Monday, September 22, 2008

A View From Tamara Leigh's Window!

Tamara Leigh writes about characters that all of us can easily relate to. In Faking Grace, Maizy is not the perfect Christian gal she claims to be! It is my honor to welcome Tamara to my Window for a look behind the gritty characters in her work. Please, welcome Tamara Leigh!

Do you think there is a bit of Maizy Grace in all of us? Why are we so afraid to be ourselves?

There’s certainly some of Maizy Grace in me, and I venture there are bits of her in other Christians. It’s not easy to just be yourself, especially when others are watching and you can feel the breath of their judgment on the back of your neck. I believe God created in us a need to belong, and when that need is threatened by an inability to conform to acceptable behaviors, the temptation to “fake it” is overwhelming. And so we give in. In the case of Maizy Grace, she turns to “Jesus junk”—bumper stickers, fish emblems, etc.—and educates herself on “Christian speak” in order to make it appear she is a mature Christian. Thus, she fits right in, with no one the wiser. Well, no one but God. And a suspicious hero-to-be.

Do you think harsh judgment and unloving attitudes are the things that drive people away from Christ (i.e. Maizy’s grandmother)? How can we overcome this?

Harsh judgment and unloving attitudes can build a wall between a person and Christ. If the love of Christ can’t be seen in one who professes to be a follower, it may be asked: Why would I want to become a Christian…someone like that? That’s the question I asked as I was growing up in a household where the Bible was thumped, but the behavior was to thump—verbally and physically. As we are all flawed, sometimes we say and do things that aren’t in line with what Christ asks of us, but I believe that we should pick ourselves up, dust ourselves, and remind ourselves of the ultimate goal—to become like Him. And, of course, this may mean humbling ourselves and apologizing.

There is a fine balance in telling people that their actions are wrong/sinful and still loving them and showing Christ’s mercy. Do you think Christians are afraid to caution others because they hide similar sin in their own hearts?

I struggle with confronting others about wrong/sinful actions, not only for fear of sounding judgmental and driving someone away from Christ, but for fear of being a hypocrite (yes, “you-know-whats” can be found in my own eye). I believe many of us face this dilemma, and some of us solve it by simply being silent. However, if the person whose actions are wrong or sinful is a fellow Christian, they need to be held accountable. Who should do this? The answer is in the question—someone who will love them in spite of the sin and show them Christ’s mercy.

Staying in God’s word is a pivotal point for Maizy’s growth in Christ (not to mention the “Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity”). How do you encourage others to stay in the word? What makes time in God’s word meaningful to you as you write?

Gently, is how I encourage others to stay in the word. In my family, I do this by example, making the reading of the Bible a regular part of my day. When my sons are confronted with problems or adversity, I often refer to the Bible to help guide them. With my older son, I gently point him in the right direction, and it isn’t unusual for him to search the Bible himself.

With regards to my writing, time in God’s word not only inspires me, but keeps me focused on how to resolve my characters’ conflicts in Godly ways that speak to readers and draw them closer to God.

Was Maizy Grace a fictionalization of someone you know or a hodge-podge of characteristics you have met along life’s way?

Hodge-podge—I like that. Maizy Grace is definitely a “hodge-podge.” She has a little of me in her, my sisters, my mother, my friends, and others who have caught my eye and imagination along the way.

What are you currently working on? When will we see another Tamara Leigh character come to life?

In the works is my Southern Discomfort series from Multnomah. The first book, Paying Piper, is due out in May, 2009 and introduces readers to Piper Wick, one of three cousins from little Pickwick, North Carolina. Here’s a blurb:

The last thing image consultant Piper Wick needs is to be exposed as “one of those

Pickwicks,” especially the one who pulled the Lady Godiva stunt that made

national news twelve years ago. But if she’s going to keep it under wraps, she may

have to compromise her beliefs to clean up the latest in a long string of “Pickwick


What exciting things is God doing in your life right now?

Family-wise, this year I have a son beginning middle school and a son beginning high school. Lots of excitement there…and homework…and angst… But with God’s help, we’re finding our way.

Writing-wise, it’s exciting how well Faking Grace is being received. The letters that have come in from readers have confirmed that I am where God wants me to be.

Parting words of encouragement for your readers?

Make it real. You don’t need a bumper sticker or to learn “Christian speak” to be

a Christian. All you need is a love of Jesus and the determination to show that


1 comment:

M. C. Pearson said...

Hey Kim, I just added a little widget to the Never Surrender Wild Card Tour...if you wouldn't mind re-grabbing the html, I'd appreciate it. It is totally okay if you don't. ;-)