Nancy Johnson and Pat Simmons Bring the Love!

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Hello Frolic and Happy Holidays!

I am very excited about the end of 2020 drawing near (applause!). And to celebrate, I have a very special guest interview – a debut author whose fabulous book, The Kindest Lie, will be in the world (on bookshelves nationwide and, by the way, available for pre-order now) on February 2, 2021. 

I also am sharing a special holiday treat for those who celebrate Christmas! So, keep reading to hear about Pat Simmons’ holiday romance. 

So, let’s take the dive and pull out your TBR list—because this one is a must-add!

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

Release Date: February 2, 2021 (available for pre-order)

Genre: Literary/Contemporary Fiction

(Description provided by publisher.)

A promise could betray you.

It’s 2008, and the rise of Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy League-educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to give up—when she was a teenager. Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. While her family is happy to see her, they remind her of the painful sacrifices they made to give her a shot at a better future.

Determined, Ruth begins digging into the past. As she uncovers burning secrets her family desperately wants to hide, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also looking for connection. When a traumatic incident strains the town’s already scorching racial tensions, Ruth and Midnight find themselves on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

What you should know about Nancy:

Nancy Johnson is a girl from the South Side of Chicago! She’s also a journalist-turned-novelist who writes about race, class, and identity. @nancyjauthor

Denny: What are the key themes of the book and what inspired it?

Nancy: Barack Obama’s ascendance to the presidency birthed hope and promise in many across the nation, but especially Black people. I remember that night so well, and in my novel, I wanted to capture that palpable sense of hope. Yet as powerful as that hope was, it had its limits in a country that had never healed its racial wounds. The bitter divide between Black and white saddened me because I couldn’t understand how half of America saw things so differently than I did. The country was also experiencing an economic downturn and that financial stress exacerbated racial tensions. That’s something I wanted to explore, and it turned into The Kindest Lie. 

In addition to race and class, I also play with the themes of love and sacrifice. For example, Ruth’s grandmother tells the most insidious lies over the years to protect her family. That love and those lies tether Ruth to her past in ways she can’t outrun. 

Denny: What’s the key relationship or love story in the novel?

Nancy: Ruth and her husband, Xavier, have a good marriage, but he comes from a solidly upper middle-class family while hers is working class. Early in the novel, you see the fault lines in their relationship when she accuses him of being ashamed of her background, telling people his wife is from Indianapolis instead of Ganton, the small, dying factory town where she grew up. Also, she never revealed to him that she’d had a baby when she was a teenager, so that secret threatens their young marriage.

Denny: What was your favorite part of the book to write?

Nancy: I especially enjoyed the challenge of creating the character of Midnight, an 11-year-old white boy who is adrift and vulnerable. I’ve never been white, but I’ve had to navigate white spaces in school and on the job so I’m fairly fluent in whiteness. I’ve never been a boy either; however, I have been 11.  Where I really drew inspiration for Midnight  was my own experience as an outsider who was bullied as a kid. I understood his loneliness and longing for acceptance because I’d experienced that myself.

Denny: What are you binge-watching and reading right now?

Nancy: I’m reading an early copy of This Close To Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith. And on audio, I’m listening to The Given Day by Dennis Lehane. His book is set in Boston at the end of World War I and it’s been fascinating to see the uncanny parallels in public sentiment between the Spanish Influenza back then and the COVID-19 pandemic today.

A few months ago, I cut the cord and now I get all these movie channels through my Roku. So, I’m finally watching The Wire, a show with superb writing that I missed out on all these years. 

Denny: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Nancy! Now, as promised, here’s a special treat.
Christmas Dinner by Pat Simmons

Release date: Available now!

Genre: Contemporary Romance (Christian)

(Description provided by publisher.)

For months, Darcelle Price has suffered depression in silence. But things are about to change as she plans to celebrate Christmas Eve with family and share her journey. Darcelle invites them via group text, not knowing she had included her ex. Evanston Giles is surprised to hear from the woman he loved after months following their breakup. Seeking closure, he shows up on her doorsteps for answers. A lot can happen on Christmas Eve. Restoring family ties, building her faith in God, and falling in love again are just the beginning of the night of miracles.

What you should know about Pat.

As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, Pat is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. @patsimmons!

Denny: What’s your favorite trope to read? 

Pat: These are my top four. Although we know the beginning and ending of these tropes, the challenge is creating memorable twists in the middle.

  1. Anything with a prince or princess 
  2. Impersonations are fun
  3. Sudden parenthood stories are always entertaining 
  4. Make-over/Ugly Duckling—I’m always interested to see how stunning the hero/heroine will be at the end. 
Denny: What’s your favorite trope to write—and does either one get some love in your new release:)? 

Pat: Second chance at love tropes are the best. Since I write Christian romance, I’m all about giving my hopeless romantics hope.

But in my new release, Christmas Dinner, the trope is a damsel in distress, which makes readers fall in love with my hero, Evanston Giles, in chapter one. Darcelle is the damsel, but who wouldn’t fall for someone who comes to your rescue, mentally or physically? Sometimes, a man needs rescuing from doing stupid things.

Denny: What question about this new release do you want to ask yourself and then ask it and answer it.

Pat: In Christmas Dinner, does falling in love make life better? Definitely.

Denny: Thank you so much Pat! And to Frolic-land, thank you for reading, enjoy the holidays, and I’ll see you in 2021!!!!!
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