It’s My Pleasure to Introduce you to Author Becky Doughty
I’m so excited to welcome Becky Doughty to my website today. She’s the author of the award-winning Elderberry Croft Series and the voice behind BraveHeart Audiobooks.
In Becky’s words: “I write fiction, mainly because nonfiction is hard! Yes, I’ve tried.
“I like to color outside the lines when it comes to sticking to facts…or anything else, for that matter.”
Becky writes Women’s Fiction with strong elements of Romance, and Young Adult/New Adult/Coming of Age Fiction. Some of her fiction is written for the Christian Fiction or Inspirational Fiction market. She also writes for the General Fiction market.
“My stories are all light on language, violence, and sex. So, if you’re looking for a book you don’t have to shove under the couch cushion when visitors stop by, you’ve come to the right place!”
Becky is married to her champion of more than 25 years. They have three children, two of whom are grown and starting families of their own. All live within a few miles of each other in Southern California. They share their lives with too many animals, a large vegetable garden, and a strange underground concrete room they’re certain was built for dark and sinister purposes…
What is your birthplace, and does that influence your writing?
Thanks for having me here today, Peg, I’m honored!
I was born – and adopted – in Washington State. That’s where I grew up until my senior year of high school. My parents were called to be missionaries in a part of Indonesia that is now known as West Papua.
Yes, it very much influences my writing, but not in an easy to explain way. This is a lot of “Christianese” so let me know if any of this doesn’t make sense.
The Missionary Kid
Much like a preacher’s kid (a PK), as a missionary kid (MK), my environment raised me with the pressure to “go and make disciples of all men.” It is a worthy calling, don’t get me wrong. But, that “calling” came from the religious institutions I belonged to. It included the mission field, the Church, the religious boarding schools, etc. It is not because I listened to the call of CHRIST in my life.
And so, I became the quintessential prodigal – I left my faith. Back then I wandered through some dark shadowlands, including the occult as a Christian Witch. (Yes, there IS such a thing.) Basically, I became enslaved to all the things I claimed made me free.
The Dark Becomes Light
But God pursued me even into the darkest night, and slowly, carefully, patiently, He wooed me by introducing Himself to me in a way I’d never known Him before. My stories all have characters walking through some form of shadowlands. It doesn’t matter whether it’s through the cloying mists of doubt and discouragement, or deep into the black mazes of grief, adultery, abuse, and addiction. The stories also all contain a theme of redemption, of restoration.
That said, not all my books are categorically Christian.
Many of them do NOT contain the gospel message. Instead, they are simply stories of:
- Hope with believers, living alongside non-believers
- Characters being a light, without carrying a big stick.
Mainly because that’s how God won my heart.
There is Light
The change didn’t happen in a blinding light on the road to Damascus like the apostle Paul. No, it’s more like Hosea with Gomer, being faithful and steady; even though I wasn’t.
If I can be that kind of light to the world – if my characters can be that kind of light to the world – then I have fulfilled the calling Christ has put in my heart.
There are four quarterly volumes in the Elderberry Croft Series about Willow Goodhope and the Coach House Trailer Park. Was this originally a monthly series on your website?
There are now five volumes if you include the sequel, Elderberry Days! The first four volumes can be purchased in one Complete Collection too!
Elderberry Croft is indeed a serial novel made up of monthly Episodes that I originally released on my website for all of 2013. I wrote it before I published any books. In fact, I needed it to help establish my “voice” for readers who were wondering what I wrote.
It helped build my author brand or platform. The effort went over so well, that I ended up releasing it first in 3-Episode Volumes each quarter. Then in January of 2014, I released it as a Complete Collection. When readers asked for more Willow Goodhope, I realized there might be a few unfinished stories in the lot. So Christmas 2014, I published the sequel Elderberry Days. The book was 2015 Silver Medalist in the Readers’ Favorite Christian Fiction category!
And now, once again at the request of my readers, I’m starting a brand new year-long serial novel called Pemberton Manor. It has the same feel as Elderberry Croft, with a similar cast of quirky characters, but this time, I’m not publishing it on my website. Instead, I’m releasing it in monthly Episodes on Amazon all year long! If you’d like to read Pemberton Manor: The Goodbye Girl Prequel, join my Reader Community for a free copy!
