Stealing AddaStealing Adda
Tamara Leigh
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Interview, Excerpt


Just because Adda Sinclaire writes best-selling romances doesn't mean she lives one! Adda can't shake the feeling that something's missing from her life---not her ex-husband, who ran off with another author and took their dog with him. And not a current beau. It couldn't be Jesus---or could it? 416 pages, softcover from NavPress.
     
Reader’s Guide/Bonus Scene – Stealing Adda: by Tamara Leigh

Dear Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to get to know Adda. As you prepare to move on to the next chapter–er...paragraph?–of your life, it is my hope that the characters between these pages stay with you in some measure (why should I be the only one to suffer, hmm?).

Seriously, though, what I hope you take away with you when you set this book on the shelf (hint: "keeper"), is a healthy dose of chuckles and a satisfied sense of curiosity over the life of a romance writer. But that’s not all. It is my greatest hope you found something in Adda’s spiritual journey that will impact your relationship with those who are still searching for something beyond themselves. Heavy....

So now that our visit is over, our bags are packed, and we’re heading for the door, we come to a time of reflection...deep introspection...soul searching–

Eeerrrrkkkkk (cue the sound of a needle being dragged across a record).

Introspection? Soul searching? As my editor, Lissa Halls Johnson, would say, that’s not very Adda-like. So what would Adda do?

Hmm...hmm...um hmm...

Light bulb, please!

Rather than fill the pages of this Reader’s Guide with a series of discussion questions –dull, very dull–let’s plug them into a "bonus" scene featuring Adda herself. Like the idea? Me, too (note to fence sitters: Stay with me. I know what I’m doing. I think....).

Ahem. The following will serve as your Reader’s Guide–granted, a rather different guide, but different is good. Enjoy!

# # #

"Is it working?" I tap the mic clipped to my lapel.

Janine Calhoun, host of Christian Entertainment Review, jerks her chin and gives a quick nod in the direction of the cameraman.

"Oh..." I make a face. "Then we’re...?"

Another jerk of the head, followed by a bright smile for the camera. "Thank you for joining us at Christian Entertainment Review. Today our guest is bestselling romance author, Adda Sinclaire, of ‘Queen of Plagiarism’ fame."

I nearly choke; however, all too aware that my face is being broadcast across the land, I feign the necessity to clear my throat. Queen of Plagiarism! Not anymore! In fact, never was!

Seemingly oblivious to my reaction, Janine smiles brighter. "Did I say ‘romance’?" She wrinkles her cutesy nose. "I did." Wink. "I most certainly did. Main...stream ro...mance."

I cringe. Though I’ve become practically numb to "romance" being made to sound like an obscenity, she’s somehow managed to take it to the next level. Of course, this is a Christian program and romance novels aren’t exactly esteemed in such circles. Actually, they aren’t esteemed in most circles, are they? Not that it stops millions and millions of readers from buying in excess of a billion romance novels each year–

"When we were in the green room earlier," Janine says, leaning forward to pat my fashionably jean-clad knee, "you shared with me your journey toward salvation."

Now we’re on track. Relieved, I smile and say, "I did, Janine."

"And therein lies quite the tale." She settles back in her chair and launches into a retelling of my encounters with Josh. After I answer the questions she lobs my way, she turns to the camera and addresses her viewers.

The young man who selflessly gave his copy of the New Testament to Adda took the first step in leading her to Christ. Has there been anyone who, despite short acquaintance, had a positive, lasting impact on your life? Initially, how did you receive this person? How much time passed before you realized the importance of that encounter?

After allowing the questions to sink in, she returns her attention to me. "Now, Adda, you mentioned a habit you had previous to accepting Christ into your life–that of giving others so-called ‘pet names’."

Ooh. I didn’t realize she was going to work that in. For fear of succumbing to rigor mortis, I force a nod. "Yes. It was a bad habit."

"Especially with regards to derogatory ‘pet names’."

This is what I get for running on at the mouth. "Well, I wouldn’t say ‘especially’, but I admit the ‘pet names’ weren’t all endearing." I give a short laugh that comes out all jittery.

Janine looks to her clipboard, flips a page. "Let’s see... Ah! ‘Stick Woman’ was a favorite, you said."

