Author Interview, Book Blitz, Giveaway, Posts

Release Blitz & Giveaway: The First Year

About the Book

The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous
exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree
of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one
couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive – but life has other
ideas.
Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a
trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer
who wants to be known for more than his family’s money. They’re passionate
about their work and each other, but with Andy’s job in jeopardy and Saskia’s
jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.
As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced
to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing
to work to protect it?
 
‘Genevieve Gannon writes with a fresh and funny narrative voice …
chick lit at its very, very best’ Tess Woods, author of Love at First Flight
 

 

‘A clever and entertaining read-into-the-wee-hours-of-morning story
about love, creativity and the things that make us tick. Genevieve Gannon
writes with passion and wit in a story you’ll relate to whether you’ve
struggled through love, art or the wrath of public transport ticket
inspectors.’ Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between
 
Bio
 
Genevieve Gannon is an Australian
journalist and author. She has worked in newsrooms in Canberra, Sydney and
Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in The Age, The Australian, The Guardian
and The Daily Telegraph, among others. Most recently she covered crime in
Melbourne for Australian Associated Press before moving to Sydney to be a
feature writer for The Australian Women’s Weekly.
Her favourite books are We Need To Talk
About Kevin, Middlesex, Atonement, Prep and One Day. She likes Terry’s
Chocolate Oranges and wasabi (not together) and hates mangoes.
Her first book, Husband Hunters, was
published in 2014. The First Year is her third novel.
Twitter: @gen_gannon
Instagram: @gen_gannon

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Author Interview Questions:
 
What
is your new novel about?
The First Year is a novel about a newly-in-love
couple who got married way too fast. Andy Colbrook is a high-flying lawyer with
a snobby family and Saskia Hill is a bolshy jewellery designer whose father has
done several stints in jail. On their honeymoon, Andy offers to support Saskia
so she can quit her day job at a café and devote herself wholly to her art. But
Saskia’s fledgling business is only just recovering from the financial blow it
suffered when her ex-fiance cheated on her then ditched her with the bill for
the wedding, and she is uncomfortable being reliant on her new husband. Tensions
begin to emerge. Things are exacerbated when Andy discovers his law firm is in
financial trouble. Despite their best efforts to keep the flame alive their
marriage begins to suffer. Then Saskia makes a discovery that blows her world
apart. 
 
What
inspired the book?
This one came about slowly. When I sat down
to write my first two novels, the concepts were fully formed in my head. I
rejigged the stories and characters a lot, but when they were finished, they
were how I had imagined them from the beginning. With The First Year, I found
myself unsure what I wanted to do. I had an idea of following a couple
day-by-day through their first year, but I didn’t know what would happen to
them over that time. I thought the concept of the first year of marriage being
the hardest was a good one to explore in a romantic comedy. So I wrote a few
chapters and scene fragments, then I hit a bit of a wall. I knew I wanted Andy
to be a corporate type, and Saskia to be an artist, but I didn’t have much more
detail than that. Then one day I came across an article about a designer who
had made the same discovery Saskia makes in the book. I did a bit of research
and it turns out it is a really common problem. I don’t want to spoil the plot
by revealing the big discovery, but once I had that I knew what I wanted Andy
and Saskia’s story to be.
 
What
makes the main character who they are?
Saskia Hill comes across really brash but
she’s actually quite vulnerable. She loves a man, Andrew Colbrook, who wants to
support her as she builds her business, but the idea of being reliant on him
conflicts with her feminist values. She eventually accepts his offer to back
her financially until she is established, but it never sits right with her and
ultimately is the cause of much tension.
One of my favourite lines in the book comes
when Saskia receives a letter from her mother-in-law addressed to Mr and Mrs
Andrew Colbrook. She has not changed her name and when the letter arrives she
asks of Andy, “What am I? Some sort of subsidiary of you?” I feel like this
sums her up perfectly.
 
Do
you base your characters on real people?
My characters are original creations, but
inevitably I find myself incorporating traits of family and friends. Usually
it’s just a little thing to give the character a ring of authenticity. When
trying to *show* rather than *tell* – something that a lot of writers struggle
with – I find it helpful to think about how real people display their emotions
– the way their postures change, the tone of their voice, what they do with
their hands and eyes. Sometimes I’ll lift a small anecdote (with permission) or
give a sly nod to a friend by including a personal joke. But generally I try to
ensure the characters are wholly their own people.
 
How
long did it take you to write The First Year?
I am often asked this question but this is
the first time I’ve ever been able to answer it properly. For about a year, I
had a few fragments of this story and a vague concept but didn’t know what I
wanted to do with it. Then I made the discovery that revealed the plot to me
and it was all very fast. It took me about three months to write a three
chapter sample, a synopsis and a plot outline. I pitched it to HarperCollins in
November, got the go ahead in December and had completed the manuscript by
June. It was quite a fast process because I had been thinking about the
characters and the supporting players for so long. As is always the case, it
needed some major reworking and I relied heavily on my amazing beta-readers.
But it basically took one year of procrastination and six months of furious
writing.  
 
What
is your typical writing routine?
I used to write at night and on weekends
but now that I live in Sydney I find myself getting up early and writing before
work. I assume that’s because it gets hot and sunny here very early. That being
said, I still try to get some writing in after work. And I can be found most
weekends in a café somewhere with a pile of manuscript pages and a laptop.
People love to ask writers if they are
planners or pantsers. I think I’m a combination of both. I like to have a plot
outline before I begin, but sometimes it is very vague and details emerge – and
characters are created or killed off – as the writing progresses.
 
