Interview with Casey Bell, Author of ESSAYS FROM DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES: LITERARY BETRAYAL

What is your book about?

This book is sorta of two books in one. The first book “Essays From Dysfunctional Families” is written by a fictional author: Dean K. Brent. The book, (Essays) is a fictional book with ten essays from ten different people sharing their dysfunctional family. The fictional write used real life stories from his family and friends. The second half of the book, (Literary Betrayal) tells the story of how the author Dean K Brent became a best-selling author due to his book, however his family and friends are not so happy for him, knowing that he exposed their dirty laundry for the world to see.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

That is a difficult question to answer. I originally wanted to write a fictional, exaggerated book about the secrets of my family and friends, but felt it might be considered a betrayal so I never did. That idea was in my mind since about 2011-2012, but I never had the guts to publish it. I was too afraid people might read it and be angry with me. So that’s when I came up with the idea to write about an author who does the very thing I wanted to do. I finally wrote the book and it was published in 2014.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I HATE that we as humans think it is better to hide our pain and hurt then deal with them. I know due to shame, guilt, and condemnation, people have a tendency to keep secrets, but I know secrets destroy and kill. I decided if I wrote a book with enough dysfunction to make an addict feel like a saint, then maybe people would feel more comfortable in exposing their own dirty laundry.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I probably shouldn’t answer that question, but one of the stories in the first section is loosely based on my own dysfunction. And as said before the main character of this book did exactly what I wanted to do.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

I did a little bit of research for the first part of the book (Essays). I wanted the essayists to be from all over America, but I wanted to choose unknown and small towns. So, I had to do internet search on small towns in big states, most Americans don’t even know exists.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

The main thing I want the reader to take away from these books is it is okay to discuss your secrets. There is no shame in sharing. Weak people keep secrets, the courageous expose. Not so much the person, but the deed. If you never deal with a problem, you can never put an end to the problem.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Funny you should ask that. I am a diverse and multi-genre writer. When you read my books each one has its own unique fingerprint. I was raised in a multi-ethnic family, multi-ethnic church, and went to a high school filled with students from all nations. I grew up with an eclectic interest of music, and went to a diverse college. So, when I began writing it was natural for me to be diverse, colorful, and eclectic. I chose to write any many genres due to my colorful upbringing it has taught me to never segregate my gift.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a children’s book series entitled, “American History.” Each book shines light on American inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovators that the school system chooses to ignore. Two of the seven books have been published. The third one will be published in May 2020, and the rest will be published between 2020 and 2022.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I was always a writer, but never thought to do it as work. As a child I wrote poetry, songs, short stories, as well as writing in a diary. Writing was my therapy. It never dawned on me to do it as a trade. I originally wanted to be a gospel singer.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising and fulfilling part of being a writer is the reactions and responses of the readers. I always enjoy hearing what readers tell me about what my book(s) have done for them.

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Find out more about Casey Bell here: https://www.authorcaseybell.com/

You can download the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Essays-Dysfunctional-Families-Literary-Betrayal-ebook/dp/B00R6NSWJA/

Interview with Christian Jennette, Author of “Ties That Bind”

ties that bindWhat is your book about?

Ties That Bind is a novel that follows its main character, Kristen Bradley, as she navigates her way through a very difficult situation. Kristen’s passion is acting, but she has been so busy with nursing school and a troubled relationship, there hasn’t had time to step foot on stage. So when the opportunity to join a local theater company arises, she jumps at the chance, and it isn’t long before she’s drawn in deeply to the tight- knit group. The company, Riverbend Community Theater, is like a family, only it’s ties are stronger than blood – so strong, it’s almost cult-like. All its actors bow down to one very powerful director. Just when she thinks she’s found her place in the word, Kristen learns that something dark exists behind the surface of Riverbend’s perfect facade, and that the charismatic director she’s learned to trust and confide in not only controls his actors onstage, but off as well.

Ties That Bind is the story of a vulnerable young woman who quickly learns that things aren’t always what they seem, and that the line between maintaining her coveted place with the company and having to walk away forever, is as thin as a tightrope. The question you’ll be asking yourself throughout the book is, “Will she fall?”

How long did it take you to write your book?

From start to finish, this book took me a year to write. I did most of the work during my kids nap and bedtimes, because otherwise they’d be dragging me away from the computer! There were days I could sit and write twenty or thirty page without stopping, and other days I’d drum my fingers on the keyboard, completely at a loss. During the year, I had a four month period where I didn’t write one word because I was stuck and unsure where the story was going. I thought maybe I’d never finish. Then one day it just came to me, and I did.

