Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Romantic Reads: Interview with Sara Beth Williams about "A Worthy Heart"

Welcome Sara Beth Williams to the blog!

She's here to talk about her book, A Worthy Heart.

Enjoy her interview! 

Interview Questions about A Worthy Heart by Sara Beth Williams:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Sara: This book idea was birthed as a result of writing my first book in the series. In the middle of finishing the early final drafts of When Hearts Collide, I discovered that my characters each wanted their own story! So I actually began working on both A Worthy Heart and book 3 (Anchor My Heart, which releases in the spring of 2021) simultaneously. 

Alexis: What is the moral of the story?

Sara: This story is about worth. Serena struggles with whether or not she’s worthy to be loved at all; she struggles whether she’s worthy of Joel, and then later, whether she’s worthy of God’s love. The moral is that we are all worthy of God’s love, no matter our past, no matter our mistakes, big or small. No matter our history.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Joel Bennett. What does he look like? Sound like? Act like?

Sara: Joel Bennett is a protector. He’s tall, with brown hair, and he’s an introvert who has learned to work well one-on-one and in small groups. He’s a provider, and had to grow up early when his Dad walked out on his family. He’s the calm and steady one generally, but when someone messes with his family, watch out! He will do anything to protect the people he loves.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Serena Hayes. What are her hopes, dreams and fears?

Sara: Serena Hayes wants to be successful in life. She’s learned in life that success equals value, so she struggles with feelings of unworthiness when her life spirals out of control. Her dream is to find someone who will love her for her. She fears her family will be extremely disappointed in her and she blames herself for the disasters that occur in her senior year of college.

Alexis: Why does Joel feel that he must protect Serena?

Sara: Serena has been Lacey’s friend for years. They’ve only thus far been acquaintances, but when he discovers firsthand that she’s in an abusive relationship, anger from the past rises to the surface. He is a protector deep down to his core. He’s lived his life protecting his mom, and his sister, Lacey, and he refuses to allow her friend to suffer in an abusive relationship when he knows she deserves so much better.

Alexis: What type of part-time job does Serena hold down and why does she need it for support?

Sara: Serena works with Lacey in a coffee shop on their college campus. Her parents aren’t paying her bills, so she has to earn money in order to pay for her bills. At least they’re paying her tuition! 

Alexis: Where are Serena’s parents in this story? Why aren’t they supporting her?

Sara: They believe in hard work and earning your way in life. All of her brothers have been successful throughout college and beyond. She feels she must live up to their standards. Mom and Dad are paying her way through college, and thus they justify not paying for any of her bills. Deep down, they love her and want her to succeed. But they also live several hours away and are busy with their careers.

Alexis: What role does Serena and Joel’s faith in God play in this story?

Sara: Joel’s faith is steadfast and solid. He has deep rooted faith that has weathered his sister’s death, and his father’s abandonment. While he still struggles with his own hang-ups, he knows where his heart and soul truly lie and he knows who he can fall back on in times of trouble.

It’s his stalwart faith that leads Serena to want to know and understand who God is and why she should want to be in a relationship with him. She doesn’t understand the profound love that is agape love, until she witnesses first hand the protective, loving nature of Joel. Only then does she begin to open her heart toward a relationship with Christ.

Alexis: What is it that attracts Serena and Joel to each other? Describe why they care about each other.

Sara: Attraction is multifaceted. I don’t shy away from physical attraction in my stories, but there are always deeper layers. Serena is very pretty and dresses fashionably. Joel dresses professionally and almost always looks his best because he works full time at a bank. They’re opposites in personality and I definitely play to that opposites-attract trope. Joel loves to listen to others, and Serena desperately needs that kind of person in her life at this point. Joel also loves her humor and spontaneity as he’s very much a planner himself. She makes him want to be spontaneous. Part of Joel’s attraction toward Serena also has to do with her vulnerability and he struggles with that in the later part of the novel. Serena is attracted to Joel’s kind, loving, generous, and protective nature.

Alexis: Why does Serena think that she might be “destined” to be alone?

Sara: She’s made so many mistakes. Not seeing the warning signs and walking right into an abusive relationship. She can’t seem to decide what she wants to do with her life and feels increased pressure from her parents to find a successful major and thus find a successful career. After experiencing a series of stupid mistakes, and disasters that weren’t her fault, she feels she’s too much of a mess to be wanted by another man.

Alexis: You’ve tackled a tough topic in this story: abuse. What life lessons are you hoping to impart?

Sara: We hear so many devastating stories of victims of abuse. I wish there were more positive stories broadcast online because they are out there. I wanted to write a story of someone who survived and who succeeded in finding her second chance at love. The longer I worked on this story, the more I wanted to promote a sense of hope for people who might have experienced abuse, mild or moderate, or for people who know others who have experienced such things. I could’ve touched on a lot more trauma, but I chose to focus more on the positive second-chance romance instead of the traumatic aftermath.

If you could step into your story as a professional counselor to Serena, what would you tell her?

Sara: That’s a good question – and hard to answer if I am honest! I’ve been thinking a lot about counseling and therapy lately – both during the writing of this story, and afterward. I’d tell her that there is no shame going into therapy. That is something she struggled with and that I struggled with growing up in a religious upbringing. I think many people both Christian and non-Christian see it is a sign of weakness, but in reality, it takes incredible courage to seek therapy. I would tell her that she’s a survivor. That she’s incredibly brave, having left her relationship before it grew much worse. Because many victims do stay in relationships much longer than she did.

What role did your real-life faith in God play in writing this fiction story?

I definitely looked to God constantly while writing this story. Like an invisible critique partner. So many times, I’d sit and listen to sermons and discover pieces of God’s word that directly related to A Worthy Heart. Every time that occurred, I felt this spiritual nudge, like, “Yes, you’re going in the right direction.” For me, it is important to stay connected to God’s Word while writing and to stay connected to the community of the church. It helps me to stay connected with God, and to hear much more clearly what He wants me to say on behalf of Him through writing my stories.

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

Sara: Thanks so much for featuring me on your blog, and for such thought-provoking questions!

Author Bio:

Sara Beth Williams is a wife, mother of two daughters, and temporary caretaker of a lovable old lady pit and a spunky Pomeranian-Shih Tzu mix. She lives in Northern California. 

When she's not held hostage by the keyboard, she enjoys music, teaching, reading and spending time with her family. 

She is all about connecting with readers! Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, BookBub and AllAuthor.

Book Blurb for A Worthy Heart:


Joel Bennett has always known Serena Hayes as his sister's gregarious best friend. In the three years since Lacey began college, Serena became a regular houseguest, but lately, she's absent more than not. When Joel discovers she's in an abusive relationship, protectiveness from within roars to life.

With only a part-time job to support her and nowhere to go, Serena fears leaving her current relationship would jeopardize her chances of graduating college. After a brutal attack leaves her no choice, she courageously moves out. On her journey toward regaining confidence, self-worth, and independence, Joel falls in beside her, encouraging her. The way he emulates Godly love and compassion draws her close--not just to him, but to the God who can satisfy her longing for love better than any man,

Attraction sizzles between them, but events from their pasts cast shadows of doubt. When the unthinkable happens, can Serena open her heart to a second chance at love, or is she destined to be alone?

Connect with Sara Beth:
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1 comment:

  1. In reply to your question, yes. We all fall short of the glory of God. But are we worthy in God's eyes? Yes, through his everlasting forgiveness.

    S. Daisy


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