Willow Goodhope is either hiding something or she’s given up on her previous life. How did you reach down into your soul to describe a woman who is so utterly alone?
Goodness. You ask the hard questions, my friend.
There is a simple answer to this question even though my circumstances were different from Willow’s. I also spent a dark and painful time trying to find my footing in a place much like Elderberry Croft and The Coach House Trailer Park. (You can read about my experience HERE). While I was there, I met others like me. These people also lost their way, hit dead ends, and simply didn’t know how to find their way to the other side of things.
So, in many ways, this story is inspired by real-life people and circumstances. Names and facts have been changed, of course. But, the heart of the story – that people need people and hope may only be a simple human connection away – is real life, you know?
The series is listed under Religious and inspirational fiction. What’s the one lesson you want readers to learn from Willow Goodhope?
This is one of those books that doesn’t have a “Come to Jesus” moment in it. Instead, it’s about a person struggling with unimaginable loss and grief who finds her way “home” by reaching out to others in need.
I think that’s the message I want people to come away with. Too often we succumb to the lie that we have to be healed and whole ourselves before we can reach out to help others. Actually, the surest path toward our own healing is by helping others along the way.
I’m a watercolor artist in addition to being an author, and certain covers draw me in completely. The cover of A Long Way Home really drew me in. When I read the description of the book, I had to smile. Taking our kids to the Renaissance Festival in Minneapolis was always one of our most cherished summertime activities. What inspired you to write this book?
That’s one of my favorite covers, too! I love the Renaissance Faire. I’ve been a devoted participant on many levels for most of my teenage and adult life. But I’ve also experienced some of the darker, behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on in any kind of “carnie” setting like this. The setting provides ample opportunities to masquerade as something or someone other than who you really are.
In A Long Way Home, the “scene of the crime” is a Renaissance Faire. The festival itself is not good or evil, in and of itself. It is simply a setting. Think of it as a believable stage for a story about a man who uses his showman charisma to cover his criminal behavior.
This book comes with a warning because it contains the topics of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Are there any explicit descriptions in the book that some readers may have a problem with?
I added the warning at the suggestion of my publisher. The book contains references to domestic imprisonment, sexual assault and abuse, predators, and teen pregnancy. I know that these are considered “triggers” for some who have similar experiences.
That said, the story is NOT about those things, but about the restoration of a violated and broken girl to her family.
In telling about her “long way home” I felt it necessary to also tell how she ended up so far from home in the first place. I did that so readers could really grasp how difficult the journey back might be for her.
A Word of Caution
There are no explicit descriptions. In fact, the scene ends before anything actually happens on the page. There is one point in the book where the main character uses sex to lull her captor into releasing her – it’s one of the few “languages he speaks.” She knows from experience with him that it’s the only way she can get out of the situation unharmed.
This is another book of mine that isn’t categorically “Christian” but is about Christians living out life (the main character is a preacher’s kid and her love interest – not the bad guy! – comes from a strong Christian family). The whole “Fallout Series” is published as General Market Young Adult/New Adult Genre.
Because I’m known as an author of Christian Fiction, it often gets labeled as Christian Fiction. Then it’s slammed by Christians who complain that I don’t bring God into the equation more formulaically.
All the Way to Heaven is the first book in “The Fallout Series,” a collection of sweet contemporary romances that follow characters featured in the first book. I loved our time in Tuscany. What inspired you to pick that as the backdrop for this beautiful story?
Argh. Okay. In October 2007, I took a trip to Italy with a dear friend.
For years, we’d talked about going one day. On New Year’s Eve 2006, we decided that we would simply make it happen that next fall, come hell or high water.
Like Ani in All the Way to Heaven, we landed in Pisa. We got on the wrong train–and then the right train–to Lucca. Our guest house owner met us at the train station.
