It’s my pleasure to welcome Varina Denman to the blog today to chat about her new book, Looking Glass Lies. If you’d like to read my review of this book, you’ll find that here.
As you may have gathered, I like to ask authors to nominate a snack and a drink for us all to share during our chat. As a little side note, I tell interviewees that all dietary restrictions are null and void for the duration. Well, here’s Varina’s response to that:
Ah! This is a great idea. I have many, many dietary restrictions, so I’m going to really enjoy this chat! Let’s go with glazed donuts, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate sheath cake. And to drink? A tall glass of ice-cold milk. (I haven’t had any of those things in years!)
Needless to say, we’re going to be indulging our sweet tooths (teeth?) today! 😋
I trust you can all come up with your own recipe for milk! 😜
Now, while we’re all digging in, here’s a little bit about Varina and Looking Glass Lies:
~ About the Book ~
A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.
For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.
But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.
The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.
~ About the Author ~
Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about women and the unique struggles they face. Her novels include the Mended Hearts trilogy: Jaded, Justified, and Jilted, as well as her latest release, Looking Glass Lies. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and her debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Contest, the BRMCWC Selah Award, and the INSPYs Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.
Varina attended three universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in her local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature. Varina lives in North Texas where she volunteers in local marriage and family ministry. She is represented by Jessica Kirkland of Kirkland Media Management.
~ Interview ~
Katie: Thanks for joining me today, Varina. 🙂 First up, let’s take a little ‘flight of fancy’. Finish these sentences for me:
If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…
Varina: Australia. And, Katie, I’m not just saying that because I’m on your blog today. My husband and I have often discussed that we would love to visit your country on the other side of the world, if for no other reason than to listen to the cool accents.
Oh, do! Although it’s funny to think of yourself as having a cool accent! 😊
If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…
Dishes! I don’t hate doing dishes, but I hate that I have to do them every single day. They’re always there, no matter what!
I’m hearing you! Although they’ve become more bearable now that I’ve worked out I can put my iPad on the windowsill and read while I’m doing them…
If I was a musical instrument, I would be a…
Harp. Soft-spoken, gentle, maybe a little boring at times, but occasionally quite surprising.
I love this answer! I’ve always wanted to play the harp. ❤ I did learn for a year, but that’s another story…
When I was a child, I wanted to be a…
Mommy. That really was my only goal in life ever, ever. I’m living the dream now, home schooling the youngest two (out of five) and loving every minute. Now that I’m a grandmother, I’m learning that my new role is even better!
Both of my children’s grandmothers have said that! All the fun, and hardly any of the work! 😃 And I’m a homeschooling mum of five too! Although my eldest is only eleven, so a few years to go yet…
My ideal place to read would be…
A beach, under an umbrella, on a warm day, with my hubby reading next to me. (And maybe it could be the kind of beach where the sand doesn’t actually stick to everything it comes in contact with.)
Mmm… soaking up the sun. Nice! As soon as I find one of those non-sticky-sandy beaches I’ll let you know!
Now, down to business. This novel touches on some weighty issues. Was this a difficult novel for you to write? What was the most challenging part for you?
Oh, super difficult! As I wrote Cecily’s journey toward healing, I was healing right along with her. The most challenging part was deciding what advice I wanted to give. There are tons of other things I could have told her, but I decided to focus primarily on curbing her negative thought patterns.
That is a challenge, because there are so many different things that come into play, aren’t there? Curbing negative thought patterns is definitely an important part, though.
Where did the inspiration come from for this novel?
I’ve struggled with self-image issues for years, never considering I might write a story about it, but once I made the decision, the story poured itself out of my brain and on to the screen.
Those ones from the heart can be both the easiest and the most difficult to write, can’t they?
Could you tell us a bit about the main character, Cecily Ross?
Bless her heart, Cecily has been through a lot. Not only did she lose her mother at a young age, but she married quickly out of high school, probably because she was still grieving her mother. And Cecily’s marriage was rocky, to say the least. Her husband was emotionally abusive to her, and because of that, her self-image took a nose dive.
My heart certainly went out to her!
And Shanty Espanosa. Who is she, and what role does she play in the story?
Shanty is a boisterous writer who blogs about body shame. She runs a support group down at the local coffee shop, and she loves helping women overcome their issues. And she’s very VERY good at it.
She was a fun character to get to know!
Shanty’s quite lively in personality, as well as having a mixture of Asian/African-American heritage. What inspired her character?
Shanty is a combination of several people I know or have met, as well as a few bloggers that I’ve only read about. I wanted her to be friendly, knowledgeable, and effective. As far as her heritage, I wanted her to be mixed race, and I settled on Asian/African-American because I wanted her to be striking, and very different from Cecily. Since she married a Hispanic man who gave her the last name Espinosa, Shanty is a unique blend of heritage that somehow gives her an all-American feel.
That is a unique blend—all the more so for their kids. 🙂
Shanty has her own blog: https://shameonshanty.com/ that is described as ‘a safe place to discuss shame, insecurity, and all those other mixed-up feelings.’ Why is it important for people to have somewhere to talk about these kinds of feelings?
Oh goodness, once you realize you’re not the only one dealing with a certain problem, it’s like a huge burden is lifted from your shoulders. And then others who have been through the same thing are there to boost you along your journey, and to hold you accountable too.
It’s amazing just how much giving voice to something changes the burden, too, whether it’s release, lightening the load, or even just acknowledgement. I’ve often thought that’s partly why God instructs us to confess our sins, but it’s also true of other problems.
The third member of the support group, Nina, is very quiet, but she’s managed to get her own hashtag–#forNina. What does this mean, and why Nina?
Nina is another woman in Shanty’s support group. She’s a soft-spoken college girl who experiences some fairly damaging body shaming by her peers. The #forNina hashtag is a reminder that ALL WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL. At one point in the book, Nina has something written on her wrist, so some of us have posted pictures on social media with #forNina written on our wrists, to help raise awareness that we are all beautiful in our own way.
Something that’s easy for me to apply to others, but much harder to apply to myself. This book has challenged me, too!
Any chance of a sequel?
I’ve considered it because there are a few characters that could be developed more, and a few that were sort of left hanging, but right now I’m not planning for any follow up books. Currently I’m doing research for my next book which will tell the story of a woman who is grieving the death of her preschool daughter. This character (she doesn’t have a name yet) must learn some things about herself before she can fully recover. Sad, I know … but anyway, I’m super excited about this new story, and my heart and mind are veering away from self-image problems and into self-discovery.
That sounds like another one to tug on the heartstrings, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Thanks for joining me here today, Varina. I’ve loved chatting with you, and especially sharing those yummy goodies! 🙂
Katie, thank you so much for inviting me to Fiction Aficionado. I’ve enjoyed being here, and remember: Every woman is beautiful! 😊
Who’s someone you turn to for support and accountability?
~ Video Trailer for Looking Glass Lies ~