Welcome to the book tour for The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson! She took some time out of her busy schedule today to answer a few questions for us. Please feel free to leave her more in the comments section. Check out the rest of the tour for even more. And of course, you have to check out the fabulous giveaway!
On Tour with Prism Book Tours
What was the inspiration behind this story?
I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to start writing The Dating Charade, aside from the idea popping into my head: Huh, how funny would that be for a couple to have a fantastic first date, tell each other they don’t want kids, and then come home from that date to find three children dropped in their laps each! I suppose several factors came specifically into play in bringing about this idea, however.
First, at the time I wrote The Dating Charade my twins were two and I had a newborn. The idea of the male in this novel, who doesn’t love kids, to get surprised with twin 2yos and a newborn overnight and see how he handles it was fun for me. Who knows, maybe it was therapeutic, watching the guy struggle through my own comedic parenting struggles ☺.
As for my female, Cassie, she ends up with three children through her work as a director for an afterschool program, and for several years I was the teen coordinator for my YMCA afterschool program. Those teens meant the world to me and we got really close. Some of their home lives were really tough, though, and so in a way I wrote from the perspective of, “What would it have been like if one of my teens, whom I loved so dearly, ended up being put in foster care and split up from her sisters if I didn’t take them in?”
So, I suppose, this was the inspiration behind my story.
To which character do you best relate and why?
Oh, that’s tough! I don’t know, because I feel like I can relate to every character in some way. I suppose, though, I’d choose my main female, Cassie, because of her love for the kids in her care as the director of Girls Haven.
How does this book stand out in this genre?
The Dating Charade is a bit different from the typical rom/com, particularly because while there are several laugh-out-loud moments, there’s also the story revolving around the children and the issues they have to face (abandonment, addictions, foster care). So, I guess I’d say, The Dating Charade is happiness and total happily-ever-after with a bow, but also carries a message about the power of family, however they came to be.
What are you currently reading? Up next on your TBR?
Oh boy. I always have a few books I’m working through at once. I just bought The Princess Bride, I’m reading a book by Sophie Kinsella, I’m trying to work my way through Creation and the Cosmos by Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross, and I’m quite fond of a Toot & Puddle Christmas book I just received and have been reading with my children.
What is your best advice for up-and-coming writers?
I have two suggestions. The first is to get yourself to a writer’s conference. No matter what stage you are in the writing process, get yourself to a writer’s conference—particularly one that is well-respected, includes reputable agents and editors, and includes your genre. It was challenging putting down the money and traveling through several states to meet a bunch of strangers the first time I did one—I was afraid, and in some ways felt like I was a fraud—but now when anyone asks me one tip for becoming an author I immediately respond with this: go to a writer’s conference.
My second tip is to make the most of your conference experience. These conferences often cost you somewhere between $600-1500. If you didn’t get appointments with some of the agents/editors you were hoping to pitch to, then find them outside a session, in the dining area, in an elevator (for the record, I did this once, and had to give a 10-second literal elevator pitch in an elevator). I am terrible at on-the-spot pitches, and have failed miserably trying to share my bit about my books every single time. But you know what? Every single time the agent or editor just smiled and told me to send him/her my manuscript. Which eventually led to a contract. And book deal. So don’t let nerves get to you. Remember they are human. Do the best you can. And make the most of face-to-face conversations with authors, editors, and agents at these conferences, because no email can beat the power of a smile and handshake.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I teach at my alma mater, King University, in the Bible and Religion department. So while I’m dropping comedic lines about children calling fire departments on one hand, I’m grading essays involving questions about theodicy and the life and teachings of Jesus with the other. ☺
Just when you think you’ve met your match . . . the charade begins.
Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.
But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.
No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?
Melissa Ferguson’s hilarious and warmhearted debut reminds us that love can come in very small packages—and that sometimes our best-laid plans aren’t nearly as rewarding and fun as the surprises that come our way.
About the Author
Melissa Ferguson is an adjunct professor for Bible and religion at King University. She lives in the charming town of Bristol, Tennessee, with her husband, twin toddlers, and baby girl. She used to have hobbies like running and backpacking the Appalachian Trail outside her door. Now her hobbies include admiring the Appalachian Trail out her minivan window while singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” en route to the library.