Greetings, book lovers, from Marti Pieper! I’m writing today from the Mount Dora, Florida, fall, which means slightly cooler temperatures at night and less humidity during the day despite daytime temperatures in the 80s. I’m grateful to welcome author Terri Gillespie to our CAN blog today. I know you’ll enjoy meeting her and hearing about her work.
Welcome, Terri! What inspired you to write this book?
When women are in harmony, amazing things can happen. I wanted to find an environment—a culture—where women congregate. All types of women. The hair salon is a bastion of estrogen that can either be a force for good or catty gossip and selfishness.
In book one, She Does Good Hair, the women of the Hair Mavens Salon became a team of talented, albeit opinionated dynamos. They knew they wanted to make a difference in the lives of women—not just give good hair.
Katya—the once-timid maven—learns about a program that could do precisely that. Not only change lives, but perhaps even save lives. She campaigns to bring it to the salon.
There is an actual program within the beauty industry called Cut It Out: Salons Against Domestic Abuse. In real life, hairdressers have made a difference in the lives of abused women by learning how to spot abuse and providing resources for women to seek help. With regular clients, hairdressers can sometimes better identify victims of abuse than even family and friends. The Cut It Out program provides salons with training and resources to hand out to those who are abused.
That’s wonderful! What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
One of the most beloved characters in book one has a crisis of faith in this book. Beulah was always the one who reached out and gave so much of herself to others—to the point of exhaustion. Even-tempered, kind, compassionate Beulah was angry. Grief over her husband’s death and major upheavals overwhelmed her.
People were accustomed to her taking care of them, so they didn’t notice she needed help. As a recovering people pleaser, I had my own screeching halt to reassess my priorities. It wasn’t fun, but it was so much better being on the path of health and wisdom.
I can relate! What’s your favorite scene in this book?
When Beulah finds her voice and place among the mavens. It takes a major life-threatening crisis—a hostage situation—but she becomes a powerhouse.
I can tell you put a lot of yourself into your work. What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Unity. The challenging journey of uniting women who wouldn’t normally associate with one another. And in that unity, lives are changed.
The second is: No matter what you’ve done, God can still reach down and pull you from the pit.
Amen! So how has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
Ironically, writing deepened my relationship with God the Father. Most of my characters have issues with their childhood relationships with their parents. While having a good or challenging relationship with a brother or sister might impact us, it’s the parental bond—or lack thereof—that is at the core of our being.
One of the primary reasons Jesus came to die for our sins was to reconcile us with His Father.
Every little girl wants her daddy to love and treasure her. Creating flawed characters who long for unconditional love is that inner need they don’t understand initially. Their stories of learning that they have a Father who will love and treasure them transformed me.
Exactly! And why do you love writing?
It’s how I process life. From journaling to my daily blogs on the book of Proverbs to stories of women who realize who they were created to be, I have learned so much. Hearing transformative testimonies from women who read my novels, devotional, and blogs blesses my footies off. Knowing the Holy Spirit uses these stories, insights, and my own flawed life is miraculous. What’s not to love?
What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
Mysteries. Women’s contemporary. Some historical. Our church book club just assigned us The Chicken Runs at Midnight, the true story of the Donnelly family. I think I cried more over that book than any other I’ve read.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
For thirteen years, I managed the telephone fundraising team for the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. The last five or six years, I was chief of domestic operations and acting office manager.
After that, I was a managing editor for the new Tree of Life Version of the Holy Scriptures (Baker Publishing). I worked with six of the 60 scholars of this translation. Most of these brilliant men and women were Jewish believers in Jesus. Co-laboring with folks whose ancestors walked on dry land when the Red Sea parted was pretty exciting—and intimidating. It gave me an up-close understanding that the people of the Bible weren’t just characters in a story, they were real people.
That’s fascinating! Tell us about your favorite library memory.
Actually, I was overwhelmed in the library. With my learning disability, there were just too many books. And the Dewey Decimal System? Oy! But, oh how I loved the bookmobile! Only three children were allowed in at a time, so I’d have to wait in line for a while. It didn’t matter. Climbing into that little sanctuary with librarians ready to help us find the perfect book provided a lot of happy memories.
Lots of us have librarians and bookmobiles to thank for our love of reading. What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
Reading, of course. Hubby and I just started taking a watercolor class. I don’t know what I love more, learning various techniques in this medium or spending time with Bob.
Awww, that’s great. Now, tell us about your next project.
The Hair Mavens, Book 3’s working title is Really Bad Hair Day. The mavens expand their outreach into the community by launching a new makeover program for the homeless. The beauty school is opening, and all this is causing a tangle with Shira and Jesse’s wedding plans.
“Tangle”—I see what you did there. Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Terri!
For His glory,