Monday, June 1, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Elizabeth Maddrey

Happy to host fellow ACFW member and romance author Elizabeth Maddrey to the blog today! Liz is here to talk about two of her most recent books in her new series, Taste of Romance: A Splash of Substance and A Pinch of Promise.

If you love catered food, politics and stories that send the characters on creative journeys that result in unexpected love and love regained then you will absolutely adore these two books by Liz! 

Best of all, you can enter the book giveaway contest toward the end of the interview for your chance to WIN a copy of Liz's books! Liz agreed to give away one e-book copy of each book. The contest details are in the Rafflecopter widget below. 

So without further ado, on to the author interview.

*Questions by Alexis in bold, answers from Liz not in bold...

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Alexis: You’ve started a new book series called Taste of Romance. What makes this series special to you?

Elizabeth: I think the first thing is that the hero in A Splash of Substance was a very minor character in my first three books (the Grant Us Grace series) and so revisiting him has been a lot of fun. But I also know that Christians frequently struggle with how much they can and should be involved in what are considered cultural or political issues and it’s those types of issues, specifically food-related ones, that the characters in the Taste of Romance series wrestle with. And as I’ve been writing, I’ve found myself having to prayerfully revisit my own thoughts.

What is the inspiration behind Taste of Romance? Share the story of how it all started.

The inspiration really came from a conversation with a friend who doesn’t vote. She’s an amazing Christian and I struggled, hard, with the fact that she had (and continues to have) no problem with a complete lack of participation in any sort of government. And I thought to myself that it was good that her husband is in the same boat...but what if he wasn’t?

*Segue*: We’re going to talk about your two most recent releases which are book #1 and book #2 in your new series Taste of Romance. Let’s start in order with the first book in the series, A Splash of Substance.




How did you decide on the title, A Splash of Substance? What message do you want that title to send to your readers before they start reading your book?

Titles are probably my biggest hurdle as a writer. I knew I wanted something that combined a food-type word (in this case Splash) and then something that would suggest a deeper, more thoughtful life. And since alliteration is always a good thing, I hit on Substance. As for readers, I hope it conveys a sense that the people in the book are worth finding more about and that they have something to offer that might make you think.

Paige Jackson is your leading lady who stays out of politics and trusts God to “govern the world.” How did you come up with her character? What are her flaws, traits and quirks? What makes Paige, well, Paige?

She’s based very loosely on my friend who shares that same thought process when it comes to the larger sphere outside her immediate concerns. I think in many ways, that’s a flaw and a benefit to Paige. She’s an avid gardener and pretty entrenched in her viewpoints. She has trouble with her mom and is definitely a daddy’s girl. She flies off the handle pretty easily and will walk off in the middle of a fight or shut you out because she hates confrontation. But she still listens to the Holy Spirit pointing out her issues and, generally, will come around to apologize after she’s cooled off.

I love that Paige owns a catering company! What kind of food does she serve?


Paige is all about locally sourced, seasonal food. So while she tries for higher-end flavors, she does it with down-to-earth ingredients. She wants the food to be fresh and accessible.

Jackson Trent, your leading man, “works on Capitol Hill for Senator Carson, putting his beliefs in action to help shape national policy.” What makes Jackson tick? What makes him a valuable professional asset to Sen. Carson? Did you use the names of real politicians for this story or is every character purely fictional?

Everyone is purely fictional. I had a few different people in mind for the side characters, but not the Senator. Jackson is fueled by a very distinct sense of right and wrong. It’s Biblically based, but he can be a bit of a steamroller. He’s absolutely adamant that Christians need to be making changes for Christ from the top down. His zeal makes him a huge asset professionally, as long as he’s in agreement with your focus.

Describe the scene where Paige and Jackson first meet. What thoughts were going through your creative brain when you created that scene?


Paige and Jackson meet when she goes to his office to present the suggested menus for this fundraiser that she’s been selected to cater. I wanted there to be an immediate sense of attraction between the two, but also that pushing apart because Jackson is the embodiment of so much that Paige feels is wrong with the world. Jackson, on the other hand, sees Paige as a bit of a dip because of her focus on sustainability and local sourcing. It was definitely attraction at first sight, but personally, both left feeling that working together was going to be miserable.

