Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Bonjour from France! I’m a wife, mom, missionary and novelist. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and love the South—it often makes its way into my novels, almost as a character! My husband and I have lived for the past 20+ years in France as missionaries with International Teams. We have two grown sons and a brand new daughter in law.
What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
My favorite verse changes according to the season’s of my life. Right now I’ve been meditating on Psalm 63: “Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water…”
I’m memorizing this in English and French and use it on my daily walks to meditate on the glory of God and ask Him to give me a heart and soul that truly thirst for Him.
How did you come up with the concept for The Sweetest Thing?
When we moved my dear grandmother (now 97) from her apartment to a full-care floor in her retirement home in Atlanta, my parents found Grandmom’s diaries from 1928-1932. I was, of course, eager to take a look. The diaries sealed the fate of my next novel: I’d write about 1930s Atlanta and specifically the life of two girls attending Washington Seminary (the real-life girls’ school my grandmother attended which eventually became The Westminster Schools, the school I attended).
As I researched that era and heard stories of how both the wealthy and the disadvantaged survived the Great Depression, I found my characters asking questions that I have asked (and heard asked) time and again: Does God provide in the midst of difficult circumstances?
Do you have a favorite character The Sweetest Thing? Why?
Can’t pick just one. I decided to try something new for me with this novel: writing the story using two first person point of views (POVs), in this case, the two teenage girls, Perri and Dobbs, who attend an elite girls’ school in Atlanta. With this boundary in place, I knew I needed to develop strong individual voices—so I researched each girl’s personality (using Myers-Briggs) and taped those traits up in my office, to help keep me on track. I grew to love both of these girls with their strengths and faults. I especially enjoyed exploring the strong bonds of friendship and the influence those bonds have on us.
Dobbs and Perri are completely opposite in personality, yet they are both determined to survive, no matter what. How they go about ‘surviving’ is the plot of the story. The Sweetest Thing is about friendships and the influence they can have on us. Near the end of the novel, both Perri and Dobbs find themselves doing things that resemble the other person’s actions or thoughts, adopting the habits, expressions, even beliefs, of the other, although at first they were diametrically opposed to each other. I enjoyed creating the twists and turns not only in these girls’ outer lives, but their inner lives as well.
I also really love two of the little girls in my novel: Coobie and Parthenia—love getting into the skin of these fun and feisty and courageous little girls.