How much of the book is based in real life?
Very little except the setting. From Main Street to the doctor’s office to the bridge where Jake and Brooklyn meet up a couple of times, many of the locations are inspired by my hometown. We have a nice Main Street district—a movie was even shot here once—with a popular coffee shop across the street from an historic bank building. In the book, Hillside Coffee’s location and the feel of the Main Street were based on this, but the interior of the coffee shop is actually mostly based on a different local coffee shop. (I do like coffee…) I get a kick out of it when people from my city see the cover and ask if that’s our town in the background. It’s not, but Pelican Book Group nailed the setting in that picture!
What makes this book special to you?
I first started drafting this novel when I was just out of high school. In the 17 years since, I’ve written a number of other manuscripts, but I kept circling back to Justice. One constant throughout all the drafts was the element of how a sexual assault would impact a friendship like Jake and Brooklyn’s. However, when I first wrote it, there was no pregnancy. When the idea to include one first occurred to me, I dismissed it, but I also could never end the story in a satisfying way. Years later, I scrapped everything but the characters I already knew so well and the basic premise, and I added the pregnancy. The story came together after that.
What message do you want to convey to the reader?
I didn’t set out to convey a particular message or even to write a story about the themes of justice and forgiveness—the word “justice” wasn’t even in the original title! Instead, I set out to write a story about Jake and Brooklyn, who’ve been stuck in the friendzone for years—much to Jake’s chagrin. He’s about to risk their friendship by revealing his true feelings before learning Brooklyn is pregnant by another man. When revealed, the circumstances of her pregnancy are even more heart-wrenching than Jake first assumes. He longs for justice while Brooklyn focuses on obtaining healing through forgiveness.
Soon, the two methods of coping diverge. Believing they should coincide because God loves both justice and forgiveness, the couple recognizes either Jake’s view of justice is faulty or Brooklyn’s understanding of forgiveness is unrealistic.
Can any wrong be forgiven? Does forgiveness mean giving up on justice? Their relationship’s future hinges on the answers, so these themes are woven throughout the novel, and I changed the title to reflect that.
Though Justice started as an effort to simply tell a good story, I hope readers come away with the message that we’re not only expected to forgive. As beloved children of the God who is in complete control of justice, we are free to forgive. God will take care of everything we cannot, and even in the most unjust situations, He is with us and is working all things for the good of His children.
What do you do when you're not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m probably walking my dogs. I have two seventy-pound rescues. The hound, especially, starts begging for a walk if I try to write through the time when I normally take them out. I also enjoy spending time with my family, taking long road trips with my husband, and doing occasional arts and crafts—anything from crochet to refinishing furniture to painting a canvas.
How can readers connect with you?
I’m active on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EmilyConradAuthor), Instagram (www.instagram.com/emilyrconrad) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/emilyrconrad) and love to hear from readers! I also blog and have free short stories on my website. Visit www.emilyconradauthor.com.