Where
do you write?
I do a lot of writing at my dining room
table – but I far prefer to write in cafes. It’s not always possible, of course.
Sometimes you have a burst of creative energy at 2am when all the good cafes
are selfishly closed, and realistically it’s just not possible to mainline
lattes for eight hours and a Saturday or Sunday. But my preference is
definitely to write in a café. When I was living in Melbourne I would write a
lot at Milkwood in East Brunswick (try the white beans on toast) or a Minor
Place (more white beans, these come with Dukkah and avocado). Another favourite
is a café called True North in Coburg. They have lovely booths that I like to
spread out in, and do great sandwiches with heaps of vegetarian options.
 
What
book do you wish you had written and why?
This is a complete departure from the type
of fiction I write, but I am in awe of We Need To Talk About Kevin. Lionel
Shriver creates so much tension and complexity. I adore her prose and the way
she uses a million little perfectly phrased observations to make-up the
story.  I love the way she tricks the
reader into thinking they know what is happening, only to discover all is not
as it seems as the narrative slowly reveals itself.
 
Who
are you favourite writers?
This is such a difficult question to answer
because there are so many, and I turn to different writers for different
things. I love Caitlin Moran for the sheer joy she gives me with her hilarious
stories. No less important is the strong feminist message in everything she
does. I really admire Curtis Sittenfeld’s skill as a story-teller, and Gillian
Flynn for the ease with which she spins complex narratives, imbuing her
characters with light and shade. Jeffrey Eugenides remains an all-time
favourite. Whenever I’m asked about my favourite books Middlesex is always at
the top, and his first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was hauntingly,
devastatingly beautiful. Oh, and Michael Chabon for so many reasons, especially
inventiveness.
In terms of my own genre – which I consider
to be a loose grouping of contemporary chick lit with rom-com tendencies –  I LOVE Lauren
Sams
who wrote She’s Having Her Baby and Crazy Busy Guilty. I also can’t go
past fellow HarperCollins authors Tess Woods and Sunni Overend. The Regulars by
Georgia Clark is great fun.
 
Who
is your favourite literary character?
I have racked my brain, trying to come up
with an answer that isn’t a total cliché, but it is a truth universally
acknowledged that Elizabeth Bennett is a sublime literary creation, and has to
be my favourite character. She’s clever, sensitive, witty and warm. She loves
her sister Jane and her friend Charlotte Lucas, and she’s loyal but not without
flaws. She speaks her mind and isn’t intimidated by those who think them better
than she is. At a completely different end of the spectrum is Uncle Oswald, a
recurring character in the short stories of Roald Dahl. Uncle Oswald is a
hilarious, wealthy, horny old man who often finds himself entangled in
pseudo-scientific schemes with hilarious outcomes.
 
What
are you working on at the moment?
Having just finished a book I’m a bit of a
free agent at the moment. I have two ideas that are in the very early stages,
so I’m playing with both of them, thinking about the characters and deciding
which one to commit to. I have just started a new job as a feature writer so I
am finding that at night I’m spending the time I would normally dedicate to
fiction thinking about feature ideas. That being said, I want my next venture
to be a departure from my usual books. Neither of the concepts I’m currently
playing with could be described as romantic comedies. The First Year has parts
set in a court room, which came about because I spent the past few years
covering courts as a journalist and my two new ideas are also inspired in part
by that part of my job.
 
What
would you do if you weren’t a writer?
This one is tricky because writing is both
my hobby (fiction) and my livelihood (journalism). My other hobby is baking, so
perhaps if it all falls in a heap I could retrain as a pastry chef. I have made
a few wedding cakes for friends, and I really enjoy playing with flavour ideas
and pretty shapes. Strangely, when it comes to savoury meals I’m terrible, but
I have mastered cakes.
 
What
are you reading right now?
I just finished Big Little Lies by Liane
Moriarty which I devoured, barely lifting my eyes to draw breath. Liane dazzles
me with her ability to tease and entice. I am also reading Sweet Bitter by
Stephanie Danler. I cheated on Sweet Bitter with Moriarty because I found
myself at the airport without a book and knew I couldn’t go wrong with one of
Liane’s books.
 
Coffee,
wine or something else?
I am completely addicted to coffee. I don’t
drink much wine, unless I’m sharing a bottle at a dinner party or something. If
I’m at a bar I’ll order sloe gin (rocks and lime), a gin and tonic or a
cocktail. Sometimes when it’s really hot I’ll take my laptop to a pub and write
while drinking cider and ice. But generally on those days my preference is a
café and an ice coffee.
 
What
is your favourite social media platform and why?
I am addicted to social media. I love
Instagram and Twitter but for different reasons. In my day job, I work as a
journalist, so I love being able to keep an eye on the issues of the day as
they unfurl on Twitter. I follow major news outlets, journalists I like and
admire, politicians and specialists in my areas of interest. I also follow a
few funny accounts to break it up. I like checking-in on Twitter when I take a
break from work. Instagram is great for book recommendations, food and bar
recommendations, fashion, recipes and just keeping up with what my friends are
doing. I recently moved interstate, so it’s great to be able to see what my
friends have been up to with a few swipes of my phone.
 