I nearly choke again. How did this cute little woman disarm me so completely that I spilled my guts–guts which are now splattered all over television? Well, maybe not "all over", as this is a Christian channel. Of course, there are lots of them–er, us–aren’t there?

"Adda?"

"Um..." I nod. "Yes, that’s one I used often." A favorite. Definitely a favorite. In fact, even now, late at night when I’m all alone, I sometimes catch myself–

"And would you like to tell the audience to whom ‘Stick Woman’ referred, Adda?"

Surely she didn’t just ask what I think she did. I narrow my gaze on her. She did. Why did I agree to this interview? What was I thinking? Elizabeth said it would be fun, a way to reach out to others–

"Of course..." Janine wrinkles her nose again. "...anyone who’s followed your story can probably guess who ‘Stick Woman’ is." Wink wink.

Oh, Elizabeth, why did I let you talk me into this? I press my shoulders back. "It was a fellow author." And can we puh-lease leave it at that?

Janine arches an eyebrow. "She-who-shall-not-be-named, hmm?"

Tight smile. "I think you’ll agree that’s best."

"I most certainly do."

Then why did you bring it up?

She gives her hair a toss, reaches forward, and pats my knee again. Does she have to do that?

Once more addressing her viewers, she says:

Do you give others derogatory "pet names"–strangers, acquaintances, co-workers, friends, family members? How does it make you feel? Justified? Superior? How do you think the recipient might feel if they knew what they had been labeled?

Realizing my nails are digging into my palms, I open my hands and spread them on my knees–only to wince. Ugh. Could have used another coat of nail polish. Why, oh why didn’t I drag myself away from the computer a half hour earlier? One more layer of "Double-O-Red" would have done wonders–

"Speaking of ‘Stick Woman’–" Janine smiles knowingly "–and the scandal that surrounded you during those weeks leading up to the exposure of the rightful heir to the title of ‘Queen of Plagiarism’, what kept you from losing all hope?"

This one’s easy. "That would be the support I received from family and friends, as well as scripture."

"Scripture?" She’s so thrilled, her hands tense as if it’s all she can do to keep from clapping.

I nod. "Psalm thirty-one, verse twenty-four. ‘Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.’" Ha! Memorized that one!

"Beautiful," Janine says on a sigh. "One of my favorites." With a look of divine contentment, she eyes the camera.

When you feel you’re hanging by a thread of hope, what do you reach for? Family? Friends? God’s word? Is there any specific quote or scripture that strengthens you?

Janine looks back at me. "So tell me, Adda, when are you going to make the leap?"

"Hmm?"

"The leap." She opens her lids wider as if to allow me to peer into her mind. "You know–answer a higher calling?"

"Er..."

With a playful roll of her eyes she says, "As in write something Christians are comfortable reading." Pat, pat.

I narrow my gaze on her hand as she draws it from my knee. I’ll just bet she owns one of those trendy dogs that tuck under one’s arm....

Hoping I’m not showing too much teeth, I smile. "Well, actually, according to the fan mail I receive, quite a few of my readers are Christian."

She snorts, wrinkles her nose. "As in closet readers, hmm?"

Some things never change. "I wouldn’t know, but what I am certain of is that readers of romance place a high value on tales of love, fidelity, and the triumph of good over evil."

Janine’s eyebrows bounce. "Touche," she says with surprised admiration. Then, smiling big, she once more looks into the camera.

What are your feelings about mainstream romance novels? What do you like about them? What do you dislike? How do they differ from Christian romance novels?

Following a long pause, Janine refers to her clipboard again. "Perhaps that boyfriend of yours–Nick Farnsworth of Intrepid Publishing–might be convinced to start a Christian imprint."

Gulp. I didn’t say a word! Not a word! For fear Nick will think I leaked what he asked me to keep in confidence regarding Intrepid’s research into the viability of a Christian division, I nearly groan. Surely he’ll believe me. He has to....

"Speaking of which," Janine continues, unaware of my sudden compulsion to chew a fingernail, "I understand Mr. Farnsworth is also a Christian."

Jabbing my nails into my palms, I manage a smile. "He is."