How much of you is hidden within the characters in the book?

There’s quite a bit of me in Kristen, the main character. They say “write what you know,” and Kirsten is a character who goes through a lot of intense emotions. It’s hard to write about feelings you’ve never experienced, and I needed my readers to sympathize with, and understand why Kristen does the things she does, whether they make sense or not. I’d have had a hard time portraying her accurately if the emotions she went through in the book were completely foreign to me. Kristen’s story is not mine, but her emotions are. I’ve been in her shoes many times.

Who is your most likeable character?

My favorite character is Owen. Ah, Owen. Would it be wrong to say I developed a little crush on him while writing this book? (Sorry, Honey). Owen is the world’s most awesome guy. He’s a fellow theater member, and though he hasn’t a clue what Kristen is going through for much of the book, he ends up being her biggest source of support without even realizing it. He’s also funny and sexy. He brings a bit of romance to the book, and who doesn’t want a little of that?

Do you think writing this book has changed your life? How so?

Absolutely. This book started out as an interesting story swirling around in the back of my mind. I joked from time to time about putting it to paper, but never thought I’d be able to accomplish such a feat. Then one day I sat down and wrote the first sentence, which led to the second, the third, and so on. Before I knew it I was halfway through this story, which was rapidly becoming a full-length novel. Then I toyed around with the idea of self-publishing, but thought I’d see if anyone would be willing to pick it up first. A few months later I had a publisher interested, and the rest is history. I guess what I’m getting at is this: My book went from an impossible feat to a palpable reality. I now know that I can accomplish anything – even things I never set out to do! I learned that there’s creativity within me I didn’t even know existed and would encourage anyone out there with a story to tell, to do it. Just write that first sentence. That’s all it takes.

Does writing come easy to you?

Not really. Like I mentioned, while writing Ties That Bind, I’d have nights where the words would just flow out of me effortlessly. I could write page after page without even looking up from the computer screen. Then I’d hit a slump – writer’s block I guess – where I had nothing to offer. I’d sit and try to write, but no words would come. Through this process I realized I’m not in control. When the creativity flowed, it flowed, and when it stopped, all I could do was be patient and wait for it to come back.

If your book was made into a TV series or a movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Oh, that’s a fun one. I think every author dreams of their book becoming a movie, and enjoys the task of casting – even if only in their minds! For Ties That Bind, I can’t imagine a more perfect cast than one including Hugh Jackman, Alexis Bledel, and a young Simon Baker as Owen.

What writer influenced you the most?

Hands down, my favorite author is Elizabeth Berg. I love her writing style, and her stories fall right into the genre I prefer to read and write. They’re very true-to-life. Her characters are always multi-faceted, so you can relate to all of them in one way or another, which helps you fall right into the story. Once I start reading one of her novels, I can’t put it down. I always close the book at the end and think, “Wow, that was awesome.”

What are you working on right now?

My current work-in-progress is a novel entitled The Depths of the Sea. It’s about a mother suffering from post partum depression who drowns her beloved son in an episode of sleep walking. She doesn’t remember a thing. I have one more novel on the horizon that is much more light-hearted, a comedy even.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Through my publisher’s website – SecondWindPublishing.com, on Amazon.com, and on my Twitter (@CHJennette) and Facebook page (Christian Jennette – Author).

Ezra Barany, Author of “The Torah Codes”

How long did it take you to write your thriller The Torah Codes?

I wrote the first draft in November 2005 for National Novel Writing Month, and spent the next five years editing it.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing crap comes easy for me. Editing’s the bitch.

Do you think writing this book changed your life?

Very much!

How so?

I always considered myself a good musician. Not many people can transcribe music, that is, hear the music and write down the notes. So I felt that was my unique ability. But after putting out a few CDs of my music, I noticed my performance abilities and my transcribing skills are two very different things. The CDs made very few sales.

When I came out with The Torah Codes, it was only a matter of months before it became (and still is) a bestselling novel. The success of The Torah Codes surprised me tremendously. Now, instead of saying I’m a musician, I say I’m an author. That was a very huge life change for me.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

My primary goal is to leave the reader breathless at having read an exciting, fun ride. For Jewish readers, I hope to also get them to revisit their own relationship with Judaism.