Of
all your books, do you have a favourite one?
This is like being asked to choose between
your children! I hate to admit it, but I do have a favourite one. My latest
novel, The First Year, is my third. I think because I had been through the
process twice before it was less daunting and stressful. I had a lot more
confidence and I think it shows in the writing. I also quite like the story. My
previous books were what I’d call caper romances. In both, the protagonists
hatched hair-brained schemes in order to find love. The First Year is a lot
more grounded in reality. The characters’ families and work colleagues play a
great role and I feel like they’re more rounded because of it.
 

 

Author Interview, Posts

Author Interview: Adalina Mae

The other day I posted my review for Adalina Mae’s, “Nothing is Predictable,” and today I am so excited to bring you an interview with the author. I was truly fascinated by this novel so I decided that I must pick her brain a little 🙂 If you missed my review of “Nothing is Predictable,” you can see the review here

predictable

Interview with Adalina Mae 

I loved Zara’s story in “Nothing is predictable. Although a fiction novel, what parallels, if any, are there between you and Zara?

Great question Jennifer, the novel is listed as fiction, however, you can also classify it as Roman a Clef, (novel with a key) There are some true events, most scenes and all characters are fictitious. I can confirm that Zara’s childhood years, unfortunately, are my experiences. The relationship with her father and mother are based on my life.

The humor, sarcasm and wittiness are very much my character disposition. I tend to turn negative emotions into positive ones through my sense of humor. Also, the martial arts skills and business engagements are very much me. I created my wittiness into the character along with some herbs and spices if you know what I mean. Hahaha.

However, since the majority of the story is fictitious, I cannot classify it as a memoir or biography. Because really, it’s not. Only certain elements are.

Have you had the opportunity to travel as much as Zara?

All of Zara’s travels are my experiences. That is why I can describe the locations with the emotional attachment that Zara had. Of course, not in the sequence that Zara did.  

Did you associate Zara’s tendency to gravitate towards dishonest men with her abuse as a child?

Absolutely, not just from my experience, also other examples I have seen in life. When people experience childhood abuse and grow up in an unstable environment, the mental effect it has on clear judgment and perception is interesting. I undertook psychological therapy to help me understand the impact my childhood abuse has had on me. If you look at Zara’s experience as a child, who was her role model? He was a loving man when sober but her worst nightmare when drunk. So, she grew up confused not understanding how to read in between the lines.

I’ve noticed on social media and your web site that there are no photos of you (that are not blurred) or a descriptive bio regarding where you live, etc. With so many authors including pictures and details about their lives on their sites, what prompted you to remain so mysterious?

Wow, another great question, you are amazing Jennifer, you certainly did your research. You should be a journalist. Hahaha.

I don’t want to expose myself yet. I know soon I will be on TV and cannot avoid that. For now, my interest is in promoting my book not myself. I am slowly building the courage though. Exposing my childhood incidents is a big thing for me. I need to build my confidence a little more before I get out there. You know what I mean?

However, I do want to help women that have experienced similar incidents, one day I will be able to publicly share it with the press and media. If I can contribute to helping others that have suffered. I most certainly will.

What is one of your top 5 books that you’ve ever read and why do you love it?

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy. For the past decade, I think I’ve read that book over 8 times. I feel revived when I read that. It puts me back in line when I feel my positive thinking is diverting.

I am currently reading Expectation Therapy: Mastering Your Expectations

Book by Art Costello. I am really enjoying it, although I have been flat out and slow with the progress. I am loving it and can see myself reading it often.

You’ve expressed interest in writing a novel that will be adapted for film. Who do you picture as playing Zara, Jamal, or any other characters that you’ve imagined coming to life on the screen?

Oh, yes I am. That is my ultimate dream. Funny you asked that, I am in deep thought regarding some of the characters.  I have a vision and please I must state it’s only my vision, no discussions have been done regarding that. But I do have fun with my imaginations though.

Zara – I am thinking Margot Robbie, she is witty, athletic, I can see her do martial arts and play the role perfectly. I also like Emilia Clarke, I love her, my Khaleesee from Game of Thrones hahaha.

Jamal – Henry Cavil all the way baby. I love him, I love his character and has the right accent. Considering Jamal was from London.

Leandro – Since writing that chapter, the only one I vision that has the Spanish look that I want is William Levy. I am obsessed with him, I think with his looks and physique he would be perfect. But in the contract, the sex rehearsal scenes must be with me though. Hahaha. Gosh! If only!  Step aside Zara, he is mine.

Livio – The Swiss God – Oh dear! This one is a tough one. He must be someone that melts you when watching him. How does Mario Rodrigues sound? Hubba hubba.

Can you imagine a movie with all the above actors in it? There will be endless line-ups at the movies. All of them in one movie. You would need therapy after that.

I’m assuming, based on the ending of “Nothing is Predictable,” that Zara wants to find out more about her father’s death. Can you give us any hints about “Nothing Can Last Forever?”

Well, I can’t say much. I don’t want to spoil it, but I can say, that is resolved in the sequel. Lots of drama there and more romance. Zara hasn’t learned her lesson yet.

When not reading or writing, what is your favorite way to pass the time?

I love movies and series. I do have a ridiculous attachment there.

I also like my beach strolls early in the morning before sunrise. As in 4:30am. I love being on that beach to watch the sunrise as I meditate.

Thank you, Jennifer, I really enjoyed this interview and best of luck in your career.

