Saturday, December 12, 2009

A View from Christina Berry's Window - The Familiar Stranger

I am always thrilled to introduce debut novels and the authors behind the story. The Familiar Stranger is an intriguing look at grace and mercy through the eyes of a woman scorned, and it is one I will long remember.

I was able to share a few emails with Christina Berry, and I was extremely blessed by the things she shared! I hope you too will hear God's voice in her words and be blessed!

Please, welcome Christina Berry to my Window!

Where was the idea of this story born in your imagination? Why an amnesia patient?

In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot.

Why amnesia? It fit the story. That's the beauty of writing fiction: you can create whatever circumstances you please!

The strength you write into Denise's character is pretty inspiring. Are there women in your life who have displayed this kind of mercy and grace in overwhelming circumstance?

Denise is a compilation of many. I have seen so many strong women decide to give mercy where judgment and condemnation were deserved. However, many of her weaknesses and emotional battles come from my own struggle with forgiving a grievous wrong done to me. Again and again those who are close enough to see the freedom I enjoy in my life today ask how it was possible. Denise became my chance to show what God can do with a willing heart.

Your faith seems to leap from the pages of The Familiar Stranger through Denise, Pastor Milton, William, Samantha...share with your readers how important everyday relationship is for the believer, for you as a writer, a mom, a wife, a friend - perhaps a bit of your own testimony.

Though the plot of The Familiar Stranger came from news stories, I’d been looking for a fictional vehicle to express the lessons I’d learned regarding forgiveness in my own marriage. I knew no one was interested in reading my particular story, but I still felt God had given me something to say. My husband and I worked through a major issue six years ago and found a vibrant, completely renewed marriage on the other side.

However, ten months ago, that same issue broke our bond. Now as a newly-single woman, I’m in the midst of promoting a book that touches far closer to home than I would have ever dreamed. If no one else ever reads it, I’ve been convicted and encouraged by my own words. If that isn’t a gracious God at work, I don’t know what is!

I was in the middle of revisions when my marriage fell apart. God orchestrated it so that I was beefing up a "struggle with forgiveness" scene in those first few weeks of singleness. While aspects of that were hard to deal with, the very words I thought would help someone else ministered to me.

It seems as if every day new challenges rear up before me: financial, trying to fill both motherly and fatherly roles at home, time, career focus, opening my heart for a new relationship, etc ... It never seems to stop. And each time I have nowhere to go but to my Father's feet. He is the only one who loves me faithfully and CANNNOT let me down, the only one who can guide me through this prickly maze of life.

In reality, I imagine Denise would have been encouraged by many to ditch Craig at the first opportunity, yet she persevered after some rather shocking revelations - why?

Because she knew that obedience to God, despite gut-wrenching pain, would bring unthinkable rewards. There are Biblical reasons to leave a marriage. Denise had them, but in her heart she felt God calling her to something difficult and frustrating and holy and Christ-like.

Do you think more marriages should exhibit this grace in the face of obvious and painful depravity? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Again, there are times when a marriage truly dies. God will give a husband or wife peace about the decision when that is the case. In no way do I want to come across as judgmentally, across-the-board saying every issue in marriage is covered by grace. But I do think we have a HUGE issue with trying to control others. When we give up that sinful instinct, our spouse truly rests in God's hands, and grace is a much easier option.

Now that I've read your debut novel, I admit...I want more! What is next in your writing career?

I’m about 1/5 of the way through my next manuscript, Unafraid, a story about a girl’s kidnapping, and how her life unfolds because of the trauma. One of my characters is a PI, so research is tons of fun.

The humor my sometime co-author/always mother, Sherrie Ashcraft, and I display in our infrequent, humorous newsletters--sign up at for your chance at free autographed books for life or a 4GB iPod Shuffle--has garnered the attention of an editor. You just might see a funny, non-fiction cooperative work from the Ashberry Ladies at some point in time. Plus, I have a funky TV-based devotional a house is interested in … Busy, busy, busy.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Closing words of encouragement you'd like to share with your readers?

He's working on my heart even more. Settling me in singleness, then bringing hope for a future relationship. He continues to teach me to rest in His hands and His plans. I'd encourage all your readers to seek to do the same, no matter the difficult circumstances they are in. "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving." (Psalm 62:8, 11-12)

Stop by my blog (, find me on facebook, or follow me on Twitter (authorchristina). I'd love to hear your hearts!


Mocha with Linda said...

Wow, what an incredible interview. I didn't have time to do more than post the basic blurb, but I want to revisit it and I'll link to this, if that's okay!

Christina Tarabochia said...

Linda, I hope you link away!

Kim, thanks for asking different questions than other interviewers did as I had to reexamine my emotions at that time. It reminds me of what God has done in my life!