As all of us in RWA surely know by now, Jane Myers Perrine was nominated for a 2012 RITA in the Strong Romantic Elements category for her delightful novel, The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek. I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Jane about her nomination and her plans for a new series.
How thrilling it must have felt to be nominated for a 2012 RITA for The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek! How did you find out about your nomination?
I don’t think there can be anything more exciting for a writer of women’s fiction to be nominated for a RITA. I never thought I would be—then the call came. However, I was busy doing finances and had forgotten what day the calls would go out, so I didn’t answer the phone the first time. When the same number came up again, I was going to ask this person to please not bother me again. Fortunately, I was polite, then overwhelmed when I finally realized what was happening.
Why do you think The Welcome Committee was nominated?
I have no idea. I guess this book hit a chord in people. It’s about an inexperienced minister called to a small town church because the church can’t afford anyone better. Readers tell me they know the character, they’ve seen them in their churches. Readers can relate to the books because of the familiarity and warmth of the story—it seems like someplace they’d like to live. They also like the humor.
For those of us who don’t know, what was the inspiration for the Butternut Creek series?
My husband was a minister for fifty years, serving churches in several small towns. Because I’m also a minister and served churches as well, we shared a lot of stories. The inspiration was a what-if. What-if I’d been called to serve a church in a small town? What would that have been like?
You recently wrote a terrific article for writers entitled “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far.” What has the RITA nomination experience taught you?
Thank you! I could say, “Work hard and your dreams come true,” but I won’t because there are a lot of really good books that weren’t nominated. Perhaps it’s that we have to take joy when we find it and celebrate whenever possible.
Do you think the RITA nomination will change the way you approach your writing career?
I’ll have more confidence in my writing and choices. The nomination is a signal to others that, hey, she can write. It also is a challenge to see if I can write on that level again.
What advice do you have for writers who dream of getting the call that they’ve been nominated for a RITA?
I got my first rejection letter in 1981—yes, that’s 32 years ago. I was a GH finalist in 1999 and sold my first book a year later. In my twelve year career, only ten of my books have been published, not a hugely prolific career. If I had quit writing in 1998, I wouldn’t have sold, I wouldn’t have a three-book series with Hachette, and I wouldn’t have been nominated for a RITA. No one can be promised a RITA nomination just because they keep writing. But stop writing and there’s no chance at all.
At the last ARWA meeting, you said that you weren’t sure what to do with the Butternut Creek series now that you’ve married off your main character. Have you come up with any ideas?
I’m still pondering. I’d thought of another small-town Texas story but feel I’ve used up all the odd Texas characters I know. I’m thinking of a setting in Kentucky along the Ohio River, intermeshed individual love stories. Should I add magic? A zombie? Probably not. It will be a sweet story because I feel that’s where my voice is.
Award-winning and RITA-nominated writer Jane Myers Perrine graduated from Kansas State University and has earned master’s degrees from The University of Louisville and Lexington Theological Seminary. She’s worked as a Spanish teacher, minister, cook, rifle instructor, program director in a state hospital, and has been an active volunteer but she always wanted to write. Finally, she found time and has published books with Avalon Books, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, and FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group. Her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman’s World magazine.
Jane’s Butternut Creek series is about a young minister serving in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas and is filled with affection, humor and characters readers will recognize. The books are The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek, published in April, 2012; The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek, November, 2012; and The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek, available November of 2013.
Jane lives north of Austin where her life is controlled by two incredibly spoiled tuxedo cats. When not writing or watching college football and basketball, she spends her time swimming or walking extremely short distances.
* To learn more about Traci, please visit her Web site: http://traciandrighetti.com