Happy Friday Book Lovers! I’m excited to have Varina Denman with us here on the blog today about her newest novel, Looking Glass Lies.
About Looking Glass Lies
A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.
For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.
But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.
The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last
About Varina Denman
Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.
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Be sure to check out the Looking Glass Lies Pinterest Board
Becky: What is your inspiration for writing Looking Glass Lies?
Varina: I’ve struggled with low self-image for years, and I finally decided to write a story that might help other women. But of course, when I was writing it, I grew right along with the characters.
Becky: Who was your favorite character to write about?
Varina: Shanty Espinosa was so much fun to write. She’s a lovely African American and Asian mix, and she’s plump and happy. She spends most of her time building other people up, and she hosts an anti-body-shame blog called Shame on Shanty. Everyone in the book loves her, and it seems like most of my readers feel the same way.
Becky: Who was the hardest character to write about?
Varina: Hmm. That’s a difficult question because there are several female characters that were challenging, but I suppose Cecily Ross was the hardest, simply because she’s the main character, and her story is more in-depth. Cecily is experiencing dangerously low self-image following her divorce from an emotionally abusive husband. With Shanty’s help, along with her therapist, her father, and another friend named Nina, Cecily works to overcome her negative feelings and starts to heal.
Becky: How would you define self-image or body-shaming?
Varina: Self-image is the perception we have of ourselves, and body-shaming is negative actions of others that may cause us to feel poorly about ourselves.
Becky: What are you hoping for women who read your book to pick up on and experience?
Varina: Most women have self-doubt at some time in their lives, especially about their appearance. My hope is that Looking Glass Lies helps them to see beyond the mirror and believe that they are beautiful, inside and out.
Becky: I’m interested in learning how we can get involved in spreading awareness about this issue. What are some ways we can go about doing that?
Varina: For me, the most important thing has been to change the way I think about myself and others. And then to watch what I say … to myself and others. It’s very important that we stand up for people when we see an offense occurring, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Odds are, it’s not insignificant to the person on the receiving end of the shaming.
Becky: I’ve been seeing the #forNina hashtag floating around the internet. What does this mean?
Varina: Nina Gutierrez is a character from Looking Glass Lies. She’s a quiet college girl who experiences some fairly damaging body shaming, and she must decide how she’s going to handle it, negatively or positively. At one point in the novel, she has something written on her wrist, so many readers are posting pictures of #forNina written on their own wrists as a declaration that ALL WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL.
Becky: What are some resources you’d recommend for someone who is seeking help from the struggle of self-image?
Varina: I’m a huge reader, so my favorite resources are books: Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, by Dr. Caroline Leaf; Taming our Gremlin, by Richard Carson; Every Heart Restored, by Fred and Brenda Stoeker; Untangled, by Carey Scott.
Becky: Tell us a little bit about Shame on Shanty. Who is she and how does she play a major role in the novel?
Varina: In the novel, Shanty is a blogger, and in the real world, she has her own blog as well. Shame on Shanty was launched in March with the tagline “A Safe Place to Discuss Shame, Insecurity, and all Those Other Mixed-up Feelings.” The fictitious character, Shanty Espinosa, hosts guest bloggers twice a week. In addition to body-shaming, the blog focuses on many other women’s issues. Visit Shanty at https://shameonshanty.com
Becky: What kind of research did you have to do for Looking Glass Lies?
Varina: Over the past ten years or so, I’ve read many self-help books that were beneficial in my personal self-esteem journey, so when I sat down to write Looking Glass Lies, I mostly just needed to refresh my memory and organize my thoughts. However, I did quite a bit of research on Palo Duro Canyon, where the story is set, as well as the geography of the Texas Panhandle. I also researched biking because one of my characters is an avid biker, and his favorite trails wind up and down the canyon walls.
Becky: Varina, thank you so much for stopping by and talking with us about Looking Glass Lies. I enjoyed having you on the blog.