I love doing character interviews, especially with characters who I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. Gemma Bennett is a hoot. I had the pleasure of meeting Gemma as a side character in The Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong and again during Angela’s novella “Perfect Light” ( from the We Three Kings Collection coming out in September). She was fun, exciting, and totally deserving of her own story . . . which she FINALLY gets in the upcoming novel Hero Debut, releasing on August 29th. So in preparation for all that, it is my joy to introduce you to Gemma and her story.
“Once again, Angela Ruth Strong combines comedic moments with gospel truth, delivering another page-turner.” — Toni Shiloh, Christy Award–winning author of In Search of a Prince
Gemma Bennett is the leading lady of her own life, and her true love is writing screenplays. With her trusty pink notebook in hand, she signs up for the Citizen’s Police Academy to research her newest blockbuster hope, “The Dangers of Dating a Detective.” And the fact that the handsome and heroic Lieutenant Karson Zellner is the one leading the training? Well, that’s a bonus.
Karson already has his fair share of problems before Gemma shows up, and he’s not exactly a fan of the ditzy blonde who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. The last thing he needs is a damsel in distress to rescue; there are plenty of people in real need of his help. The fact that she seems to think his job makes him a superhero is just one more strike against her. This isn’t a movie, and he feels like the furthest thing from a leading man.
Gemma can’t seem to stop doing the worst, most embarrassing things at just the wrong time. The harder she works to make things right, the worse things get for her perfect screenplay and her perfect romance. Can she step out of her own way to find the hero her story needs? Or will real life foil a happy ending?
Hero Debut will delight readers looking for hilarity, heart, and happily-ever-afters with a foundation of faith and a reminder that, no matter what our relationship status, Jesus is the real hero of our lives.
Now for our interview with Gemma.
CC: I’m so glad to have you here, Gemma. Would you introduce yourself to my readers?
GB: I’d describe myself as a screenplay writer even though I haven’t sold a script yet. To pay bills, I teach high school English, which thankfully allows me to focus on my writing in the summers.
Sometimes when I meet directors to pitch my stories, they are more interested in putting me in front of the camera because I’m tall and blonde. Hence, I do a little acting in hopes that it’ll get my foot in the studio door, but usually the real playwrights get annoyed by my suggestions and kill off my character. It’s tragic.
This summer, I’m not acting though. I’m going to attend a citizen’s police academy as research for my next project. Oh, and also because the police officer teaching it is my personal hero.
See, I had my roommates wrap me in duct tape so I could try breaking free in order to improve a scene I was working on when a neighbor called the police. Karson Zellner busted into our townhome to rescue me. He wasn’t thrilled to find out I’d been perfectly safe the whole time, but his grumpiness just made him even cuter.
In the “biz,” I get so many men who want something from me that it was refreshing to meet a man who only wanted to help. Unfortunately, he isn’t a fan of filmmaking and ignores all my attempts at connection, but I’m undeterred. I’ll simply take my roommates to his training class as my wingmen.
We’ll be racing cop cars, watching the K-9 Unit train, and practicing self-defense. I’ll be taking lots of notes, particularly on the cornflower blue shade of Lieutenant Zellner’s eyes. He can’t arrest me for that, can he?
CC: Oh my goodness, Gemma. I’m cracking up. And doing a citizen’s police academy sounds like a lot of fun. I can’t wait to read how your experience goes! You’ve hinted at a little, but given you’re getting ready to be the heroine of your own novel, how do you think others view you? Do you feel this is an accurate representation?
GB: Others seem to think of me as a dumb blonde. Like the directors who don’t want to listen to my ideas and my successful sister who I’m always being compared to. Yeah, I can be a little flighty, but that’s because I’m too busy thinking all kinds of deep thoughts to focus on reality.
CC: Oh, do I feel you on that one! Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself, but half our time is spent working through real, albeit fictional, problems that need our full attention. What is your biggest struggle?
GB: I want to prove myself so my sister doesn’t look down on me anymore. I want to be equals again rather than rivals. If I can sell a screenplay, she’ll have to take me seriously.
CC: Hugs. That is so hard when our family doesn’t value what we do and uses it as an opportunity to look down on us. Who is your least favorite person to deal with in this story?
GB: My twin sister, Jewel. Did you know she rigged homecoming court to steal the crown from me and become queen in high school? She was also accepted into the good college. Plus she got married and has children. My niece and nephew are the best, and I may be a little jealous.
CC: Oh man! On top of everything, she’s your TWIN sister? My deepest sympathies. I can’t even imagine. Let’s think on a happier note. Who is your favorite person to deal with in Hero Debut?
GB: My roommates share my dreams of movie-making and appreciate my writing skills, so it’s fun to work together on projects like the upcoming 48-hour film competition. They are also joining me at Safety Academy to support my interest in Karson. Charlie is his not-so-subtle self where matchmaking is involved, and Kai still has a grudge against the law enforcement officer for pulling a gun on him when “rescuing” me, but they do their best.
CC: LOL. I’m so glad that we’ll get to see Kai again. It was awesome to watch him grow so much in Husband Auditions. So now lets get to the juicy part of a rom-com. Tell me about Karson, your love interest?
GB: Intense. He crosses his arms and grunts a lot. For some reason he doesn’t want others to know how much he cares, but I can tell that’s why he took this job with the police department. And he’s a good teacher, which I know isn’t easy.
CC: Grumpy heroes are so much fun. I actually think they might be some of my favorites. I cannot WAIT until Hero Debut releases and I get to see all the trouble you cause him. It’s going to be fun!
Readers, don’t miss your chance to see meet Gemma and read the scene where Gemma first met Karson in Husband Auditions. I’ve put the blurbe below Angela’s bio. 🙂 You don’t want to miss it, and you can read my review of Husband Auditions here.
About Angela Ruth Strong:
Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been a finalist for the Christy, won the Cascade Award, and become Amazon best-sellers. Her book Finding Love in Big Sky filmed as a movie in Montana and aired on UPtv in 2022. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho and blogs regularly for My Book Therapy..
Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong
How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?
In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she’s handed a strange present at the latest wedding–a 1950s magazine article of “ways to get a husband”–she decides there’s nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can’t get any more single, can she?
Her brother’s roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love–Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.
When Meri Me debuts, it’s an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she’s looking for . . .
With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for.