Today’s guest is one of my fave authors … and I was shocked recently to discover that I’ve NEVER interviewed here on the blog! Well… we are correcting that post haste. As in, right now.
MELISSA JAGEARS is the Carol Award-winning author of the UNEXPECTED BRIDES series and the TEAVILLE MORAL SOCIETY series, a homeschooling mother to three, and an extreme night owl. Find her online at www.melissajagears.com, and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Bookbub, Amazon, and Goodreads
Her upcoming release, A Chance at Forever, releases March 6, 2018!
In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job.
Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy’s mistrust, but he’s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn’t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.
Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for?
Hi Melissa! Welcome to the blog! (How have we not done this before now???)
Melissa: I have no idea why we’ve not yet done this. I love your blog….why’ve you been holding out on me?! 🙂
Carrie: (searches Book Bloggers manual for answer) Would you accept ‘temporary insanity’ as a legitimate reason?
Melissa: Uhhhh…. Raspberries. Because apples are dry and oranges are too citrusy, but raspberries? They’re like candy.
Carrie: Clearly you have been eating the wrong apples. #Honeycrisp
Melissa: Summer. I’d rather sweat than freeze. Plus swimming is way better than any snow activity.
Carrie: “I’d rather sweat” … i cannot comprehend this answer…. lol.
Melissa: Cats. Because they’re an introvert’s perfect pet. They don’t look at you with sad eyes and make you feel guilty for not having time for them, and they often don’t have time for you, so the feeling’s mutual. You can have a spontaneous snuggle fest for like twenty minutes and both of your love tanks are filled up and that will get you through several days of ignoring each other again.
Carrie: We may have hit upon why I haven’t had you here before now 😉 (Kidding!)
Melissa: Uhhhh….. Milk. Because coffee and tea taste like dirt.
Carrie: YES. You are so right! About this. Not about raspberries or summer or cats. But I’m totally with you on this one 😉
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Melissa: Is this a question about what’s my best talent or what I wish it was? I’ll go for what I wish it was. I’d like to freeze time, but without affecting me. Then I could get work done while everyone else was frozen and also take a nap in uninterrupted, absolute silence. Then when I turned time back on, I’d be free to give everyone my undivided attention.
Carrie: Oh I like that! I could use one of those superpowers too – to catch up on my reading! 😀
Q: Who is your favorite book character from childhood?
Melissa: Garfield. Sarcasm is my real superpower….but unlike the cat, I have the ability to actually vocalize that condescending sarcasm—and learned not to do that real quick if I didn’t want to get in trouble and have people still like me…..so he and I had a bond in the fact that our sarcasm was best kept in our own little thought bubbles.
Carrie: haha! Sarcasm and thought bubbles are totally underappreciated.
Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?
Melissa: It would tell you that I’m afraid that the day I take out the spare pair of shorts, one of my children will pee their pants no matter how old they’ve become (it’s happened, so I’m never taking them out again), that I’m always on the lookout for bookshelves because I carry around a measuring tape so I can call my husband and ask him what the distance between two things at home is in hopes of finding a bookshelf that will fit every single tiny wall space left in my house, that I will die without blistex, that my children have left the house without me noticing that their hair was unbrushed enough times that an emergency brush is paramount, that I have very little money, and I NEVER have business cards when I need them.
Carrie: LOL! Love this.
Q: I have so enjoyed the Teaville Moral Society series, partly because you’ve spotlighted historical issues of injustice and morality that are still timely today. In A Chance at Forever, you address bullying. How was that an important issue during the book’s time period and why do you think it’s still so relevant today? (i.e. why are we still struggling with it)
Melissa: I think the human race has been plagued with pride and insecurity since the beginning. Believing you are better than others or wanting to make yourself feel better about yourself when someone seems to be more put together is the seed that sprouts into bullying. All of us are tempted to do things to make ourselves feel better at the expense of another—it might not be outright bullying, it could be as little as a white lie. Humility does not come naturally, and if it does, I think that’s just God’s grace to you.
My hero, Aaron, was an outright bully at one time, but Mercy realized that though she didn’t trip little children and laugh at them, when she had the power to do as she thought best for herself and could rationalize away the hurt it would cause another…well, sometimes we’re not any better than those that commit the major sins “we’d never commit.”
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22
The cure for bullying? The grace God has provided us to become imitators of Christ if we accept his lordship in our lives.
But until all of us humble ourselves like Christ:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
I’m afraid we’ll be struggling with bullying until the end of the world.
Wait, what? You didn’t ask for a sermon there? Well, at least it was free! Free sermons for everybody!
Carrie: This is so insightful – and so true. Humility like Jesus demonstrated is the cure to so many of our world’s woes today but our human nature rebels against it, doesn’t it?
Q: As a child, Mercy was bullied by Aaron, now the hero of A Chance at Forever. Which of these two characters do you relate to the most?
Melissa: Aaron. (See my Garfield comment!) Plus my personality type is well known for being “the jerk” (AKA Mr. Darcy—well, actually men are portrayed as jerks in literature/film, women are portrayed as serial killers…. 🙁 ) and so I often inadvertently make people feel bad, but then….sometimes I know in a split second that what I’m about to do/say will make them feel bad and I just can’t keep it to myself in those flashes of “superiority.” And to my everlasting shame, in first grade, I helped out some older bullies….you see, the traps they were setting up for the kindergarteners wouldn’t logically or physically work, so I had to point out how ineffective their traps were and if they had any hope of success, well, they’d need to come under my tutelage….and so those 6th graders took my advice…..and then after they were caught, it came to the teachers’ attention that I was the reason their bullying actually worked….and so I buried my head in my school desk for the rest of the day out of shame for being a logically superior idiot.
Carrie: awww lol – part of me is laughing out loud at your ‘tutelage’ and the other part of me wants to give 6th-grade shamed-you a hug! I was totally Mercy – the bullying started in Kindergarten by a little boy who kept me trapped on the slide ALL OF RECESS EVERY DAY because if I slid down he was waiting to pull my pigtails. It continued through high school and, sadly, did not involve the now-amusing simplicity of ponytail pulling. But, you know, there is hope for each of us. The recovering bullied and the recovering bully-enabler ♥
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from A Chance at Forever?
Melissa: That those who have failed worse than you need forgiveness just as much as you.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Melissa: I’m moving to WYOMING. Not literally, just in my books. I’m sauntering out of Kansas and heading up to the northern frontier. And the first is a marriage of convenience story, my favorite!
As for life, it’s going to be completely different, hopefully the health issues that have made me slow way down will be fixed by some modern medicine miracles and there will now be two self-employed adults in this house without a single W-2 job to count on. Lots of prayers will be said so that we can provide enough food to feed our three bottomless pits!
Carrie: I looooooooove MOC stories – yay! And definitely praying for y’all ♥
Melissa is offering a signed paperback of A Chance at Forever to FIVE of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? Were you the bullied or the bully? (no shame here! We are a safe place with thought bubbles!)