Friday, July 17, 2009

Interview with Betsy St. Amant

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Betsy St. Amant. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called RETURN TO LOVE. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Hi there! Thanks for having me, and yes, I’d love to. RETURN TO LOVE is a story about a woman named Gracie who works at the Aquarium of the Americas as a penguin keeper. She is planning a fundraiser gala event to raise money to house displaced penguins from upstate. Unfortunately, Gracie’s only hope at a successful gala is her childhood best friend and famed musician, Carter, who still holds the pieces of her broken heart.

RETURN TO LOVE is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Easy. My editor suggested it, and I said “okay”. Haha! The original title to this story was RECLAIMING HARMONY but when we did revisions and eliminated part of the music thread, it no longer fit the story.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I’m a romantic at heart, and no matter which direction my books go in the future, there will always be romance in them – whether it be contemporary romance, romantic suspense, or romantic comedy.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I used to be a little bit of both but more so of a plotter—especially now that I am selling on proposal. I HAVE to know where the story is going and have the details to show my editor before contracting. But every other area of my life is organized and detailed to a fault, so I guess it only makes sense this is too. =)

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I did call several places in New Orleans to keep my details accurate. I’ve been to New Orleans several times in my life (my husband proposed there!) but not since the hurricanes. Once I called The Gumbo Shop twice in one hour to ask questions like “is your floor concrete or tile?” and “is the wall outside your front door brick?” It was fun. =) Then of course, there was my penguin research. Tom Dyer, current penguin keeper at the Aquarium of the Americas, was invaluable with his help. He answered question after question about his beloved birds—and even let me use the name of the real penguins at the aquarium for the story. (with one exception my editor suggested. Gumbo is the only fictional penguin in the story)

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I just knew I wanted to write a love story between friends. I love relationships that begin from friendship, since my husband and I started that way ourselves! The setting and details came to me as I brainstormed. I’ve always loved New Orleans and I thought being a southern girl myself, it made sense to set my story there. Also, I’ve collected penguins over the course of my life, so it seemed right that Gracie would be a penguin keeper. =)

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I would say Carter. I really enjoy writing male POV’s, I guess because it’s more challenging to make accurate. Also, I liked diving into Carter’s motivation and former music career, and exploring all his buried emotions. He’s quite the catch, girls! ::wink::

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I have before but not always. Character sheets help if I feel “stuck” or like something is missing from their development, but otherwise I keep it all in my head as I go. Sometimes the characters reveal things to me as I’m into the story that make me say “ohhhhhh now that makes sense!”. When that happens, I just go back and work that thread or motivation into the existing chapters and keep going.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Soooo many! Robin Jones Gunn, Susan May Warren, Deb Raney, to name a few. Their talent and friendship has meant so much. They are true mentors! I also have several not-yet-pubbed author friends who help critique my work and keep me encouraged. My girls are the best!
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book? I guess we’ll find out soon! Haha! Seriously though, I have high hopes for the blog tour going on the month of July. I think word of mouth (or word of blog!) is still the most effective tool for authors and their promoting.

What do we have to look forward next?

Several things! The sequel to RETURN TO LOVE will be released February 2010, and is titled A VALENTINE’S WISH. Then, look for a new western story titled RODEO SWEETHEART in April, 2010.

Thanks, Betsy!

To celebrate her book release, Betsy is offering a free book to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, 'Kickboxing or Chocolate', appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to She is a wife, author, new mother and an avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God's grace through her stories.

Check out author’s website at or


Anonymous said...

Good Morning Betsy. Thanks for joining us today. I'm enjoying your book tremendously and look forward to finishing it on our mini vacation this weekend. So, curious minds want to know if you or your editor cut any scenes that you absolutely adored? Have fun today:)

Betsy St. Amant said...

Thank YOU Kim! Glad to be here!

That's a hard question, because there were such extensive edits to this novel from its original format. We changed a major plot thread. Originally, the story had Gracie and Carter writing a song together for the gala. That was changed, at Love Inspired's request, because they say music stories never sell as well in their records history. So that was a downer at first, because I had several senes of Gracie and Carter composing that I loved. Think the movie MUSIC AND LYRICS =)

But I am very happy with the way the book turned out and my editor, as always, knew exactly what she was talking about =)

Tia Dani said...

Hi Betsy,
Very nice interview. We enjoyed getting to know you and we are both looking forward to reading your book. Maybe Gracie and Carter can write a song together in another book?

CrystalGB said...

Hi Betsy. Great interview. Return to Love sounds good. I love the cover.

Georgiana said...

Great interview! LOL, love how you decided the title ;)

Carol Webb said...

I love Gracie's job. Very different than the usual. It sounds fascinating along with your book.

Ida Plassay said...

Your book sounds like a very interesting read, and I love the title!

Estella said...

Return To Love sounds like a good read.
Nice cover!