These days, I have plenty of nonfiction and Catholic books coming my way for review. I love that, but what I really, REALLY love is a good novel.
It seems that’s harder than ever to find. I didn’t think my standards were impossibly high, but apparently they are.
By “good novel,” I want something that keeps me turning the pages but isn’t smutty, something that intrigues my imagination but isn’t nasty, and something that is well-written and well-edited.
I’m delighted, then, to introduce you to a woman who’s just released her first novel: Katharine Grubb. Katharine is a Christian wife, mom, homeschooler, and, yes, writer. She goes by @10MinuteWriter on Twitter and has a blog by the same name, 10 Minute Writer.
Her debut novel, Falling for Your Madness, was released only a few weeks ago in electronic format. I’ve read it once so far, and had a chance to read it again while I was offline for Christmas. (My review is up over at my blog, Snoring Scholar.)
Here’s a glimpse of Katharine through an interview she gave us just for Integrated Catholic Life™ readers. After the interview, Katharine also shared an excerpt from Falling for Your Madness just for us!
Katharine, what made you decide to write a romance novel?
This story decided for me. I have never seen myself as a romance writer because romance seemed so silly and inconsequential to real life — Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, the end. I would have much rather been known as a literary writer with romantic tendencies.
Shame on me.
The thing about romance is this: it’s a universal. Everybody falls in love. Every likes happy endings. I feel like once I embraced my inner romance writer and stopped being so embarrassed by it, I was free to discover that there are lots of ways to tell stories, to encourage people, to have them aspire to a more holy life and there’s nothing embarrassing about working it around two people who fall in love while you do it.
What sets Falling for Your Madness apart from other Christian romances out there?
For one, my romance has an element of the fantastic to it. There’s just a little bit of magic. And I use the word ass a couple of times. Not sure other Christian romance writers do that.
I also tried to make my leading man, David, an intriguing eccentric. The romances I’ve read seem to have strong, silent type of romantic men who look good with their shirts off but have shallow personalities.
In contrast, David talks a lot. He can apply a Tennyson poem to almost every situation. He is bound by the rules of chivalry both in body and soul. He also is possibly delusional, eats way too much Indian food, likes expensive Italian shoes, and he absolutely loathes occasions which require casual clothes.
I’d like to think my book is different because, like David, it’s quirky and fun, but my readers will have to decide that for me.
Tell us how you balance your pursuits and writing.
I make very small goals. Like ten minutes of writing here or there, when I can. It took me five years to write my first book this way, but I did it.
Fortunately, my children are getting older and they’re taking on more responsibility, which allows me more ten minute increments throughout the day.
But I’ve noticed there’s always more to do. Those kids seem to think that they need dinner ever night. What is up with that?
How does your Christianity color your writing?
I don’t know how I could write anything with my faith not coloring it in one way or another. In the arts, we have this beautiful opportunity to make truth fun and attractive. I want to write stories that are honest about the frailty of men and women but offer an honest, approachable, graceful solution to the things that oppress us.
Because I’m a writer I get to take my own messy struggles, re-sculpt them into something funny and interesting (I hope) and encourage others with my little creation. At least that’s the goal. What’s the point of writing at all if you don’t use it to elevate your readers?
What part of Falling for Your Madness do you think Mary and Jesus most enjoy or approve of?
It’s my opinion that Jesus appreciated wit. I would like to think that he’d laugh at the best parts. I also think that this book, which makes much of the God-given roles of men and women, could potentially please them, since they are our perfect examples of leadership, humility and submission.
Also, it’s a fast read. They’d probably like that.
Here’s a taste of Falling for Your Madness:
David met me outside the cafe. He held out a Gerbera daisy.
“Laura! I am so happy to see you. You look lovely. Your hair is different. It’s very elegant up like that.” Then he took my hand and kissed it, opened the door for me, and we went in.
Maybe this wasn’t a job interview after all.
He pulled the chair out for me. We ordered our lunch, and then he began to speak, or at least he tried to. He was ﬁdgeting. He saw me watching him, and he was embarrassed. He didn’t seem like the type to get nervous. I really wanted to pat his hand and say, “Everything is going to be all right. You can do this.” But I didn’t know what he was doing, and we weren’t there yet. It wouldn’t be right.
He swallowed. “I spoke to you Monday about a project. I call it a project, but it is really more of a quest. I am in need of a bride.”
“My quest is to someday attain a bride, and then, subsequently, heirs. Oh dear, you look startled. Let me slow down. This is always difﬁcult to explain.” He took a sip of water. “You are not going to be that bride. Not until you say you are. I would like to propose that we become friends. That we meet regularly and develop our friendship over tea, lunch, and dinner. I fancy you. After our delightful conversation on Sunday, and then after seeing your book on Monday, I have many more questions to ask you, and I am hoping you’ll agree to answer them.”
“But you did say bride, or am I going crazy?”
