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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Friday, October 23, 2009

Q&A With Debut Author Christina Berry

I’m pleased to welcome author Christina Berry to Arizona Inspiration. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, released in September of this year from Moody Publishing. It has received excellent reader reviews.

Here’s her bio:

Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author's life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, releases from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently--Forgive Extravagantly!

Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers. Find her at and

Christina, tell me about your novel.

C.B.: The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to

I’m sure all the aspiring-to-be-published authors would love to know—what was it like to get “The Call”?

CB: My agent, Sarah Van Diest, had been back and forth with me on the phone and over email for a few weeks as two houses were showing a lot of interest in what was then titled Undiscovered. House “A” had said they would be making an offer, but nothing concrete came in. House “B” was rushing the project through so they could compete. Being a compulsive email checker, I actually found out House B—Moody—had come through with an offer about three minutes before I answered The Call. Instead of breaking the news to a clueless author, Sarah had to listen to me shriek with excitement for a few moments before she could even speak!

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

C.B.: My mother, Sherrie Ashcraft, and I began writing in the summer of ’99. We figured the accountability of having a co-writer would make us actually do what we’d always dreamed of but never put action to. It took a long road of learning how much we didn’t know, tons of re-writing, brooding over rejections, making connections, pitching at conferences, and directional prayer to make our writing salable.

In the summer of 2007, when Mom was busy caring for her dying mother-in-law, I got the itch of a new story idea. Undiscovered was written by February 2008, edited by June, won second place in the ACFW Genesis Contemporary category, and was renamed The Familiar Stranger and contracted by Moody Publishers in October.

One decade from naïve first scribbles to debut novel!

Can you tell us a little bit more about you?

C.B.: Though the plot of The Familiar Stranger came from news stories, I’d been looking for a fictional vehicle to express the lessons I’d learned regarding forgiveness in my own marriage. I knew no one was interested in reading my particular story, but I still felt God had given me something to say. My husband and I worked through a major issue six years ago and found a vibrant, completely renewed marriage on the other side.

However, seven months ago, that same issue broke our bond. Now as a newly-single woman, I’m in the midst of promoting a book that touches far closer to home than I would have ever dreamed. If no one else ever reads it, I’ve been convicted and encouraged by my own words. If that isn’t a gracious God at work, I don’t know what is!

Obviously you’ve dealt with some trying times and been strengthened in your faith. What takeaway value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?

C.B.: The recent changes in my life—losing my husband, facing finding a “real” job, selling my home—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

What surprised you about the publishing process after your novel was contracted?

C.B.: I knew that titles were frequently changed for publication, but I didn’t expect the title to change before the contract was officially signed. Also, I knew that editors move from house to house fairly often in this industry, but I didn’t expect to lose my dream editor two days after signing the contract. (Hi, Andy!)

After getting over the shock of losing my editor, I was very surprised at how much Moody valued my input, how frequently they communicated with me, and how they lifted my family up in prayer. In fact, everyone from my editor to the marketing manager to the author liaison has been amazing!

Christina, how can our readers purchase your book?

C.B.: Here are two links:

You can also have any bookstore order copies for you if they don’t have any in stock.

Thank you, Christina for sharing your heart and your story with us at Arizona Inspiration.

As an added bonus, for every comment left on Arizona Inspiration regarding Christina’s visit, they will be entered into a drawing to be conducted on October 31st (U.S. residents only) for a chance to win a copy of the book.

If you’d like to follow along on Christina’s blog tour and learn more about her and her new book, you can also visit Kristen Johnson’s blog on Sunday, October 25th at:

And if you’d like, feel free to sign up for her newsletter. Back issues are located here:
Just by signing up for the newsletter, each person will be entered to win a 4GB iPod Shuffle or free books for the life of Christina’s writing career.


King J's Queen said...

I've enjoyed reading some of her blog and will certainly read the book. My curiosity is piqued.

Christina Berry said...

Thanks for interviewing me, Brenda!

King J's Queen, I've got you entered. :)