Today I’m interviewing Teya Peck, author of See Me For Me, which she published earlier this year. This is a story of love and forgiveness, kindness and second chances, and acceptance of others.
One wrong step changes Jocelyn’s Prima Ballerina’s life forever…A single choice results in Jeremiah facing unbearable consequences…When these two meet, it could be catastrophic or the answer to unspoken prayers. Can love be tested too far? Will hearts soften and hurts be forgiven? Or will too much loss be too devastating to find hope? One thing is for sure, lives are about to change forever…
Who or what was your inspiration for Jocelyn’s character?
Half the story in this book I had, but I struggled with the other story. It needed conflict and, well, something. I picked up my girls from ballet that afternoon. I stood downstairs in the waiting room and heard one of the mother’s name spoken. The name was Joselyn. The whole story slammed me. I saw her eyes and the whole book unfolded out in front of me. I ran back out to my car and wrote down a rough outline. When she walked out, I asked her if I could use her name, just changing one letter and her eyes. She agreed and I snapped a picture. The cover illustration uses her and another girl’s eyes. The inspiration was the environment and simply hearing a name.
How long did it take you to write See Me For Me?
It didn’t take me long to write See Me for Me at all. In fact I had a hard time stopping when I had to. I researched for months: ballet, positions, watched my daughters, and YouTube clips. I studied spine injuries, I wrote to the spine center, I think, in Colorado. (It’s been a while, I have it in my notes.) That part took a while and I reviewed each part with a ballerina instructor. The writing of the story only took a couple weeks to a month, if that. Sometimes when you write a line or something comes to you, you know it’s going somewhere. This was that book.
Jeremiah’s younger sister, Emily, whose story is both tragic and hopeful, was the catalyst for him meeting Jocelyn. How does her cheerful attitude help to assuage his guilt over what happened to her?
WOW! Deep question! I think it’s because they had a knowledge that gave her hope. That knowledge helped to ease Jeremiah’s guilt. I think the cheerful attitude she had lifted everyone, not just her brother. When someone smiles or laughs, it’s contagious. No matter how down you are or try not to, you end up joining in. I feel she was meant to be his sister for that exact reason. People are put in our paths for reasons unknown to us. Emily was there for him and exactly what he needed for his growing faith.
This book has a religious theme and is, in fact, based around the beliefs of the LDS faith. How were you able to find the balance between presenting your values without being too preachy?
Because that’s who I am. That’s how I share with people: kindness, love, and friendship. Who likes to be preached to, really? Certainly not my own children and not myself. I’m quite down to earth without being in the trap of earth. I have many friends not of my faith, and that’s okay. They are amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. There are people who live my faith better than those of my faith, sad to say but true. We can’t judge anyone, we are not meant to judge. True, we do have the gift of discernment, but not judging. We all need a loving heart, no matter who is placed in our path. I feel that taking who I am with the knowledge I have in relationship to who I know helped me write it the way I did. It wasn’t meant to go that direction, and it shocked me when it did but I love it just the way it is.
See Me For Me addresses the theme of love and acceptance of others who are physically or emotionally challenged. Why is this so important to you as an author?
WOW! Again, deep questions but perfect. I hope I don’t cry trying to share this. First off, my dad was in a wheelchair from 1986-2006 when he passed away of complications to cancer. That’s more than three quarters of my own life. We had callouses on our feet due to his wheels running over them. Funny, I miss it now. I remember when I was young and excited to go to the local fair. I loved watching everything. Someone came up, lifted my dad’s wheelchair up and shoved him out of the way. He mumbled something about cripples always being in the way. I ran up and kicked him in the shin and said, “Don’t hurt my daddy.” My parents had to grab me and hold me back. I defend handicap places, a handicap Nazi is what my family called me.
Then it filtered into my own children. My son does not have a physical showing like Downs Syndrome, but he has A.D.H.D. (attention deficit disorder), O.D.D. (oppositional defiant disorder), Autism (Asperger’s), S.P.D. (Sensory processing disorder), and some depression, (go figure). I was told several times that I should teach my child how to behave, be a better mother. I would sit in the middle of my living room with my head in my hands crying because I wasn’t sure what was going on with my child. Now that I know what my son has, I learned about medication, I studied S.P.D. I have a library on these disorders and now I have the courage to stand up straight and say: “You know what? Heavenly Father entrusted me with this and these children, I’m the best mother and the only mother these children have. Thank you!” Needless to say, no one says those things to me anymore. There are other challenges unseen, and we never know what people are going through.
