their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is her debut novel for Revell.
Bethany, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
For those who aren't familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I met my husband online in the late 90’s (when that was honestly a very scary and risky thing to do!), and I moved from Kentucky to Colorado in 2001 after we got married. We are now the parents of 14-year-old Ethan and 11-year-old Noah. In 2014 I left behind a successful, stable career as the vice president of a bank because I believed God was calling me to get serious about this whole writing thing.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
Editing is a mental struggle for me. With this book, I was blessed beyond belief to get to work with such amazing editors at Revell, and I have absolutely no doubt that because of their editing skills, we have a much stronger book today. But when the process first begins, I have to fight against something inside of me that is screaming, “I wrote it the way I want it! Leave it alone!” Editing days are full of lots of prayer and coffee!
Ben Delaney – her pastor – things don’t get any easier, of course, and Sarah must attempt to live the life God is calling her to live while dealing with the reality of her past, and some people who seem determined to cast themselves as the judge in Sarah’s life.
That sounds like a great read! Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
We, as humans, are so good at making plans. We’re good at convincing ourselves that we know where we need to go, that we know how to get there, and that it’s all destroyed when our plans don’t come together exactly as we thought they would. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a good reminder that our plans are nothing compared to God’s. As Ben Delaney tells Sarah Hollenbeck, God has “a perfect, bigger, and better than anything I ever could have imagined sort of plan.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advice would be to start writing and keep writing, no matter the setbacks or challenges that come along. And then I would just like to add a bit of encouragement by saying if the Lord is calling you to write, then you need to write. Study the craft and learn all you can, but know that our God doesn’t use a cookie cutter. Be you. Be the writer He wants you to be. And I promise you that if He wants to use you and your writing for His purposes, rejections from agents and publishers won’t get in His way.
Do you talk to your characters?
I do! Dialogue is one of the biggest priorities for me – probably a result of my love for and experience in the theatre – and I just don’t think anything can pull my attention and interest out of a book more quickly than dialogue which isn’t believable. When I’m writing, I’m always testing out dialogue in imaginary conversations with my characters before any of it hits the page.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
I’d just like to say that I don’t take their time and attention for granted, for even a moment. I’m a new author to them, and whatever the reason they’re choosing to pick up a copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, I want them to know that I’m grateful. I’ll always give them the best I’ve got, and I hope that this is just the beginning for us. The journey is better because they’re a part of it!
What is your favourite Scripture verse and why?
Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” I actually used these verses as the dedication in The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck because they have come to mean so much to me in my life over the course of the past few years. The way the Lord has provided for my family, the opportunities He has given, the relationships which have formed, and absolutely everything surrounding the writing and publication of this book…it’s all from Him. And immeasurably more than I ever asked or imagined.
God has clearly done a good work in you and was preparing you for this moment. Thank you for sharing with us today!
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