Carmen Schober is a wife and mother, a proud Cuban-American, and a woman of eclectic interests, ranging from gritty combative sports to feminine design shows. She writes unexpected romance novels for the modern woman, with relatable but inspirational heroines and heroes. Carmen broke out on to the Christian fiction scene in 2021 and charmed a whole new generation of inspirational readers with her contemporary debut novel, After She Falls. Now, Schober invites readers into another fictional escape for the modern woman with the release of her new, sophomore standalone novel.
In this interview, Carmen talks with us about her new book, Pretty Little Pieces.
FF: Please provide a brief summary of your new novel Pretty Little Pieces.
Essentially, it’s a story about a woman with a broken heart and a ruined plan. It’s especially painful because Georgina Havoc loves plans, and she has big ones for her career and life with Lance. But she’s also a very determined woman, and that makes for a fun but complicated series of events as she collides with an equally determined Cassidy Stokes, who is certainly not part of any plan.
FF: Your protagonist Georgina Havoc holds a unique occupation as an influencer. Can you explain what this job entails as well as what led you to choose this as her profession?
Being an influencer means creating a public image that other people want to emulate. Joanna Gaines is the perfect example. She created a very specific aesthetic in her life and work, and women spend a lot of money to achieve something similar. I picked that profession for Georgina because many women are drawn to it, and there’s a real curiosity about what goes on behind the scenes, particularly when a reality television show is involved.
FF: How do you think Pretty Little Pieces serves both readers picking up inspirational fiction for the first time and long-time fans of the genre?
First-time readers of inspirational fiction will be surprised by the honest portrayal of the less-than-perfect qualities in each character, including the Christian ones. Most of my characters are endearing in some way, but they have obvious flaws and make serious missteps. I let their faith arcs play out pretty realistically, so most readers say my style isn’t preachy.
That said, I never hide or water down Christianity in my stories because it’s integral to the characters’ growth, and long-time readers of the genre will appreciate that. Some secular critics have complained about the “religious overtones,” but that doesn’t bother me. I’m unashamedly Christian in every area of my life, including my books.
FF: Can you share a little bit more about the inspiration behind this book?
First, I just wanted to do something different from my debut with Bethany House, After She Falls. Writing Adri’s underdog story was amazing, but I wanted to escape to a more feminine, glamourous world for a while, and combining the glam Nashville influencer scene with an old cottage in rural Tennessee sounded fun. Pretty Little Pieces still tackles deep issues, though, just like After She Falls. As the cover suggests, there’s some real brokenness in the characters’ lives, and it was a challenge to balance that alongside the more fun, lighthearted elements. I was also inspired by Fannie Flagg’s summery style and some of C. S. Lewis’ writings on the Christian life and lightly blended the two.
FF: Among other things, this novel focuses on themes of finding real faith and lasting love in an increasingly secular and individualistic culture. Can you elaborate on how these themes are portrayed through Georgina’s story and why they’re important?
I think Georgina embodies the average nominal Christian woman today. She has a vague belief in God because of her upbringing and she prays in emergency situations, but she doesn’t have a fully informed understanding of what Christianity is or what it entails, and she’s not entirely sure if God is trustworthy. She wants his help, but she doesn’t want to be fully committed. I spent quite a few years of my life like that, so I understand that mindset. Through various events and relationships, she learns more about the Christian life, and she eventually has to decide if a relationship with God is more valuable than her own image and goals. In a culture that increasingly views Christianity as backwards and unpopular, that decision carries even more weight. I hope women see themselves in Georgina and will answer that same question for themselves.
FF: What challenges did you experience while writing Pretty Little Pieces?
Quite a few! For one thing, I received some pretty big revision suggestions about two days before I went into labor with my son, so I had to let those sit for a bit while I birthed a ten-pound baby. Then I had to recover, and it was a whole new ballgame writing a book with three children under the age of four and promoting After She Falls at the same time. But, by God’s grace, the experience really grew me as a Christian and a writer. The writing process honestly felt similar to a home makeover—I started with a bunch of broken, mismatched things and slowly transformed them into something beautiful.
FF: What lessons do you hope readers gain from reading this novel?
I hope they are entertained and challenged at the same time. If I had to pinpoint one theme, it can be summed up in this C.S. Lewis quote: “No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God’s hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.”
Pretty Little Pieces
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Sometimes it takes everything falling apart…
Ambitious influencer Georgina Havoc and her designer boyfriend have been dubbed “the next Chip and Joanna Gaines”—a power couple that flip homes all over Nashville—and they plan to merge their unique styles into their new home renovation show. But their relationship falls apart when he blindsides her with a “pause.” Forced to convince the network to take a chance on her as a solo star, Georgina takes on the task of renovating a forgotten cottage in the tiny, tight-knit town of Tarragon, Tennessee.
Facing one heartache and setback after another, Georgina moves forward with her plan to rebuild her life and save her career, but a surprise drop-in from her troubled twin sister makes things extra messy. The unexpected presence of rugged ex-sniper Cassidy Stokes also threatens to bring all the walls that she’s built crashing down.
As she puts the pieces of her previously perfect life back together, will Georgina retreat to the familiar or boldly embrace a new design?
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