Spotlight on Valerie Comer author of Topaz Treasure in Rainbow’s End
This week I am happy to interview Valerie Comer, author of in Rainbow’s End which is published by Barbour Publishing, the company I am also pubbed with. Join me as we both learn more about Valerie, and then I hope you will look for her book which releases next week. I already have it on my wish list!
Welcome, Valerie. Tell us about your favorite book as a child and the books you write as an adult. Can you see a connection between them?
I grew up in northern Manitoba, Canada, with no libraries nearby, not even in my school. So I didn’t have access to a wide range of books. Some of my childhood favorites were Heidi, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and The Secret Garden. Looking at those title together does give a fair idea of where I am today. From Heidi, I learned about the joys of simple things: mountain meadows, melted cheese, grandparental love, and a place to belong. From The Five Little Peppers I learned about rejoicing in all things, and how having a family surrounding a person makes everything worthwhile. From The Secret Garden I learned more about belonging and the delights of coaxing plants to grow.
My lifestyle and writing these days draw from those books. I love living in the mountains. I see majestic scenery out my window every day and we can go hiking in it any time we like. Family is super-important to me. Our daughter and her family (two little ones) live just 90 miles away (over two mountain passes, but still…) Our son and his wife, expecting their first child, live on our farm. This is a treasure I don’t take for granted! Gardening, farming, and good locally grown food are important to all of us. And something all my characters seem to struggle with to some degree or another is a sense of identity–finding where they belong both in this life and in their spiritual walk.
What is your favorite Scripture? Do you also have a favorite Scripture that encourages you in your writing?
My favorite Scripture is 2 Peter 1:3-11, which begins like this (NIV): “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” But do meditate on the whole passage! So much practical truth in there.
A Scripture I apply to my writing is Psalm 143:8 (NIV): “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” This draws to my attention that my story words should remind readers (and me) of God’s unfailing love. That’s what is the most important.
If you could go to any place in the world to research/write a book, what setting would you choose?
I’m a Canadian, and it’s my dream to be able to sell fiction set in my country. I’ve seen a fair bit of the western half of Canada, so for the purposes of this question, I’d have to say the Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in particular. I know I could find some awesome stories there.
Now, if you were offering to pay my way just anywhere in the world for relaxation and cultural experiences that ‘might’ lead to a story, I’d say England. Though I don’t write historical, I’d love to ‘feel’ history around me. In British Columbia, where I live, most of the region has been settled by Europeans in the past century or so. I don’t think we have a clue what it feels like to be steeped in history. Everything is so new here, comparatively speaking.
I often wonder if I would write if I had to do it the old-fashioned way without computers and spell-checks and email. Is there anything about technology that you don’t like? Or anything about it that you feel enhances your writing?
I wrote my first novel at work in longhand and typed it into the computer at home in the evenings, but honestly? My handwriting is terrible and if I don’t transcribe my notes quite soon, I can’t read them any more. So computers are a BLESSING!
Like many authors, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. It can’t read my mind (go figure) so I often spend time bashing my head against the wall when trying to figure something out. But when it’s intuitive, I melt into its embrace. For this reason I truly love the program Scrivener for writing. It’s a way of organizing my brain that just works for me.
Thanks for sharing Scrivener with us. I have heard good things about it. As a writer how have you had to grow and stretch out of your comfort zone?
Writing is such a blend of “it’s not all about me” and “it’s all about me.” Finding the balance is difficult. I sometimes worry about what parts of my characters readers will think are modeled after me. For instance, in my debut novella “Topaz Treasure,” my heroine, Lyssa, is shy about sharing her faith while having no problem confronting people about their dietary choices. There’s a lot of me in that. Like Lyssa, I had a father who had no trouble talking to anyone and everyone about their need of salvation. Like Lyssa, I was sometimes embarrassed as a child, and could see how it caused some people not to like my dad. (Doesn’t everyone want to be liked?) For the record, there’s a huge difference between Lyssa’s father and mine. Mine was really a lot more tactful! He’s been gone fourteen years now, and I miss him.
What advice would you give to a beginning writer that you wish someone had given you?
Be patient. Don’t get too attached to the first novel you write. Or the second. Or possibly the third. Keep learning and writing and learning and writing and growing. I’d written eight novels before selling this novella. I’ve yet to sell a full-length novel, though my agent is hard at work!
Do you want to add anything about your book such as how to order it?
“Topaz Treasure” is the first novella in the collection Rainbow’s End, out May 2012 from Barbour. Working with Annalisa Daughety, Cara Putman, and Nicole O’Dell has been a huge privilege. The blurb for the whole collection is:
Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer; and cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?
The “Topaz Treasure” blurb is:
Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt her church is using as an outreach event. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof–young, handsome, anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy–to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let alone in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?
Kirk’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended as he searches for opportunities to connect with Lyssa and her intriguing sparkle. How can he convince Lyssa there is more than one kind of treasure? And can she remind him of the greatest prize of all?
Links to all four authors, plus a variety of buying links to the retailer of your choice can be found at the Romancing America website/blog: http://romancingamerica.com/collections/rainbows-end
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable grandchildren.