Thanks so much to Adalina Mae for sharing a little with readers! I especially loved the responses to her ideal actors to play her characters in a movie 🙂 

Purchase “NOTHING IS PREDICTABLE” on Amazon.

 

Author Interview, Book Blitz, Giveaway

Book Blitz: The Adventures of Natalie Bloom

The Adventures of Natalie Bloom
Brooke Stanton
(Bloom Sisters, #2)
Publication date: December 2nd 2016
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Natalie’s dreams are about to come true. She’s found the perfect spot for her new restaurant and a perfect business partner to make it happen – gorgeous Luke Hawker – until she discovers things are not as they seem. Luke has run off with her money, leaving her dreams crumbling around her.

With Max Euston – her friend and secret crush -alongside her, Natalie must race against the clock to find Luke and get the money back before it’s too late.

With twists and turns, Natalie won’t know who to trust (or love) until the very last page.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

Here are some bonuses if you buy the book between Dec 2 and Dec 6:

1: 75% off the retail price

2: entrance into an exclusive giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card

3: A FREE, advanced copy of The Downfall of Catie Bloom

The bonuses will be available in the table of contents under Bonus when you buy the eBook.

Q&A with Brooke Stanton

Tell us a little about yourself.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I used to keep notebooks filled with short stories starting in middle school. If I’m going to be completely honest they were filled with some pretty risque stories. I was young and didn’t know much about romance or sex, but my aunt wrote romance novels and I used to sneak and read them, so I tried to emulate her. I didn’t really understand the subject matter. I don’t think I’d even kissed a boy, yet. Once I got to high school, I wrote more mainstream fiction in my spiral notebooks. They were never for anyone to see. Just my own enjoyment. I went to a performing arts high school and funneled my creativity on stage at the time. But I always knew one day I would publish a book.

Why do you write?

I write for the same reason I used to get on stage and sing and act. It’s cathartic. I love diving into different stories and characters. It makes me feel alive.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

To have the freedom to write what I want in many different genres. I hope my readers love my books as much as I love writing them.

What has been the hardest part of building your career?

Being patient!

Which writers inspire you?

Jojo Moyes, Emily Giffin, Meg Cabot. All their stories and characters are interesting and unique and I love how their stories unfold. The love stories feel authentic and there’s always a bit of fun and laughter.

What have you written?
(Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest).

My debut novel was the award-winning RomCom, The Misadventures of Catie Bloom. My follow-up novel is The Adventures of Natalie Bloom, which is the second book in the Bloom Sisters series (but can be read as a stand-alone). I have a blog on my website that focuses on my writing career with day-to-day life anecdotes. When I was trying to get preggers, I had a humor blog called Vagina Vacancy. I also contributed to Natural Awakenings magazine and wrote a column for examiner.com.

What inspires your ideas?

Everything! No, really. I never know when an idea is going to hit; I could be on a plane, in a car, watching a movie, reading the newspaper, about to fall asleep. My phone is filled with notes of story ideas. I have at least a dozen. And they will all be written.

Are there any correlations between the books you write and your life experiences?

The Adventures of Natalie Bloom was largely inspired by my yearly trips to Red Frog Beach in Panama. My parents own a place there and it’s a beautiful, unique, inspiring location. The wheels in my head were turning every time I went down there and out of that came this book.

My novel, How to Survive New York on Three Dates a Week (co-written by Corinne Barlow), is the most biographical. Most of the stories are pulled right from our lives. It’s scheduled to be released in early 2018.

All my books have a few anecdotes I took either directly from my life or my friends. If you know me, read carefully…you may find a bit of your life staring back at you!

Do you work from an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I used to write and see where the story took me. But I found writing for discovery without any kind of outline takes too long. Now I write a short outline before I write any book. It has done wonders for the speed in which I can write a book now. And there’s still a lot to discover, even with an outline.

Tell me about your most recent release.

It’s a romantic adventure about discovering what you and what you’ll do (and won’t do) to get. It’s a bit of romance, adventure, and mystery all tied together. Natalie Bloom discovers to get what she wants she has to fight for it and not be afraid to get hurt…a hard thing to do for all of us.

Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
I don’t focus on a message as much as I focus on giving my readers something to indulge in, like sneaking a pint of rocky road ice cream and savoring every morsel as it slides down. But the most prominent theme in Natalie Bloom is not letting fear get in the way of living your life – stand up for what you want and go out and get it, no matter what the obstacles.


Any new projects we should look out for?

The third and final book in the series, The Downfall of Catie Bloom, is coming out in the summer of 2017.

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Author Bio:

After her own misadventures in New York City, LA, and London, Brooke Stanton now lives in sunny South Florida. She’s an award-winning author who has contributed to Natural Awakenings Magazine, wrote a column for Examiner.com, and is the author of The Bloom Sisters series. Visit her website brookestantonbooks.com.

Get a FREE copy of the prequel, IGNITE, here: http://ilovemyfans.info/ignite-download/

Author links:

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Author Interview, Reviews

Book release, review, and interview!

Happy release day to Lauren Faulkenberry and “Bayou, Whispers from the Past!” In case you missed my review and author interview a while back, here it is again to celebrate her release day! Enjoy 🙂

“BAYOU, WHISPERS FROM THE PAST: A NOVEL,” BY LAUREN FAULKENBERRY 

PUBLISHER: VELVET MORNING PRESS;

OCTOBER 10, 2016

whispers

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.

