Our interview today is with Valerie Comer. Thank you Valerie for being here today and for agreeing to do this interview.
Question: What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write in your chosen genre?
Answer: My tagline is “where food meets faith and fiction.” Sometimes I word it “where food meets faith and farm lit.” In either case, I’m qualified! I’m an avid foodie who cares about the growing conditions of my food because I believe God cares—not just about the quality for my own body, but for the wellbeing of the growers worldwide. Because that intersection is my passion, I bring it fully into my fiction, which is inspirational contemporary romance with a good dash of farm lit.
Question: Tell us a little about your ‘real’ (Non-writing) life – family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
Answer: My husband of over 30 years and I own a small farm in western Canada. We live the foodie/farm lit lifestyle with our animals, beehives, nut trees, and large garden. We process vast amounts of food we’ve grown on our own land and bought from others in our valley for year-round consumption. We also mentor others.
Does all that gardening and canning interfere with my writing life? It sure does, but at the same time that it inspires my fiction like two sides of a coin. Both are necessary for my life.
Question: Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.
Answer: Raspberries and Vinegar is the story of a feisty environmentalist and local food advocate who falls for the junk-food-loving reluctant farmer next door.
Yep, it’s contemporary romance with food and green themes! The longer blurb is:
Sweet like raspberries, tart like vinegar.
Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.
Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can’t handle? And surely there’s something sweet beneath all that tart.
Question: What is the ‘message’ of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
Answer: I was part of a Christian authors’ panel at Humanities Montana Festival of the Book recently. One of the questions was, “Do you preach in your fiction?” I grabbed the mic and said, “Yes! But it’s not what you think.” The challenge I’ve accepted is helping Christians see environmental and food security issues through God’s lens. In an effort NOT to preach, I make sure that not everyone in the story agrees on what that is, and turn them loose to examine the issues with a good dose of humor.
Question: Share something that makes you laugh, with just plain humor, or happiness, or because it’s so stupid.
Answer: My granddaughters! I have three under the age of four. Spending time with any or all of them gives me great joy and usually causes laughter. I love bouncing on the trampoline with them, having them on the kitchen counter while I cook, and reading stories to them. They light up my life!
Question: What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!
Answer: Raspberries and Vinegar was the first novel in the Farm Fresh Romance series. The second story, Wild Mint Tea, releases in March, while the final novel releases in December. Both continue the story begun in Raspberries and Vinegar, where three young women buy a farm together in an effort to prove to the world that they can live sustainably. Only…they are all city girls with barely a clue of where to begin.
Question: How many books do you have out?
Answer: Two at the moment. Raspberries and Vinegar: A Farm Fresh Romance released in August 2013. I was also one of four authors in a contemporary romance collection called Rainbow’s End that released in May 2012. The collection features a geocaching hunt that all four sets of characters participate in.
Question: What are your future projects?
Answer: Besides writing the final book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, I’m writing a Christmas novella to release in September 2014. Snowflake Tiara will contain a historical story by Angela Breidenbach and a contemporary by me. And yes, my local food themes come through even in a Christmas story centered around a beauty pageant!
I have ideas for at least six more contemporary romance farm lit novels after that. There’s no shortage of research material waiting to be used.
Question: Are your characters/stories/scenes/etc based on anything in real life?
Answer: When I got the idea for the Farm Fresh Romance series, my son and daughter-in-law were university students. Many of their friends were envious when they decided to return to their roots and join our farm endeavor. I began to realize that today’s young people are very interested in where their food comes from and wish they could participate. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would look like to turn some city girls loose on the farm.
Question: What is your writing style?
Answer: I write contemporary stories because my voice lends itself well to it. I write in a peppy style with many fragments, punchy inner dialogue, and a lot of humor. Life’s too short to write—or read!—boring prose.
From Amazon reviews:
Valerie Comer’s Raspberries and Vinegar is a sweet and sassy story that made me laugh out loud, get teary-eyed, and sigh with pleasure at the ending. (Stacy M)
Though Raspberries and Vinegar is woven with real-life setbacks and startling self-revelations, it is also a cozy romance that wraps you in the wonders of country living, the smells of home-cooked (organically grown) treats, and the warmth of dear friends and dedicated family. (Sara Goff)
I love Valerie Comer’s warm, easy and humorous style of writing. (Paula Vince)
I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary farming story. (Christine Lindsay)
If you love strong characters, a great message, a clean romance and the country, this book is for you. (Julie Arduini)
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 creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her characters enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit with the voice of experience laced with humor. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released August 1, 2013. Visit her at http://valeriecomer.com.
Update: Wild Mint Tea, the second Farm Fresh Romance, has been released.
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