My guest today is Sara Beth Williams, author of the contemporary Christian romance When Hearts Collide. Sara Beth, I’ve read your book and I really enjoyed it. The characters and their struggles were very real. I’m so glad to have you here with me today to talk about your books.
Let’s start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in California. I’m married, with two sweet girls, an old lady pit, and a spunky pom-shi tzu. I love writing, reading, playing guitar, and being with my family. I love California, and much of the experiences I’ve had of traveling all over California as a child and a teen somehow end up in my books!
What is your book about?
When Hearts Collide is my debut novel and tells the story of college student Lacey Bennett who wants nothing more than to forget everything about her tragic past. In doing so, she has shut herself off from a relationship with God. Enter Jacob Mathews – an irresistible, mysterious ex con who turns her life, and her perspective on faith, upside down.
What book do you wish you would have written?
The Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes. It’s a Christian Dystopian Speculative Fiction series of three novels chronicling the harrowing journey of a girl caught in between a dying, impoverished world on one side of a 1000 foot wall, and the high-tech, surprisingly free-spirited world on the other side.
It was SO much fun to read. I wish I could have written or could write dystopian novels. Maybe some day. But while I enjoy reading YA novels I rather enjoy writing for adults. Though my books are currently in a ‘cross-over’ genre called New Adult so I suppose I write for both ages? A lot of adults like to read YA anyway. #NAlove!
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
When I began writing When Hearts Collide, I did NOT plan to write a series. I only wistfully hoped I could. But a series was not even in the forefront of my mind until about halfway through the first Manuscript, when I began to really dig deep into all of the characters that were sprouting out of the first story line. 3/4 of the way through my Manuscript, I began to sit and draft storylines for other characters. I actually worked on books 2 and 3 simultaneously and I wrote most of book 3 (to release in 2021) FIRST, before I actually finished book 2. I even contemplated swapping the timelines, but ultimately decided I liked the timelines the way they were.
Who was your favorite character to create?
For some odd reason, male characters tend to come to me the easiest. I have no idea why… their back stories seem to come together seamlessly. For Jay, I had come up with his back story a decade prior to even writing the whole manuscript. Lacey was fun to write because I infused some of my personality into her, but I don’t particularly want to write about who I am. Rather, I want to challenge myself and create different, unique characters that reflect all the billions of different lives that roam the earth. Crafting Jay’s character, for me, was both challenging and intriguing, and taught me a great deal.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I am both. I enjoy plotting a little – just to give myself a reference point, a map of where to take my story line. Also plotting has helped me determine the ending to my stories because for some reasons that’s the most difficult part lol. But to quote Pirates of the Caribbean “the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.”
Which is why I consider myself a hybrid. I love free-writing. I love the spontaneous plot that develops, the spontaneous dialogue that surprises me; the spontaneous direction in which my characters may tangent. Even if I end up redirecting them, it is still most freeing and it also reveals to me their true character’s nature, which I can then use to continue to craft them throughout the rest of the story. The longer in which I write non-stop, the more story ideas flow. I have to have at least 2 to 4 hours of non-stop writing to really get into a groove.
Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?
My mom was always the first person to read my stories before she passed away. So she was the first to read When Hearts Collide. I miss having her read my stories. But I’ve been lucky enough to find some lovely critique partners since then!
Are you part of a writing group?
I am finally, finally apart of a critique group. It takes a while to find a good one. Before this year, I had various friends and authors beta read and critique, but hadn’t joined a group. At the end of December, my author friend Tabitha created the Book Dragon Critique group and I am excited to be a part of it!
Share your favorite excerpt from your book:
From Chapter 3 – Lacey and Jay are at a game night and Jay inexplicably leaves to find solace in the backyard. Lacey follows. This picks up halfway through some of their conversation.
He laughed, a deep and resounding sound inviting her to laugh along with him. If she could have recorded his laugh and listened to it over again, she would have.
“What’s so funny?” She bumped his shoulder with hers.
His hand accidentally brushed against her arm, sending new shivers through her body.
