Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was ACFW’s 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, #1 Historical Fiction Author, #3 Author, #4 Novel, #3 Series, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and recipient of 14 RWA awards. Contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.
Julie at My Favorite Pastime(JMFP): As a writer do you manage to make time to read? If so who is/are your favorite authors? And what is your favorite genre to read?(I'm going out on a limb here and thinking romance! LOL)
Julie Lessman: Yes, yes, a thousand times YES—I love to read and am actually able to read about 6-8 books a month. I manage this by carrying a book around in my purse when I’m out so I can read in the car or at doctors’ appointments. I also leave a book in the powder room on days that I’m home, stealing wonderful moments here and there in another world. One of my favorite times of the day is at bedtime, when I can snuggle in with my hubby for twenty minutes or so and read while he watches TV—ahhhh, sheer bliss!
Favorite genre? HA! No need to crawl on limbs, Jules, I am a die-hard, card-carrying romance reader who only occasionally strays into genres like suspense, women’s fiction, fantasy or YA. And my favorite authors? Well, it’s no secret I LOVE Laura Frantz and MaryLu Tyndall—two of my favorites because our hearts beat the same way about passionate romance and they are dear, dear friends besides. Other Inspirational favorites are Francine Rivers, particularly her Mark of the Lion series—awesome! I absolutely love Liz Curtis Higgs’ historicals as well, especially her Scottish trilogy, Fair is the Rose, Thorn in My Heart and Whence Comes a Prince.
Of course, I LOVE and read all of the Seeker books when I can—Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Deb Giusti, Audra Harders, Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, Cara Lynn James, Myra Johnson, Glynna Kaye, Sandra Leesmith, Tina Radcliffe and Missy Tippens—and am truly astounded at the talent in this group.
Newer historical authors I really enjoy reading include Sharlene MacLaren, Tamera Alexander, Julie Klassen, Deanne Gist, Jamie Carie and Lisa Bergren, to name only a few. And if you’re talking Women’s Fiction, Patty Lacy, Cathy Gohlke and Nikki Arana are absolutely outstanding. I don’t read a lot of YA, but both Melanie Dickerson and Michelle Hutchison’s “Second Glance” series are wonderful!
JMFP: Do you have a favorite among the books that you have written and if so why?
Julie Lessman:I actually have two, one for each of the O’Connor series. For The Daughters of Boston series, it’s book 2, A Passion Redeemed, because it was the most fun to write of any book I’ve ever written. I actually wrote it (almost 500 pages) in two months, and that was working part-time at my day job! It just seemed to flow from me, I guess because Charity is so much like I used to be before Christ that it felt natural to be writing her story. I had to laugh at my husband while he was reading Redeemed because he couldn’t stand Charity. Poor guy, I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’s been married to her (without the incredible physical beauty) for over 30 years!
Don’t get me wrong, I love Faith O’Connor, but in all honesty, she is more like the woman I am today—heavily dependant on God, emotionally involved with Him and a person who prays at the drop of a hat, so I almost feel one with her. But Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost. I think that’s why she fascinates me so much, because I look at her (and women like her) in the same way I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ. And quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh.
My favorite book in the Winds of Change series? Oh my, that would be A Hope Undaunted, my tip-top favorite book of all those I’ve written. Not only do I love, love, LOVE all the head-butting between the hero and heroine Luke McGee and Katie O’Connor, but this book is so well rounded, I think, with so much to offer the reader. Not only do you have an explosive love story between the hero and heroine, but several dramatic subplots, a family trauma that unites the entire family, incredible history during the Roaring 20s and Great Depression, and a story where three types of love come together with a powerful message—romantic love, brotherly love and Agape love.
Julie Lessman: Wow … that’s the first time I’ve ever been asked that question, Jules, and I’ve answered over 1,600 questions in over 200 interviews, so good job!
I’ll give you a hint: When I was little, my brothers and sisters used to call me “Walking Nervous Breakdown.” Okay, so I’m a bit wired … there’s no harm in that, is there? I mean I do everything fast (except interviews!). I walk fast, I talk fast and I eat fast—a natural byproduct of being #12 in a family of 13, I guess. Imagine 15 people at a Last Supper-style Formica table with long red vinyl benches on either side. Like a school of sharks waiting for meat to hit the water. If you didn’t grab for the grub, chances are there wouldn’t be anything left. Can you say “plague of locusts”? To this day, buffets put a twitch in my eye because I feel like the food will run out.