He smiled. “You are not going crazy. I can’t have a bride until I have a ﬁanceé. I can’t have a ﬁanceé until I have a sweetheart. I can’t have a sweetheart until I have a friend. I am hoping you will be my friend.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. He was deﬁnitely eccentric. Probably crazy too.
He continued, “You are in complete control of this relationship. But I will have rules of how things will be between us. We will only meet three times a week. At tea on Monday, at lunch on Wednesday, and at dinner on Friday. All expenses are my responsibility. I only ask of you that you entertain me with stories of your life. We meet at the same time, and we ﬁnish when I say we will. You know exactly what is going to happen at all points in our friendship. When we ﬁnish our meal, I will walk you to your building. I will never go in. I will only touch you to offer you my arm or to kiss your hand in greeting, if you allow me to. At any moment that you tire of this relationship, you must look me in the eyes and say, ‘This relationship is over. I release you.’ At that point, we never meet again.”
I sat back in my chair. I had never heard anything like this before.
“There’s more.” He was uncomfortable. The cafe table was too small and his legs wouldn’t ﬁt under it. He had to turn at an angle and cross them. “You’re enduring this very well, and I’m thrilled to see it. If you think that you would like to progress this friendship into a courtship, if you would like to be my sweetheart, you get to say so. I will never bring it up. I want you to understand that you are always in control. If you are my sweetheart, then we spend more time together on Saturdays and Sundays, and I will request the delight of kissing you on a very speciﬁc spot on the lower hemisphere of your lovely face.” He laughed.
I felt like I was about to scream. I didn’t know if it was in fear or in delight or what. But I was totally enchanted.
“Do you want to hear more? It gets better.” He smiled.
“I think so.”
“If you decide that you want to marry me, then you tell me. You will be in control. Always. I fancy you enough that I am willing to wait for you. I think you would make a remarkable friend, an enchanting sweetheart and a beautiful bride, but I’m not the one who makes the decision here. You are.”
“But there’s a catch.” This was it. I was almost ready to grab my bag and bolt out of there. Almost.
“The catch is on me, because you do the breaking up. I will not do it. Ever. I promise. And I always keep my promises. If you release me, you must speak to me in person about it. No phone calls or emails or ghastly text messages. Once it is over, it is over. No changing your mind or saying you didn’t mean it. Because I will have no more contact with you. None whatsoever.”
“That’s intense.” This should have been scary, but it wasn’t. This man had been hurt. Perhaps he’s devising this crazy system out of protection. I didn’t know what I was going to do with him at all, but the idea of control certainly appealed to me.
“I’m afraid it has to be intense. Am I frightening you?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Do you have any questions? I want you to have complete understanding on all points of the rules.”
“What if I say yes, let’s be—what did you call it, sweethearts?” I had to laugh at this. “And I decide I’d rather be friends again.”
“Excellent question. You always tell a lot about someone by their questions. Our relationship’s progress is a one-way street. We cannot go back to friends; that option only works in pop songs. Your only option, if you are unhappy, is your ﬁnal release of me. But once you shut that door, you cannot open it again. It would be humiliating and unfair for me to see you and have you say something like, ‘Oh David! I’ve missed you!’ He batted his eyes. ‘Oh David, can’t we meet for tea just once for old times’ sake?’ or ‘Oh David, I need a plus one for my friend’s wedding.’ No! Absolutely not. There will be no toying with me. I will not be humiliated.”
I believed it. He meant business.
“My purpose is marriage. It is serious and ﬁnal. While we are friends, you may have your beaux, but I insist you don’t tell me about it, nor do I want you to string us both along for your amusement. You don’t strike me as the type of girl to do that.”
“No.” I had had my fill of that in junior high school. I had stopped when I realized how much it hurt people.
“I can tell you are a lady. I only associate with ladies.”
“I want to remind you that I will do everything that I say I am going to do. I also promise you to not touch you, except in greeting. Never to put physical demands on you. Never try to get you drunk so I can have my way with you. Never presume upon you. There will never be, while you are with me, making out, shacking up, or calls late at night asking you if you want a visitor. You will be absolutely safe in my presence at all times.”
“But, there is this. I cannot be alone with you. Never. Not in a car. Not in your apartment. Not in any circumstances. We meet in public, and I walk you home. And once we are engaged, well, I’ll grow fangs and ask if I can suck your blood.”
“What?” Was he completely mad?
“I’m joking about that part. You were looking a bit pale. I wanted to lighten the mood. I did a bad job of it. Please forgive me.”
I laughed. “I do.”
He leaned back. “I realize that I come across as being intense. Let’s take a moment.”
Our food came. I let it sit there.
Sarah Reinhard’s a Catholic wife, mom, and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism and she’s online at SnoringScholar.com.
Visit Sarah’s blog: http://SnoringScholar.com/
Check out her books: http://SnoringScholar.com/my-books/
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