I’m so glad to have Pepper Basham here with me today. I have read many of her books and am always ready for more! Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage, after all it’s even cold here in Florida, sit in your favorite comfy chair, cover up with a cozy quilt and enjoy!
Tell us about you the person. What are you like and what is your life like?
Well, I’m a very busy person 😊 As a mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and author, my life stays pretty packed…and filled with adventure! During the day, I work in a clinic with all sorts of fun kids, but my specialty is social communication disorders and autism. I LOVE working with kids who think outside of the box. I also enjoy being part of a strong team of individuals who work together to support children/adult learning. I feel that most days the children I serve teach me more than I teach them because they’re such a courageous and compassionate bunch.
After work I head home to my own crew. I have three boys and two girls ranging from 20 down to 12 years old. Besides my faith, my family is the best part of my life! They’re a creative and imaginative lot who keep me on my toes, but also warm my heart. Hubs is a music minister, so music is a constant in our house too 😊 ALL kinds.
I guess, personally, I’m a pretty optimistic sort. I love encouraging others and I love learning. I’m a half/half introvert/extrovert, so I enjoy my alone time but I’m cool with people time too. I have eclectic movie and reading interests, often dress in costume, and adore wearing hats.
I didn’t think I could love you more, but yep, now I do!
What are two things about writing that you enjoy most?
Two things: The entire creative process of watching a story grow! That is always amazing to me. You know that phrase from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddel says “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure” – well, that’s how I feel when I’m creating a story. When I write, I feel God’s pleasure. I love that God allows me to watch a story unfold and a part of the creative process to a happily-ever-after.
Second thing, a related – I really enjoy watching the characters grow from beginning to end. I’m a happily-ever-after girl for sure, as seeing the struggles overcome, the insecurities calmed, and the fears braved in my characters reminds me of what God is doing in my life from start to finish. Writing, in many ways, is a parallel to my life. God is the author and all the ‘stuff’ that happens from start to finish are the plot points he’s using to refine me into my eternal happily-ever-after self.
Where does your writing passion for writing come from?
I was raised in an Appalachian culture of storytelling, so I fell in love with stories while I sat at my granny’s knee listening to her. Those are some SWEET memories and great story fodder 😊 But also, and more importantly, I believe God has given me a passion for story that was cultivated through my culture, my granny, my parents, and the English teachers I had in school. They saw my potential and encouraged this dream that sometimes seems pretty unattainable or far-fetched.
Was there anyone who particularly inspired your writing?
My family have always been so encouraging of my writing, but I have a particular memory that seemed to set my heart more firmly in the direction of writing. I’d been creating stories as early as I could remember and would often listen to my Granny Spencer share stories of her childhood and of generations past. Lots of times, Granny would take her grandkids with her on Saturdays ‘yard hoppin’ – which meant we went to yard sales with her for the whole morning. When I was ten, she bought me a typewriter one Saturday morning from a yard sale and gave it to me, saying, “Because a writer needs one.”
It was the first time someone really voiced that dream aloud for me. Those words took deeper root and here I am.
What author, if any, do you feel had the most influence on you and your writing?
May I list more than one??? Siri Mitchell and Mary Connealy both inspired me to believe I could write fiction with a strong faith-based element. Laura Frantz’s lyrical style inspires me to continue writing quality, even in my rom coms. Denise Hunter for her contemporary romance feel. Julie Lessman and Ruth Logan Herne have been such encouragements to me on this journey, giving solid advice from their own journeys. There are SO MANY people who have inspired me as an author, there’s no way I can name them all, I’m sure!
What inspired the novel, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge?
This book came out of family history stories that my grandmother would tell me from as many as five generations back. Some of the characters are based on real-life people from my family history but most are just representations of people I grew up imagining as I’d listen to my granny’s stories. Having the opportunity to celebrate my Appalachian culture through the mode of creative writing and allowing readers to ‘visit’ this disappearing culture, has been such an honor and joy. I’m also a fan of Catherine Marshall’s book Christy, because it is about my Appalachian culture – so I hope people who enjoyed Christy will find this one enjoyable too.
Some of your books are called “Britallachian” romances. What does that mean? And your tag says you add ‘grace and humor’ into your stories. Will you explain how that works its way into your stories?
Isn’t Britallachian such a fun word! Britallachian romance is a novel that is basically a fun culture clash between Appalachia and Britain. The books can take place all in one locale or the other (or both). I’d love the opportunity to spend more time in the UK to get a stronger handle of personalities because I’m an unabashed Anglophile and want to get my characters RIGHT – but it’s just fun to toss these two cultures together and see what happens.
The ‘grace’ part of my tag is, of course, the Gospel -whether overtly or subtly woven through the story. I think we’re all created for a purpose, and I love showing how characters find their purposes through the ‘grand’ story of redemption. The humour? Well, I hope it shines through in relationships and situations within the stories.
Out of my 11 published books, 5 of them have some sort of British/American pairing…and my 3 novellas all have strong British influences.
What are some of the challenges/benefits of incorporating faith in your stories?
To be honest, I’m not sure I’d know how NOT to incorporate it, whether overtly or covertly. My Christian faith is my worldview, which changes the way I see everything in life, and I hope it is as pervasive in my actions. One of the first questions I ask my characters when they begin to come ‘to life’ is “What does God want to do in you through this story?” That doesn’t always have to be an overt answer on the page, but I know the answer. The benefit would be that faith brings hope wherever it goes…and since it’s my worldview, it’s easier to include it than not. A challenge? Making certain it’s authentic, digestible, and, I hope, winsome.
You’ve published a lot of novels in a short period of time. Can you give us a little insight into how you do this plus hold down a job and manage a home, hubby and 5 kids?
Haha…does saying I’m diagnosable count? Well, my brain stays in a constant state of creativity and I LOVE stories. Now that my kids are a little older, it’s been easier to etch out time during waking hours, but I still do most of my writing in the late evening after they’ve settled down for the night. Also, I’ve been really thankful for a 4 day a week job which allows me to have one day to focus on marketing/interviews/writing. That’s been a HUGE help. My kids are super-duper, and some of my BEST cheerleaders, so having them to cheer me on in this crazy whirlwind helps keep me going in the middle of the crazy. I also have a wonderful community of reader/writer/reviewer supports. My Street Team is AMAZING. My AlleyCats (group of fellow writers) are such wonderful people. And my small brainstorming team are just the best encouragers aka…’talk Pepper off the ledge and feed her chocolate” people in the world.
As you can see, readers, Pepper is a woman of strong faith who loves well. This comes across so clearly in her stories! If you haven’t read any of her book, be sure to grab one. But I will warn you, her stories are addicting!
Be sure to see my review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge
My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream
Published by Barbour Books
Publication Date December 5, 2018
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: North Carolina World War I Era - 1914 - 1918
Main Character Ages: 18-24
Written for: Adults
Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins his uncle's missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel's imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel's father's drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?
I would like to thank Barbour Books, Netgalley for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.