Hello, friends! JoAnn Durgin here. My guest today is the lovely and talented Sarah Monzon, debut author of the contemporary Christian romance, The Isaac Project. This book immediately caught my attention with the adorable cover. Isn’t it beautiful? I wanted to know more, so I took a closer look at the book and invited author Sarah Monzon to join us here today on Inspy Romance. First, let me share the “back cover” blurb from The Isaac Project with you. Be sure and read my Q&A with Sarah (below) and an excerpt from the book which sets up the premise. One blessed commenter will receive an ebook copy of The Isaac Project! Here’s that book blurb:
Becky Sawyer’s life unravels in a single day. Not only does she catch her boyfriend, the man she hoped to marry, lip-locked with another woman, she also receives the gut-wrenching news that her grandfather, the man who raised her, is dying. His last wish? To see her happily married. Heartbroken, Becky seeks inspiration in the pages of the Holy Scriptures. And finds it in the story of Isaac and Rebekah.
If love couldn’t keep his parents together, Luke Masterson wonders what will make a marriage last. He decides to steer clear of all women—especially crazy ones like Becky Sawyer, who employs a friend to find her a husband. But when he feels the dogged promptings of the Holy Spirit to move across the country and marry a complete stranger, it seems love has little to do with it anyway.
With commitment their only foundation, and love constantly thwarted, can an arranged marriage find happiness in the twenty-first century?
The Isaac Project is available exclusively on Amazon for $3.99 and is also available to borrow with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.
Sarah Monzon is a pastor’s wife and a stay at home mom of two small children. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southern Adventist University. Sarah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. The Isaac Project is her debut novel.
Sarah, thank you so much for being here with us today on Inspy Romance! Can you tell us what inspired you to write The Isaac Project (i.e., does it have anything to do with biblical story of Isaac and Rebekah being near and dear to your heart)?
Actually the idea of The Isaac Project started to form after a conversation I had with one of my really good friends. She was bemoaning the lack of date-able men and her rotten luck with guys in the past and she jokingly said she should just let her friends find a husband for her. Well, that got my imagination going! What would an arranged marriage in our society today look like? One thought led to another and another until The Isaac Project was born (so to speak).
Your hero, Luke Masterson, is a firefighter. Readers love firefighters, and Luke is a handsome, heroic one! Do you have firefighters in your family or did you need to do much research in order to write the specifics of Luke’s career in the book?
No one in my family is a fire fighter. I did a lot of research on the internet, read a lot of articles, and even watched a few hours of Youtube videos. I wanted to make sure I got all my facts straight, though, so I did send the manuscript to a fire fighter friend of mine and she checked it out before I sent it off to the editor.
Your heroine, Becky Sawyer, lost her parents at an early age, and she was raised by her grandfather. Many of her most precious memories are of her Poppy. Were you close with your own grandparents? Is there any one memory that stands out in your mind of a moment or event shared with a grandparent?
I was very close to my grandma when I was young. I used to spend a week or two with her every summer. I loved it! Grandma spoiled me to no end. I was allowed to laze the day away reading book after book and she’d bring me tomato sandwiches with pickles. We’d take walks to the lake and sing along the way. Unfortunately she passed away from cancer when I was fourteen, but I treasure the memories I had with her.
What’s your favorite part of a book to write — the romance, the drama, the conflict, the action scenes? Why? What’s the least favorite part of a book for you to write? Why?
I love writing the beginnings. It’s thrilling to look at a blank screen or blank piece of paper and know there are endless possibilities ahead of me. My least favorite part to write is the blurb/summary for the back cover. It’s so hard to condense an entire book into a few powerful paragraphs.
Could you share three things about yourself that readers might find fun and/or unusual that will help us get to know you better? (Note from JoAnn: after reading these, you’ll be as intrigued as I am, especially with Sarah’s answer to #3!)
1. I took time off from college between my Sophomore and Junior year to be a missionary in China.
2. When I was a kid I played county soccer. They had the teams divided into the boy’s league and the girl’s league. I begged my mom to sign me up for the boy’s league…and she did! My head still swells with ill-begotten pride when I remember how the player’s of the other team would yell, “Guard the girl! Guard the girl!”
3. My first official date with my now-husband-then-boyfriend was AFTER we had already dated, broken-up, and gotten back together. Yeah…I tend to do some things backwards.
Please leave a comment for the opportunity to receive an ebook copy of The Isaac Project! Here’s that promised excerpt!