Is there a message in The Torah Codes you want readers to grasp?

There is scientific proof of God’s existence, and there’s more to Her than you think.

What are you working on right now?

The sequel to The Torah Codes has the working title: Fighting with God. Admittedly, both titles are deceptive in that they sound like the books preach when the reality is both novels are just exciting adventures that have a thin Jewish thread lining the plot. I’m quite happy with how Fighting with God is coming along. While the first book was a Jewish version of The Da Vinci Code, the sequel is a Jewish version of The Bourne Identity.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his creator?

Nah. If the readers love the character so much, he deserves to die.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

My wife and book coach Beth Barany. The advice? When changing POV, also change the voice. My protagonist Nathan narrates in short, hard-boiled detective-sounding sentences. He also always states the scientific facts. The female protagonist Sophia narrates with long, embellished sentences. She uses tons of adjectives and notices what people are wearing and how she feels about them. It looks like two different writers wrote the book.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

With your first draft, write crap. Don’t have the words “flow” out of you, have them throw up all over the page. It’s easier to edit a finished draft than create a pristine first draft. So save the editing for later, otherwise you’ll never get that first draft done.

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

Read my blog post on how to find the right title for your book. There’s only one good title. It’s the one that is a keyword or phrase people are constantly doing a search for on the internet. The phrase “Torah Codes” is searched by 50,000 people every month, so people I don’t know and have never heard of my book are finding my book every day. If you use my method for coming up with the right title, I guarantee people will discover your book. http://www.writersfunzone.com/blog/2012/01/18/3-elements-of-a-good-book-title-that-sells/

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Dammit!

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

I hope not. They’ll find me and kill me.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life as a writer?

If I’m bored writing it, people will be bored reading it.

Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you’ll love my books. You can get The Torah Codes on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Torah-Codes-Ezra-Barany/dp/0983296014/

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

One word? Ha, ha! You’re funny, Pat.

Ellis Vidler, Author of “Cold Comfort”

Welcome, Ellis. What is your book Cold Comfort about?

A rather conventional woman who, when someone tries to kill her, discovers everything she believed about her life is a lie.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I visited a fascinating Christmas shop in Rotenberg, Germany. It was absolutely magical. The images stayed with me for years, and one day when I was wondering what it would be like to create such a shop, Claire Spencer walked into my head. She became the main character.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

More of what I’d like to be than what I am. Claire is more determined and, even though she may be afraid, she does what she believes is necessary.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

It has to be Jelly—Jelly Biggs, a bad guy in my WIP. He’s an ex prize fighter who took a few too many blows to the head, leaving him a little punchy. “Jelly’s thoughts might tumble around like lottery balls in a bin, but the former heavyweight could still float like a butterfly.”

How long did it take you to write your book?

Cold Comfort took about a year to write and five more to revise till I felt it was right. The first one, Haunting Refrain, took eight years to complete. I’m getting better.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

The characters and the crime, but I’m trying to morph from a pantser into more of a plotter. I think it will make the writing go faster and keep the storyline tighter.

Does writing come easy for you?

Getting into the story is often hard, but once I’m there, it flows. If I can tap into my subconscious and let it take over, the initial writing is easy. Revising and making it all come together is much more difficult but also more rewarding. I like that part.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Four main ones and a couple of others that keep popping up. It’s mostly the characters that draw me. I really want to write them all.

What do you like to read?

Suspense and crime fiction.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, two other novels, Haunting Refrain and The Peeper (with Jim Christopher), and some short stories.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

I look up ethnic names and meanings, such as Sicilian family names for a mob boss or Irish names for a hero. I also consider whether the sound of the name conveys what I want from the character. I try to avoid having similar-sounding names in the same book.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

Cold Comfort http://tinyurl.com/ev-cc-Kindle and http://tinyurl.com/ev-cc-Nook

Website: http://www.ellisvidler.com

Blog: http://theunpredictablemuse.blogspot.com

Colleen Cross, Author of “Exit Strategy”

Welcome, Colleen. What is Exit Strategy about?

