I am so very excited to share my review of the upcoming novel, “Bayou, Whispers from the Past” and a recent interview I did with author Lauren Faulkenberry and
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway also to win a copy of Lauren’s novella, “Back to Bayou Sabine.”
BAYOU, WHISPERS FROM THE PAST: A NOVEL,
PUBLISHER: VELVET MORNING PRESS;
OCTOBER 10, 2016
Synopsis: New love put to the test in the sultry bayous of Louisiana…
Thirty-one-year-old Enza has finally found love with sexy fireman Jack, and through him, she has gained a family, years after her mother abandoned her. With her friend Kate in town, Enza’s looking forward to her first Christmas in Bayou Sabine, surrounded by those she cares about most. But instead, the holiday ends in turmoil. One guest puts someone Enza loves—and her relationship with Jack—in danger, and another guest brings news that makes Enza question the circumstances surrounding her mother’s departure.
Enza, fleeing Jack and the drama in Bayou Sabine, sets off with Kate on a road trip à la Thelma & Louise. But will she find answers about her mother’s disappearance and the strength to accept the truth? And will she return home in time to save everything that’s important to her?
Review: Once again, Lauren Faulkenberry has mesmerized me with one of her Bayou novels. “Bayou, Whispers from the Past,” continues Enza and Jack’s story as they have restored Vergie’s house and started their own house flipping business. This time, we learn more about Enza’s mother Martine and get to know more of Jack’s family. Kate is also more prominent in this novel, visiting Enza and Jack in Bayou Sabine for Christmas, which results in more of Andre also! Jack and Enza are still in love as much as ever, but face difficult moments in this novel, testing the strength of their love and commitment to one another. Jack’s cousin, Lucille, introduces to a new and unlikable character, Toph, who adds plenty of drama and conflict to the story.
Enza is one of those characters that just pulls you in, and as a reader, it’s heartbreaking to think about when her story will come to an end. She is such a realistic and relatable character, as are all of Faulkenberry’s characters in this series, that you feel as if you know them. Jack is different in this novel, but I still adore him. We’re shown a different side of him this time, not necessarily negative, but making him seem more real rather than a fictional character. He’s still his gorgeous, wonderful self, but there are glimpses of his hurt and angry side also. I loved that Kate was so much a part of this novel, and can’t wait to read more about her and Andre. After interviewing Lauren, I learned that Enza’s story is not yet over, which makes my heart so happy! Hopefully, we will learn more about what Enza’s father tries to share with her during this novel!
I feel like I could carry on forever about this book, but there are twists and turns from the beginning and I don’t want to spoil anything for any readers! Lauren’s descriptive writing paints such an amazing picture as you read her novels. Everything sort of comes to life, making you forget that you’re reading a book. Although not at all difficult to read, her writing is on a somewhat higher level than most, where the words just pull you into an incredible story with a startling amount of realism. I adore her novels that wonderfully represent women’s fiction with a touch of romance, plenty of depth, and just the right amount of suspense. If you have not yet started this series, you are missing out on an incredible author with amazing stories to share.
Learn more about Lauren Faulkenberry by visiting her web page.
See my previous reviews of “Back to Bayou Sabine,” and “Bayou My Love.”
Author Interview with Lauren Faulkenberry
1.The Bayou series is absolutely amazing! What inspired you to write about Enza and Jack?
Thank you! That is so kind. This book started as a dare. Years ago, when I was in graduate school, a friend and fellow writer dared me to write a romance novel because he thought I was shy about writing sex scenes in the other novel I was working on. Of course, I had to pick up that gauntlet, so I banged out a draft to prove I could do it. I was just writing to have fun, so I combined some of my favorite things: firemen, feisty headstrong women, voodoo, mystery, humor, and romance. I’ve always had a soft spot for Louisiana and its eclectic culture, so I built the story around that setting (I have to say, Dennis Quaid and The Big Easy struck a chord with me back in the day.) I finished my grad program, set that manuscript aside, and forgot about it for a while as I wrote in a more literary style. But that book haunted me. I loved the characters and the premise, so I reworked it into a book that delved deeper into questions of family and redemption and gave it a more complex plot. Once I had the characters in mind, the writing became a what-if game for me: what if a woman inherited a house and found a man living in it? What if she found that man irresistible? What if an odd little romantic Louisiana town unleashed all kinds of drama in order to push them together and pull them apart?
