My friend, Catholic author Carolyn Astfalk, is celebrating the October 1 release of her novel, Stay with Me, published by Full Quiver Publishing. Billed as an “edgy Theology of the Body romance,” this book is a nice, thick read at over 300 pages–and I’d have been happy for more!
Carolyn Astfalk’s novel combines engaging characters with a plausible plot. The reader is drawn in immediately by Rebecca, who is blundering through the grocery store with her young niece and nephew in tow. You can’t help rooting for this innocent young woman, and you’ll find yourself hoping she’ll hit it off with the courteous guy she meets in the store.
Stay with Me is a great blend of romance and faith witness and comes complete with a great set of supporting characters like Abby (Rebecca’s boisterous sister), Father John (who’s connected to both Rebecca and her love interest) and Rebecca’s overbearing father.
I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel and I really enjoyed it. I have to say that Abby was my favorite character, even though my personality is much more like Rebecca’s. Abby is funny, but with plenty of wisdom underneath, and I think her presence added a lot to the story.
It is important to note that you don’t need to be familiar with Dave Matthews Band music to enjoy this book. While DMB gets mentioned a lot, there’s plenty of other music that plays a role. Check out the playlist for the novel!
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned that Carolyn is a friend. I actually met her over the summer at the Catholic Writers Guild conference, and it was fun to discuss her story, and her characters, with the author in person. That’s reader heaven right there. Because we can’t all be together in one room to talk about the book, I asked Carolyn if she’d answer a few questions to go with this review.
1. Tell us about the fine line you walk in writing “edgy Theology of the Body romance.”
Unless you’re seeking pure escapism, I don’t think there’s much benefit it whitewashing the challenges and temptations inherent in trying to live the virtue of chastity. A story is both more engaging and provides more substance for reflection if the characters experience real problems and inhabit a recognizable world that is often indifferent or hostile to a lifestyle that acknowledges we are male and female, body as much as soul, and what we do with our bodies matters. That said, there are details and intimacies that are better left not even to our imaginations, but simply left out. There’s a point where edgy can become explicit and teeter towards pornography. That’s not a direction I want to take.
2. Which of your novel’s characters would you like to invite to dinner and why? (You can only choose one!)
If I were single, I’d choose Chris because while not perfect, he’s a genuine good guy, and I have an unfulfilled desire to ride on a Harley Davidson. But, being a married woman, I’d like to invite Rebecca’s sister Abby to dinner. You never know what’s going to come out of Abby’s mouth, so it’d be entertaining, and I think we could bond over our lives with several small children underfoot.
3. What’s been the most exciting part about launching this book? Have there been any surprises along the way?
Seeing such a large project come to completion – or at least fulfillment – is exciting. Most of my days are consumed by managing small, immediate tasks such as changing diapers, wiping up messes, and shepherding older kids. Launching a book exercised some completely different parts of my brain and tried my patience in different ways. The biggest surprise has been discovering how gracious and supportive other writers are. It’s been said a million times, but writing a book and finding its niche are not things you can do alone – at least not well. I’ve been blessed by so many people who offered advice, encouragement, and so much more.
Want to visit the other stops on Carolyn’s book tour?
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1: CATHOLICMOM.COM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2: RECONCILED TO YOU (ALLISON GINGRAS)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3: PEACE TO ALL WHO ENTER HERE (DON MULCARE)
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4: KAREN KELLY BOYCE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5: THERESE HECKENKAMP
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6:CATHOLIC FIRE (JEAN HEIMANN)
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7: SARAH DAMM AND ROBIN PATCHEN
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8: SNORING SCHOLAR (SARAH REINHARD), ERIN McCOLE CUPP, PLOT LINE AND SINKER (ELLEN GABLE)
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9: DOMESTIC VOCATION (CHRISTINE JOHNSON)
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Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart.
Note: Amazon links to Stay With Me are affiliate links. This means that your purchase of this book, at no extra cost to you, puts a little something into my virtual Amazon tip jar. Thanks!