Purchase Bayou, Whispers from the Past on Amazon

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

lauren-pic-ugb

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:

  1. One Foot in Eden, by Ron Rash
  2. How to Breathe Underwater, by Julie Orringer
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
  4. White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
  5. You, by Caroline Kepnes
Author Interview, Giveaway, Reviews

Review,Giveaway, & Author Interview with Lauren Faulkenberry

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,

BY LAUREN FAULKENBERRY 

PUBLISHER: VELVET MORNING PRESS;

OCTOBER 10, 2016

whispers

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

lauren-pic-ugb

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:

  1. One Foot in Eden, by Ron Rash
  2. How to Breathe Underwater, by Julie Orringer
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
  4. White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
  5. You, by Caroline Kepnes

Enter to win 1 of 10 e-copies of “Back to Bayou Sabine”

bayouEnter a Rafflecopter giveaway!!

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!

Author Interview

Author Interview: Kelly Moore

kelly moore

Kelly Moore

I am so excited to bring you an interview today with author Kelly Moore! Today is release day of “Piece by Piece” (Broken Pieces Book 3), so what better time to highlight this fantastic author?

 

1. The Broken Pieces series is absolutely amazing! What inspired you to write  about Kyren, Brogan, and their stories?

  • I come from a very broken family myself, some things in the story were not  very far fetched from my reality growing up.  I’ve always felt that it’s important  for people to understand they have a choice of what type person they want to  become regardless of their upbringing.  This is why I wrote their story.   People can be “broken”, but they don’t have to stay that way.  They can  become healthy, vibrant, loving, good spouses and parents characters.  It  wasn’t just Kyren being an alpha male, Brogan grew into a strong confident  woman.  Bringing Kyren and Brogan’s children into the series helped prove  how they overcame all the odds against them and loved each other and  became good parents despite their pasts.  Besides that, I love a good love  story with angst and strong characters.

2. “Piece by Piece” shifts from the parents to the children, well, grown­up  children. Was it challenging to change the point of view to Steel when writing  this installment in the series?

  • Yes, it was a bit challenging.  The part that was difficult for me is that I had to  remember that it was in the future.  I’m not a futuristic author so I had to  create subtle changes like the links in their ears rather than cell phones or the  music that I had to refer to as old.  But in creating the character of Steel, even  though he was not nice at times, underneath he was a good man.  It took Ady  for him to realize that he was the same strong loving man he had always  been, just a little broken.piecebypiece

3. I understand that you are also writing Gray and Syn’s stories. Do you think  that will complete the Broken Pieces series?

  • Yes, Pieces of Gray and Syn’s Broken Journey will complete the Broken  Pieces Series.  I’m very excited about both of their stories.  Gray’s book is  going to bring up the topic of PTSD and the readers will learn why she is so  tough in the Piece by Piece.  She is a badass that readers will fall in love  with. Syn’s Broken Journey is still in my head not actually on paper yet.  He will be  my biggest challenge to write but I think he will be the character that  everyone will fall in love with. He’s tough and cocky and seems unattainable   by any one woman, so Journey will have to be an exceptional woman to gain  his heart.

4. If your Broken Pieces series were made into movies, who would be your  choice of actors/actresses for your main characters?

  • For Kyren, Henry Cavill.  He fits him to me.  Tall, dark and sometimes  brooding and sexy as sin. Brogan, Emma Stone would be a great choice for her

5. I’m so excited to read your new novel (not in the Broken Pieces series), “Next  August.” Can you give the readers any hints or details about it?

  • I can tell you that I’m so excited for Next August to be released.  It was a nice  change to focus on another book, not in the series.  It is romance entwined  with suspense.  I had so much fun writing this book and the feedback I have  gotten has been amazing.  I have high hopes for this book to be on a best  seller list.  I’m hoping for an end of August or early September release.  As  soon as the cover is completed, I will start releasing teasers and ARC’s for  anyone interested. Here is unedited blurb: August Rylan is a rich billionaire with more secrets than he can manage.  He lost  his mother tragically at eight years old in an automobile accident.  His father was  drinking and driving and angry at his son when he lost control of the wheel.  His  blame is aimed as his son and their relationship is permanently changed. When August becomes a man and figures out his father’s secrets, he tries to  make things right but goes about it in all the wrong ways.  He has one friend,  other than Sam he is a loner.  He thinks he has to be alone to not reveal his  secrets. On a rock climbing expedition with Sam, he meets a southern beauty that not  only takes his breath away but also his voice.  Nashville steals his heart the  moment he lays eyes on her.  She is a cowboy boot wearing country girl that will  challenge him in every way. Nashville is intrigued by the city slicker rich boy, but she wants a simple life.   She’s not concerned about money.  She falls for him hard and tries to fit into his  world until his secrets unravel.  She almost loses her life because of his choices. 

6. You are a traveling ICU nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother. When in the  world do you find the time to write?

  • I have always written, whether it has been in journals or jotting down notes.    For me it’s not a matter of time, it’s a necessity.  I think it came about as a  coping mechanism and transformed into something that I love to do.  As a  nurse, I typically work three days a week.  On my days off my husband and I  love to go hiking and that brings about so much inspiration for me.   Sometimes we will be hiking and a story will play out in my head.  I’m not a  big tv fan, so I write when my husband is watching tv and sometimes in the  middle of the night.  When we are traveling, I will climb in the backseat of the  truck with my lab, Cy and type away.  If it is something that you love, you  make time where ever you can.

