An interview with Beth K. Vogt,
Author of Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Marriage is serious business — both for the couple tying the knot and for wedding vendors, with the average cost of an American wedding topping $25,000. As budgets get stretched, so can fraying nerves and already-taut emotions, as captured in Beth K. Vogt’s new Destination Wedding series.
In the first novel in the series, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Howard Books/June 30, 2015/ISBN: 978-1476789781/$14.99), paramedic Vanessa Hollister thinks she has moved beyond the pain of her first marriage — a “what-were-you-thinking” teenage elopement — and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Fla., with her new fiancé. Her dream of an idyllic beach wedding is disrupted, though, with the sudden reappearance of her first husband.
Q: Crazy Little Thing Called Love is the first book in your new Destination Wedding Series. Tell us a little about where the idea came from and what you’re most excited about for this new series.
I discussed the idea of writing a series with my mentor and friend, author Rachel Hauck, as well as my agent, Rachelle Gardner. I was thrilled Howard Books liked the idea of the Destination Wedding series. So often in contemporary romance novels, the wedding comes at the end of the novel — often as an epilogue. In this series, the wedding is a main plot point. And travel — well, so many people love to read about new places, right? So combining weddings with new destinations — to me, that was a win-win situation.
Q: If you had the chance to plan a destination wedding, where would you go and why?
My destination wedding series focuses on wedding locations in the U.S., so I’m going to pick a site within the 50 states (and because I live in Colorado, that’s ruled out). My husband, our youngest daughter and I vacationed in Bandon, Ore., several years ago with close friends; we rented a beach house. The sunsets and sunrises were lovely, and the town is so quaint. I think Bandon would make a great location for a destination wedding . . . maybe even for a novel!
Q: What was your inspiration for writing Crazy Little Thing Called Love?
I have several friends who met in high school and ended up getting married — and they’ve stayed married, I’m happy to report. When my husband and I were dating, we talked briefly of eloping — very briefly. And I think everyone looks back on their high school years and can think of at least one decision they made, a romantic one or a just a general life decision, and they wonder, “What if?” What if they had done things differently?
Q: You usually have a high-concept question you weave into your stories. What was the main question for Crazy Little Thing Called Love?
I believe a Story Question is what fuels a novel. It’s what your characters are wrestling with from chapter one to the end. And it’s often a question readers might wrestle with too. For Crazy Little Thing Called Love, I focused on this Story Question: What if you realized what you thought was your worst mistake actually was the right choice?
Q: Vanessa is used to giving in to her fiancé’s wishes constantly. Do you think women have a tendency to do this generally in relationships?
No, not really. I was engaged when I was nineteen before I met my now husband, and I didn’t know my own mind back then and gave in too easily to what my fiancé thought. I don’t think that was because I was a woman so much as because I was young. There should be a natural give-and-take in any relationship, but a couple has to learn to balance it so both people are heard and valued. Of course, personalities come into play here, and some couples never grow into a more mature relationship.
Q: How did growing up in a military family that moves around frequently impact the person Vanessa became?
Remember, as the author I got to plot exactly how Vanessa was affected by being part of a military family; her experience isn’t true for every military child. She moved around a lot and had difficulty forming lasting friendships. This can be a challenge when a family moves every couple of years. The way I summed it up in Crazy Little Thing Called Love is that Vanessa was good at saying hello and goodbye, but she didn’t know how to do the relationship in between.
Q: What were your friendships like during high school? Can you identify with the way Vanessa felt as the new girl over and over again?
I switched schools between my sophomore and junior years of high school, but I did that by choice, not because my family moved. So while I said goodbye to some friends, I had other friends waiting for me at the other school and never really felt like the “new” girl. To understand Vanessa, I drew on my experience of raising my own children, helping them navigate friendships as they grew up in a military family and the inevitable goodbyes that come with that.
Q: Have you ever made a rash decision — even if it was made on good intentions? What happened as a result?
