Thursday, November 7, 2019

Interview with chick lit author Tricia Downing

Novelist Tricia Downing is in the hot seat today. She’s chatting with me about her new chick lit/romance, Chance for Rain.

During her virtual book tour, Tricia will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner's choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Paralympian, Speaker, Author, Disability Advocate

On September 17, 2000, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Her life was changed forever, but Tricia’s competitive spirit and zest for life continued on. Making the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship twice. Additionally, she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tricia’s professional life has been immersed in sports as she earned a master’s degree in Sport Management in 1995 and worked at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games.

She has received many sports accolades, including the USA Triathlon Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year (2003), Sportswomen of Colorado—Inspiration (’03), Triathlon (’05), Hall of Fame (’12) Awards, the 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the 2008 Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority.

As a community leader and disability advocate, she was a member of the 2013 class of the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction. She also received the 2019 Inspiration Award from Craig Hospital for outstanding community contribution from a Craig Hospital “graduate.” (Craig is a world-renowned spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital) Tricia has truly excelled despite her life-altering injury.

In addition to her sports pursuits, Tricia has taken an active leadership role in her community as a peer mentor to others experiencing spinal cord injuries, she founded Camp Discovery (and subsequently The Cycle of Hope non-profit) dedicating 10 years to helping female wheelchair users gain confidence and self-esteem through a yearly sports and fitness retreat. Additionally, she serves on the board of USA Shooting, which is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of shooting.

Tricia published her memoir: Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility in June 2010, with the second edition released in January 2017. Her first fiction novel, Chance for Rain, was published in August 2018.

Welcome, Tricia! Please share a little bit about your current release.
Chance for Rain is a novel about Rainey May Abbott, who at thirty-two years old is like many other women her age. She is on a quest for the man who will love, appreciate and complete her. But underneath her sassy and sarcastic exterior is a woman who is afraid this may be an impossible journey, fearing there will never be a man who actually sees her. Instead, she is filled with doubt, believing she will continually be perceived for her circumstances, not for her spirit.

Is it possible to find love without revealing one’s true self? Rainey wishes this were so, but deep down she believes it isn’t. Can she make a man fall for her so deeply in an online romance, that when they meet face-to-face, he doesn’t notice the elephant in the room? That elephant being the wheelchair that has been part of Rainey’s existence since the night of the car accident, which claimed the lives of her mother and sister and paralyzed her from the waist down.

Readers will find Rainey both tragic and endearing as they discover what it’s truly like to be labeled different. Although Rainey is smart, beautiful and an elite-level Paralympic athlete, her insecurities didn’t come from her imagination. To live with a disability is often challenging, sometimes comical, but always present. Rainey simply wants someone to see beyond her chair and love her for who she is. But, to find love, she will also need to grow and learn to accept herself.

What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration for the book came from both my life and the lives of the many women I have met who have disabilities. I was paralyzed in a cycling accident when I was 31. Just at the age when my friends were getting married, having children, getting settled in their careers, I was learning skills for the first time again—getting around in a wheelchair, driving with hand controls, figuring out how to take care of my new physical situation. I had moments when I wondered if I would ever find a relationship. Would I find a guy who loved me despite my wheelchair?

Excerpt from Chance for Rain:
“Okay, you have a choice,” Natalie says as she begins on one of her famous lists of options. “A – You can either choose to love yourself so that someone else will love you or B – you can wallow in self-pity for the rest of your life. But I can’t sit by and watch you get in the way of your own happiness. I will always be your best friend, but there is so much you’re missing by avoiding a true, intimate relationship. You’re in your thirties for heaven’s sake, and the last time you even tried dating was in college. Sure, it’s hard to open yourself up and be vulnerable. It’s scary to let someone in so completely that they know your most intimate thoughts. But it’s a miraculous thing to know you don’t have to explain every little detail in your mind, and he gets you anyway. It’s fulfilling to be loved for exactly what you bring to the table, knowing your partner isn’t looking for one thing different. But I can’t make you want it. I can’t make you do it. Someday, though, I think you’ll look back and regret it if you don’t at least try. Being single and free certainly has its perks, but ending up lonely and alone? You deserve more.”

It is such a well-thought-out speech there is little I can say in protest. I want to mouth off and tell her that she is being a drama queen, but the truth is, she’s right. When I lay on my deathbed one day, will I wish I had someone beside me to hold my hand? Will I wish I would have taken the risk to love and be loved? Although her nagging words are not new to me, I still choke on their bitter sting. I don’t disagree. I only wish I believed it was so simple. But—it’s complicated. For a moment, I am speechless.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am passionate about bringing more characters with disabilities to the forefront, so my next project is also a love story, featuring a character with a disability. In addition, I am doing research for a second memoir. This one about my adoption at five months of age.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think this novel made me feel like a writer for the first time. Although I previously wrote my memoir, at the time I wasn’t committed to writing more books. I simply felt like someone who had written a book, rather than a writer. But I found through Chance for Rain, how much I enjoyed imagining story lines, and characters and learning about the development of plot. I am now willing to own the title of writer and hope to publish many more novels.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like?
I do not write full time. As much as I wish I could afford, financially, to do that, I don’t think it would serve me or my creativity. I feel the same way about athletics. I’d love to do it full time, but if I did, I would lose my competitive spirit and it would become something I had to do. I have so many goals and interests, I feel it’s best for me to do a little bit of several activities to satisfy my need for variety.

Currently, I am actively training for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, working part-time for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, motivational speaking and writing. It’s more than a full schedule, but I thrive on keeping busy!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a collection of over 500 notes to myself on my cell phone, where I capture words, phrases, story ideas and more. Anything that pops into my head at any time of day goes in a note. Every once in a while, I have to go back through my phone and see what gems I have stored and what I can begin to write about in my journal on my blog or add to a future book.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It has varied depending on the stage of my life, but I think alternatingly my chosen careers were: sports medicine doctor, athlete, writer, teacher.

You are a paralympian, can you tell us more about this experience?
Ever since I was a kid I have been an athlete. I started in swimming when I was four and had competitive careers in swimming, gymnastics and diving through college. After college, I spent a short time as a couch potato, but made a strong comeback getting involved in cycling, for which I had high hopes. But a head-on collison with a car on a training ride would end that pursuit, as I became instantly paralyzed from the chest down. But with sports as my therapy, I quickly ended up competing again, this time in wheelchair sports—first road racing, then triathlon, had a short stint in rowing, and then when my body started to say no more, I began a new sport—Olympic style target shooting. It was something totally new and foreign to me and, frankly, quite intimidating. I enjoy it for the mental skills it has taught me and the physical challenges that are unlike any other sport I’ve experienced. When I started in 2014, my goal was to try to make the 2020 Paralympic Team in Tokyo, but I was fortunate to make the US Team in 2016 for the Rio Games. I’m now training with the hopes of making my original goal come true—a spot on the 2020 Paralympic team.


Thanks for joining me today, Tricia!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

I appreciate getting to hear about your book. Thank you for sharing!

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great read.

Glenda said...

Sounds like an excellent book!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great interview!

Kim said...

I really like the sound of this book.

Rose-Marie said...

Wow, this does sound like a really great book, and I'm sorry you had the terrible cycling accident, you are doing so many amazing things, what an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

The Paralympic Games sound so cool (sled hockey is my favorite to watch)!


amanda whitley said...

I think this sounds great and i have never read anything like it with the main character in a wheelchair.

Danielle merkle said...

Sounds like a good read