Exit Strategy is a suspense/thriller. Katerina Carter is a flat broke forensic accountant and fraud investigator. She’s down to her last few pennies when she’s hired to recover missing billions from Liberty Diamond Mines. Then two insiders are murdered, and she could be next – unless she can solve a crime involving blood diamonds, organized crime, and murder,

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Kat is definitely my favorite. She’s smart, not always street legal, but she follows her heart and does what’s ethically and morally right. She’s always been a bit of an underdog. A surprising other favorite to me was Susan, even if she isn’t a nice person. At the beginning I saw her only as a spoiled cartel boss’s daughter, but in a way she’s similar to Kat. She isn’t taken seriously. She does some really bad things, but I can see how she got that way due to her upbringing. I can’t tell you any more because it would be a spoiler, but there is a plot twist!

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

I have lots of stories and ideas from my work (I am an accountant). Fraud has always fascinated me. We hear about stories like Enron and Madoff in the news, but often not the details. I love to research and find out exactly how they did it, what motivated them, and discover more about the people behind the crimes. Most frauds boil down to greed, opportunity, and some need to either fill their ego or their pockets. Simple motives but what these criminals do to get there can be very interesting!

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I think my stories have strong moral undertones – really that we all have to think for ourselves about what is right and wrong.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the story and stay on track?

I do a detailed outline and then abandon it somewhere after the first hundred pages. That’s when my characters take on a life of their own and I am no longer entirely responsible for their actions. Don’t know how it happens, but it does. Really.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy when you write?

Popcorn and Coke Zero. And chocolate, when things get out of control.

What, in your opinion are the essential qualities of a good story?

Interesting characters in imminent danger, good conflict, pace and overall, an intriguing and fresh story. For me, a good story is one where I am entertained, and also learn something new at the same time.

Have you written any other books?

I am currently writing book two in the Katerina Carter series, called Game Theory.

Where can people learn more about your books?

On my website: http://colleencross.com I blog about fraud, books and other things. You can also find out more about my upcoming books. Exit Strategy, is available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Strategy-Katerina-Carter-Suspense-ebook/dp/B0067PHJCO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1322589653&sr=1-1

Anything else?

Thank you Pat, for giving me the opportunity to talk about Exit Strategy, and writing in general.

Thank you, Colleen! I appreciate your answering my questions.

Sheryl Hames Torres, Author of “Illusions”

Welcome, Sheryl. It’s great to talk to you today. What is your book about?

ILLUSIONS, available from sapphirebluepublishing.com, is the story of Lily Cabot, a young mother striving to keep her six children and wheelchair-bound grandmother safe from her sadistic estranged husband. Little does she know but she has an ally in her children’s enigmatic music teacher, Alex Anderson, who has reasons of his own to despise and fight against Peter Cabot.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Oh, so many things. My mother, also a mother of six, the quintessential Mother Lion. My own fierceness about protecting my children and the people I love against all odds and ills. And I guess I’d have to say my fascination with cliched stereotypes. They drive me nuts! The whole black hat/white hat thing. When my children were born, my husband had a beard and hair down to his waist, and drove a motorcycle. Now, being Spanish/Cajun, the man has a temper, but no gentler man ever lived. Yet, when he finished school and took a supervisory position, he was forced to cut his hair and “clean up his act.” Guess I’m still a little peeved. You will find the villain in ILLUSIONS is a golden, high powered, pretty boy, while the hero is a long haired, tattooed musician. Yin Yang with a twist. LOL

How long did it take you to write your book?

LOL…let’s see, how old am I? Honestly, the first draft of ILLUSIONS has been written for years. My daughter suffered a life-threatening illness when she was eleven, the effects of which we battled for seven years. All my writing was put aside to care for her and help her with her recovery. Now that she and my son are grown and in college, Mama has a little more time to devote to writing again. So, I guess it took me about six months to write the story, but another nine years to edit it and have it published.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I usually have the bones written down…sometimes in as many as ten or twenty pages…before I start the actual story. That doesn’t mean I chisel it into stone, however. By the time I finish a story, it may only resemble the original newsy letter I started with.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I tend to SEE my characters. I will even go so far as to “cast” them, fishing around the Internet finding photos of actors/actresses, models, etc to “play” them in the book. I’ll collect them, and pull them out to make sure I have keep the eye color, facial or other features, hairstyle/color consistent. This also helps with mannerisms and habits. For example, I was fascinated in one scene Lou Diamond Phillips in played the 90′s movie, Renegades. The particulars, in this case, aren’t important, but someone asks him something, his grandfather I think, and he raises his eyebrows and stares out the window with this heartbreaking expression of vulnerability on his face. I thought, PERFECT! That’s perfect for a character in another of my works in progress. Seeing my characters helps me make sure they all have different personalities, different speech patterns, different attitudes, etc.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

