Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock
Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a
commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35),
Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what
anyone else has to say. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado.
Tell us a little about THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH
Sarah is the author of some bestselling romance books that are so provocative
and steamy her name becomes synonymous with the genre. But when Sarah becomes a
Christ follower, she must try and maneuver away from her scandalous
reputation—easier said than done since the books are still selling like
wildfire, and she’s being hounded for the film rights. Sarah is determined to
start a new life in which she can actually spread good and light to the world,
but of course the darkness of the past isn’t going to go away easily. Things get
even more complicated when she begins falling in love with Ben Delaney, who
happens to be her new pastor.
Why did you decide to write about an author?
Writing a book is not an insignificant thing for most people. It’s a labor of
love, and in most cases authors put so much of themselves into the creation of
their work. And then for that work to go on and become a cultural
phenomenon—that’s a major thing! I was fascinated by the idea of an author
putting in all of that blood, sweat, and tears only to undergo a heart-level
change that turns the work and all it stands for into an obstacle for the author
as she tries to live the life she believes God is calling her to live.
Do you see yourself in Sarah’s character?
I do! In so many ways. For one thing, we can both be counted on to contribute an
applicable film or television reference to every situation. And we both believe
that almost all things worth knowing can be gleaned from The Sound of
Music. But more seriously, although Sarah is a brand-new Christ follower
and I accepted Jesus into my heart thirty years ago, we share many of the same
struggles in our faith—most notably when it comes to letting go of our hard-won
control and letting the Lord take the lead.
What inspired the relationship between Sarah and her pastor? Are you a
As far as the world is concerned, Sarah’s and Ben’s careers are on opposite ends
of the morality spectrum. I was intrigued by the possibilities that existed as
they each attempted to understand the world the other had lived in—in Ben’s
world, people don’t think Sarah is worthy of him; in Sarah’s world, it’s
difficult for anyone to think their relationship isn’t either (a) illicit or (b)
dull. I loved creating a relationship that is sexier than you might expect for
the pastor and much more innocent and pure than anyone would see coming for the
steamy romance novelist. And yes! I am absolutely a romantic! Too much Jane
Austen throughout my life has seen to that. (Though is there really any such
thing as too much Jane Austen?)
What was your favorite part of this book to write?
I feel okay saying this because my husband is aware of my feelings for my
fictional characters . . . I fell madly, deeply in love with Ben Delaney, more
than any other leading man I’ve ever written, and my favorite part of writing
this book was watching Sarah fall in love with him as well. Sarah is such a
goofball in so many ways, and she just couldn’t help but get herself into
embarrassing situations and say embarrassing things she didn’t mean to say. So
that was fun! But what really made it so great was helping Sarah realize that,
with Ben, she didn’t have to be embarrassed. He gives her a confidence she’s not
used to feeling, and it was very powerful for me to watch Sarah grow as a person
and in her faith, there in the safe place Ben provided.
What lesson(s) do you hope readers will take away from reading your
One thing that was really important for me to communicate was that just because
a man and a woman in a romantic relationship have chosen to put their faith and
their relationships with the Lord above all else doesn’t mean it will always be
easy to honor those beliefs and commitments. Ben and Sarah face temptation and
find themselves in situations they should have tried harder to avoid. And I
thought it was important that it be reflected every bit as much in Ben’s
spiritual journey as it is in Sarah’s. Sarah’s faith is new, but Ben’s is not.
Not only is he a longtime Christ follower . . . he’s a professional
Christ follower! But he’s every bit as human and flawed as she is—and as we
all are. I believe Christians do a disservice to our faith when we act as if
we’ve got it all under control, rather than keeping our focus on the Savior who
wants nothing more than for us to relinquish control to him.
In what way would you say your faith is worked into the book?
Sarah is in her mid-thirties when she becomes a Christian, and she really does
feel as if she’s experiencing a rebirth—which makes it all the more jarring for
her when her pre-salvation past doesn’t go away the moment she says, “Amen.” As
I was writing Sarah’s story, the Lord was allowing me to experience a bit of a
rebirth as well. He led me to give up the career I had devoted my entire adult
life to, and in addition to putting wind in the sails of my career as an author,
he guided me toward full-time vocational ministry. Though my faith is not nearly
as new as Sarah’s, I feel like I was given the opportunity to fall in love with
Jesus all over again, through Sarah’s eyes and my own.
This is your first novel. What did you learn about the publishing
process as you went along?
I learned that I don’t know half of what I thought I knew, but that’s
okay because publishing is such a collaborative effort. Whatever I don’t know,
someone else does! I also learned that you should never, ever complain (even to
yourself) about the moments in the process when you have nothing to do—because
before you know it, the whirlwind will take over! (I also learned that I love
What are you working on next?
I have another romantic comedy completed—this one about a woman whose entire
life is set on a completely different course by a brief, relatively uneventful
interaction with a stranger. Over the course of ten years, she works her way
back toward the stranger who by then, she is convinced, is actually one of the
most famous movie stars in the world.
How can readers connect with you?
Through my website, www.seebethanywrite.com, readers can find all the various
ways to connect, but I love Facebook and Instagram most of all! I’m
@seebethanywrite pretty much across the board, so I’m quite easy to track down,
and I’d love to connect!
Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to
Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that's obvious. Worst because, up to this
point, she's made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling
author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church
blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she's
chosen. She's still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her
enormous fan base for the kind of book she's not sure she can write anymore.
She's beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties
from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her
pastor doesn't make things any easier.
With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner
explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny
realities of living the Christian life.
Romance [Revell, On Sale: October 3, 2017,
Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780800727666 / eISBN: 9781493411023]
1 comment posted.
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(Toni Antonio 9:31pm October 17, 2017)