Altared Plans by Rebecca Talley

20 08 2009

We interrupt Our Week of Redecorating to bring you a book review. But before I start, let me just say if I never have to clean a paint roller again it would be okay with me.

Phew.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can tell you about this great book I read last month. I’ve been reading quite a few ponderous, non-fiction books lately about autism, relationships, and the Atonement. That is not like me at all, so I’ve balanced those heavy books out with some lighter fare. Altared Plansby Rebecca Cornish Talley falls into the second category.

Altared-Plans[0]

Sometimes I think about the “standard” romance plots–you know, amnesia, marriage of convenience, Montague and Capulet–and wonder what they’d be like if re-written for LDS fiction. Another popular theme is where the bride is jilted . . . on her wedding day! She’s left waiting at the altar!

In Altared Plans, this happens to our heroine, Caitlyn, by page 8. A couple of months later, her mom convinces Caitlyn to return to BYU. Caitlyn acquiesces, but only because she has completely sworn off men and has no plans on noticing (let alone dating) any of them.

Unfortunately, despite her plans to not notice anyone, her bishop calls her to be the “mom” of her FHE group. Which means she has to not only go to FHE, but participate in it. With that participation, she ends up being noticed . . . by two guys.

With witty dialogue, a fast pace, likable characters, and amusing (including some that were amusingly uncomfortable) situations, I’m so glad I read this book. I sincerely enjoyed getting to know Caitlyn and watching her date two men, and seeing how she finally chooses one. 

Now for my first blog interview! I had a few questions for Rebecca Talley, and she was gracious enough to answer them for me.

I’ve heard this book is loosely based on the story of you and your husband. Is that right?

Yes. We met when we were called to be the “mom” and “dad” of our FHE group at BYU, I met his mother (my future mother-in-law) while dressed as a clown, he offered to feed me one of his steers named Frank, and he grew up in the country while I grew up in the city. Of course, I added a lot of fictional elements, but the initial meeting in the book was very similar to how we met. Oh, and the story that Travis tells at FHE was based on an incident with my husband at the dorms when his roommate locked him out after he’d taken a shower.

Okay, people. Don’t you want to hear the meeting-the-mother-in-law-as-a-clown story? I thought so.
Of course, everything is bigger and “better” in fiction, but I just have to know: was there really an Alison?

Actually, there were several “Alisons.” My husband thought he was pretty suave dating several girls at a time and keeping us all in the dark about each other. That worked until he was in his car accident and we all ended up at the hospital together. Alison is a compilation of lots of girls. They say, “Don’t ever be mean to me or I might make you a character in one of my books.”

Several Alisons? Hmm. I thought that was a timely car accident. Sounds like your husband fit himself in to a perfect case of dramatic irony.

Even though they were minor characters, I had a lot of sympathy for both Alison and Chase. Technically, they’re the antagonists of the book (along with Justin, but let’s not even go there). How did you, as a writer, shape their characters so that even though we don’t agree with them we can still feel sorry for them?

Alison is manipulative because she truly believes that she and Travis belong together. Everything she does is focused on marrying Travis. I didn’t want to portray Alison or Chase as bad people, only that they were standing in the way of Caitlyn’s and Travis’s goals. I think the best antagonists are ones that aren’t purely evil but rather just have different goals, and those goals cause conflict for the protagonist. 

It definitely makes them more believable. Thanks for the tip!
What is your favorite line in the book?

The last one. “Love can’t be planned. It just is.”

Oh, that is a good one, especially in light of the first page where it says, “It couldn’t be anything but perfect because that’s how she’d planned it.”

My favorite line is this one: “Thinking of Travis made her mind turn into mush, so she turned to her scriptures and decided to read. Today, even Isaiah would make more sense than her feelings.” That made me laugh out loud. I’ve certainly had times where Isaiah was clearer than the way I was feeling.
 
I know you have ten (10!) children. In my opinion, that definitely counts as a quiver full. When and how do you write with the demands of caring for such a large family?
 

Whenever I can. Summer is a hard time to write when they’re all home. When they’re in school I can generally find a bit of time while my youngest naps. I just have to take what I can get and use my time as wisely as possible. And, yes, it is a houseful.

I am amazed. Some days, we barely manage to get dressed around here . . . and I’ve only got four.
Not only do you write books, you also have several blogs. Can you tell us a little bit about them?

I have my personal blog, http://www.rebeccatalleywrites.blogspot.com/, where I post my thoughts, observations, and ponderings (and occasionally some rantings). (Yes, I read the one about Sears.) I also blog with other Cedar Fort authors every other Tuesday at http://www.cedarfortauthors.blogspot.com/ . I maintain my personal website http://www.rebeccatalley.com/that contains information about me and my books. I also post regular blogs at http://www.pursueyourwritingdream.com/ which is dedicated to helping aspiring writers find publication success.

That is why Rebecca defines Awesomeness.

Thanks so much for the interview, Rebecca. Let’s do it again when your next book comes out, okay?

For about another week, you can enter a contest to win a copy of Altared Plansfrom the Cedar Fort Authors blog. Click here, and good luck!

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3 responses

20 08 2009
Rebecca Talley

What a great and enjoyable blog. Even if it was all about me, it was a hoot. Thanks! You’re funny.

And, I agree, about the whole redecorating/painting thing and wish I could never lay eyes on another paint roller. But, alas, I will not only lay eyes on one, I will get to know many, intimately, as we prepare for the open house after my son’s wedding.

I’m glad you remember my rant about Sears–it still bugs me.

Thanks again for the great review and posting the interview!

21 08 2009
mandy

I am such a sucker for a recommendation–I just bought this book today. Thanks, Wendy!

P.S. Can’t wait to see the results of all your hard work.

23 08 2009
Kathleen

I feel like I know someone famous…that is so cool you got to do an interview! Sounds like a great book.

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