I met Lisa at the diner downtown and ordered a chocolate milkshake and a basket of fries from our server, Wendy. The tangy scent of the night’s special—pulled BBQ pork sandwiches—battled with the heavy aroma of cooking oil, the diner being famous for its beer-battered onion rings. As this was the only eating establishment in our small town, the little diner was packed. That was if you call nine out of the ten tables occupied “packed.” Since it was the beginning of August, the temperature outside was well into the nineties. I licked my lips in anticipation of my cold chocolaty treat.
Lisa sat opposite me on the red vinyl-covered booth. “So what’s up? I haven’t seen you in almost a week. You doing okay?”
Lisa and I spent every moment possible together during her breaks from school. After everything that had happened, she knew I’d need time alone to sort things out. Except I hadn’t been able to.
“Am I doing okay?” A false laugh forced its way past my lips. “No, not really. In fact, I think I’ve gone insane.”
Lisa’s head tilted to the side, and she crossed her arms over her chest. One eyebrow rose over hazel eyes.
“I’m serious! You better have me committed before I ask you to do something crazy.”
“Something crazy like…”
“Like arranging my marriage.”
I hadn’t noticed Wendy approach with our milkshakes until the words had already left my mouth. I prayed she hadn’t heard me, but by the way her eyebrows nearly jumped to her hairline like an Olympic pole vault gold medalist, I could tell she had. Great. New fuel for the gossip fires.
Lisa stuck a straw in her milkshake and sucked hard, her cheeks concaving and giving her a fish face. She pushed aside the tall glass and leaned forward on her elbows. “You’re serious?”
I nodded. “Afraid so.” I put my finger over the opening of my straw and lifted it out of the glass. Sticking out my tongue, I removed my finger and let the delectable sweet treat drip onto my taste buds. Closing my eyes, I savored the explosion of icy goodness.
Lisa scooted back against her seat, the vinyl squeaking with her movement. “Well.”
“I know. But the only thing Poppy wants is to see me happily married, and I haven’t exactly had the best luck with men of late.”
“That’s not your fault.”
I raised my hand to stop her defense on my behalf. “Look, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I read Isaac and Rebekah’s story for devotions the other day, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I’ve thought about it so much that Abraham and Poppy are starting to morph into the same person in my mind.”
“Poppy’s getting worse, Lisa.” I snagged her hand and squeezed. Probably too tight. “I don’t know what else to do. Besides, people in India have arranged marriages every day. And what about online dating websites? That’s sort of like a western-culture arranged marriage. They say they use an algorithm to match compatibility, but you know me better than any algorithm.”
I glared at Wendy, who was taking an order from the booth next to ours. She’d asked the customer what she wanted to drink but kept casting furtive glances in my direction. I looked back at Lisa and let out a long breath.
“Who am I kidding? Even if you agreed to this crazy idea, that would mean there would still have to be a guy out there somewhere—no, not somewhere, specifically at your school—who would come all the way out here to this dinky little town, all for the purpose of marrying someone he has never met. It’s insane. I’m scared to think what kind of person would even consider it.”
Lisa spoke once I stopped my pathetic monologue long enough for her to interject. “You asked for my opinion, right?”
I nodded and closed my eyes, almost afraid of what I was about to hear. Even after several moments, all I heard was the humming of conversations from other tables and the clanging of pots in the kitchen. I peeked from behind one eyelid. Lisa was grinning.
“Well?” I asked.
She shrugged, still grinning. “You’re right. It’s a very…uh…unusual idea. Dating websites are a sort of contemporary setup, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they arrange marriages. More like they set people up on blind dates. But let me make sure I understand what you’re asking. You want a man to make a commitment of marriage without even meeting you first, right?”
Heat raced up my neck and traveled to my cheeks. When she said it like that, it was even more ludicrous than when I’d said it.
“That’s how it worked out for Isaac,” I mumbled. “Eliezer asked God to show him the woman who was supposed to marry Isaac, and He did. When Eliezer asked Rebekah to go back with him to marry his master’s son, she did. If we were to do this, and the guy came here, met me, and then decided he’d made a mistake, then of course he’d be free to leave. It’s not like I’d turn it into a shotgun wedding or anything.”
Lisa fiddled with her straw. What must she be thinking?
“Have you talked about it with Poppy?”
I shook my head as I dredged the last fry through a puddle of ketchup and popped it in my mouth. “He’s going to know I’m doing it for him, and he’ll try to talk me out it.”
Wendy laid the check face down on the table, lingering a moment longer than was necessary.
“All right.” Lisa dipped one decisive nod. “I’ll do it.”
Did Wendy’s step just falter on the way back to the kitchen?
“I’ll be your Eliezer, and with God’s help, I’ll find you your Rebekah, or, well, in your case, your Isaac. We’ll call it The Isaac Project.”
Until His Nets Are Full,