Friday, 12 August 2022

I Interviews

Interview: Tari Faris

YouBelongWithMe coverCan you please provide a brief summary of You Belong with Me?

Hannah is a Realtor in a small town of old homes, and she loves the history of it all. However, there are some influential people in the town who want to bring in the new and demolish the old. Hannah has come up with a plan to restore some of the old buildings, but she needs to win a community contest to provide the funds. When she struggles to get the community on her side, she quickly realizes that she can’t win the contest without them.

Luke grew up in foster care in Heritage and never quite felt like he belonged. When the assistant fire chief position opens up, he sees it as an opportunity to finally have a place. But when a conflicting document about his past is uncovered, he has to decide how much of his personal history he wants to dig into and even if he has time for it as Hannah’s town project begins to take over his schedule.


Luke and Hannah were childhood best friends and neighbors, but deep down Luke has always wanted more. He has to see if Hannah will ever fully forgive him for breaking her heart in high school.


What made you choose Heritage, Michigan, as the setting for your new series?

Heritage is a fictional town located approximately where the town of Shelby is located. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Shelby, but I did spend a lot of my childhood visiting family in Ludington and loved the area. Ludington was too large for my story, but when I fell in love with the Little Sable Point Lighthouse I knew it was the perfect location.


How did you become interested in historic small towns?

I grew up in the small town of Spring Arbor, located in south central Michigan. Both of my parents grew up there, and I always loved poring over old photos we have of the town. Some date back almost a hundred years. So I guess I have always had an affection for the history of Michigan’s small towns. 


Now that my husband’s job has taken us across the country to live in a town where everything is modern and new, I find that I miss the character and uniqueness that each town has to offer. I miss the Victorian homes and historic architecture. So writing about those became a way of visiting my roots.


What do you love the most about writing romance?

I love the happily-ever-after endings and all the feels along the journey. But even more than that, I think that romance captures the greatest emotion in the world—love. God is love, and we are on a great romantic journey of being pursued by him.

A great romance brings the feelings of love to life on the page for us to enjoy over and over as it stirs up joy, hope, and the desire to belong. These are three emotions that God promises to fulfill for us.


Do you have a favorite character in You Belong with Me?

I truly have grown to love each of them, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be Luke. There is something about his loneliness and never feeling that he belongs that most everyone can identify with. He shares a lot of similarities in personality with my husband, and I loved writing the character.


What is the most important lesson you have learned while writing your first novel?

Patience. I typed the first version of this novel eight years ago. I thought after that first attempt that it would be published. I was wrong. So I learned more and more about the craft and rewrote the novel over and over. Looking back, I can see how much I grew in my writing as well as my faith during that time.


Susan May Warren says, “If the journey hasn’t changed you, then you’ve missed the point.” The journey of this novel definitely changed me, and I expect every book I write to do the same.


What do you hope readers take away from your book?

God is a God of second chances, or third chances, or however many we need. He is always loving, caring, and gentle with us. He never gives up on Luke or Hannah as they try to plow their way through life on their own. He doesn’t give up on Thomas, even though he is being an idiot for most of the book. You might say that I wrote the story that way, but I did so based on the character of God that we see in the Bible and how I have seen him work in my life and many friends’ lives. I hope my readers will be reminded of that love and promise that God will never give up on them.


You manage What is the best piece of advice you could give another first-time author?

Be teachable. There is so much to learn, and many new authors believe they know more than they actually do. The industry is always changing, and we must continue to grow and change with it.


Two of my mentors, Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, have hit bestseller lists and won awards, yet they recognize that they are still learning and growing as authors. They strive to always make the next book better than the last. That is an honorable goal I hope I can aspire to as well.


What are you working on next?

I am working on book 2 in this series. It picks up the following spring in Heritage as the town begins the process of spending the money they won from the grant, including hiring a landscape architect for the square and a new librarian for the town. We will also finally find out what the tension between Olivia and Nate is all about, and there may just be a baby in store for one of the couples from You Belong with Me.


How can readers connect with you?

I am on Facebook and Instagram pretty regularly, and you can always send me a message through my website, I do my best to reply to every message personally. You can also sign up for my newsletter, where I give updates about my life and what is going on in my writing and occasionally even give away books and short stories that provide a bigger picture of the characters in Heritage.

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