What makes A Splash of Substance a “heartwarming romance that also provides readers a chance to consider their views on the civic responsibility of Christians and sustainable living in the suburbs?”


Well, I think the romance between Paige and Jackson is delightful (I’m probably biased). I love watching people who appear diametrically opposed discover that, at the end of the day, they have more in common with one another than they think. But, it’s not only that love story. Paige and Jackson both wrestle with their positions on these issues and as they do, readers have a chance to do that as well. Hopefully it’s presented in a way that’s not considered preachy (I really do try to make it an even-handed presentation of things that people should think about – I don’t have an axe to grind, I just want people to know why they fall on the side of an issue that they do and not end up there by default.)

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? What was the most rewarding?

The biggest challenge was probably keeping the book from becoming preachy – and really that wasn’t horribly hard because I focused on the romance and on Paige and Jackson and even though there were places that I could’ve put more in, it wouldn’t have been organic to the characters. The most rewarding is getting to the end and realizing that there’s a good story there – it’s not just an excuse to examine issues, it’s not a shallow or superficial love story with no character growth. I’m really happy with the depth, on all sides, of the book.

What do you hope your readers will learn from reading this book?

I don’t know that I have any specific hopes beyond having enjoyed the time between the pages. If they thought about their own positions on voting or sustainability, then great! But if not, that’s good too, provided they had a good visit with Paige and Jackson.

*Segue #2*: Let’s talk about A Pinch of Promise which is book #2 in the Taste of Romance series. 
I gather from your tentative book summary that opens with the line, “He never forgot his first love” that this story is about romance won and lost. Am I correct? Please explain.

Ben fell in love with a fellow camp counselor when he spent the summer working with kids between his freshman and sophomore year of college. But when camp was over, she disappeared. And he never really was able to move on – and then she came back into his life.

Your hero in this book is a man named Ben. What inspired you to create him?

Well, he’s one of Jackson’s roommates. So it seemed natural that he have his own book (and Zach will be book three). As for how they ended up being created? Jackson just started talking to them in a scene in A Splash of Substance...and there they were.

The object of Ben’s affection is Marie to whom “no other woman has measured up.” Tell me about it. What makes Marie so perfect and captivating to Ben’s heart?

Some of it is that thrill of young love, you know? But they had a lot in common – similar hopes, dreams, plans. And I think some of it is that it’s easier to be in love with someone who’s gone than to take a risk on someone new.

Rebecca, your heroine has a wounded heart which makes it difficult for her to trust men. Tell me the backstory. 


Rebecca’s dad is a parenting expert and speaker. He used one example of her bad behavior in one of his talks, using her name specifically. And then he started making up other examples...but he never explicitly say that it wasn’t Rebecca, even though he never really said it was. But...her reputation was ruined as a result and it caused tons of problems for her during middle and high school.

What inspired you to create Rebecca? What makes her will strong? What makes her heart soft? What does she fear? What gives her hope?


I love the idea of lost love regained, and that kind of spawned Rebecca. Since I knew Ben’s knee was shot (from A Splash of Substance), and that he’d need physical therapy, having Rebecca be part of his PT was a natural connection. She is adamant about her privacy. Her heart breaks for disadvantaged children. She doesn’t have a ton of hope, really, until further on in the novel as she starts to learn about forgiveness.


Does this story have happy ending? Inquiring minds want to know!

Of course! When you write contemporary romance, you have to have a happy ending. I would be so annoyed as a reader if I picked up something labeled “contemporary romance” and the hero and heroine didn’t end up together in at least some fashion. 

What do you hope your readers will take away from A Pinch of Promise?

There are a number of themes in Pinch – forgiveness, truth, identity, and then the issue of food insecurity locally and abroad. If readers discover anything about any of those, then great. But like with Splash, if they had a pleasant time reading it, then I’ll consider it a win.

*Final Segue*: Let’s share a little insight into your personal life as we close.