Is this subject of loving and acceptance of others with physical and emotional challenges near and dear to my heart? ABSOLUTELY! I feel everyone needs a chance, everyone needs a smile, and every single person can become who they were meant to be. They just have to see it for themselves as well. Okay, this subject is a passion, if you couldn’t tell, onto the next question…
Jocelyn’s parents ultimately disowned her after she became worthless in their eyes. Fortunately for her, Jeremiah’s family welcomed her into their lives and home with open arms. Do you feel that this is a fairy tale ending or does this sort of situation occur in real life? Can you provide a few examples?
I think it’s both. It could be a fairy tale thing, however, I guarantee it happens all the time in real life. People all over the world make choices and have to leave all they know, including family to follow what they know is right. I have a couple of friends and several acquaintances that found homes within the members [of the LDS church] because they chose the gospel path and their families threw them out. Other situations could be included within this assessment, but I will not elaborate.
How many books have you written and what are their titles? Can you give us a glimpse into your next project?
Published: I have seven, which are: Within Qwestar, Stripes, It’s My Pie Too!, Salvage Yard Troubles, Treasures of Truth: Volume One, Out of the Mists of Darkness, and of course, See Me For Me.
Qwestar (the next generation to Within Qwestar), and Death by the Slice are both with beta readers as we speak.
I have a fantasy trilogy I am working on currently as well as two others (which do not have titles).
Here are a few glimpses into a couple:
Death by the Slice:
“Leola it’s time, time to find out who you are and where you came from. I cannot teach you anymore than you already know.”
“No. I won’t leave the only father I’ve ever known.”
“Child, once I go, you will have nothing left in this land.”
“It’s my home, the only home I’ve known.”
Sense nodded his head, kneeling at the candle-lit prayer wall, his hands pressed in prayer, elbow out. “True, but you are so much more than the martial arts training I taught you. It’s the only way I’ve known how to fader you. You need to go home to America were you belong.”
Leola stood, shocked at the knife in her chest those words brought. “Fine, I’ll go.”
“I have a job lined up for you, the information is on the suite-case on your bed.”
She felt her eyebrows crunch, so he had this planned. “Good bye then,” and she turned and left the room. She thought she heard a whisper, faint, she shook her head and left.
“Good bye, my only child. I love you,” he whispered softly on the air.
I would give you part of Qwestar but where it’s a next generation, it’s hard to pick. I’m still in the editing and refining process of these and the rest of the above mentioned manuscripts.
The fantasy trilogy is about a girl who is adopted and discovers her mother is a siren, father is a descendent of Ulysses crew that made the Ulysses pact. She has to save both, having never met either of them. She finds out she’s betrothed to one man and falling in love with another man, neither of which are completely human. Finding out about the world she lives in is not what she thought it was, plus having to deal with abilities she doesn’t know she has.
As a busy wife and mother, how do you squeeze writing time into your day?
I wish I could say my home is spotless, my kids are perfect angels, and blah, blah, blah. NO, soooo not true. I wake up at 5:15 a.m., say my prayers, read scriptures, put a focus blend on and write. At 6:45 Monday-Friday, I get my kids out of bed and ready for school. During the morning when no one is home, I write–or clean–but I’d rather write. My house, most of the time, goes unnoticed by me. Sad, I know, but it’s the truth. I either have to keep it clean or throw my hands in the air. I call it my organized mess, which is funny because before I had kids, everything was in its place and alphabetized. Now, well, my blue-rays are in alphabetical order and no one touches them. The kids have their chores. Sometimes they do them, sometimes they don’t. What I’m trying to say is that I’m NORMAL! Except the 5:15 wake up time, of course, but I love that time. It’s mine, and I write as much as I can. I do my best not to ignore the kids and keep the house clean, but frankly, I’m not perfect, fortunately, because then I would not be able to share my stories.
See Me For Me is available for purchase at this Amazon link for See Me For Me. But your copy today!