a rich, creamy mocha. If we went out to coffee together, what would you order?
My Starbucks order is a grande, non-fat, white chocolate mocha with no whip (I only get whipped cream on special occasions, such as a book signing, because of the calories!) I actually had one this morning...
8. Which of your own traits did you give your characters in Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK?
I'm a lot like Addison - I love reading and I actually enjoyed school growing up, though not as much as she does. I also tend to have just a few close friends at a time like Addison. I also tend to have Marta's discernment and "old soul".
9. If the reader could take away one thing from this book, what would you, as the writer, hope it would be?
I hope they would re-evaluate their own spiritual walk and ask themselves why they believe what they believe. I think it’s easy for teens to get caught up in the mentality that religion or faith can be hand-me-down, and that's a lie. It has to be real to each one of us individually. We can't have a relationship with Jesus through our parents or grandparents.
10. Can you give us any details about what new project are you working on now?
Which one? Ha ha! I'm waiting to hear back on a new YA proposal while working on yet another one. I'm also still writing contemporary romances for Love Inspired. My next one there releases April 2012 and is called Her Family Wish.
If you have any questions or comments for Betsy, please leave a comment below. I’d also love to hear, what kind of candy best illustrates your personality?
Laura L. Smith