LOL Ask any of my crit partners and they’ll tell you I never do. I get restless very easily. I seldom have a spare minute, so my writing time isn’t consistent. Translated: I can’t do the “write at the same time everyday” thing. There’s always something that needs doing right now, or someone that needs something right now, but I do adapt. I take my laptop with me on days when during the course of Mama Taxi Service I have to wait for an hour or two, and a story is worked on. There are nights I work all night and sleep all day. So, there are times I’ll go days without even looking at the story. I will work on several stories at a time…Presently there are 12 in progress…LOL So, once a story feels right, and the characters aren’t balking at me, that’s when it’s done. Usually the rough draft takes no time to write. Editing and rewriting, though…that can take a while. I will never submit anything until I AND my characters are satisfied that it’s the best story we can tell.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I’m the eldest of six kids. Our family life was always very important. While we all had outside friends, it was the family unit we were drawn to in times of joy and need. Our home was always full of kids…imagine six kids with two or three friends each. On any given day, it was like my mother was hosting a teen convention. LOL Presently, my three sisters and my parents live within 50 miles of each other, and there is rarely a time when one of us is in need that there isn’t someone to touch when we reach out. That sense of connection, of being a part of something that is inherently a part of you, is a running theme in all my books. They’re all set in the south…so far. I spent most of my life in Georgia and Florida. I love small country towns..what’s left of them…and mountains, and the people who populate them.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

Oh yes! I have two favorite times and it’s very hard to choose which would rank highest. I have always been very barometric…that is to say, I ADORE rain. Rainy days, drizzly, overcast, even cold and rainy. I’m sure our neighbors think we have no running water as my daughter and I make a beeline out the front door when the first drops fall. “Those crazy Torres women are showering again.’ LOL On days like that, I’ll add sugar free hot cocoa mix or cinnamon to my coffee, depending on what kind of scene I’m going to write, park myself by a window and tear up the keyboard. My other favorite time to write is in the middle of the night, when I know the kids are both home, hubby is home, animals are cuddled up together and I can hear everyone breathing. I know I have no one to worry about ..everyone is within my touch, and I can relax and just write.

What are you working on right now?

Well, like I said, I have 12 stories in the works, each at a different point in completion. I’m currently working on a story about a woman who receives a letter informing her that her family home is in jeopardy from her father’s child with a woman who wasn’t her mother. In this story, the family that surrounds Lisa Keller isn’t biological, but consists of Native American twin brothers she grew up with, a sister-in-law, one eleven year old girl, two five year old boys, and her cousin. When an old college friend of one of her brothers joins them for the holidays, Lisa learns how to trust

What do you like to read?

I’m eclectic. I love fantasy…but not political fantasy…(Someone please bring back the Lord of the Rings-type quest fantasy.) I love romance. I love smart fiction…Dan Brown’s Deception Point, Michael Crichton’s Timeline. I love paranormal. Okay, I’ll admit it, I love vampire romances…(Dear Linda Lael Miller, would you PLEASE write that last book of your series. You really kind of left us hanging.)

What writer influenced you the most?

Kay Hooper. I devoured her Hagen Series. her characters were smart, strong, NOT WHINEY or too stupid to live. Her humor was subtle but quirky. The situations made sense, even if they weren’t exactly situations I could see myself going through. When I read them, I didn’t feel like I’d just gone through a few pages of mental bubblegum.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. The terrible TV show, notwithstanding, this is one of the most endearing and colorful stories I ever read. The characters breathe and you feel it when the wind blows through. The reader walks right along with the characters. I read it when I was 10, and it’s still one of my favorite books.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

John Marco, author of The Eye of God. When I first started writing in the mid 90′s, John and I were in a short story writing group together. This was before he burst on the writing scene like the hurricane he is, and it was my week to be critiqued. One of the partners advised me to stop writing and take up plumbing. I was crushed. John told me that I would never write a book or story or grocery list that would please everyone. Chances were we’d never write anything that would please any kind of majority, so if I gave up on one person’s ill advised comment, he’d come to Georgia and hit me with my keyboard. LOL Thanks to him, I never stopped.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Let someone else do the plumbing.

Have you written any other books and where can people learn more about them?

