"If You Really Knew Me" by Alison Cheah -- Author Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveway


About the Book

Book: If You Really Knew Me

Author: Alison Cheah

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Release date: December, 2021

Cover full 1101 - If you really knew me_FrontTommy is glad of friendships which make him forget the situation at home. His father’s illness makes his behavior so unpredictable that the whole family must tip-toe around him for fear of becoming the butt of his anger.

Elise wishes her twin sister didn’t think being champion swimmers was an adequate goal for their lives. She has her own dreams to fulfil.

Carrie hides a secret, avoiding other students so nobody will ever find it out. But Tommy and Elise both look to Carrie to save them from their situations.

Until she disappears.

Tommy’s protective instinct kicks in, and Elise reassesses her priorities so she can help keep Carrie safe.

 Author Interview

  1. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

The first long story I wrote was one I had been mulling over for twenty years. I used to lie in bed and tell it to myself while I waited to fall asleep. However, when I finally sat down to write it, it ran away with me. I met some characters who had never appeared in the original telling and whose presence created new plot twists.    

Subsequently, I have realized that without a twenty-year incubation, I need careful plotting to make sure I know where the story is going and how it is going to get there. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t serendipitous moments when a character says or does something that takes the action down an unexpected path. 

  1. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?


As a child I used to experiment with writing stories, and I told my fifth-grade teacher I wanted to be an author. But the physical act of handwriting began to steal my joy in the creation process. 

I made a few false starts in my adult years, and then on February 28th, 2007, I flew home from a visit to my parents in England, knowing that I was leaving my mother in poor health but confident that it was only a matter of time before she was well again. On the plane, something urged me to start writing down that story that had been twenty years in the making. 

My mother passed away nine days later, and in the period of grieving, I came home from work each day and sat down at my computer to pour out my story. When I finished it, I knew this was only the beginning for my writing. 

  1. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

My stories often begin by having a purpose. When a friend commented that she couldn’t find many books with Christian values for her grandsons, I promised to write one for her. Over time, two basic characters emerged—"A Boy and His Dog”—to which, in a flash of inspiration I added “in Alaska.”

If You Really Knew Me and No Longer Orphans grew out of a request for a story about missionaries, but I was anxious to create main characters to whom students could relate. Consequently, the teens you will read about, although not based on real people, were inspired by accounts in prayer letters written by two of my missionary friends. And then I gave my friends small roles as themselves. 

No Longer Orphans and “A Boy and His Dog in Alaska” (working title) are still works in progress. 

  1. Do bits of yourself/friends show up in your characters?

The book I wrote while grieving my mother has one character who is as like her as I could make her given a different set of circumstances of their lives, and the protagonist behaves much as I would have done in the same situation. However, since then, I have tried to remember that not everyone reacts as I would. 

I want to be able to say that my characters are not based on real people, but I’m aware that my whole understanding of humanity depends on what I have encountered, either personally or in my reading. So, I am not surprised when I discover something turning up which reminds me of someone I know.  

  1. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

My favorite time to write is over breakfast with my bowl of oatmeal and multiple cups of tea. In front of me is a bank of windows looking out at the fence which separates us from our neighbor’s house—but not just any fence. This one is a mass of trees and creepers and is beloved by birds, who at that time of morning are singing their morning praises. 

This is my magic time. If I don’t get the creative ink flowing then, it’s much harder to start later. If I do manage to write then, it is likely that I’ll be able to snatch more time during the day, and then it doesn’t matter where I am.

Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

alison-cheah-high resolution 1Alison Cheah worked at Youth for Christ for five years and volunteers with her church youth group. One of her favorite activities is preparing Bible Studies and seeking how to connect the stories of the Bible with her students’ own stories.

As a child she was always to be seen with her nose in a book, and nothing has changed. One of her favorite authors was Patricia St. John. Her characters are people you want to know, and you are rooting for them to overcome their problems, but for Alison, the added dimension was that each person discovers their answers in Jesus. She saw that the faith she had grown up with had applicability in real life.

Her prayer is that this story has the same result for you.


More from Alison

I spent five years working at Youth for Christ with middle school students like Tommy, Carrie, and Elise. They are not based on kids I met, but they are inspired by my experiences then.

My friend and mentor in youth ministry was Anna-Marie Valles who is also a character in Tommy, Carrie and Elise’s story helping them to make sense of some of the questions they have.

We don’t get to know her well in the book, but I had a chat with her recently about youth ministry and here is an extract from that conversation. I think you will enjoy getting to know her better.


Alison: In the story, Elise shares her problems with you. Do you find teens want to talk to an adult about their problems?


AMV: Kids are hungry to be able to unload their stories on people who are willing to listen. I remember in one club a student said that all day, adults were telling him what to do. But club was a space where people were asking him, “How are you feeling? “What are your thoughts on this?” He was shocked.


Alison: You were only eighteen when you started in youth ministry. After all these years, how do you stay current so kids still want to talk with you?


AMV: If you come to kids with a willingness to learn, you become relevant. Say to them, “Tell me what’s going on?” Don’t pretend you have all the answers. I find that has worked for me. “I don’t know your culture like you do. But I’m willing to see through your lens if you’re able to share that with me.”

Age is interesting. I always worried I would age out. At my application interview for seminary I said, “I always thought if I aged out of youth ministry, I’d be a chaplain.” And the professor called me out on that. You never age out because kids still need that safe place where someone is willing to listen.


Alison: The profits from this book will be used to send kids to camp. Why is this important to you?


AMV: Youth ministry is all relational. But trust can take a while to build. The beauty of camps is that you can create a bond in one week that could take two years without.


And at camp they hear the gospel presented in different ways by different speakers. Other people’s creativity and presentation may reach my students in a way that I haven’t been able to.


What saddens me is not everyone can go because camps are costly. My desire is that every student who wants to go will have the opportunity to do so.


For more of this conversation, see alisonrcheah.com

(Interview transcribed by https://otter.ai )

My prayer is that the story of Tommy, Carrie and Elise will be one of those different speakers Anna-Marie talked about, helping kids to begin their own relationship with Jesus.


Thank you.


Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 14

Texas Book-aholic, May 15

Beauty in the Binding, May 16 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, May 16

For Him and My Family, May 17

Inklings and notions, May 18

Blossoms and Blessings, May 19 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, May 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 22

Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Author Interview)

Vicarious Living , May 23

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 25

Guild Master, May 26 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Alison is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.