7. What advice would you give to someone who dreams of becoming a romance  writer, but isn’t sure where to start?

  • Don’t start like me.  I had no real idea what I was getting into.  Social media is  not something I grew up with and didn’t realize how important it is nowadays.   I didn’t even know what twitter was until last year.  I had no platform.  I  thought a publisher did all the media work.  Some may, but the one I started  with does not.  After Broken Pieces, I decided to be an indie publisher for now  in hopes of getting picked up by a large publishing company.  Create a  platform and a following first not last and come up with creative ways for  advertising.

8. Have you read anything new lately that you recommend to readers?

  • I just finished Bossman by Vi Keeland.  I loved every minute of the book.  It’s  romantic and funny. I read Pennies by Pepper Winters.  I have to admit, it is very dark, and she  does warn the readers multiple times.  This would not be my typical read, but  she is an amazing author and she paints a picture like no other.  I was drawn  into the book and had to know how it ended.  To me, this is what makes a  good author.  I didn’t really want to read it, but I had to because of her writing style.

 

Kelly thank you so much for being a part of my blog today! I know that you are quite the busy woman, so I appreciate your taking the time to let my readers know more about you.

Readers, if you have not yet had the privilege to read Kelly’s Broken Pieces Series, then you are truly missing out! Learn more about Kelly Moore and her books by visiting her web page.

BrokenPieces   See my review of Broken Pieces

PiecedTogether  See my review of Pieced Together

piecebypiece

 

 

 

 

See my review of Piece by Piece

 

 

 

Author Interview

Author Interview: Alison McLennan

Today I am so excited to post a recent interview with author Alison McLennan!  Alison is the author of the amazing, “Ophelia’s War: The Secret Story of a Mormon Turned Madam,” which is released today.

 

  • Alison I know you live in Utah and apparently are a history buff, but what inspired you to write Ophelia’s War?
    • I read an anecdote about a Madam named Kate Flint who had an ongoing battle with Brigham Young on the subjects of polygamy and prostitution. One version of the story is that when Brigham’s 14th wife divorced him he had to put up his gilded carriage for auction. The legend is that Kate Flint purchased it and paraded around town to snub him. One day I found myself alone in a remote desert graveyard near the ghost town of Grafton. That’s where Ophelia was conceived. Spending time alone in haunted places makes me wonder about the nature of inspiration, and whether we choose the characters and stories or they choose us. 

 

  • Through your research did you find that many girls ended up like Ophelia if “ruined” for a husband?
    • Girls and women who were raped often killed themselves out of shame. Of course, they couldn’t tell anyone, so they’d try and hide it, or they’d run away and inevitably end up in the brothels. This is women’s secret history that is not on record. I’m shocked and saddened at how many girls feel the same way today. If you read about the LDS girl, Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and assaulted for over a year, you will see that she dealt with similar feelings of being damaged goods and those feeling may have kept her from being rescued sooner.  

 

  • Besides Ophelia, who was your favorite character in the novel and why?
    • I like Charlie (Chas) Siringo. He is based on a real man who wrote several books about his life, which provided me with a great primary resource. His undercover work living with outlaws makes him accepting of Ophelia, where most men would not be able to see past her profession. I also like Pearl and wrote a short story about her called Sisters of Grace and Mud. I hope it will be published some day.

 

  • You are considered an expert commentator regarding Whitey Bulger.  How did that come about?
    • The character, Johnny, in my first novel Falling for Johnny is based on James “Whitey” Bulger. About four years before the FBI apprehended him, I realized that he had once lived across the street from me in Quincy, MA. At the time, he’d been missing for sixteen years, and I thought he’d be a great character for a novel. I spent a ton of time researching him and reading about his life. I even listened to the FBI surveillance tapes to get a feeling for how he spoke. He was caught the day before my fortieth birthday. I had just finished Falling and was looking for an agent or publisher. I ended up corresponding with him in prison. And then I did a lot of news commentary during his trial. It was all very strange.

 

  • Think about your top 10 favorite books…  What is one of those favorites and why?
    • My favorite books are the ones that resonate, when long after I’ve stopped turning pages the story still inhabits a place in my mind. The Grapes of Wrath is woven into the fabric of my being. Even though I didn’t live through The Great Depression, I feel like I did because of this novel. I didn’t read it as a requirement for school. I first read it while I was living on the road following a similar route to the Joad’s. Steinbeck uses simple language to convey deep sentiments. I’ve since analyzed the novel and it’s really unique and intricate. I think it’s better not to analyze a book while you’re reading it though. It’s better to just enjoy it the first around. My MFA program helped my writing but it took some of the enjoyment out of reading because I’d find myself picking things apart instead of getting absorbed into the story.
  • As a teacher and a writer, what’s your most important piece of advice that you give aspiring writers?
    • Creative writing as an income producing profession is really difficult, especially in fiction and poetry. The YA (young adult) genre is probably a bit better. I once went to a pitch conference where they told us we were more likely to get struck by lightning than obtain a traditional publishing contract! It was terribly disheartening. But even if fiction writing doesn’t pay the bills, it is a journey into the subconscious and the imagination. This journey can deepen your life, your perspective, and your connection to places, people, and the past, or even the future. It’s kind of like reading, but a lot more work.