The Voice of Inspiration
Our first morning in Lucca, we awakened to the voice of a Romanian girl. (In real life, she is Georgiana, in the book, she’s Madalina.) She sang Puccini beneath our second-floor window, and I knew, even then, that a story was birthed.
A week later, after a couple of days in Siena, and just after getting off the bus in Sorrento (the famed “gateway” to the Amalfi Coast), I learned that my beloved (and much too young!) father had suffered a devastating stroke.
We cut our trip short and scrambled to get back home. It took us almost three days of traveling at odd hours to get last minute flights. In the middle of the night in an airport bathroom in Paris, France, while waiting for our connecting flight, my family called to let me know Dad was gone. (Oh Becky, that is heartbreaking! PM)
I packaged up the memory of that trip in a box of grief and guilt and put it away. It was impossible to even think about the good times my friend and I had because of how painfully it ended. Seven years later, almost to the day, I awoke to the sound of Georgiana singing outside my bedroom window. It was only a dream, and her voice faded as reality swept in.
I lay there with my eyes closed and remembered. And cried. And my husband, bless his heart, held me as I let go. I knew then that it was time to write that story; to “revisit” Lucca and change my sad memories into something hopeful. To redeem that time…. And All the Way to Heaven was born.
If you could pick one character to spend a week with you on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, who would it be and why?
One character from All the Way to Heaven? Probably Madalina/Georgiana. She cracked me up in real life – she was almost exactly as I depicted her character in All the Way to Heaven – but she was also streetwise and not afraid to get her hands dirty.
I’m a “full-immersion” kind of traveler, and I much prefer to stay in B&Bs, guest houses, or even youth hostels than in highbrow hotels where new things are observed rather than experienced.
She would know all the back ways and the good places to eat, the best deals and the right people to hang out with.
Your character Tish Ransome, in A Light in the Dark is an innocent rock star princess who sings about heartache and betrayal. Is there a lesson here for others who dream of a life on stage, but have no idea what the life is like?
The focus of the story is more on the notion that Tish sings about hard stuff, but she knows nothing about it in real life. Then she meets a guy who actually does know real suffering (this story also contains a trigger warning because of domestic violence), and she has an opportunity to be a light to him through a very dark time in his life.
When Becky Doughty isn’t writing, what is her one guilty pleasure?
As much as I love to travel and be immersed in culture, I’m an introvert by nature. NOT shy, mind you. I just thrive on being alone or in the company of only a few people at a time. Or on stage. I love the stage…but that’s completely different than having to interact with a crowd, you know?
Up until recently, I rode a motorcycle for the sheer pleasure of it. I finally hung up my helmet and sold my baby to someone who promised to take good care of her. For many reasons, it was time.
I’ve always gardened and painted. (I used to make a living as a muralist.) More often than not, these days when I have some time to myself, I watch movies. I’m a sucker for artsy tear-jerkers. Not only that, I really adore quirky romantic foreign films with subtitles. I’m also kind of a fan of Sundance Film Festival “approved” movies. No one in my family will watch them with me (although my 14-year-old daughter is just beginning to show an interest). So I save them up on my Wish List and have my own film festival!
The Gustafson Girls Books from Becky Doughty are a Christian Romance Series. The four Gustafson girls lost their parents to a horrible accident and they were raised by their grandparents. Tell us a little about the girls and whether or not there will be a fourth book.
This series is actually more Women’s Fiction with strong Romance elements, because the overarching storyline is about the relationships of these sisters. It addresses how they deal with the news that the girl who killed their parents is being released from prison and is coming home…a changed woman.
Currently, there are three books out.
Juliette and the Monday ManDates is a book about the oldest, a girl who kind of shut down and went into a holding pattern as her way of coping with the death of her parents on the night of her high school graduation – a night that should have been the highpoint of her life. Her sisters concoct an intervention plan called The Monday ManDates where they set her up on blind dates that are pretty much disastrous from the get go.
But in the midst of it all, she meets a passionate Christian musician who helps her understand forgiveness and redemption (there’s that theme again), and introduces her to Christ (this book probably has my absolute strongest and clearest gospel message). And in spite of her sisters’ efforts, Juliette also finds love in an unexpected place.
