Friday, February 10, 2017

14 Days of Sweet Stories: Root Beer & Roadblocks story by Susan M. Baganz

Interview with Susan M. Baganz, author of Root Beer & Roadblocks:

Alexis: What makes your new novel an inspirational romance?

Susan: My characters believe in Christ and struggle with trusting Him through difficult circumstances…and of course, they fall in love! 

Alexis: Root Beer & Roadblocks is the fourth book in your series. What is the name of your series? Are the characters in each book connected somehow? Explain.

Susan: I call it the Orchard Hill Romances because the characters are all tied to a fictional church called Orchard Hill. Characters from previous books do make appearances in subsequent novels as needed. Sometimes they go to DeLuca’s Cucina and see Tony (Pesto & Potholes) or bump into Stephanie (Pesto & Potholes and Salsa & Speedbumps) or if they need an attorney, Roberto might appear (Salsa & Speed Bumps). Sometimes a secondary character introduced in one novel might become the main character of the next as is the case with Root Beer & Roadblocks. Johnny was Nikolos’s cousin and best friend in Feta & Freeway. Pastor Dan Wink who comes and goes through these novels has his own story releasing later this year called Bratwurst & Bridges

Alexis: How did you think of the title for your story, Root Beer & Roadblocks

Susan: The series started with Pesto & Potholes which as a metaphor for the journey my characters take. I’ve continued with the food/road theme combo as metaphors for every journey since then which has been a fun challenge. Up until this story, there had been an ethnic component but I dropped it for Johnny’s story and went American. Root Beer is mentioned in the story but the roadblock is the return of his cancer which could be a barrier to his happily-ever-after. 

Alexis: How does your story’s title relate to the journey of your main characters?

Susan: In Feta & Freeways it was revealed that Johnny had been diagnosed with cancer at the same time his wife divorced him. This was years before the story began. He’d recovered and the band started touring again. At the end of Feta & Freeways, Johnny announced that his cancer had returned. That’s when I knew he needed his own happily-ever-after story and came up with Root Beer & Roadblocks

Alexis: Your book touches on a very real-life issue: what to do with a dream deferred and trusting God to give you something better. How did you create this core conflict for your story? Which one of your characters is dealing with this issue and why?

Susan: Johnny Marshall, my main character in Root Beer & Roadblocks, had always wanted a big family. In the previous book, he revealed that not only had he lost that dream when his wife left him, but his cancer treatment had left him unable to have children. He adores kids and helps out in children’s ministry at church when he’s not on the road with the band. In writing his story I wanted to give Johnny more than he bargained for. Yes, his journey is hard and painful (as cancer treatment can be) which raises up in him a sense of hopelessness. What was left for him? What was the point in fighting this battle which as going to be far worse than the first one. He’d lost his dream of love and having a family and achieved all his professional goals. What was left? It was fun giving him more than he’d dreamed possible. 

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Johnny Marshall. What is he like? Describe his looks, personality, and heart.

Susan: Johnny Marshall is based on a real-life person, Johnny Philippidis from the band Burlap to Cashmere. He inspired this story (and Feta & Freeways). He knows about the book although his health crisis was much different and I have no idea what his love life is like.

My fictional Johnny is a skinny guy with a little to no hair on his head and sometimes facial hair. He plays electric guitar and sings harmonies with his cousin and best friend. He’s typically and upbeat person but also quite humble about his giftedness. He’s secure in his faith and identity and maybe a little too self-sufficient. But like many of us, when life knocks us down repeatedly, he struggles to rise and is forced to rely on others to help him through.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Katie. What is she like? Describe her looks, personality, and heart.

Susan: Katie has been swayed by her parents throughout her life. They were well-to-do financially and didn’t want her marrying a lousy musician. She bowed to their wishes and left Johnny behind after high school, going away to college to become a nurse.

Katie is compassionate, probably necessary as she works as a nurse. She has straight dark brown hair, cut kind of in a longer bob and parted at the side. She really makes some hard choices in the story that put her at odds with the old wishes of her parents and her brother to follow the path she believes God is leading her on.

Alexis: Why did Katie break Johnny’s heart? 

Susan: She left him after high school. Not a word. No letter, no phone call. Her parents didn’t forward his many letters which led Katie to believe Johnny had abandoned her. Johnny loved her and had wanted to marry her. He’d even designed a wedding ring for her which he kept all those years. 

Alexis: Now that Katie and Johnny’s paths connected again, is there hope for love restored? Why or why not?

Susan: There’s always hope but there are roadblocks to the happiness of both Johnny and Katie. It is a romance after all. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about your story? Why?

Susan: Life is hard and it can be filled with pain and dark days, but God has given us the gift of His presence as well as the body of Christ to help us through. In the midst of pain that sometimes seems like it will never end, God often has something good for us on the other side that we can’t even imagine. Maybe that will be heaven for some, but we shouldn’t lose hope. John Piper says that God is doing 10,000 things behind the scenes on our behalf but we might only see three of them. It’s hard to have that longer view.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Susan! Take care and God bless you. 

Susan: Thank you for having me here! God’s blessings to you and your readers.

Author bio:
Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. 

Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Susan speaks, teaches and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness.

She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church. Her favorite pastimes are lazy ones—snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

Blurb for Root Beer & Roadblocks:

When God strips away all your hopes and dreams could you trust Him to give you something better? 

Johnny Marshall’s cancer is back . . . and so is the girl who broke his heart seven years ago. As Johnny struggles to find the will to live and fights his second round with the disease, he finds hope comes in small packages with an energetic little boy named David.

Years ago, Katie abandoned the one man she ever loved, having bought into her parents’ narrow views of finding a man worthy of her. In all those years, no one ever compared to Johnny. Now as a single mom of a young boy, she wonders if their reunion is right on time or is it too late for a future together?

Connect with Susan:
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  1. I love stories that highlight God's hand moving in the midst of our circumstances!

    1. Me too! Thanks for commenting on Susan's story! :) Good luck in the book giveaway contest! :)

  2. Thank you for the wonderful book Root Beer & Roadblocks. One of the best books I've read. I left 5 star reviews on Good Reads, Amazon, B&N and on a couple of blogs that I like to read. For Suan's fans that haven't read the book - its hard to put down. I started it and had to put it down - couldn't wait to get back to it. It truly touched my heart. I've found a new author to add to my favorite's list.

    1. So happy to hear that, Pat! I will let Susan (the author) know what you said. God bless you! :)

  3. Wow, Pat, your review touched my heart and I'm glad that it helped you. When I write the story I hope God has led me through, I never know the impact. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter-in-law. ((Hugs!)) You have blessed me today with your comments (in the review) and I thank you. I hope you get to read the other books and find them just as good (although Johnny's story is kind of my favorite!) Blessings to you.

  4. Pat, you can leave a review at Pelican through this


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