“You can’t always judge a man by the way he looks on the outside,” he said in a low, sobered voice. Then he rested his palm on her bare skin. “You’re shaking.”
The raw heat of his large, rough hand seemed to warm the entire right side of her body. When he dropped his hand and stood, the chill of the air chased away the heat. “Where are you going?”
“I’ll be right back.” His shadow moved through the darkness. That bright light flicked on again, throwing long shadows over the corner of the yard. Thanks, neighbor.
She waited there a minute, rubbing her arms. Even though they’d only been sitting next to each other, without his warmth, the chill in the air intensified. At least they lived in Sacramento and not the mountains. Although, now that she thought about it, being with him among snow-covered mountains sounded romantic.
She wasn’t sure she could take the cold much longer. She rose and strolled back toward the patio door. As she rounded the corner, he reappeared in front of her.
“Here.” He handed her one of her padded jackets. The shiny, deep maroon fabric glinted in the light flooding over the fence. She pulled each arm through and zipped it up. “Better?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you.” She pulled the collar tight around her neck and buried her hands inside the pockets. He walked back toward the cluster of patio chairs; she followed. “How did you know which one was mine?”
“I figured Joel wouldn’t be caught dead in that color.”
She laughed again.
“And it has that special cut only made for a woman.” The way he described the silhouette of her jacket sent her heart skittering, as if he were describing her actual figure rather than the jacket itself. “So…” he said. “I haven’t seen you at church. Have you gone to college group before?”
Oh, no, here we go. “I don’t do church.” She kept her explanation simple. “Joel is my brother. We split the rent here.” Well, more like he pays three fourths. “Anyway, I was supposed to go out with a friend tonight, but she canceled on me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that… I mean, that you don’t do church.” He sounded so sincere. She waited for him to ask her why she didn’t, but he never did. “I didn’t go for a long time, either,” he said instead. “Matt introduced me, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to the power of God’s love and forgiveness.”
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “That’s great, but I just don’t have the time.” She wanted to let him down easy. She was in no mood to go into all the reasons why she despised church and God and all the things God did or didn’t do, or the power God had or didn’t have.
He moved toward her. “You don’t have to explain yourself.” Just by taking two steps closer, his body heat enveloped her.
Her heart raced, for more than one reason. Desperate to change the subject, she cleared her throat. “I have a question…” He tilted his head slightly down, brown irises probing hers. “I know you and Tara have a class together. And you go to church together, too, I assume, right? That’s why you’re here tonight?” He nodded once. “Are you two dating or something?”
The corners of his mouth lifted. A few curls fell over his forehead as he shook his head.
“No?” She exhaled and grinned. “I just wanted to make sure…” She bit her tongue and forced herself to keep her feelings to herself. She wasn’t generally so forward with guys.
He continued to stare at her expectantly. “Okay?”
The wail of a siren pierced the air. Jay audibly sucked in a breath and spun to face the house. Lacey followed his gaze.
What’s next for you as an author?
My next book, (shh I haven’t announced the title yet) is set to release in February or March 2021. It’s the story of characters Matt and Tara, who appear in both my first and second novels. If you want to know more, you’ll have to come visit me on the Friends of Anaiah Press group for some fun and games and a SNEAK PEAK at my 3rd book’s pitch
Where can readers find you online?
I blog at www.authorswilliams.wordpress.com
You can subscribe to my newsletter here: https://bit.ly/2zNmJLd
When Hearts Collide is Available on Amazon!
A reckless mistake landed Jay Mathews behind bars as a teen. His inescapable guilt led him to God. Focusing on serving the God who redeemed him and getting his life in order, the last thing Jay wants is a girlfriend. Until he meets Lacey Bennett. Burying a past she’d like nothing more than to forget, college and theater are Lacey’s only goals; falling for the one type of guy she swore to avoid—a Christian—is nowhere on her radar.
As their relationship deepens, past secrets collide, threatening to shatter the love they’d built. Can they learn to trust and forgive? Or is there relationship fractured beyond repair?
Don’t miss the second book in the series, A Worthy Heart.