Right after I wrote A Passion Denied, which had a sub-story about a love triangle in Marcy and Patrick’s past that causes BIG problems for them in APD. The tension from that sub-story was SO strong, I just knew I had to write the love story attached to it someday. Never gave it another thought until I finished writing the last book in the O’Connor family saga, A Love Surrendered. That moment was so bittersweet that I did not want to let the O’Connors go just yet, so I immediately started the prequel, basically creating—for me, at least—a full circle of love in a family to whom I was reluctant to say goodbye.
2) How much did you have to return to your previous novels when writing this one?
Quite a bit, actually. Fortunately for me, I always reread all of my O’Connor books prior to the next release in order to be primed and ready for the next one, so I did that while I was writing A Light in the Window, which helped A LOT. Regrettably, I was tightly locked in to dates and ages as well as tiny details that didn’t always gel with the story I wanted to tell, so I really had some fancy footwork to do, but my agent said nobody would notice, so I let it fly. Wouldn’t you know I had one diehard reader call me out on a minor point and consequently gave me a 4-star rating instead of the 5-star she said she would have given me otherwise. Sigh.
3) You have written a number of female heroines (Faith, Charity, Lizzie, Katie, Emma, Annie, and Marcy), is it easy to keep their personalities separate?
You know what? It absolutely IS easy to keep them apart because they are ALL so different, as are my heroes, which is something I truly did not expect. I especially worried that somehow all my heroes would sound the same, but these characters became like flesh and blood to me, so I was able to convey every nuance of their personalities, every quirk, every voice. Uh … I hope …
4) Whose novel for you was the hardest to write? Which one was the easiest?
Oh, good question! The hardest book to write? Professionally, that would be the third book in the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied. It was difficult to write for a number of reasons. First of all, I hit the wall on that book because I was reading another author whose incredible talent made me feel like I wanted to puke on my keyboard whenever I read my own writing. And secondly, it was difficult because I was attempting not only to tell a very complicated and dark love story about the third daughter, but also weaving in second-tier stories about the parents and each of the other daughters.
You see, whenever I read a first book in a series, I generally fall in love with the hero and heroine and don’t want to say goodbye to them. So in my Daughters of Boston series, each book continues to grow and becomes more complicated and layered. As a result, I worried that book 3 would end up seeming like a bunch of disjointed stories, but many readers have told me it’s seamless and the best of the three books, so I’m very proud of that accomplishment, especially since it’s the only one of my books that has a full 5-star rating on Amazon.
The easiest book to write? Oh, without question that would be book 2 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Redeemed, which is my VERY favorite of all three books of that series. In fact, I SO loved delving into Mitch and Charity’s story that I actually wrote this nearly 500-page doorstop in two months while working my part-time job.
Why, you ask? Well, I just love, love, LOVE Charity—she is so wonderfully flawed and was SO fun to redeem! Yes, you feel like slapping her in A Passion Most Pure (I actually received an e-mail asking me to slap Charity for them and another that wanted to see her maimed or killed!) but I hope readers grow to love her or at least like and understand her before her book is done. She is SO very quirky and funny and becomes more so with each book until finally in the 5th book in the saga, A Heart Revealed, she makes me laugh out loud in almost every scene she’s in, even the sad ones. And A Passion Redeemed reminds me a lot of favorite old-time movies of mine like McClintock with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara or It Happened One Night with Clark Cable and Claudette Colbert, where the hero and the heroine butt heads like crazy, which is something I love to both read and write. In fact, APR was so fun and easy to write, that I feel as if I hit my stride in that book, making it a very FAST read according to one reader friend who devoured it in a little over three hours!
5) Can you tell us something about The Heart of San Francisco series?
The “Heart of San Francisco” series, which launches April 1, 2013, is kind of a poor-man, rich-man scenario among three cousins during the Irish-political landscape of 1902 San Francisco. Think Little Women meets Dynasty. J And for those too young to remember the TV show Dynasty, think family wealth and poverty in a political setting.
This series is a bit of a departure for me because it’s a lot lighter and I hope a lot more fun than the angst and high drama of my two prior series. It will be shorter and less complicated than the O’Connor saga, which means the books will be about 400 pages rather than my usual 500+, and the plots will be two-tier instead of three- and four-tier. You’ll have the romance between the hero and heroine front and center, of course, but also a second-tier love story between the older couple in the series, just like there was with Patrick and Marcy O’Connor. Only instead of a happily married mother and father such as we had in the O’Connor saga, Caitlyn McClare is a godly widowed matriarch who butts heads (and hearts) with her rogue brother-in-law Logan McClare, with whom she was once in love. Engaged to Logan at a very young age, Cait broke the engagement when she discovered Logan’s infidelity, resulting in her marrying Logan’s brother instead. Now, twenty-seven years down the road, Cait is a widow and Logan is determined to win her back, so the romantic tension between these two undergirds the romantic tension between our heroine, Cait’s niece Cassie McClare, and the hero, Jamie MacKenna. The one-line premise for Book 1, Love at Any Cost is: “A spunky Texas heiress without a fortune falls in love with a handsome pauper looking to marry well.”
And here’s the jacket blurb:
Fooled by a pretty boy once, shame on him.
Fooled by a pretty boy twice, shame on me.
Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who just as soon hogtie a man as look at him … until Jamie MacKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, lassoes her heart. But when Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than him, Cassie finds herself bucked by love a second time, sending her back to Texas to lick her wounds and heal her heart. In her absence, Jamie discovers money can’t buy love, but love built on faith can set a heart free, a truth he discovers a little too late … or is it?
I guarantee you there’s a lot of sass and fun in this new series, so I’m really looking forward to introducing my readers to this lighter style and the San Francisco McClares!
Thanks, Embassie, for allowing me to connect with your readers. I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me through my website at http://www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/. Also, I have a cool blog feature on my website called “Journal Jots” at http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/, which is a very laid-back Friday journal to my reader friends that will give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/. Finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.
Ms. Lessman has generously decided to give away any book of hers that you would choose. The contest rules are as follows: In order to win the copy, you must leave a comment and the winner will be randomly selected. If you are interested in participating in the contest, your comment must include your email address. If you are notified as the winner, please respond within 48 hours. Winner will be announced on 2/22!
In order to help precipitate comments: which heroine in Julie’s books do you relate to the most?