Monday, March 12, 2012




It is exciting to learn about your new book Second Chance, Eileen, and I'm sure others are anxious to read what you will be telling us about your story.  I like the cover, by the way, and it appeals to my interest if I were to see it displayed in a book store.  So, without further ado, let me begin by asking you if there is a reason you thought of the subject idea for this book in particular, or I'll ask that question a bit differently.....

How did you come up with the idea for Second Chance?

The seed of inspiration developed from a desire to build awareness about inner city teen ministries, and specifically Straight Street of the Roanoke Valley where I live and where my son-in-law and daughter serve full-time.

What is Second Chance about?

Second Chance is the poignant story of middle age, surprising friendships, and unexpected places.

Mave Robertson, a recent empty nester, wants the fire back in her marriage, but her husband Jerry remains aloof. Is he having an affair? Midlife crisis? When a neighbor suggests Mave “get a life,” she accepts the challenge and volunteers at an inner city teen ministry where she’s thrown into a culture of drugs, gangs, and unwed teen moms. She soon discovers someone she can help, but might he also be the cure for both her stale marriage and her crumbling relationship with her father.

Dareece Jackson, a teen from the projects, wants something in Mave’s purse . . . and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Why did you pick the setting you did?

Second Chance is set in Roanoke, VA, where I’ve lived for almost 23 years. I had no idea how prevalent both drugs and gang activity are in my own cozy little city until I did some research.  Often both pursuits are born out of a need to belong, to be significant, and to be secure, all basic human needs. Sadly, drugs and gang life lead participants down a dead-end street, resulting in danger both to themselves, their families, and others. My hope is that readers will gain awareness and be moved to compassionate action for lost and hurting teens in their own hometowns.

What are some themes addressed in Second Chance?

One of the themes Second Chance addresses is purpose in the second half of life. My central character, Mave, spends her adult life rearing her children. Now that they’re grown and out of the home, she wonders if her best days are over. Her neighbor helps her see that she can enjoy midlife if she’ll get involved in something bigger than herself. Maintaining a meaningful purpose in every season of life is central to our well-being, and thus a powerful theme in Second Chance.

Another theme is redemption. Mave, her husband Jerry, and Dareece come together on the common ground of needing to forgive their fathers for past abuse. This theme bridges social and economic status, helping the reader realize that whether s/he lives in a middle class neighborhood or the projects, s/he can still struggle with some of the same fundamental issues in life. 

How has this story touched you on a personal level?

In some ways, writing Second Chance was my way of processing entrance into the empty nest. I had homeschooled my three daughters for 20 years. I knew there would be an end to that period in my life, but when it happened, I wasn’t totally prepared. Several life events occurred at the same time: two daughters’ weddings in one year, two first grandbabies the next year, my mother’s death, my husband starting a new business. I felt overwhelmed. Looking back, I should (ah, the wonderful should), have taken a personal retreat of some sort to rest, regroup, and reflect on the “what’s next?” question.

On another level, Second Chance is close to my heart because I wanted to honor and help promote Straight Street.

Do you have any tips/suggestions for moms as they approach the empty nest?

Foster a healthy, growing relationship with your husband. This is vital, so that when you enter the empty nest season, you won’t be sitting across the table from your husband, thinking, Who is this guy? Investing in your marriage now will pay off down the road. I encourage couples to pencil in a weekly date night on the calendar, even if it simply means putting the kids to bed early and sitting on the sofa together with a bowl of popcorn.
Second Chance highlights this throughout the story as Mave moves from suspicion about her husband, Jerry, to determination to love him. This tension plays out in often humorous ways, and one of them involves popcorn!
Develop a friendship with two or three trusted women whom you allow to speak into your life as you grow older. Mave doesn’t always appreciate what her friend, Trish, has to share. In fact, at times she’s downright jealous of the woman. But when all’s said and done, she respects her and values her input.
Know that God has a purpose for you in every season of life. Begin now to foster your own interests apart from your family.  Mine is writing, and the Lord has used this platform in my life to do what He’s put in my heart: Share His love and forgiveness with others. You may have to search for your purpose, but it’s there—some cause or people group that you’re passionate about. Mave discovers her purpose unexpectedly, but she then takes steps to pursue fulfilling that purpose.

What do you want readers to take away after they close the pages of Second Chance?

In the words of Robert Browning: That the best is yet to come. Midlife doesn’t mean life is over. When I turned 50 and so many life events were coming at me, I urged my husband, Chuck, to dance with me. I craved something new and different. Something to call our own. Now, you have to know Chuck. Dancing is as far from his personality as you can get. But in his wisdom, he humored me. He even bought me a dance instruction video that Christmas. Now, six years later, we still take an occasional dance class. Sometimes, if you peek in our living room window at night, you’ll see us practicing a few steps in front of the fire place.
Also, I want readers to take away awareness and action. Find something or someone else they can serve. Serving others breeds joy and fulfillment because that’s the way God has wired us.

What book are you working on next?

I’m currently juggling three projects, but the next novel is titled Laughing with Lily. And the teaser: An unexpected encounter with a person from her past launches a special education teacher on a quest for answers.

Where can readers find you and your book?

My books are available for order through bookstores and online.

Eileen, I can personally relate to many feelings you described overwhelming Mave.  She certainly went from the kettle to the fire with problems she developed when she sought new solutions to fill up  her "empty nest" syndrome.  You have illustrated a very clear picture about the highlights of  your story without giving away any teasers.  You definitely have left me wanting more.  I can't wait to get my copy of Second Chances and devour a great read.  Reading an interesting page turner is like comfort food to me.  The title of your novel in the works,  Laughing with Lily, is quite intriguing and we can all look forward to another good story soon.  Thank you for giving a thorough synopsis of Second Chances, that speaks to many readers today who will empathize with Mave.  You have delighted me with your interview and please come back when you are ready to tell us about Laughing with Lily.  You have been blessed especially talented by the Lord with a creative mind and I will pray for the success of your writing future.  It's been a joy getting to know another sister in the Lord.  

Friends, below is a trailer of a news interview with Eileen Rife on Second Chances.  I urge you to watch and enjoy.

Have a great week,

An alumna of Christian Writers Guild and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Eileen has published several non-fiction books, written newsletters, a marriage column, and over ten church dramas. Her byline has appeared in magazines, such as Discipleship Journal, Marriage Partnership, Mature Living, Christian Home & School, Drama Ministry, and ParentLife, as well as other print and online publications. Her fiction works include Journey to Judah, Restored Hearts, and Chosen Ones in the Born for India trilogy, and a stand-alone novel, Second Chance.  She and husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the States and overseas. Her favorite pastime in this season of life is dancing with hubby, spending time with her daughters and sons-in-law, and playing with her six grandchildren.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the interview. Your book sounds like a great read and I like your cover too. I look forward to getting a chance to read it.

    Glenda Parker