Sandwich. A food… a restaurant… a town. For Maddie Buckner, the word means “hope” in Krista Phillips’s newest novel, Sandwich, With a Side of Romance (Abingdon Press). In this interview, the author shares the inspiration for the novel, the most challenging part of writing the story, and what she hopes readers get out of it…
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK SANDWICH, WITH A SIDE OF ROMANCE?
Sandwich was a compilation of many inspirations that I squished together to make one fun book. I was born in Sandwich, IL, and always thought it’d be fun to write a book based in my fun-named hometown. A few years ago, my husband and I had the honor of being foster parents for a short period of time. It was an absolutely life-changing experience, so that was also something I wanted to touch on in my fiction.
But Sandwich was truly born when my eldest daughter and I were waiting for Daddy in the car. I thought it’d be fun to teach her the art of brainstorming. Ten minutes later, we had this silly scene plotted where our heroine was a new hairdresser and accidentally botched up the hero’s hair, thus getting her fired. I took that germ of an idea, added my own ideas, and thus came Sandwich, with a Side of Romance.
WHEN MAKING UP STORIES, HOW MUCH DO YOU DRAW ON YOUR OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES AND PEOPLE YOU KNOW, VERSUS DRAWING ON RESEARCH ABOUT COMPLETE STRANGERS?
A dash of each, I’d say. For Sandwich, I drew on my own memories of the town of Sandwich, which was tricky since I moved away when I was 5! I had a few relatives and Sandwich insiders help me out with some details, but I also took a few liberties and wrote in some things that were memories of mine… even though they weren’t necessarily still in Sandwich. So the town of Sandwich in my book isn’t exactly how it is today… but it’s close! As far as the plot, it’s pretty much the same. I feel that I write best and more freely when I have my own basic knowledge on a subject, but also go out of my comfort to experts when necessary!
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF WRITING THE STORY?
My main character, Maddie, comes from a very turbulent past. She is a new Christian, and… let’s just say her past is not a very Christ-like one. As a fairly conservative Christian, and being “born” with a Bible in my hands, this was a big stretch for me to write. But while it was a challenge, it was really good for me to get into the head of a character who still has that new excitement of knowing Jesus for the first time.
WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK?
That you don’t have to be perfect to come to Jesus. He wants us to come just as we are, dirt and all. Once we’re welcomed into His arms, that’s when He can start molding us…. the molding process isn’t easy or painless, but He’s in it with us. I also LOVED Reuben’s family… that they welcomed Maddie into their arms and homes, no questions asked, just like Jesus does. As Christians, my prayer is that we too can be that image of Jesus to those in need.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I’m so excited about my next project! It’s one near to my heart, and I’m putting the final touches on it as I type, getting ready to send it to my agent. It’s about trust and overcoming fear and stepping outside the small box that we sometimes create for ourselves… wrapped up in a humorous, romantic package! Oh, and it may or may not feature such fun things as stalkers and online romance. What a combination, huh!