Friday, December 27, 2019

#INTERVIEW with Author Pepper Basham, hosted by Paula Shreckhise

Pepper's Readers submitted questions for her to help celebrate the release of A MATCH FOR EMMA. Paula's are included here:
When did your love of reading start? 
Pepper: Oh wow! I can’t remember the first book I ever read…so I guess I have no memory of NOT reading. My mom and dad read Bible stories to me from really early and “stories” are an ingrained part of my Appalachian heritage, so I’ve always loved them.

What are two things about writing that you enjoy most?
Pepper: Two things: The entire creative process of watching a story grow! That is always amazing to me. You know that phrase from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddel says “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure” – well, that’s how I feel when I’m creating a story. When I write, I feel God’s pleasure. I love that God allows me to watch a story unfold and a part of the creative process to a happily-ever-after.
Second thing, a related – I really enjoy watching the characters grow from beginning to end. I’m a happily-ever-after girl for sure, as seeing the struggles overcome, the insecurities calmed, and the fears braved in my characters reminds me of what God is doing in my life from start to finish. Writing, in many ways, is a parallel to my life. God is the author and all the ‘stuff’ that happens from start to finish are the plot points he’s using to refine me into my eternal happily-ever-after self.

Do you choose a word for the year?  
Pepper: Sometimes I do. I didn’t really know my word for 2019 until around April and finally realized what it was. Opportunity.
Do you choose one Bible verse for each book?  
Pepper: I don’t set out to choose a Bible verse for each book, but sometimes one emerges from the story. My heart in the stories is really ‘what is God teaching the characters’, and many times those lessons flow naturally from the truth with a certain Scripture verse or concept from Scripture…because if God is teaching something to my characters, it is naturally going to flow from the truths of his Word anyway 😊
Do you choose an overarching theme for each book?  
Pepper: Not blatantly, I don’t think. If a theme flows from the creation of the story, then that’s wonderful. I guess I have had overarching themes for my series – for example the overarching theme for the Penned in Time series was forgiveness and the overarching theme for the Mitchell’s Crossroads series has been ‘home’. But I’ve not really focused on a theme for each book. Sometimes I find one, but I don’t usually start with them.
Is contemporary romance the genre that you are most comfortable writing?  
Pepper: Trick question 😉 I’m not sure I’d say I’m more comfortable writing contemporary romance, because there have been some historicals I’ve written where the words flowed like magic. I really do think the comfort level for me is very specific to each story, not necessarily genre, if that makes sense.
What drew you to write a book loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma?  
Pepper: For some reason I’d known Emma Mitchell was going to be inspired by Austen’s Emma from the first time I wrote her onto the page in A Twist of Faith. Each of the books in this series have been loosely based on classics, so she just grew out of the Mitchell family as my very own matchmaking Emma from the very beginning. Plus, I really wanted to try and do Emma’s character justice, because Austen’s Emma gets such a bad rap, and when I’d read the book I saw more to her. I asked myself, “Why would a great guy like Mr. Knightley fall for Emma if she was so bad?” and as I reread the book, looking for that answer, I noticed more about her character to love. I wanted to try and show that for a more modern audience.
What was the most challenging part of writing A Match for Emma?  
Pepper: YES! Two things come to the forefront of my mind for this answer. 1. The slow-growing friends-to-more concept. Neither one of my main characters romantically loved the other in the beginning -and most romance books thrive on romantic tension, so trying to keep some tension while not moving the relationship too fast was a real challenge. 2. Making sure Emma was realistically flawed yet still likeable. I didn’t want people hating on her at all! I wanted them to see her generous heart, but still show all the ways she still needed to grow. I really hope I was able to do that.
I know you stalk the Biltmore! Do you get inspiration there? Do you take a notebook or recorder with you?  
Pepper: I LOVE the Biltmore!! And yes, it does provide inspiration. I mostly take my phone and dictate into it if there’s something I want to save. I also take LOTS of photos there, which I feel are inspiration too. I am a very visual writer. I gain inspiration from visual/tactile a whole lot and then it ignites my imagination.

What is your FAVORITE part of writing books?
Pepper: Creating them (the whole brainstorming stuff)  and then having people love them too. That is like icing on the cake. I love watching a story unfold into something more than I thought it would be—watching the characters ‘breathe’. But something that I didn’t expect loving AS MUCH as writing, was having readers join me and my fictional characters in the fictional worlds I create. It’s amazing and rewarding to have people fall in love with these people, places, and…smiling dogs.

To purchase A MATCH FOR EMMA or read Reviews by Paula, Winnie and Kim, see yesterday's post!

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