Thank you so much and let me just tell you that I loved Sincerely, Mayla. She is so real! How would you describe her and what prompted you to write this book?
[Virginia Smith] Sincerely, Mayla is about a quirky young woman who discovers that her estranged grandmother is a major control freak – and that being a control freak might just be an inherited trait. The overall message is best stated by one of the characters in the book:
“Trying to control every situation you find yourself in is a sign that you don’t trust God to work things out to your satisfaction.”
Well, I wanted to know too!
I’m so glad you did! We’re all matchmakers at heart, aren’t we?
Speaking of romance, though the book probably isn’t classified as a romance novel, there are some pretty important romantic developments in these pages. Is it hard to write romance in Christian books, where a physical relationship is not detailed?
[Virginia Smith] Romance is about love, and as Christians we serve a God who is love. So it’s pretty easy to focus on His kind of love. And in Christian novels, you just have to make sure your characters behave in a way that is God-honoring – just as we strive to do in real life. As I write I’m constantly aware that the Lord is not only reading over my shoulder, He’s dictating.
That’s a great thing to remember. Thanks!
You know, one of my favorite parts of writing is research. I’ll bet this book was fun to research. Tell us how you went about it.
[Virginia Smith] Well, in Sincerely, Mayla, my character goes to Florida to visit her estranged grandmother. So my husband and I went to Orlando on vacation! We drove around until I found Mayla’s grandmother’s house, and her church. I took pictures. And we went to SeaWorld and to Cocoa Beach, which both show up in Sincerely, Mayla. I also spent some time interviewing people – not just Pregnancy Resource Centers, but humane societies and even a rabbit rescue farm. (And you’ll just have to read the book to know why that’s important!)
Several of the characters in Sincerely, Mayla manipulate others through guilt or other controlling behaviors. Why did you choose to write about that? Is there any basis in your own life?
[Virginia Smith] I think there’s a little bit of my life in all my books. I loved my grandmother dearly, but she was an expert guilt inflictor. And I’ve seen myself use the same sort of manipulating behavior to get others to do what I want them to do. They say admitting you have a problem is half the battle. Let’s hope so!
OK, back to the rabbit! Pets often appear in novels, but Mayla’s is a little different than most. Where did you come up with the idea for the rabbit?
[Virginia Smith] Ah, Harvey the rabbit! My father lives in a nursing facility, and they have a very large rabbit who plays catch. He’s so funny! He’s the main model for Harvey. And I also have a friend who gave her son a pet rabbit. She didn’t know rabbits chewed, and she put him out on their covered porch. He destroyed the wood siding on their hot tub. That incident shows up in Sincerely, Mayla too.
As for Harvey’s name, I got that from a 1950’s James Stewart movie that was based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play. In the book, Mayla and Sylvia have a conversation about Harvey’s name in which I wrote a veiled reference to that movie. I wonder if anyone will get it – so far nobody has mentioned it to me. (So if you get the reference, PLEASE let me know.)
Thank you so much for answering our questions and taking the time to visit with us! We really enjoy learning about what happens “behind the book.”
OK, folks, there’s your challenge! If you get the reference, just click here to go to her Contact page, complete the form and click Submit. If you’re not familiar with the movie, click here or here for more information. (Psst! There’s a subtle hint below.)
Oh! And don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be entered in the Mayla Mix giveaway for May. You can get a free copy of Sincerely, Mayla, red nail polish and a multicolored anklet so you can look like Mayla.