Oh, all sorts of rash decisions — everything from adopting stray animals (note the plural) to saying yes to going on a blind date that ended up lasting less than an hour. I’ve learned rash decisions — ones where I mentally leap before I look at the possible consequences of my choices — rarely end well. One of my rules now is if a decision has to be made immediately, my answer is no.
Q: Vanessa and Logan get a second chance at love. Have you ever had a second chance at something, and did you take it?
Like everyone else in the world, I’ve had a variety of second chances in my life, including romantic ones. And I have to admit I should have said “No, thanks” to some of them. A second chance isn’t an automatic yes from God. It should be prayed over . . . and treated as a treasured opportunity — whether you take it or not.
Q: How can being burnt in love and relationships impact your future ability to have an open heart toward others?
The question itself supplies the answer: When we are burned by something, we are more cautious the next time. No one escapes being disappointed by others. No one escapes being brokenhearted. But we can choose how we respond to it. Being cautious doesn’t mean we have to become jaded or closed off to other people. We can choose to be careful whom we give our heart to — and isn’t that a wise thing? But being cautious doesn’t mean choosing never to love again.
Q: To grow closer to God, Vanessa starts writing prayers in her journal. What do you do in your own quiet time with the Lord that helps you remain close to him?
Listening to praise-and-worship music has always been an important part of my quiet times. I’ve created worship playlists on Spotify, compiling my favorite songs. A few years ago I discovered the book Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth. I’m not an artist, but this book, which details how to incorporate drawing into your prayer time, rejuvenated my quiet time. I also like to read my Bible in tandem with a specific book. Right now I am reading Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity by J. Scott McElroy, which a friend gave me for Christmas.
Q: Can you think about a time in your life when you tried to force a dream or rush ahead of God’s timing? How did that work out for you?
There have been times when I’ve been impatient with God’s timing for things — for him to resolve a longstanding conflict or for him to change me in an area that I struggle. (I dealt with fear for many years.) I’ve had to realize God is working in my life even when I can’t see anything happening. To trust him. And when I’ve prayed and feel no clear direction of what to do or say next . . . I stay still. Quiet. I wait. It’s hard, but it’s the best thing to do rather than running ahead and assuming I know what to do without any clear guidance.
Q: Why did you want to choose a risky profession for Logan’s character? What kind of research did you have to do to represent it well?
I knew Logan needed to be in a profession that was risky because I wanted him to challenge Vanessa to move past all the boundaries she’d put around herself. I wanted to choose something outside the box. So I mulled for a few days — mulling is a huge part of the writing process. And the idea “storm chaser” came to mind. I would have loved to have time to do more research about storm chasing; there’s just never enough time to do everything I want. I’ve read some about storm chasers and have always been intrigued about why someone would run toward a tornado instead of running for safety. And I discovered they are not just thrill seekers. They are scientists, motivated by a desire to understand storms better, to help protect people. I read some books and did research online to understand storm chasers further.
Q: Was some of the rich camaraderie and conversation between friends in the book inspired by your own relationships?
Friendships are so, so important to me. And yes, when I’m with my friends, it’s all about the conversation, the laughter, the give-and-take between us. If I can make someone laugh, I’m happy. And I’m thankful I have people in my life who know the real me, who are willing to be honest with me, to challenge me — and who are real with me too. I don’t want to pretend anymore . . . or do a fake life. That’s not what God calls us to do. We’re to reflect his image to others, and having honest, loving relationships with others is one of the most beautiful ways we can do that.
Q: What can we expect from you next?
More Destination Wedding stories! I’m working on another novella and another novel (Almost Like Being in Love) for 2016. I’m intrigued by Logan’s little sister’s story: What happens with Caron and Alex? And there are always other stories perking in my brain, sparked by conversations, news stories and random things I run across in my day-to-day life. Did you know you can rent a bridesmaid? Now how intriguing is that? And I’ve already started a list of “What if?” ideas for other stories.