I have two novellas currently available in separate anthologies: Fate’s Little Trick in Enchanted Holidays and ENIGMA in One Touch Beyond, both available from
jasminejade.com. You can find out more about my books, works in progress and read my not-updated-nearly-as-much-as-it-should-be blog at sherylhamestorres.wordpress.com

Thanks, Pat. This was fun. You can read about my books and me on my wordpress pages. http://sherylhamestorres.wordpress.com/books/ –Sher Hames Torres

Viola Russell, Author of “Love at War”

Welcome, Viola. What is your book about?

LOVE AT WAR by me, Viola Russell, takes place during WWII. It is the story of Nuala Comeaux Roussel, a young New Orleanian who marries Keith, a friend of her brothers’. When Keith is presumably killed in battle, Nuala joins the military and is recruited by the OSS.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The idea for the novel was a germ in my brain for a long time. All of my uncles served in WWII, and my Uncle Russell (who never returned) wrote passionate letters home to his young wife. When my mother died, I read Russell’s letters to my grandparents. That summer, my cousin Sandy let me read her dad (Russell’s) letters to her mother and her mother’s letters to him. Wow! They were passionate. I’m not telling their story (even though I did name Nuala’s daughter Sandy), but I’m telling the story of that generation. Many young people went to war as innocent kids. Many lost their lives and their innocence.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I think part of me is in any of my main characters, but I only pray I’m like Nuala. I am somewhat like her because many people see me as very ladylike and proper, not very forceful or powerful. Nuala’s family sees her in the same way, but she shows her power, even ruthlessness, when she is recruited by the OSS.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Nuala Comeaux Roussell is the main character. She is fragile and gentle on the outside but strong and determined on the inside. She’s beautiful but outwardly modest, and her demeanor makes her the perfect covert operative. Keith Roussel is her husband. He is loving and passionate, but he is a fierce warrior and expert marksman. He doesn’t break, even when tortured. Nuala’s brothers also play major roles in the novel, particularly George. George begins the novel as a lovable smartass. By the novel’s end, he’s battle-hardened, but he still has immense passion and love inside. He’s a very complex character, one of the most complex I’ve ever written. Chiye Toguri is also a covert operative. She becomes Nuala’s confidante, and her character is as complex as is George’s.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

This is a tough one. The character who evolved the most is George, but Nuala has a special place in my heart. I imagined her physically like my mother–who also was a beautiful woman–and I even sent Nika Dixon, the talented cover artist, a picture of my mother when she deigned the book. Nuala embodies everything implied in the term “steel magnolias.”

How long did it take you to write your book?

I began writing the book in earnest after extensive research. I had written the first scene for the Dixie Kane contest, which is offered by my local RWA chapter. Then, I read books and scoured the internet. The actual writing took less than six months, but I wrote mostly in the summer. I was like a person possessed. This book was intensely personal.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

My characters developed as they faced certain trying situations. The more I researched, the more I wanted to add to my plot, and my characters evolved with each new adventure. They spoke to me, and I heard their voices. Many, like George, grew in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I had to see the war end in LOVE AT WAR. I didn’t want to stop at Normandy because the war still raged. I wanted to show the aftermath. Several characters also had to face justice. Karma will out!

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The most difficult part was that I wanted to be accurate about the history and facts, and I tend to be a perfectionist. I’d be in the middle of a scene, and I’d then have to move quickly to the internet to confirm a detail. I wanted accuracy on things like the types of weapons the various armies used and on the various uniforms.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

Writing the book was a profound experience for me. This book was the most personal one I’d ever written. It was a Valentine for my mother. In many ways, I was writing the book for her, and I dedicated it to my uncles.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My mother encouraged me to read and to study. She read to me often, and I owe my love of reading to her. My father had uncommon guts and gall. He bootlegged during the Depression, trained prize fighters, and also trained race horses. He had four wives. My mother, his widow, was seventeen years his junior. One day, I’ll tell his story. Both of my parents had grit. They grew up poor, worked hard, and had pride.

What writer influenced you the most?

Louisa May Alcott was probably my biggest influence. I read LITTLE WOMEN and wanted to be Jo. I also loved Anna Sewell’s BLACK BEAUTY. My dad trained horses, and I think they are gorgeous creatures. It was after I read those books that I told my mother I wanted to be a writer.

My website is http://www.violarussell.com.
LOVE AT WAR is available on http://www.redrosepublishing.com and on http://www.amazon.com.

See also: Interview with Nuala Comeaux, Hero of “Love at War” by Viola Russell