Today’s first guest is someone I talk to nearly every day and yet I haven’t interviewed her here on the blog in two years! Travesty! Let’s correct that right now by chatting about her latest book, shall we? 🙂
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with a southern Appalachian flair. Her books have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and the ACFW Carol Awards, with The Thorn Healer selected as a 2018 finalist in the RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her britallachian romances, both in novella form and in full-length, introduce readers to fun culture clashes between her native Appalachia and the wonderful British culture. In January, Pepper’s historical romance novel, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge adds a bit of Appalachia to Barbour’s beloved series. Her books are seasoned with her Appalachian heritage and love for family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
An unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures
When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.
Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.
But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?
Hi my dear friend! Welcome back to the blog!
Pepper: Dogs. Big ones.
Carrie: Yes! Me too ♥ #imissZuzu
Pepper: Hee hee – easy! Tea – hot or cold. YUM!!
Carrie: Yes – silly question for me to ask you 😉
Pepper: Pepsi! (specifically Dr. Pepper)
Carrie: Again, I should have known haha!
Pepper: Um…you know this answer ? MOUNTAINS!!!!!!
Carrie: Clearly I need to up my question game with you 😉
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Pepper: Hmm…Let me think? Juggling? And by that, I mean juggling a lot of things to do at once? Or juggling a lot of characters in my head at once ? If you need an actual tangible thing, I guess my super power would be cheering others on? I don’t know. LOL
Carrie: I would say your superpower is all of the above! You are an awesome juggler of things and characters – an awesome cheerleader ♥
Q: Who is your favorite book character from childhood?
Pepper: Nancy Drew ? I read ALL of those books when I was a kid. Loved them!! Her stories inspired the first chapter book I ever wrote entitled The Tracy Twins and the Mystery of the Log Cabin. LOL
Carrie: YESSSSS!! Me too! And I’m gonna need to read that book LOL
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?
Pepper: That I’m messy, I like gum and pens. That I’m a writer (because I have about 30 My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge bookmarks in it right now). And that I have too many keys.
Carrie: I’m curious about the keys now lol!
Q: Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Pepper: So, one day I was driving to work and felt a movement on my leg. I thought it was just the air conditioning blowing against my pants, but then it moved again…up my leg. I looked down and a little field mouse was sitting ON MY KNEE. I lost every bit of heat throughout my whole body. I looked back to the road to try and pull over. Nope. On one side of the road was a deep ditch and on the other side of the road was oncoming traffic. So…I shook my knee and the mouse did some little hop from my knee to the door and then up on the dashboard. Slowing my speed and trying not to FREAK OUT, I started to roll down the window so I could push the little guy out, but as soon as the wind fluffed his fur, he scurried across the dashboard, stopped on the other side, and then jumped down into the van…. where I couldn’t see him!!!!
I finally made it to a place where I could pull over and proceeded to do exactly what my character does in the book. You’ll have to read the scene to see how I finally (very much like a madwoman) got that little critter out of the van.
Carrie: Hahahaha! I love this story! I would have literally died, I’m pretty sure.
Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote your book?
Pepper: Oh my word!! I had music going on throughout the writing of this whole book because it’s about two musicians. From the theme of Pirates of the Carribeans to classic jazz to Beethoven, the eclectic mesh of music remained a constant for Henry and Julia ?
Carrie: I love it! My music tastes are so eclectic as well, and while I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, music really is the language of my soul.
Q: When You Look at Me is your TENTH BOOK! Yay!! What a milestone! As you reflect back on all ten books, how have you grown as a writer and what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Pepper: I hope I’m writing tighter stories. I want my books to be enjoyable and touching, but I also want them to be well-written, so I hope I continue to grow and write better and better stories. It’s been a tough year of over commitments for me. I hope I’m learning how to slow my pace so I’m not in ‘frantic’ mode with these stories. It’s SUCH a joy to write!! I love this calling God’s placed on my heart to be a storyteller, but I also know that writing out of fatigue isn’t a good mindset for story-creating. I’ve also learned that this is a loooongggg journey, but not a lonely one. God has brought so many wonderful and amazing people (like you) into my life to journey with me. There are too many to name, but from the briefest encouragement to the closest friendship, I’ve been blessed by the community of people around me on this writing journey.
Carrie: HUGS – so thankful to have the privilege of journeying with you. God is so kind.
Q: Music is very meaningful to the characters – and the story itself – in When You Look at Me. How important is music to your own life, and what inspired you to incorporate it into this novel?
Pepper: We are a VERY musical family. I grew up in a musical family – mostly Bluegrass and southern gospel – but many people in my family were either singers or played some sort of string instrument. My granny would sing ‘old songs’ to us as kids and hymns. It was as incorporated into my childhood as storytelling. When I was about ten or eleven, I was introduced to jazz and classical music. I loved the beauty in that type music too. Now, as wife to a music pastor, and mother to a whole herd of musical children, there’s always some sort of song (whether sung or instrumental) going on in our home. It’s a wonderful environment and very eclectic too.
Carrie: I always love hearing about your granny! I bet she had some great songs 🙂
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from When You Look at Me?
Pepper: While I was writing this book I was struggling with learning how to be brave about several different situations in my life. Somehow, God always makes the book I’m writing impact me right where my heart is. I needed to remember that my strength, joy, and courage all come from the One who made me and called me His kid. Life is full of big and small choices which require us to be brave – but we CAN’T truly be brave on our own. Thankfully, God has given us His courage and the knowledge that he holds the next step in His loving hands, so we can walk forward with confidence – trusting His all-encompassing, compassionate love for us. I hope people will find encouragement in this novel that they can have courage because the same power that rose Christ from the dead—the same strength—lives within us, so we can be brave and rest in His plans for our lives.
Carrie: Amen. ♥
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.
Pepper: Well, some things for 2019 are still up in the air, but right now I KNOW that my historical romance My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge is coming out in January (and is currently on Netgalley…if you’re interested ?) and I have plans for a fun historical romance novella to arrive around Valentine’s Day. The title is Between Stairs and Stardust and it takes place at the beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC (#mydreamhouse). There are some other story ideas in the works, including one of my FAVORITES, but I’m still working on those plans.
Carrie: Cannot WAIT to see these become reality!
Pepper Basham is giving away reader’s choice of one (1) book in the Pleasant Gap Romance series (Just the Way You Are or When You Look at Me) in ebook to TWO of my readers! Open internationally except where prohibited by law. This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
Plus! There are still a few hours left in the JustRead Tour giveaway below.
What about you? What is your favorite type of music?