This series of books is loosely based on biblical characters. First Date was based on Esther, and in that book, I began with the Esther story and crafted Addy's story around it. With Starring Me, I had my character, Kara, and looked for a biblical story that could parallel hers. I have always loved the romance of Rebekah and Isaac, and I thought that could fit. Because Kara loves acting, I knew I'd have to place her in a situation where she'd have the opportunity to pursue that love, while also being unknowingly pursued by a boy. Isaac was the long-awaited child of Abraham and Sarah, so having him be the somewhat overly-protected only child of older parents worked for my "Isaac"-- Chad Beacon. The "mediator" is the Beacon's assistant, Flora, a quirky character who feels from the start Kara is "the one." And so the stage was set!
2) How did you get the idea for Starring Me?
This story's premise was really a collaborative effort. My editors wanted me to keep going with the "reality TV/ordinary-girl-in-an-extraordinary-situation" theme I had in First Date. I wanted to tell a story that would fit Kara while staying true to my passion as a writer who liberally sprinkles Jesus all through her books. My students reminded me that teens enjoy humor more than sermons. So I sat down and thought through how I could make all of that work. My agent helped me create Flora, and my students helped me come up with the idea for a show-within-a-show: Kara thinks she is auditioning to co-host a new teen variety show, but, in reality, it is her character that is being tested, not her acting skills. Chad's parents want him working with a young woman who shares his faith - tying back into the Isaac and Rebekah story.
3) What was the hardest thing about writing Starring Me?
Finding time to write was the hardest part. I am a wife, mom of three, and an English teacher. I also direct the musicals at my school, and am involved in several different ministries at my church. I was writing this book in the middle of all that. It was crazy!
4) So how exactly did you research what a reality show was like? Have you been on one? I’ve always thought Amazing Race could be fun as long as my husband ate all the weird (i.e. GROSS!) food.
Because this book was more about the auditioning process than the show itself, I drew on my own theatrical experience. I have been in a few dozen productions and directed several, as well. I've never been part of a reality TV show, but I read different blogs and entertainment magazine articles about the behind-the-scenes aspects of those shows. I found that more is scripted than is real, and that people aren't always off-screen what they seem to be on-screen. All of that played into my story and the development of the other characters in the audition.
5) Will we get to see Kara (love her name btw!) and Chad in another book? Or will we see Josh and AXXXX’s story?
Thanks :) Although Kara isn't featured in the next book, she is present. Right Where I Belong is about a young woman named Natalia who moves from Spain to Tampa with her stepmother (guess what biblical character she is based on?). Natalia attends the same school as Addy, and Addy introduces her to Kara.
6) Why write for this audience? What draws you to teenagers?
I have worked with teens for over a decade, as a youth leader and a Christian school teacher. God used youth leaders and Christian teachers in my life to help me through those difficult years, and I want to do the same for the teens God places in my life. I love helping this next generation see how much God loves them and how He has plans for them that are far beyond what they could ever imagine.
7) What do you hope readers will take away from reading Starring Me?
My desire is that my books be "Escape and Encouragement." I want my readers to laugh and have fun with Kara. But I also hope they will be challenged in their understanding of who Christ is and who we are in Him. Starring Me touches on barriers to belief and serving others, as well as friendship and dating and awkward moments with egotistical boys.
Okay, where can readers connect with you?
Visit my website: www.kristamcgeebooks.com, become a fan on Facebook, and/or follow me on Twitter. I looooove hearing from my readers!
Cara again. So if you could be on any reality TV show, which would you pick? Leave a comment with a way to contact you to be entered for a chance to read this fun book.