      Don’t get discouraged by rejections. Most writers have piles of rejections. All kinds of writing will help you become a better fiction writer. Grant writing, blogging, technical writing, travel writing, curriculum writing… are ways to earn a living as a writer that aren’t quite as difficult as being a novelist or a poet. But don’t forget what feeds your soul.  And read as much as you can.   

 

Thanks so much to Alison for allowing me to pick her brain a little and share with my readers!  Visit Alison’s website: Alison Stories to learn more about her and make sure that you get a copy of “Ophelia’s War: The Secret Story of a Mormon Turned Madam,” released today! If you missed my review of “Ophelia’s War,” check it out here Book Review: Ophelia’s War.

 

Author Interview, Posts

Author Interview: James Anderson

James Anderson

James_Anderson

Today I have the pleasure to post a recent interview with James Anderson, author of the quirky, fabulous The Never-Open Desert Diner.  I want to begin by extending my thanks to James Anderson for taking time from his schedule so that myself and my readers can learn more about him!

How long did you work on your new novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner?

  • The short answer is six months. But the truest and most accurate answer is all my life. All art—literary, visual, physical —is created and fashioned from life. The Never-Open Desert Diner, which so many have said defies categorization, comes from every book I have ever read, every thought, every feeling, every person I have ever loved, every place that caught captured my imagination. The novel is life, and I mean that both as life in general and my life, as channeled through the protagonist Ben Jones. I do not write from an outline; the rough draft is my outline. The rough draft took six months and was followed by two years and fourteen major revisions. I tend to shy away from grand pronouncements about art. It does seem to me that the problem so many novelists have is that the creative process and the critical apparatus, especially if you’ve read a great deal and studied the literary arts, get muddled and fiction writers try to do both simultaneously. This is why you have writers who work ten years and never complete the novel. They are writing and rewriting the first chapter—even the first sentence. I know this from experience. When you’re writing the novel you have to turn off the critic and editor. The worst completed work will always be better than the best unfinished work. The Never-Open Desert Diner is my first published novel, not my first novel. I finished my first novel when I was sixteen and five others over the next forty years.

What inspired the story and characters, especially Ben?

  • Again, so many things go into the stew that becomes a novel. I am sure I could concoct a beautiful answer to that question but it would be false. The inspiration was very simple: I wrote what I wanted to read. Maybe what I needed to read. I needed to tell myself a story. I had invited someone into my home who was struggling with heroin addiction. I had been working on a novel for five years. That novel was on the computer and external back-up hard drive that the person stole from my home and pawned, along with all sorts of other things. We hit the road, running from drug dealers to whom he owed money, and trying to get him off heroin. We traveled around the Southwest staying in seedy motels while he went through withdrawal, an ugly painful messy ordeal that he was to repeat at least two more times. I began The Never-Open Desert Diner on envelopes and hotel stationery as a way of distracting and entertaining myself. In the middle of that very terrible personal journey, I was surrounded by the desert, by nature, by light, that began to illuminate the story I was working on. Because I was living a peripatetic existence the story was restless as well, and I needed a protagonist that lived a nomadic life. Ah ha! A truck driver. An orphan half-Native American-half-Jewish truck driver.  The most important part of this story is that my friend has been drug and alcohol free for a year now. And miraculously, though some time later, I found my computer in a pawn shop in Denver and the novel I had been working on was still on it! One day perhaps that novel will see the light of print.

You’ve worked in publishing, logging, commercial fishing, and trucking. Have these jobs contributed to any ideas or characters in your writing? Also, which job was your favorite?

  • As I mentioned, my belief is that art comes from everything. Let me tell you a story told my Ray Bradbury, one of my all-time favorite writers. When he was a boy in the Midwest he came down with Rheumatic fever, I think, and was confined to a bed for a year or two. His mother would check out books as the little library to keep him occupied. Pretty soon she was just grabbing sections, several books at a time on everything, which Bradbury consumed. There was very little left in the little library he hadn’t read. Years later he was working on a short story about the temperature at which paper burns. He knew it was 451 degrees Fahrenheit. He wondered how he knew that and if it was correct. Of course, it was and though he didn’t remember where he learned it, his brain had retained it. I believe the same is true for all we experience in our lives—the people, the books, the paintings, the small perhaps trivial conversations we have with others, and ourselves—and into the stew they go! So, yes, Ginny, the homeless, pregnant teenage punk who is the story’s ultimate heroine, is based on my son and some of his friends. Walt comes from a lot of men I worked with on labor crews, commercial fishing, logging, etc., who were part of the Greatest Generation and tough and stoic to a fault.Sometimes I know exactly where in life a character or a phrase or a setting comes from, often not, but I trust these this amorphous memories completely because they are, for me, emotionally true. As for Ben, if I am honest, he is the vessel that holds everything, the eyes and ears and smells and feelings, longings, dreams, of the story, an amalgamation of imagination and fact, through which the reader can access the world of The Never-Open Desert Diner. Some of that is me, though he is a tougher and often better person than I am. This is ostensibly a realist novel, though as many have pointed out, it has a subtle magical cast to it, particularly in its evocation of the natural world. Ben also embodies that certain magical pragmatism which illuminates the story. 

    Regarding favorite job…
    I can certainly tell you which one I disliked the most: commercial fishing! Always wet, cold, the smell of fish on everything mixed with sweat and wool and grease and diesel fumes, day in and day out while the endless sea heaved around me. Maybe that’s why my novel is set in the Utah desert!!!!  

