Behind The Words With Jenny Erlingsson

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Hey Readers! Today, we welcome debut author Jenny Erlingsson to the blog. Welcome Jenny! Let’s begin by learning a bit about your debut novel, HER PART TO PLAY.

After crisis hits her family, Adanne loses her blossoming Hollywood makeup career when she leaves to care for her dying mother. Years later, she continues to bury her grief in a busy schedule. But when a movie filming in her hometown is in need of a last-minute expert makeup artist, her desperate need for extra income to save her family’s legacy brings her face-to-face with John Pope, the actor who got her fired those years ago. John would rather be anywhere but in Alabama and doesn’t appreciate the team change that has brought Adanne into his trailer. But as they work their way into each other’s hearts, will they have the courage to remain in each other’s lives?

Adanne is a makeup artist and John is an actor, two careers that intersect but probably aren’t seen as equally important. What kind of power dynamic does this set up between these two characters who are also from different backgrounds?
The power dynamic for them depends on where they are. Adanne doesn’t trust John, but on set she has to be close to him because of her job. John is drawn to Adanne but because of his high-profile role, he has to be careful about his actions. Additionally, because he is at the top of the call sheet, Adanne’s role as his makeup artist is a really intimate one that carries a lot of responsibility. Adanne has more connections in the community, and because John wants to know her and the town better, he has to depend on her. Although they come from different backgrounds, they both carry specific advantages they take for granted. John is known by many but lacks belonging. Adanne has deep roots in her community but doubts her significance.

Though stories about interracial couples are more common than they once were, there are still few interracial romances on the Christian fiction shelves. What made you want to write a romance about an interracial couple?
I wanted to write a sweet romance that reflects the people we see in our churches, in our communities, and in families like mine. As followers of Christ, we are part of a diverse, colorful, and culture-filled kingdom. It’s nice to be able to place a book on the shelves that represents that and that readers can relate to. I also felt it was important to tell a story in which the differences of race weren’t emphasized, just the beauty of finding love and belonging where it may not be expected.

Between her family and the community center her parents started, Adanne has lots of responsibilities to other people in her life. How does this affect her ability to follow her own dreams and plans?
Adanne feels the pressure to carry on what her parents started—to preserve their legacy. With her brother dealing with his son’s illness, she works overtime to step into her mother’s shoes, even though she doesn’t feel equipped to do so. For Adanne, pursuing her dreams takes a back seat to making sure her parents’ dreams don’t crumble. And because of how her career was affected by John’s decisions, she’s afraid to step out of the shadow of those responsibilities. It’s all she thinks she has.

As the story opens, John is trying to make some needed changes in his life. What challenges linger from the way he used to live that make it hard for him to move forward in a positive direction?
Because of John’s role, his successes and failures have often been for public consumption. But what is not visible are the scars he carries from rejection and broken relationships. As he navigates the tension of past addictions and the need to revitalize his career, he is cautious about relationships but also desperate to anchor himself somewhere that feels like home.

This story takes place on a movie set, but the movie is not being filmed in Hollywood. Can you tell us why you chose to set this story in a small Southern town rather than Tinseltown?
Even though they spend a small portion of the story in Hollywood, I wanted Adanne to encounter John in an environment that was different from where she last saw him. This allows both of them to peel back their defenses. John benefits from the slower pace of the Southern town, and readers will see how Adanne has been shaped by her community. I also wanted to craft a story with a comforting and romantic setting that brought me close to the area of Alabama that is home to me.

Does the setting give Adanne a “home field advantage” of any kind when it comes to her interactions with John?
It does, but I don’t think Adanne thinks of that too much because she is also rediscovering her place in the community. And she is not exactly trying to hang out with John outside the movie set at first. But I think it allows her to see her community and John through a new lens as she shows him around and interacts with him there.

What does Adanne have that John’s been missing? And what does John have that Adanne’s been missing?
For John, he is really drawn to how authentic Adanne is, unlike his acquaintances in Hollywood. Adanne has roots in Hope Springs and the kind of tight-knit family that he
really longs for. And even with Adanne’s sometimes feisty nature, he feels safe in her presence, and her words linger with him—change him. For Adanne, she doesn’t want to admit it, but she likes that John works hard to bring her out of her shell. As she spends time with him around Hope Springs, she gets a glimpse into a man who is kinder and more compassionate than she thought he was. She likes who she feels safe to be around him.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading Her Part to Play?
I hope that readers are encouraged to cherish their roots, to forgive well, and to value the
community that God has placed around them as they step into Adanne and John’s sweet and spicy story. I want them to remember that God is always in the business of making things new and that answers to prayers can sometimes be found in the places you least expect.

How can readers connect with you?
I would love to connect! Since I can’t have everyone over for muffins and coffee in my Icelandic village, the best way to connect with me is through my website, JennyErlingsson.com, which has all the links to other platforms. You can also join my list to receive my quarterly email magazine.

Where can readers purchase a copy of Her Part to Play?
You can order Her Part to Play from your favorite book retailer, but the best place to order is through Baker Book House. When you preorder, you will get 40 percent off, free shipping, and you’ll be eligible for some additional goodies from me. You can also go to my website to find these retailer links. Thank you so much for ordering, reading, and sharing Her Part to Play!

Thank you so much Jenny for joining us today. Readers, here’s a quick look at HER PART TO PLAY……

Desperate for extra income after her mother’s passing, Adanne accepts a last-minute job as a makeup artist for a movie filming in her small Alabama hometown. She’s working to save her parents’ legacy and help her brother, but the money hardly seems worth having to face the actor who got her fired from her last job in Hollywood.

John Pope has made his share of mistakes over the years. But after turning his life over to God and enduring a messy breakup, he’s ready to start rebuilding his career. Imagine his surprise when the woman called in to cover for his usual makeup artist is a quiet but feisty newcomer on the set–and definitely not a fan.

Sparks of tension–and could that be attraction?–fly between them, but Adanne hates the spotlight, and John’s scheming manager has bigger plans for him than to end up with the humble makeup girl from the small-town South. Can these star-crossed lovers find their way to happiness? Or will the bright lights of Hollywood blind their eyes to what’s right in front of them?

Debut author Jenny Erlingsson’s diverse cast comes alive with faith, romance, and a touch of humor to create a story worthy of the big screen.