2. Have you spent much time in that part of the country, or were just intrigued by the idea of Louisiana and voodoo?
I’ve always been enamored with the rich cultures of Louisiana. It’s a vibrant place, full of intrigue and this surreal combination of beauty and melancholy. I haven’t spent as much time there as I’d like, but each time I visit, I see something new in the landscape and the people who inspire me. I grew up in South Carolina, which is similar in some ways, so certain moods and scenes weren’t hard to create. I could draw from my own childhood for certain descriptions of landscape, for example, but Louisiana, just like any place, has particular traditions and histories that are all its own. It’s a place that has always held a certain magic and mystery for me, so when I went on my last trip there, with this novel in mind, I paid more attention to the parts that really struck a chord with me.
3. I am so excited about the next installment in this series, “Bayou Whispers From the Past!” will this finish up the Bayou series or can we expect more?
Bayou, Whispers of the Past is the third installment in this series, so it ties up some loose ends, for sure. We learn more about Enza’s mother and her whereabouts, and Enza has to decide what parts of the past she’ll forgive and what parts she’ll carry with her. Her story’s not over though, so we’ll definitely see her in another book. I’m a big fan of linked stories, so I’m planning to follow other characters from Bayou Sabine as the series progresses. Their lives are entangled now, so the cast of characters will appear in later books, with other characters as the focus. (Hint: the next book will follow Kate and Andre.) I have plans for at least one more book with Enza as the central character, but I’m imagining exploring the backgrounds of some of the other folks we’ve encountered, too.
4. You have also written a short story, “Beneath Our Skin.” Does that fit into the Bayou series, or is it something all it’s own?
“Beneath Our Skin” is a standalone short story (AND it’s the free book you get when you sign up for my newsletter at laurenfaulkenberry.com.) I wrote it a few years ago, inspired by a conversation I overheard in the hallway in the school where I was teaching. One student was telling another that she was planning a “fake wedding” because she’d already eloped and knew her mother would be devastated because she wanted her to have a huge fancy wedding. I heard about thirty seconds of the conversation before they scurried to their class, but that idea stuck in my brain for days as I imagined going through such a charade for the sake of someone you love—or someone you need approval from. It got me thinking about the secrets we keep from those we love, and the lengths we go to when saving face and sparing feelings. I wrote the story as an entry into the Family Circle Fiction Contest, and to my shock and delight, it won first place. Part of me has been wanting to expand it into a novel. Like Enza and Jack, those characters were fun to write: they stayed with me, begging for more. I sometimes think about that storyline in certain moments and wonder about writing that novel around it.
5. Are you working on any other novels separate from the Bayou series?
I am. I have two other novels that I’ll write a couple more drafts of to finish. They’re completely different in some ways, in terms of setting and character, but they have similar themes. One is set in New Mexico and starts out on a train. It begins with a college-aged gal who sets out to meet her dying grandfather for the first time in over a decade. It’s a story about what we sacrifice for love, and how we mend the broken ties that come from a lifetime of keeping secrets. The other is set in South Carolina and is more of a love story that goes awry between an artist and a chemist. I hope to finish them in the next year or so, but I’ve still got the Bayou series to continue, too!
