22 October 2009

Getting to know you Thursday with Trish Perry

Please welcome Trish Perry to Getting to know you Thursdays.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve been writing seriously for about 15 years and publishing books for the past four. Before I started writing, I worked for attorneys in Washington, D.C. and then for the Securities and Exchange Commission. I was also a stockbroker for four agonizing years; I really hated that job. I’m much happier operating through the right side of my brain! I live in Northern Virginia with my teenaged son, who constantly makes me laugh. I have a lovely adult daughter who will be remarrying in a few months to a terrific guy with whom she’s been friends for years. And I have a fantastic six-year-old grandson.

2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books?

My British grandparents gave me a book called Beryl the Peril, about a real troublemaker of a girl. I loved that book. She was so bad! And then My Father’s Dragon was a huge favorite of mine. I so wanted my kids to embrace it as I did, but it never rang their chimes the same way. Ah, well, different books for different generations, right?

3. Do you have a favourite Genre to both read and right write?

Certainly as far as writing is concerned, I’m most drawn to contemporary romance with a humorous twist. I’ve dabbled in writing historical, but I find myself stilted with it. My heroine can’t take a step without my feeling I need to research that step to death, to make sure every facet of it fits with the time period. Yeesh. It’s like trying to play basketball while wearing a corset—very confining. And I’ve written a supernatural thriller that I actually like very much, but I don’t think the market is very strong in that regard right now. Maybe someday.
As far as reading is concerned, I’m wide open. I vary genre from one book to the next, so if I read an inspirational romance I’ll follow with maybe a mainstream historical, followed by something speculative or otherwise off the wall.

4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you?

I think “influenced” would be too strong a word. Maybe a touch here and there, so I suppose I’m a bit of a mutt in that regard. Before I became a Christian, I read plenty of yearning-heaving-type romances until they became too predictable. They didn’t seem particularly romantic to me, just sexual. Then I read a lot of thrillers, a la Ken Follet, James Grady, and Robert Ludlam, until they started to blend into one big ball of espionage, and I wanted a change. Finally, I started reading more classical fare: Hemingway, Austen, Fitzgerald, Hurston, Faulkner, George Eliot. And after becoming a Christian, I added inspirational fiction to my reading list. You see? Mutt.

But anyone who has read my stuff is probably scratching her head at the above author list. Despite what I read, I found when I wrote that my voice was more a romantic, humorous one. I began reading authors like Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, and Jennifer Weiner. Surely, I thought, there was a market out there for a similar style, but with cleaner plotlines. After writing my first two published books, I learned there were a few other authors out there who wrote humorous contemporary romance for the inspirational reader. And our numbers are growing!

5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I was working on my Psychology degree (as an adult college student). I was sure the Lord wanted me to become a counselor. But in the process of completing the degree, I realized how much I enjoyed the writing assignments given me, especially in English classes that required creativity. I got wonderful encouragement from my professors, so I took as many creative writing courses as I could and absolutely loved them. By the time I finished my degree, I had decided to write for a couple of years before deciding whether or not to go to grad school for Psychological Counseling. I never went back!

6. How did you go about becoming an author?

Besides those classes, I joined a local writers’ group, and I read everything I could about writing fiction. I joined Writers Digest Book Club and went nuts. I still haven’t finished reading all of the books I ordered. I started submitting small pieces before I finished college, and my first acceptance letter—for a poem in the Salvation Army’s War Cry magazine—arrived in the mail a few days after I graduated. I wrote several short stories and published a few of those, as well as some personal essays and such. I entered several writing contests and won a few accolades. Finally I decided to try a novel. The first one took me years. That’s the supernatural novel, and it may very well have simply been a learning experience, never to be published. I met my fabulous agent when she spoke to my local writers’ group, and she eventually brought my next two books to publication. They sold together (The Guy I’m Not Dating and Too Good to Be True).

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?

Everything I would like to be, if not a writer, is artistic and low paying—isn’t that just the way? I’d like to sing professionally or be a professional photographer. However, I’m actually training right now to become a courtroom reporter—which will be interesting enough—just to make sure the bills get paid. But what I find most attractive about that career is the flexible hours, which will enable me to continue to write and to keep the all-important electricity flowing to my computer!

8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?

I love to sing, and before my writing schedule got so busy I served on the worship team at my church for years. I enjoy getting together with girlfriends just to hang out, eat, laugh, and go to shows and to the movies and such. I treasure my time with my kids, and I pray they’ll always be near enough for us to get together once in awhile—that’s difficult enough with my daughter living only an hour away! I would definitely enjoy traveling more often than I do, but only if I could teleport. Airports and flying are such pains! But when I’m wealthy enough for my own jet, I’ll be all over the world, honey!

9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?

I’m a homebody at heart and moved into my townhome a couple of years ago—I love my cozy home. I’ve only been overseas once, to Italy. I’d like to return. And I’d love to tour all of Europe. A few of my girlfriends and I talk about that on occasion, our eyes getting all dreamy. Once all of our kids are off at college, we just might go. Again, that’s going to be so much easier once that jet of mine arrives.

10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?
Wow, I could come up with so many different combinations, depending upon my mood of the time. If I have to give you just one combination, I’ll give you a group I’d choose for a laugh-out-loud dinner: Steve Carell, Ricky Gervais, and Ellen DeGeneres.

11. Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will be coming out soon. Also where we can find you on the web.

My most recent release is Sunset Beach. It’s about a curious young woman about to enter grad school who decides to orchestrate a meeting between her enigmatic mother and long-lost aunt at a funky little beach house in San Diego, California. Many family secrets unfold, and a juicy romance happens along, as well. The book is all about identity.

And by the time you post this, the ink should be dry on a brand new contract I’ve just received, so I’m probably safe to mention it. I’m very excited about a new series I’m doing for Harvest House Publishers, called The Tea Shop Series. The books are set in beautiful Middleburg, Virginia, a small-but-diverse town in Northern Virginia, about an hour outside Washington, D.C. The connecting point of the stories is a tea shop run by a British woman who has lived in America for years. None of the stories are hers—she is simply the person in common with the various groups featured in each installment.

The first book, The Perfect Blend, is about a young woman who burns all of her bridges, leaves her family, job, and hometown, to elope with her dashing attorney boyfriend. The problem? She arrives in Middleburg, ready to wed, and dashing boyfriend is nowhere to be found. What happens after that is great fun. And very romantic! The book won’t release until sometime in early 2011, but I suspect the next installment, Water Hot Enough, may follow within the same year. That book will involve an entirely new cast of characters, other than our tea shop owner.
You can find me at my web site: http://www.trishperry.com/

And read my monthly column: http://www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/berzerk_stranger.html

My Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/profile.php?id=145

My Twitter page is: twitter.com/TrishPerryBooks

And my Shoutlife page is: http://www.shoutlife.com/profile_view.cfm?uid=12222

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