We recently had the pleasure of chatting with author Valerie Comer about her debut novel, Raspberries and Vinegar. She’s so sweet – we know you’ll lover her as much as we do!
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released in August, 2013.
Valerie Comer: Like most writers, I’ve always loved words and stories, but it didn’t occur to me that normal everyday people wrote the books I loved. I dabbled in writing here and there for years. In 2001 I landed a job in a small-town flooring shop and found myself with many empty hours a day. My bosses were fine with me filling the time however I wanted so long as I was there and ready to jump in when the phone rang, a client came in, salesmen arrived, etc.
I wrote ten novels there over the 11.5 years I was with the firm, tucked away in a makeshift office in the back corner of the showroom. And yes, I figured out that just because novelists can pass for normal, doesn’t mean they are.
RL: Tell us a little about your novel:
Valerie Comer: Sweet like Raspberries. Tart like Vinegar
Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.
Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can’t handle? And surely there’s something sweet beneath all that tart.
RL: What inspired you to write Raspberries and Vinegar?
Valerie Comer: Faith and farming have been a part of my life much longer than writing. When I began thinking about writing contemporary romance, I needed to find a way to make it fit what interested me: a rural way of life rather than the urban lifestyle most contemporary books seemed to embrace. With farmers’ markets on the upswing and many consumers becoming concerned about the quality of their food, I thought the time was right to explore those values in fiction.
More specifically, my son and daughter-in-law were in university at the time, planning to come home to the farm after graduation. So many of their peers were jealous of their plans that I began to wonder what would happen if three young women bought a farm together to prove they could grow their own food and live sustainably.
Those thoughts became the kernel for Raspberries and Vinegar and the other two stories in the Farm Fresh Romance series.
RL: Do you have a separate space set up in your home or a favorite place to write?
Valerie Comer: Now that I’m no longer working at the flooring shop, I’ve repurposed part of a spare bedroom upstairs in our farmhouse. It’s the room used by our non-local granddaughters when they visit but, in between, it’s Grandma’s office. My desk faces west out over my garden, our pastures, neighboring farms, and out to the mountains beyond. It’s handy that I’m a morning writer and am usually out of the room before the sun shines in directly and overheats the space!
RL: What do you want readers to take away from Raspberries and Vinegar?
Valerie Comer: I want them to laugh, to cry, and to think, just a little bit, about whether God cares about the food they eat and where it comes from.
RL: Which part of Raspberries and Vinegar was the most enjoyable to write?
Valerie Comer: That’s a tough question, because I rewrote the story so many times, and some of the scenes that were great fun in first draft ended up on the cutting room floor. One of my favorites that remained almost intact is immediately after their first kiss. Let me just say it didn’t go well.
RL: What book are you currently reading (or: What is your favorite book?)?
Valerie Comer: An author can’t have a favorite book! Isn’t that illegal or immoral or something? But at the moment, I’m reading Janice Thompson’s new release, The Icing on the Cake. I enjoy her humor!
RL: Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become writers?
Valerie Comer: Funny you should ask. After years of avoiding blogging about writing, I decided a few months ago that I did, in fact, have plenty to say to newer writers. I bought a new domain at To Write a Story http://towriteastory.com and began creating a free course via email that presents an overview of the fiction writing process from planning through plotting, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. I also blog once a week on one of those topics, and have added a resources section.
RL: Are you working on another writing project at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
Valerie Comer: I am and I can! The other two books in the Farm Fresh Romance series will release in March and December 2014. Good thing I had that second novel’s first draft done before contracting the series.
For another dose of fun, my good friend Angela Breidenbach and I just signed a contract for a pair of novellas planned to release next September. Snowflake Tiara is a Christmas title about two beauty pageants 125 years apart. Both of our heroines (Angela’s in 1889 and mine in 2014) compete because they’re driven to help hungry children. I was excited to find how smoothly I could add my own passion for gardening and local food into a story about beauty! More details at: http://valeriecomer.com/
To learn more about Raspberries and Vinegar or to purchase your copy visit http://www.choosenowpublishing.com/posts/books/raspberries-and-vinegar-farm-fresh-romance