What do you write contemporary romance?

Mostly because it’s also what I love to read. I love the idea of romance and I’m also a technology nerd, so contemporary is the way to go. When you start talking corsets and buggies and bustles my eyes glaze over.

What do you love the most about being an author?

I love that other people read about the people living in my imagination and have a good time doing that. Even if they didn’t, I’d keep writing, because I enjoy it – it’s my outlet. But to see my book on Amazon and know someone else has read it and enjoyed it? It’s cool.

How do you balance your work as an author with your responsibilities as a wife and mother?

Poorly? Honestly, this is a daily (hourly?) struggle. I try hard to keep my writing to naptime and after the kids are in bed. With my youngest in the process of giving up his naps, I’m not sure what that’s going to look like going forward. Once the kids are in bed, I still need to balance hubby time with writing – so we have in-house date nights one or two nights a week where we play a game together or just hang out. But, thankfully, my husband and I both have a love language of touch and quality time, so we’re both good with an evening sitting next to each other on the couch while he plays Xbox and I write. It’s something that can be a struggle, but I think as long as we’re intentional about making sure we nourish all the relationships, we’ll do okay.

What is your favorite feature of springtime? Why?

I love the warm days and cool nights. I love that split, when the evening air is still crisp enough to be refreshing. But I love that it starts getting warm enough to be outside playing during the day (and yet not having hit the hot and humid that summer brings).

Thanks for the interview, Elizabeth! Please leave a question for my readers to answer which will qualify them to enter your book giveaway contest. 


Elizabeth’s question:
What do you hope to get out of the time you spend reading?


a Rafflecopter giveaway ~*~
Author bio: Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

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Book blurb for A Pinch of Promise:

He never forgot his first love. 

In the ten years since Ben Taylor last saw Marie, no other woman has measured up. After he meets Rebecca Fisher, the physical therapist rehabilitating his knee, Ben is convinced that she is the same woman he fell in love with so many years ago. She denies it at first, but his persistence causes her to admit the truth. Right before she pushes him away.

To escape a painful negative image created by her father, Rebecca Fischer has constructed an identity completely separate from her past. Seeing Ben, her long lost love, threatens to shatter her intricate illusions. As Ben digs to uncover the truth of who she is, Rebecca must decide if she will trust any man with her wounded heart.

But even if Ben can convince her to admit the truth, how will he be able to trust her love?


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Book blurb for A Splash of Substance:

She doesn’t vote. He works for a Senator. Is it a recipe for romance or disaster?

Paige Jackson has always stayed out of politics, leaving it to God to govern the world. She has enough on her plate as the owner of a catering company founded on convictions to buy local, sustainable fare. Jackson Trent works on Capitol Hill for Senator Carson, putting his beliefs in action to help shape national policy.

Hoping to find high-end clients to keep her business afloat, Paige bids on a contract to cater the Senator’s next fundraiser. Shake-ups in the Senator’s staff leave Jackson grudgingly in charge of the event. After Paige is chosen as caterer, she and Jackson must work together despite opposing beliefs on how God calls Christians to participate in government. As Paige introduces Jackson to sustainable fare, it’s not just the food that piques his interest.

When Senator Carson becomes front-page news in Washington, Paige is sucked into the whirlwind of scandal. Can Jackson convince Paige he wasn’t complicit and win her back or has politics burned his chance at love?

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Buy A Pinch of Promise:
Amazon.com - http://amzn.to/1PXpxXa
Barnes and Noble - http://bit.ly/1BAka48

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Buy A Splash of Substance:
Amazon.com - http://amzn.to/1KGm8bs
Barnes and Noble - http://bit.ly/1KwCkJm
Books-A-Million - http://bit.ly/1KwCqR4

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Connect with Elizabeth:

2 comments:

  1. One of the best interviews I've seen. I really learned a lot about Elizabeth. Thanks. I would love to win a book.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awe, thanks for the compliment about the interview, Janet! :) I'm happy you were able to learn more about Elizabeth. Check back here after the contest ends to see if you won. Take care & God bless you! :)

    ReplyDelete