And, yes, I am dramatic … okay, “melo”-dramatic, but in my opinion that makes for a good storyteller. I like drama and passion— LOTS of it—especially in my reading material, which is why my books are not sweet, easy reads. But the flip side is that ALL that PASSION and ENERGY are also channeled into my love affair with God, which is a very good thing!
JMFP: You started writing after reading Gone With The Wind and have compared your character Charity O'Connor(A Passion Redeemed) to Scarlet O'Hara. What would be the difference in the two?
Julie Lessman:Although I see a lot of similarities between Scarlett and Charity—beauty, selfishness, indifference to people’s opinions, confidence, a hard veneer, etc. — the differences between the two are pronounced. Charity is hard because she was emotionally wounded as a child while Scarlett’s hardness appears to be from being spoiled rather than from a hurtful past. Both women appear hard, but Charity is a frightened little girl inside while Scarlett seems tough all the way through. Charity is quirky and has a wonderful sense of humor, but I don’t ever remember Scarlett joking or laughing in GWTW. Charity is also far more passionate romantically than Scarlett ever was, driven by her need for a man’s love while Scarlett was driven by her need to save Tara. And finally, Charity is redeemed by God in book 2 of the series, but you never really see any “spiritual” redemption for Scarlett, either in GWTW or in the sequel, Scarlett.
JMFP: What do you hope readers take away from reading your books?
Julie Lessman:The MOST important thing I pray readers take away from my books is the reality of how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and SHOULD be. Like breathing. These books may be fiction, but this is NOT a fairy tale here. It is possible to have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe. He’s crazy about us, and if most people really understood that, their lives would turn on a dime and blessings would overtake them. Believe me, I KNOW this firsthand—I used to be a hard, cynical, coarse human being before God pulled me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “Yo, Julie! Get a clue. You’re the apple of my eye!” He’s been the love of my life ever since.
JMFP:Tell us about upcoming releases and works in progress.
Julie Lessman:Well, the “Heart of San Francisco” series, which launches April 15, 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. 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!
CHECK OUT JULIE'S VIDEO:
CHECK OUT JULIE'S VIDEO:
As far as other projects, current and otherwise, I just released my own e-book last November called A Light in the Window, which is the prequel love story of Marcy and Patrick O’Connor, the parents in my Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series.
I’m also toying with the idea of a trilogy set in Charleston, South Carolina involving a plantation widow and her daughters, but nothing is set in stone as of yet.
And without question, I fully intend to continue the saga someday with those precocious cousins and, of course, Gabe, the O’Connor’s tomboy foster child for whom I have gotten no less than fifteen e-mails from readers asking the very same thing!! I hope to begin with a trilogy for Faith’s girls, then a trilogy for Charity’s twins Henry and Hope AND Gabe and on down the line, each series taking place during the WWII period. But with all the queries on Gabe, maybe I will begin with that trilogy first ... ;) Of course, each trilogy will include a 2nd-tier love story for the parents because I simply cannot let Faith and Collin, Charity and Mitch and the rest of the former hero/heroine couples go!
JMFP: Where readers can connect with you.
Julie Lessman:Thanks, Jules, for this wonderful opportunity! 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.
And just as an FYI for your readers:
CURRENT GIVEAWAYS/SALES GOING ON RIGHT NOW: For those interested in reading my books, I have a number of fun things going on, so I hope they’ll take advantage of these opportunities:
FREE DOWNLOAD!! A Hope Undaunted, book 1 in Julie's "Winds of Change" series is currently available for FREE DOWNLOAD on Amazon, B&N or CBD.
5 GIVEAWAYS ON GOODREADS: “Sweet Thunderation," my publisher Revell is giving away five free copies of my upcoming release, Love at Any Cost, book 1 in my brand-new “Heart of San Francisco” series. All you have to do is click on the Goodreads link below and enter—it’s that’s easy! Good luck and here’s to a win!
AUTHOR GIVE AWAY!!
Julie Lessman is giving away to one winner their choice of any one of her books. US residents only please. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Giveaway will run from April 5, 2013 through April 8, 2013. Winner will be notified in a blog post and with an email. Leave your email address in the comments section of this post.
Thank you once again Julie Lessman for allowing me the privilege of interviewing you! I am looking forward to reading LOVE AT ANY COST soon.
NOTE**Comments are being moderated. I will post them as quickly as possible throughout the contest.