"Tell me, did he figure into your decision to accept Christ?"

Did he? "I haven’t really given it much thought, but..." Remembering the ride to Lake Tahoe when I learned Nick was a Christian, I start to smile. "I guess I’d have to say he did figure into my decision. In fact, not only was I moved by Nick’s beliefs, but his daughter was instrumental in pointing the way."

"Then you have a good relationship with his daughter?"

"Very much so."

Janine nods. "Looks like the place to give our viewers more food for thought."

How do your relationships with others influence your personal beliefs in a higher being? Which Christian qualities appeal to you? Which qualities are off-putting?

"Let’s return to Nick Farnsworth," Janine says.

Why do I have the sinking feeling we shouldn’t?

"I understand he’s divorced." She puts her head to the side. "As are you."

Is that a judgmental gleam in her eye? I nod warily. "That’s right."

"Divorce." She shudders. "Messy."

Is she speaking from personal experience or just trying to make me feel bad? "Yes, it is."

"The two of you are pretty serious."

"We are."

"And yet..." She looks to my left hand. "...no engagement ring."

Was that really necessary? Pretending an engagement ring is the farthest thing from my mind–which it most certainly is not–I shrug. "Based on the failure of our past marriages, we’re taking our relationship one step at a time." As in trudging.

She nods. "Wise. As everyone knows, the baggage that comes with divorce can be preeetttty heavy."

Even as I offer the obligatory nod, I find myself frowning. Baggage–it’s what’s holding Nick back, isn’t it? Surely it’s not me. Or maybe it is. Maybe he isn’t as serious as I am. Maybe–

"I’m pleased you’re still with us, viewers," Janine says. "I have another one for you."

What issues do you think Adda and Nick must confront and resolve before they commit to each other? Before they "tie the knot"?

This time the groan escapes. Catching my breath, I glance at Janine. Though she continues to face the camera, the tightening of her mouth reveals my slip didn’t go unnoticed. Hoping the camera was on her when the sound escaped, I sit straighter, cross my legs, and force a smile that sharply contrasts with the anxiety zip-zinging through me. First, talk of Intrepid’s venture into the Christian market, now of Nick and Adda’s venture into marriage. How long before Nick gets wind of this?

"Your personal assistant told me you’ve been witnessing to her," Janine says.

Oh...dear...God....

Feeling as if my smile is glued to my teeth, I meet her gaze. "Oh?" And just when did she and Angel talk? I thought it was Janine’s assistant who set up the interview.

"I called her this afternoon before your arrival at the station and–" Janine makes elegant quotation marks in the air "–picked her brain."

Forgot to mention that, hmm, Angel? Of course, maybe I’d already left for the interview....

Tugging at the waistband of my sagging composure, I sweep my palms up. "I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘witnessing’".

"Oh?"

"Well, as a new Christian, I’m hardly qualified."

She cocks her head, considers me a seemingly thoughtful moment, then says, "I understand Angel is a Gothic."

Great. "Uh...she definitely likes the color ‘black’."

"And body piercings."

Wonderful. "Yeah."

"So how has she responded to the good news of Christ?"

Smile, Adda. Keep smiling. "She’s...interested." But not interested enough to accept Josh’s New Testament that I offered recently. Not that I was offended. Well, maybe I was offended. A little.

"Glad to hear it," Janine says, then once more leaves me for the camera.

Adda doesn’t feel that, as a new Christian, she’s qualified to witness to others. How mature in one’s beliefs should a person be before attempting to influence the beliefs of others?

Janine folds her hands atop her clipboard, "That’s all we have time for today, beloved viewers. Join us again tomorrow when we feature Christian pop sensation, Brandon Bernardo." There goes that nose of hers again. "I promise you, this one, you won’t want to miss."

Meaning they should have passed on Adda Sinclaire? Hmm.

Janine gives a little wave, brightens her smile, then turns to me and...pats my knee.

For the benefit of the camera that continues to film as the credits roll, she animatedly thanks me for joining her. I thank her back, nod, nod some more, glance at my watch.

Three hours until Nick and I meet for dinner. Three hours during which he’s sure to hear about the interview. I am so toast.

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