I’m happy to share this interview with one of my favorite authors, Tammy L. Gray. I’ve had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of her new book Sell Out, and it’s a fantastic read. I highly recommend it.
In conjunction with the interview, Tammy is giving away an electronic copy of Sell Out. To enter the giveaway, click on the book cover for Sell Out on the side bar or simply click here. [Giveaway over.]
I read Shattered Rose (which is now permanently free on ebook!) more than two years ago and quickly became hooked on the Winsor Series. Avery’s college experience struck me as authentic. What inspired you to share her story, one I think many young women can relate to?
Shattered Rose is honestly a love story to anyone who has struggled with an addiction. It’s about allowing yourself to experience the love of Christ despite mistakes that you make.
For me, I became a Christian as an adult, so much of the college experience I put in there was my own. I think so often, the Christian community wants to close their eyes to the challenges that face our youth. They want to believe their kids would never do such things. But they do. And there’s a reason our teenagers are leaving the faith in droves. They want authenticity. They crave it.
My goal in every book I write is to show God’s incredible glory by showcasing what He can do with flawed people. And despite the masks that we wear, all of us can relate to flawed characters.
Splintered Oak may still be my favorite of your novels. The change Jake undergoes is dramatic and moving without slipping into melodrama. Did you find it challenging to not only write from a male point of view but make him the centerpiece of the story?
No, but only because he had been a major character in the other two books. By the time I wrote in his POV, I had a strong handle on his voice and his backstory.
It also helped that I met with a certified sex therapist before writing this book. So, I knew what type of counseling he needed, and what his arc had to be for true healing.
Your stories are filled with strong, smart heroines. Grace of Mercy’s Fight is one of my favorites. How important is it to you to create flawed female leads who still exhibit strength and convictions?
That is honestly one of the biggest challenges for me. It’s very hard to write about a character’s struggle and weaknesses, yet still show them as a strong lead. What I try to do is counteract their failures with successes, their weakness with strengths, and give them a powerful arc that makes readers fall in love, even if they want to shake them for their choices.
You write on the edgy end of the Christian spectrum, a place where I often see authors getting grief from both sides: from those who are hostile to inspirational themes and those who have rigid ideas of what Christian fiction should look like. How do you balance that tension and keep from getting too discouraged?
It has been a journey for sure. First, I stopped referring to my books as edgy. I don’t consider them edgy. I write modern Christian romance, which means I address issues that are real to 2015. I don’t pretend we live in a world where sex doesn’t exist before marriage. Kids go to parties with alcohol and drugs. These are realities.
I know reading is subjective, so not everyone wants reality in their fiction and that’s fine. There are millions of Christian books without it. But I’m here to offer readers an option besides fluffy romance or general market smut. There is a middle ground and I’m finding more and more authors are allowing themselves the freedom to write authentic stories.
And the most beautiful thing of all is that readers are devouring these books. The support I get far outweighs any criticism.
Sell Out is a powerful message about standing up for others and about forgiving those who have hurt you. It’s set in high school and has a very strong bully story line, but not in a depressing way. In an empowering way. My hope is that when people finish this book they realize the power of Truth and Forgiveness.
Here’s the official description:
Like many elite private schools, Madison High has a legacy steeped in traditions, none of which revolve around learning. Survival is simple: keep your head down, don’t say a word, and never question school royalty.
Cody James, a former victim of Madison’s vicious brand of hazing, wants nothing more than to graduate without breaking the unspoken rules that could land him back in social exile. Cody has breached the elusive inner circle, and he has no intention of losing his hard-earned security. But a beautiful new student shakes up his plan to coast by and causes him question his role as sidekick to the king of the school.
As the only daughter of rock legend Donnie Wyld, Skylar has been homeschooled her entire life. Now she wants normal, and she hopes that Madison High will offer her an escape from her father’s deteriorating health. She never intended on catching the eye of the school’s self-elected king or falling for his confusing best friend. But one look at Cody James, and she is drawn in by his guarded vulnerability.
When an average Friday night party turns into a nightmare, Cody is forced to make a decision—fight or follow. But standing up for the bullied and broken means facing a past he’s long buried and risking the future he’s worked so hard to achieve.
Any tips for busy writer moms who are juggling family life, deadlines, and other duties or work besides? (I’m asking for a friend.)
I would say make a schedule. Treat yourself as an employer. I work from home and often on my own deadlines. So, I put a time limit on each task and force myself to meet them, even if I don’t have to.
I also try to designate specific time for my roles. I write while kids are in school, and when they are home, I put away the computer and put on my mom/wife hat. Lines sometimes blur during deadlines, but this is my goal.
What is your next project?
I am working on a brand new book that is completely unrelated to my other series. It’s adult romance and shows what life looks like after redemption when everyone in your past still expects you be to be the “bad girl.” I’m super excited about it!
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