Sunday, February 12, 2017

14 Days of Sweet Stories: "Restoring Love" by Jennifer Slattery


Interview with Jennifer Slattery, author of Restoring Love:

Alexis: What is the inspiration behind your story’s title, Restoring Love?

Jennifer: Restoring Love picks up, in some ways, where Beyond I Do left off. The two stories are each a standalone, but in my debut novel, we catch a glimpse of Angela—before Christ. And man, is she blowing things, deeply hurting her daughter in the process. But then, she encounters Jesus Christ and He begins to change her trajectory. So, in answer to your question, I knew I needed to write Angela’s post-Christ story before I’d even finished writing the other. 


Alexis: Restoring Love is “missional fiction”. What does that mean for your readers?

Jennifer: Mission fiction is like any other story but with an added slant—it touches on the theme of outreach. So, for example, in Restoring Love, two of my characters feel led to reach out to a single mom and her kids. 

Alexis: What lessons do you want your readers to learn from your characters?

Jennifer: That God’s love is amazing! It can and does transform us, heal us and set us free. 

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero, Mitch. Why is he passionate about his work as a contractor and house-flipper? What is it about the restoration process of old houses that he loves so much?

Jennifer: He’s always loved working with his hands, and he has a fondness for traditional Midwestern homes with their covered porches and massive, old-growth trees with leaves that turn vibrant in the fall. He loves the history of Omaha that he sees in so many of her distinct neighborhoods, and he wants to help preserve that. He wants to restore those places that capture the traditional Midwest feel so they can remain. 

Alexis: Why did you decide to set your story in the Midwest? Which state is it set in?

Jennifer: This story is set in Omaha, Nebraska, where I’ve lived for the past four years. I never would’ve expected to fall in love with this area—with it’s insanely hot summers and bitter cold winters. But I did. I’ve fallen in love with the beautiful, four distinct seasons, the amazing arts culture, the people who truly are some of the kindest and most welcoming I’ve encountered, and the overall flavor of the place. 

But Omaha’s got its hard, too. Generational poverty. Single moms trying to do better for their kids but feeling like everything’s stacked against them. Kids wanting to dream but stuck in a vicious cycle of struggle, fear, and loss. In Restoring Love, I wanted to show the beauty and the hard, to put the two together, to show that love—God’s love—truly can turn the ugly into good. 

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine, Angela. Why is she filled with regrets? Why did she move to the Midwest? What is it about her life that she doesn’t think is perfect?

Jennifer: You can see much of Angela’s story in my debut novel, Beyond I Do, a novel that centers largely on her daughter’s journey. In that book, we see Angela living selfishly, using others and then discarding them for men. She’s made many poor decisions, and those choices have greatly hurt those she loves. 

But then she encounters Christ, and He begins to restore the relationships she destroyed. More than that, He begins to restore her from what she had become into the beautiful, grace-filled and grace-giving woman He created her to be. 

Alexis: Describe Angela and Mitch’s meet-cute. What were their first impressions of each other?

Jennifer: When Mitch first encountered Angela, dressed like a much-too-old eighties pop queen, he found her...strange. Perhaps a bit comical and...intriguing. When he learned she was house sitting for a military family he knows and cares about, he determined to keep an eye on her—for the family’s sake. 

When Angela encountered Mitch, she had one thought—that man is handsome! But a second thought immediately followed: I have no business thinking that way. With her relational history, she determined to steer clear of men, but, well, life has a way of unhinging our most determined plans.

Alexis: Mitch’s mission is to restore old houses. What is it that Angela is working on to restore? 

Jennifer: Angela wants to restore her life. She’s made such a mess of things, and as a result, she’s come to believe a lot of self-defeating lies—like she’s a failure, unworthy, unable. And yet, God continues to surround her, encouraging her to keep stepping forward. Because He’s got a plan. An amazing plan, one she is uniquely able to fill. 

Alexis: Why is Mitch struggling to keep his business afloat?

Jennifer: House flipping can be a huge risk. One never knows what’s lurking behind the walls, so to speak. In other words, a flipper can purchase a home that appears to be stable only to begin the restoration process and find the electrical work is shoddy. When this and other problems occur, the house flipper can go into debt quickly. 

In addition, Mitch and his business partner are holding on to a few other properties besides their current project. The market hit a down slope, and they’re having trouble selling homes they’ve plunked money into restoring. Then there’s the fact that they’ve rented out other property to people who struggle financial, and whom Mitch feels a great deal of compassion for. As a result, he’s constantly juggling his desire to do what is best for the business and what might be best for his tenants.

Alexis: What mistakes from her past is Angela working to overcome?

Jennifer: She has numerous mistakes, but her biggest desire is to locate and reconnect with her mother, whom she hurt deeply. Angela wants to pay her mother back for money she stole from her, decades previously, and to, hopefully, rebuild the relationship they had before Angela became rebellious. 

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Jennifer: That Christ transforms—lives, hearts, and entire communities. 

Alexis: What was your greatest challenge and greatest joy in writing this book?

Jennifer: My greatest challenge was presenting Bianca, a single woman who Angela feels called to help, authentically but also in a way that those who’ve never traveled in her shoes can understand. If you’ve never encountered generational poverty and don’t understand the dynamics of it, you might be tempted to judge Bianca. Maybe even to strongly dislike her. But if you can step back and understand her history, her perception, her struggles, and her limitations, then I believe you’ll view her (and women like her) with more compassion. 

The greatest joy was getting to explore Omaha with my husband. Our date nights often turned into research trips, and we were able to visit some places right here in the Metro in which we live, that we’d never been to before. And even those we’d frequented numerous times—we began to view them differently, through the lens of the story. It was such fun! 


Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jennifer! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

Jennifer: To those who haven’t been to Omaha, and maybe those who think Nebraska is one big cornfield—come check us out! This is a great city with lots to do!

~*~
Author bio:  

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. 

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. 

She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefly, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. 

When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

~*~
Blurb for Restoring Love:

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. 


Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She's almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. 

As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband's incarceration. 

While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

~*~
Buy Jennifer's book:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ CBD

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Connect with Jennifer:
Website – www.JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Twitter - https://twitter.com/jenslattery/
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/jenslatte/
~*~
Enter the book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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6 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. I really enjoyed this interview and this book looks amazing.

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    1. So happy to hear that you enjoyed Jennifer's interview today, Kelly! :) Good luck in the book giveaway contest! God bless you. *Jeremiah 29:11*

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    2. Hi, Kelly! Thanks for your kind words regarding the interview and the book! It's always fun to visit Alexis's site! Good luck in the drawing!

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  2. This book sounds so delicious! I hope I get a chance to read it! :-)

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    1. Hi, PhDMama!

      Thank you for the encouragement, and good luck in the drawing! :)

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