Good morning everyone! A few weeks back I was contacted by Cathy at Pauline Books asking if I would be interested in participating in their Back-to-School Blog Tour. I was very surprised to say the least because I don’t consider myself a “big-time” blogger, but I decided to go ahead and participate as the books looked very interesting.
I was given the opportunity to interview author Britt Leigh about her new book Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean. I haven’t had the chance to finish reading yet, but what I’ve read so far has been great! If you have a young teen girl, or will at some point in the future, I’d recommend looking into this book. I can honestly say, that even though my daughter is currently 5-years-old, I’ve already contemplated her going through those teen years and I’d love for her to have a wonderful resource to walk along with her.
Pauline Books has graciously offered to give away two autographed copies of Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean to my readers. Please leave a comment on this post; I’ll use random.org to pick the numbers and that number comment will be the winner. Giveaway will remain open through Thursday, October 9th and winners will be chosen Friday, October 10th.
1) Could you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your background in religion and writing?
Hello! I’ve been Catholic all my life, but I really started owning my faith in college. I’ve also been a writer all my life, but again, didn’t get serious about the craft until I was an adult. I love learning, especially learning through reading, so I absorbed as much as I could. Part of my creative process is to constantly learn–I’ve earned a certificate in catechesis, received an MFA in Writing for Children, became trained as a chastity speaker, and occasionally blog for young women. Though some foundational principles and values of the faith—love, hope, faith—have always informed my writing, it was a few years into both “vocations” that I really put my writing and faith together.
2) You’ve recently published your first novel, congratulations! But you’ve also done some other writings geared towards teens, how did you first become interested in writing specifically for young women?
Thank you! I once heard that authors are continually writing the same story over and over again–exploring the different angles, deepening their understanding of it. If that’s true, my story is love. And the teen years are when we all get some start in exploring and deepening our understanding of the different aspects of love–whether it be romantic love, family love, friend love or loving and valuing yourself. Plus, teen voices, while very diverse, have pure heart and emotion at their core, which is really fun to write out.
3) I find it fascinating that you are able to bring up concepts of ToB and make it manageable for young people. What prompted you to tackle such a complex topic and weave it into this book?
I believe that ToB and the principles of Love and Responsibility (written by Saint John Paul II before his papacy) are incredibly important illuminations on what the Church teaches and why. I also believe that they can be made accessible to the people who need it most—teens. Growing up, I read widely, but never came across anything that championed the values I knew to be important. We’re fortunate now to have writers and speakers like Jason Everet, Leah Darrow, Chris Stefanick, and Sarah Swafford. There’s also a catechetical program–ToB for Teens, but there are very few fiction novels that really touch on these issues from a positive, Catholic perspective. And teens love novels. So I wrote one!
4) Put aside for a moment that you’re the author of the book, tell us one reason you would recommend Ten Commandments of Kissing Gloria Jean to young women and/or their parents?
#1: The world is trying to tell our daughters (and sons!) that lust is love, but as we all know, it’s not. The teenage years are the best time for them to form the correct understanding of authentic love and why Catholics believe what we do about the dignity of the human person, sex, and relationships.
5) Do you have any suggestions for further reading on this topic—either for the young women or their parents?
For teen girls, I recommend they follow the blogs of Sarah Swafford, Jackie Angel (Francois), and Maura Byrne of Made in His Image Ministry. LifeTeen and Chastityproject.com feature some good articles and Q&As about topics teens either hear about from friends or on the news/social media. If your teen or tween isn’t dealing with these topics yet, you are their greatest resource. I don’t have specific book titles to name, but I can offer suggestions for what to look for: evaluate their novels’ content. Is the dignity of the human person upheld? Does it respect Catholic teaching on love, sex, and relationships? Does it avoid tackling too much, too fast and too soon?
For parents, I suggest Edward Sri’s Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility. I also strongly recommend any resource that aids in understanding Love and Responsibility, if not the text itself. This work is the driving force in my work. Dr. Richard Spinello’s Understanding Love and Responsibility: A Companion to Karol Wojtyla’s Classic Work will help them unpack the sometimes dense language and interestingly constructed passages of the original. I also encourage parents to be aware of what their teens are reading/watching/saying/hearing and to have conversations about it all.
Finally, for the whole family, keep up your faith practice: Mass, the sacrament of Reconciliation, prayer, and study of Catholic teaching.
Britt Leigh is the author of the teen novel Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean and the foreword for Teens Share the Mission. Both books are published by Pauline Books & Media. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting into College, and kidsfaithgarden.com. She holds a Certificate of Catechesis from the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization (Boston) and a certificate in chastity/abstinence training through the Center for Relationship Education. She blogs at brittleighbooks.com and for young women at proverbialgirlfriend.wordpress.com.
Thanks so much to Britt for doing the interview! ***Don’t forget*** Leave a comment for your chance to win one of two autographed copies of Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean.