I met Allison Pittman this February when she graciously agreed to pick me up at the San Antonio airport and drive me all over the state of Texas. We then had a wonderful week at a writer's retreat, before climbing back into the car for the return trip to the airport. She has such an amazing heart. So I was so excited to read her book, Bridegrooms. And to get this chance to introduce her to you. Without further ado, here she is:
Allison, your latest book is filled with four sisters, each with different methods of coping with a tragedy. I could really relate to Vada and her take charge ways, but also her fatigue of being the strong one. Have you ever found yourself in that position, and if so, what did God teach you?
I have, but in my case, it's not that I perceive myself as being "strong." I simply have control issues! I lead a fairly large writing critique group here in San Antonio. We have close to 40 members meeting weekly, and every few months we offer some sort of one-day workshop, and I always make myself miserable with the planning, setting up, following up, everything. So, a few months ago, we had Cecil Murphey come for a day. He's a great teacher/mentor, and this was going to be a huge event, and I was swamped with so many things (deadline!), so I just told the group, "Hey, you're going to have to do this, and this, and this." And they were, like, "It's about time!" The day was a great success, and I actually enjoyed just showing up! And we were all blessed like crazy.
2) Which sister are you most like?
There's a little of me in each of them, actually! Like Vada, I too often work myself into a mess and then wonder how I got in it. Like Hazel, I am--at my core--a ball of insecurity. Like Althea, I'm often most content in silence (I love when I get a weekend to myself...I'll go days without uttering a word). And, like Lisette, when I do speak, I tend to be witty and, unfortunately, sarcastic. Speak now, deal with the collateral damage later. But, overall, I see myself in Vada, and I was especially close to the chapters near the end of the book when she is just so exhausted. Physically tired because her emotional/spiritual state isn't affording her the rest she needs.
What did God teach you as you were writing this book?
Well, there was this time I met this gorgeous baseball player...kidding! One thing that struck true to me was how Vada dealt with her temptation. Basically, in her prayers, she begged God to keep temptation from her so that she wouldn't have to rely on herself to overcome it. In other words, she was overly reliant on her own strength, rather than realizing that God's strength would be enough to see her through. So, like, I have a weakness for Hostess Cupcakes, and my life would be much easier if God would simply smite those snacks from the Earth. And, He could, but life doesn't happen like that. I need to be able to walk past those cupcakes and know that they just aren't good for me. He's provided so many better alternatives. Some might say that God has better things to do than protect me from Hostess Cupcakes, but my health choices matter to Him. I know my weaknesses, and so does He. So, He can give me the power to head over to the produce section, but then it's up to me to follow through.
What do you hope readers will see with fresh eyes as they read Bridegrooms?
One thing that was really important to me in this book with the character of Vada especially was to address the physicality of a committed romantic relationship. Of course it's a given that sexual intimacy before marriage is sin, but I don't think sexual attraction to the person God has called into your life is. Too often in Christian fiction, our heroines are so repressive of that aspect, and maybe that's because so many romances focus on the building of a relationship to that point of commitment. I found it so exciting to have the story start with a man and woman who have already gone through the initial attraction and courtship to establish a godly relationship. I love how Vada loves Garrison, unafraid to demonstrate her affection, and unafraid to admit (at least to herself), that she wants more of a demonstration from him. Vada, to me, is a great example of how you can be content without "settling."
Has there been a time in your life that God has asked you to step off a cliff to follow Him or chase a dream? Can you tell us about that time? What did you learn from that adventure that you still apply to your life?
When I left my teaching job to write full time...now that was a leap. Throughout my entire last year of teaching I felt I was being disobedient to His calling, and I clearly remember my husband and I talking as we folded and put away laundry when we agreed that I needed to resign. It was like jumping into a lake, but releasing a thousand-pound ankle weight the minute I hit the water. Our income was instantly cut in half, and we're still not quite back to where we were, but other than the fact that I cook more and shop less, our lives haven't changed much. I can't think of a single thing we've had to deny our family. We have the same home, the same cars, and a better TV, so...I've learned that, no matter what, God will meet your needs. And in all circumstances, if you will seek Him, He'll help you clearly define those needs. I've learned that contentment is a choice that can only be made within the boundaries of the Lord. And, like Psalm 16:5-6 says, "...my boundaries are in pretty places."
Tell us a bit about Bridegrooms and where people can find out more about you and your books.
One thing I've said about The Bridegrooms since I typed out the first few chapters: this is, by far, the most "fun" book I've written. It's just lighter. I gave myself permission to run with the story however I wanted to, within basic confines of history and physics. It is, as you mentioned in the first question, a matter of how these four sisters deal with the tragic loss of their mother, but it's also how all four of them perceive and pursue love. It was so much fun to be able to play with different romantic formulas. In fact, Hazel Allenhouse is working with her own pre-suffrage version of eharmony! I think every reader is going to identify with a different character, and I'd love to hear their reactions! Readers can contact me through my website, or, they can friend me on facebook.
Back to Cara: guys, this book is a hoot. I loved reading it and am delighted that I have an extra copy from the publisher to offer to you. So to be entered, leave a comment detailing which sister you think you are most like...based on what Allison said above. It is a historical romance, and Allison's background as an English teacher is clear in the way the writing sings.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.