    I’ve had so many jobs. I loved being a book publisher and editor. I loved being in the car business with the wonderful Wentworth family in Portland, Oregon. When it comes down to it, for me the best job, like the best place, comes down to the people. Several years ago I noticed that what I remembered as the best meals, best food, often had very little to do with the food itself. What I remembered as a great meal depended upon the company at table, how much laughter, how much interesting conversation, what I learned and felt. In that sense, because it brought me into contact with so many and varied people for long periods, I’d have to say working as a car salesman. You have to learn to shut-up and listen. I’m still learning that!

If this book were to be made into a movie – which it absolutely should be – what actors/actresses do you picture playing the characters of this novel?

  • This is a question that comes up a lot. One of my many jobs was as a documentary film producer. I was even fortunate enough to have worked with Susan Sarandon, who I love and admire as an artist and a person. But I don’t think much of the possibility of a film of The Never-Open Desert Diner. That is beyond my control and my energy tends to go where it should, which is into writing. I know there is a film deal being discussed, or so I hear from my film agent. Projects are always being “discussed.”  Perhaps more than a lot of novelists (judging from their comments on the subject) I have tremendous respect for actors and directors. I have many friends who are actors, male and female, playwrights. I pay a lot of attention to the dialogue in my writing. I often will ask an actor friend to read some of my dialogue out loud and I am always amazed. An actor, a good one, can take three words and deliver those words in fifty different ways with fifty different meanings! And all of them different from what I thought or imagined when I wrote them. I am a big fan of ambiguity and paradox and how a person chooses to say something is just as important as what that person is saying and tells you a great deal about the character. Making a feature film is one of the most beautifully and maddeningly and expensive endeavors ever invented with layers upon layers of creative and talented people above and below the line. For the most part it is completely different from writing, which is just the writer and the blank page. I won’t say I don’t care because I do, though I see a film adaptation of a novel as a sort of translation. I am excited to see what creative people make from my novel knowing it is not going to be the novel itself, for better or for worse. I am not proprietary in that way. BUT, in the spirit of answering your question: The casting list that I was asked for by my agent includes, Tom Hardy and Keanu Reeves  and a few others to play Ben. I’ve actually given a bit more thought to Walt, and my first choice is probably Sam Shepard, who I admire on ever single level, as an actor, playwright, writer and physically and in terms of age, and maybe even temperament, Sam would be perfect. He is the whole thing. My opinion. Others include Billy Bob Thornton, Sam Eliot and Tommy Lee Jones, and Robert Forester, who is a personal favorite of mine. It’s a deep, nuanced role for someone who has the chops and weight to pull it off. Overall, my thoughts perhaps go more toward directors. I think a female director could bring something very special to the story and there are several out there. Again, all of that is beyond my control.

What book are you currently reading, or what was the last book you read?

  • I am a total book junkie and my tastes are varied and eclectic as hell. I read fiction, poetry, nonfiction, biography and a fair amount of sciences, especially physics and neurobiology. My recent favorites include the novels GEORGIA by Dawn Tripp and WAYS TO DISAPPEAR by Idra Novey. When I tour I often buy copies of my current favorite books and talk about them and buy a few copies from the store or venue at which I am appearing and then give those copies to members of the audience. Other recent faves include JUST MERCY by Bryan Stephenson. I have just completed or am presently reading SEVEN BRIEF LESSON ON PHYSICS Carlo Rovelli, the just released poetry collection DEAD MAN’S FLOAT by my old and recently departed friend and master, Jim Harrison, the first complete English translation of XUNZI by Eric L. Hutton and THE ABUNDANCE, collected essays of Annie Dillard.

What’s your favorite book ever?

  • A favorite book ever is a tough question for a writer. It is a book that you have read over and over during a long period of time that always leaves you dazzled and haunted and always feeling as if it is the first time you’ve read it. Such a question is like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite! Here’s a brief list, in no particular order:TOM SAWYER by Mark Twain; ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND, by Shunryu Suzuki; WOMAN LIT BY FIRELIES by Jim Harrison; ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner; WHAT THOU LOVEST WELL REMAINS AMERICAN, poems by Richard Hugo.

Are you working on anything new or planning to in the future?  If so, can you give a tiny hint as to what it’s about?

 

  • Random House asked if I could write another book with Ben Jones, the protagonist of The Never-Open Desert Diner. I agreed that I would and what I proposed to my agent and to my editor was a triptych, or trilogy as some prefer, of three related books of which The Never-Open Desert Diner is the first. There is a longer story arc across the three novels. Now, who knows if my editor and publisher will like the second enough to want to publish it? They have the option to say no. But I will write it. It all depends upon sales, I think. The critical response to The Never-Open Desert Diner has left me happily stunned. As for sales, I don’t know. So for now, Ben and the characters, and new ones, and the story of The Never-Open Desert Diner, goes on. I am having a great time writing it, which is the best a writer can hope for. It’s future, should it have one, is out of my control. In a way, I kind of like that. Embrace the mystery! Man makes plans and God laughs. I, for one, join in the laughter.

 

Again, thanks so much to James Anderson for allowing me to interview him, learn more about him, and share with my readers!

Still want to know more about James Anderson and his novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner?  Visit the author’s webpage at: http://jamesandersonauthor.com/ to read more about him or to purchase his book!  You can also purchase this outstanding novel at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!