Sunday, July 15, 2018

Summer Stories: Carolina Mercy

Interview with Tom Livingston, character in Carolina Mercy:

Alexis: Lucy’s grandmother described you as a “tall drink of water.” How do you feel about that description?

Tom: Well, I’ve been called worse. (chuckle) In the South, we have lots of descriptions for different kinds of people. At 6’2”, I do tend to tower above most people, especially Lucy. She’s a tiny thing.

Alexis: Describe your relationship with Lucy. How did you meet? Why did you become friends? Did you ever want to become more than friends?

Tom: I figured you’d get around to Lucy. I met Lucy the same summer my best bud, Jared, met his fiancée, Sarah. Apparently, they decided that since we were constantly trying to fix them up with other people, it was their turn. We hit it off instantly. Our first outing, with Sarah and Jared, was to look for furniture for Sarah’s beach house. When we both gravitated toward the massage chairs, I knew she was pretty special. We went out another time, just the two of us, and I just had to kiss her. Yeah, I’d say I wanted to be more than friends. 

Alexis: Why did you and Lucy go eight months without speaking to each other?

Tom: That was a rough time. When Lucy left, I fully intended to keep in touch, especially since her best friend was going to be living here. I started making all kinds of plans. My dad had passed the year before, suddenly, and my mom, Charly, my kid sister, and I were slowly getting back to normal. We went on vacation together, and during that vacation, Mom started having headaches. When we got home and she was diagnosed with a disease that would eventually blind her. I felt like I had to put all my attention on taking care of them, along with my job. How could I ask Lucy to take on not only me, but my family? We’re not well-off, and I guess my pride wouldn’t let me pursue her.

Alexis: Your Mom said that Lucy makes you “stammer like a school boy”. Has your Mom always been so insightful? Clearly, she knows that you like Lucy.

Tom: Oh, Mama doesn’t need sight to know what’s going on. And yes, she’s always been that way. I remember when I met Jared, in high school, at football practice. I came home mad as a stuck pig because this scrawny kid had taken me out in a tackle practice. I told her all about it. She didn’t say much, but she patched me up, fixed me some sweet tea, then told me that I might have just met a friend for life. (chuckle) Turns out, she was right. She usually is. She knew about Lucy long before she met her, and I think she had a feeling she might just be “the one.”

Alexis: Were you nervous about Lucy meeting your Mom? How did that go?

Tom: Since I know my mom, I don’t think I was as nervous as Lucy was. As soon as they met, my mom hugged her and we all laughed when she said, “You’re a little woman, like me.” They’re two peas in a pod, now. Mom, Charly, and Lucy like to gang up on me every chance they get. I fuss, but they see right through me.

Alexis: Why does Lucy “amaze” you? Describe her best qualities.

Tom: How do you describe someone who shows up to work on a roof in a pink toolbelt? She makes me laugh, keeps me grounded, and pulls me out of the muck of overwhelming responsibility, making me trust God more than myself. 

Alexis: What is it about Lucy that makes you want to date and maybe even marry her?

Tom: She pulls me out of myself, if that makes sense, and makes me think I can accomplish anything. 

Alexis: You’ve said that Lucy was “everything” to you but she could never know it. Why not?

Tom: When I met Lucy, I wasn’t thinking about the future, or about our different backgrounds. I just knew she was Sarah’s friend, and a lot of fun. When she left I learned more about her from Sarah, I realized that she was far above me, socio-economically. I couldn’t ask her to take on a small-town detective with a blind mother and a teenage sister. I didn’t want her, or anyone else, to think I needed help. 

Alexis: When your mother was diagnosed with an untreatable illness, you pushed your career dreams aside. What did you want to do for a living before your mother’s illness and what do you want to do now? Explain.

Tom: I guess my career path really changed earlier than Mama’s illness. I graduated from Clemson University and planned to go into the Air Force, then segue into working for the FBI. That was the dream. When it came time to get out of school, money was tight, and I put off entering the Air Force and started working with Jared on flipping houses. I got on with the local sheriff’s department, thinking I could still train for the FBI. When Dad died, I knew I needed to stay closer to home. Then Mom took sick, and I put it behind me. The FBI, or even the South Carolina Bureau, would have me living away from here, and Mom and Charly need me. So, I’m happy to be where I am. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be sheriff someday.

Alexis: Why did you feel that God’s mercy is for everyone except you?

Tom: This is part of my selfish desire to be in control. I was bitter about lots of things. I’ve seen God work in other people’s lives, and I really think I tried to turn off that part of me that would listen to God’s “still, small voice.” I have to say, God’s shown me, through my friend Jared, that sometimes when it seems like God’s not paying attention, he definitely is in control, showing mercy all around you whether you’re paying attention or not.

Alexis: How have your own issues affected your outlook on life?

Tom: Definitely. I was always pretty serious, but able to see the bright side, until Mom’s illness. I got angry. It’s funny how trauma can turn the tables. When I saw Lucy’s grief, and Jared’s traumatic events, I had to be positive, for them. I had to be supportive. Those things have made me a better person.

Alexis: How did Sarah’s wedding—and a hurricane—bring you and Lucy together?

Tom: See this smile on my face? Yeah. The wedding that almost wasn’t, and the hurricane that threw us all for a loop? Those are events that I’ll always hold close. They were terrible, but as with most tragedy, God used them for good. All these events forced Lucy and me to spend more time together, and it made me stop and listen to God. You can’t have a better outcome than that.

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

Tom: God is love. God is mercy. God doesn’t punish us, He leads us. And on another level, God gives us the people around us to draw us to Him. We just have to be willing to listen.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Tom! Do you have closing comments?

Tom: Just this – Hold your friends close, and when you find that special person that God has for you, pay attention. My mother would add, “And listen to your mama.”

Author Bio:

Regina Rudd Merrick began reading romance and thinking of book ideas as early as her teenage years when she attempted a happily-ever-after sequel to “Gone With the Wind.” That love of fiction parlayed into a career as a librarian, and finally to writing full-time. 

She began attending local writing workshops and continued to hone her craft by writing several short and novel-length fan-fiction pieces published online, where she met other authors with a similar love for story, a Christian worldview, and happily-ever-after. 

Married for 30+ years and active in their church in Marion, KY, Regina and her husband have two grown daughters who share her love of music, writing, and the arts.

Book Blurb for Carolina Mercy:

She’s always gotten everything she’s wanted. He thinks he has to give up everything. 

Her best friend’s wedding is foremost on Lucy Dixon’s radar. Her biggest concern is once again meeting Tom Livingston, who has ignored her since an idyllic date on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach the previous summer.

At least, it is her biggest concern until tragedy strikes. Where is her loving, merciful God, now?

When Tom Livingston meets Lucy, the attraction is instant. Soon after, his mother is diagnosed with an untreatable illness and his personal life is pushed aside. His work with the sheriff’s department, his family – they are more important. He knows about the love of God, but circumstances make him feel as if God’s mercy is for everyone else, not him.

Can a wedding and a hurricane – blessing and tragedy – bring them together?

Buy Carolina Mercy on Amazon

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  1. I want to read Carolina Mercy. Looks like a great story.

  2. Thanks so much for having me . . . er, TOM . . . on your blog today! We BOTH enjoyed it very much! ;)

  3. Thanks for the fun interview with Tom Livingston. He sounds like a great guy....devoted son, brother, friend, and committed Christ-follower. For him to put his plans and dreams on hold to take care of those he loves, says alot about him! I'm intrigued to see how things play out between him and Lucy! :) Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Carolina Mercy! ~ Alison Boss


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