6. If the Bayou series were made into movies, who would be your choice of actors/actresses for your main characters?
This is such a fun thing to think about. As I was writing the original novel (seven years ago), I had certain actors in mind, and sometimes I thought of multiple actors for each character, sort of trying them on like you might try on a dress. Sometimes certain flaws or strengths made me think of other actors or characters (Jack first made me think of Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy, obviously. But Jack was really a little more rugged, like Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine days.) After a while, I saw Alex O’Loughlin in a movie and thought, “Aha. The perfect combination.” And then he was the only face I could put with Jack. Lauren Graham was my Enza: no contest. I pictured Josh Holloway as Remy—mainly thanks to his Sawyer in “Lost.” They were all about the right ages a few years ago, and in my head, those actors haven’t aged at all. I still picture those three as my cast, but I know you steadfast readers are doing the math and saying they’re all a little too far past 30 to ring true. However, if Hollywood came calling, I would happily adjust the ages of the characters in my book for the greater good, so that these three could still be age-appropriate (because we all know that the writer gets to choose her cast. Always.) I mean, that’s a can’t-lose trio, right? (And if anyone wants to make this movie, you’ll be my hero and I’ll be doing the happy dance until I’m forty.)
7. Writing isn’t your only passion, can you tell my readers what else you love to do?
I’m also a printmaker and book artist. I fell in love with letterpress printing years ago, and that’s actually how I first started making books. Eons ago, I printed a children’s ABC book with linoleum block prints, colored with watercolor. I set the metal type, used wood block letters, and printed the whole thing on a Vandercook press. Later it was published by Novello Festival Press out of North Carolina. I’m a geek about printing and have a couple of small printing presses that I still use to make artist’s books. I usually carve out enough time to make one edition of an artist’s book each year, and some of them end up in special collections libraries, or with collectors who are into handmade books. Books have always been a huge part of my life, whether I was writing stories, novels, or printing limited-edition handmade books. I love the tactile quality of woodcuts, of setting metal type, and binding books by hand.
8. What advice would you give to someone who dreams of becoming a romance writer, but isn’t sure where to start?
Never stop writing. Never stop reading. Write the bad first drafts. Get the words out. Find your tribe of other writers. Go to the workshops, retreats, and conferences. Carve out time to write. Make time for yourself and your passion. Watch sunsets. Send thank you cards. Talk to strangers—sometimes they have the best stories. I could suggest books that helped me: Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Charles Baxter’s “Burning Down the House,” Anne Lammott’s “Bird by Bird.” Everyone’s needs are different of course, but for me, being in a constant cycle of reading and writing has helped me tremendously.
Also, write the book you want to read. Whoever first said that is a genius. I’ve read my share of romance novels, but probably not as many as you think. When I read, I’m first and foremost looking for a good story, strong female characters, and a masterful use of language. I love a book with a unique voice and a quirky plot, and I certainly like humor, suspenseful elements, and a little bit of a love story. I think when you’re starting out, it helps to read in your genre to see what’s out there and how you can be different, but reading all kinds of genres I think has helped me create a multi-layered approach to a story. It’s helped me to take all the things I like from different genres and combine those elements in a way that helps me tell my stories in the most energetic and interesting way that I can.
9. I know it’s difficult to name your favorite book, but what is one of your top 5 favorite books ever?
That is SO HARD, but I’ll give you my top 5 from recently:
- One Foot in Eden, by Ron Rash
- How to Breathe Underwater, by Julie Orringer
- The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
- White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
- You, by Caroline Kepnes
Enter to win 1 of 10 e-copies of “Back to Bayou Sabine”
Synopsis: Voodoo, family secrets, and a mysterious stranger…
When Enza Parker’s mother abandoned her and her father fifteen years ago, Enza abruptly stopped spending summers with her grandmother in Louisiana. Her father removed all traces of the two women from Enza’s life.
Now, thirty-one-year-old Enza is drawn back to Bayou Sabine to attend her grandmother’s funeral. In the bayou, memories surge forth, and questions about her past and her family’s intentions flood Enza’s mind. And an encounter with an enigmatic young man offers a hint of what her future may bring—if she doesn’t turn her back on her roots.
A prequel to the novel Bayou My Love. If you like the heart and story of novels by Emily Giffin such as The One & Only, but also enjoy the steam of Bella Andre and Melissa Foster’s romance novels, this sexy Southern romance is for you!