Renata and the Fall from Grace highlights the second sister, the bossy one, the mother hen. She’s the mother of four boys and is married and in love with her husband. She wants her sisters to be as happy as she is…except she usually beats them over the head with how perfect her life is compared to theirs. She’s really the least likable of the sisters, but in her book, you get a glimpse of her underbelly, and when a tragedy strikes, she has to learn how to give up her tight grip on the controls.
Phoebe and the Rock of Ages explores the third sister, the wild child. She’s the bohemian artist who hides her pain behind her wild lifestyle. She has a painful secret in her past that comes to light in her story…and remember that passionate Christian musician from Juliette’s story? He’s back!
Gia and the Blast from the Past is about the youngest of the Gustafson sisters and was scheduled to be released right before Christmas, but due to several conflicts, including a fatal computer crash, it is now scheduled to release this spring, so be watching for Gia’s book soon! AND…there’s a good possibility of a 5th book in the series…
I’m fascinated by the fact that you picked a schoolmate to be the one who drove her car into the Gustafson girl’s parent’s car. Did you experience or witness bullying when you were in school? How did you mold the character of Angela Clinton?
Angela Clinton was the senior class princess, but she was also one of the friendliest, sweetest people in the school. She was kind to everyone and was loved by all. So her behavior on the night of her graduation was completely out of character. That behavior made the tragedy and her insistence that she was guilty as charged so much more difficult to grasp.
Her full story has yet to be revealed, but in Phoebe’s book (Book 3), we meet a person who will help bring reconciliation between the Clinton family and the Gustafson family.
Honestly, throughout most of the series, even in my mind, Angela has been a bit of a shadowy figure waiting to tell her story, and now, finally, she’s getting her chance. I’m not exactly sure where she came from, but the one thing I always knew is that I wanted her to be a good person who did a bad thing in a moment of desperation.
You combined two novels, Broken Identity and Waters Fall into a 488-page Kindle offering co-produced by author Sarah Jae Foster. How did the two of you decide to combine your books and why did you make this decision?
Before we knew each other, Sarah wrote Broken Identity and I wrote Waters Fall. They were two different novels about Christian women who have affairs.
We both discovered the hard way that Christian Fiction about adultery is much more “palatable” when a husband has the affair than when a wife has the affair. But, upon comparing notes, we also discovered that there were many readers with whom these stories resonated. We both believe these stories are important and relevant. (Church statistics show that extramarital affairs in the church in the past ten years are almost as prevalent among wives as they are husbands.)
We decided to join forces and promote these books as a set. The boxset is temporarily unavailable, but you can still get the individual novels on Amazon. Broken Identity, Waters Fall If you want to wait until the boxset is available again, we’re looking at relaunching it this summer.
Life Letters is a collection of letters personally penned by nine women from the Bible whose lives demonstrate what it means to produce the character traits of a believer; the “fruit” of the Spirit.
Each letter focuses on one of the fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these was the most meaningful for you to write?
After everything else I’ve shared, it probably comes as no surprise that I relate closely to Rahab in the letter on Faithfulness, and how God sought her out and had a purpose for her, even though she lived a life in opposition to His commands.
When I was writing these letters, the one that hit home the hardest at the time was the story about the Hebrew slave girl in Naaman’s household, the one titled Goodness. While I researched the slave trade in Damascus at the time and how this girl might have come into her position, our youngest was about the same age as she might have been.
My mommy’s heart broke as I imagined what that must have been like for that little girl. It was a very difficult, and yet hopeful story to tell. The child was so certain and fearless in her faith that she was the open door through which God was ushered into that home. Blows my mind.
Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you’d like to share with my readers?
Honestly, I could talk about books and writing until the good Lord returns, but I’ll call it a day for now! Of course, if your readers have questions, I’ll be glad to hang out and answer! Again, thank you so much for having me here today, Peg! I appreciate you!
What a delight it’s been to chat with Becky as we put this interview together for you. She has opened her heart and offered a selection of books that will definitely melt your heart during these cold winter nights!