My guest this week is Jennifer Slattery. I met Jennifer at the Blue Ridge Conference several years ago. She has since become my crit partner and friend. Breaking Free is her 4th book.
Tell me about Breaking Free. Give us the back cover of the book.
I’d love to! Breaking Free is a women’s fiction about a woman nearly destroyed by shame and her husband’s sin who’s forced to make an impossible choice—save her marriage or her kids.
From the back cover:
Sometimes it takes losing everything to grab hold of what really matters.
Women’s ministry leader and Seattle housewife, Alice Goddard, and her successful graphic-designer husband appear to have it all together. Until their credit and debit cards are denied, launching Alice into an investigation that only leads to the discovery of secrets. Meanwhile, her husband is trapped in a downward spiral of lies, shame, and self-destruction. Can they break free from their deception and turn to the only One who can save them? And will it be in time to save their marriage?
Read a free, 33-page excerpt here.
Share the first page of Breaking Free.
This place, these friends—her life—was exhausting. What Alice wouldn’t give to hide away . . . indefinitely. And yet here she sat in an upscale Seattle restaurant with her upscale Seattle friends, playing the part, while her latest keynote cycled through her brain again and again. Authenticity. Transparency. That’s the key to the Christian life.
Breathing deeply, she glanced around. The quaint little bistro was busier than normal. Wait staff, dressed in white double-breasted shirts, flitted around brightly colored tables, heavily laden trays in their hands. Bottles of wine lined the far wall, their red and green labels adding a splash of color to the exposed brick. Alice raised her fork and nibbled on a piece of chicken, careful not to smudge her lipstick. As she chewed, she studied her friends.
Friends? What a comical word choice. Beth was the only one Alice trusted, and yet she spent countless hours with the others, listening to them go on and on about their passionate marriages and honor roll kids. Either they all lived picture-perfect lives or they were Academy Award winners. Like Alice—always carefully groomed, full of smiles, and positive words. The boys? They were great. Trent, her husband, he was great. Everything was great. Just perfect.
And the fear that one of them would find out just how imperfect her life was consumed her like a rapidly growing cancer.
Misty, a redhead with glitter-blue eye shadow, grabbed a slice of zucchini bread from the center basket. “We need to meet for lunch more often.”
“Speaking of getting together . . .” Beth, a petite blonde with sparkling blue eyes and skin too smooth for a woman in her forties, flashed a smile. “Who’s hosting the next women’s game night?” She glanced from one face to the next.
Avoiding eye contact, Alice swallowed and tucked her hair behind her ears. Her house was off limits.
Beth’s gaze zeroed in on Misty.
She waved her hands in the air. “No way. Not me. I’m still trying to clean the chocolate stains out of my carpet from last time.” She threw her hair over her shoulders, exposing large gold hoop earrings.
“Yeah, but you were the one that started flinging the cake around in the first place.” Beth dabbed her mouth with a napkin and looked at Alice. “Looks like it’s on you.”
Alice raised a hand and opened her mouth to protest when someone touched her shoulder. She glanced at the waiter standing over her.
He leaned closer and whispered, “There seems to be a problem with your credit card, ma’am.”
Her cheeks burned as everyone looked at her. “What do you mean by problem?”
The kid shifted, eyes darting from face to face. Turning back to Alice, he spoke quieter. “Your credit card company declined the charges.” He placed the card on the table.
Alice’s stomach dropped. They had a ten thousand dollar limit. She’d done some minor shopping last week, bought a new dress and matching shoes, but nothing big. Unless Trent went on a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping spree, there should still be plenty of credit left on their account. Certainly enough to pay for a chicken and watercress salad.
She pulled her wallet from her purse, flipped it open, and stared at the empty pocket. Where had her twenty dollars gone? Maybe her boys had grabbed it without telling her. So she’d pay with debit.
“Here.” She handed her bankcard to the waiter then turned back to her friends with a forced smile. “OK, OK, I’ll do it. I’ll host the next game night.” Anything to get the focus off her and her finances.
What’s next after Breaking Free?
My next novel, Freedom to Love, a sequel to Beyond I Do, releases in February of 2017, and I’m revising the book I hope will follow Freedom to Love, tentatively titled A Different Kind of Love. I’ve also just finished plotting a contemporary romance set in Austin that I’m really excited about. So many stories begging to be written, so little time! Haha!
I’d love to travel from one unique and colorful place to another, bringing my laptop and hubby with me. I’d stay there for a couple weeks to a month—long enough to pick up on the flavor of the area, then I’d go home to flesh out a story set in that location. I could be the coast-to-coast storyteller!
What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Reading at Aromas, my favorite Omaha coffeehouse or spending time with one of my sweet friends at the same location. Maybe I’d take some painting classes with my husband, and we’d probably go shopping with our now-adult daughter (which means we’d sit on a bench in the hall while she camped out in one of her favorite clothing stores). But even then, there’d still be plenty of time to write. ;)
Where are you right now? What are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.
Most of the time my answer to this would be in my office in my PJs, but it just so happens I’m answering these interview questions while on vacation. I’m sitting in a hotel lobby at a golf course waiting for my husband and daughter to finish golfing so we can eat lunch. Classical music is playing in the background and in front of me stretch a series of long windows overlooking the course. The sun is beginning to poke through a layer of marine clouds.
As to what I’m wearing—jeans, silver jewelry, a frilly antique white top my fashion-savvy daughter helped me pick out, and a jean jacket. Contrasted to my normal writing attire, I feel quite fancy! (smile)
What is your favorite season and why?
This is a hard one! As a Midwest transplant, I’ve come to love living in an area with four distinct seasons. Coming out of a long, dark, hard winter, spring always feels so vibrant! Birds chirp, green buds begin to emerge, flowers bloom. Then comes summer with swimming weather, long days, and fire pit evenings. Then, just when the heat begins to feel daunting, fall hits with its crisp evening breezes and kaleidoscope of color. And then comes winter, when you have every excuse to stay curled up with a book next to a fire.
Are there themes in your books you hope the readers see? Are there any themes that weren’t overt but developed as the story progressed?
This story very much felt like a God-thing; the themes of grace and surrender permeate the pages. These themes weren’t intentional but rather just emerged, probably because they’ve been important themes in my life. My life was a mess in my teen years. It’s only by God’s grace that I’m a writer, wife, and mother today, and my deepest healing and transformation came through surrendering to Him, His healing process, and His love.
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also works as a content editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.