Launched in February 2012, this is a special feature on Rebecca-Books where I ask 5 of the same question to different authors on their new books to get an insight into what they are about and what it was like writing them. To check out past and future authors for this feature, click here.
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When it comes to a Young Adult contemporary romance, this is one combination of genres I thoroughly enjoy. Think Sarah Dessen, older followers of the blog will know HOW much I love Sarah Dessen. So when I got an email from Emily with a synopsis of her book, I was completely intrigued. A brother coming into the picture? Secrets? Lies? Ah, this sounds pretty good.
So I asked Emily if she would like to participate in The 5 Questions. Over to Emily...
1) What made you write CASTLES ON THE SAND?
Synopsis: Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She's not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget. In love, she's lucky if she has any offers and will take what she can get. John Britton has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents' divorce. She is beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art. Few, if any, men are worthy of her. When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he's got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can't possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?
1) What made you write CASTLES ON THE SAND?
Well, I'm always writing something, and Castles was the next idea I had in mind. A sixteen year old girl thinks her absent, uncaring mother is the only family she has in the world until a Mormon missionary knocks on her door and reveals he's her older brother. The concept just seemed like a great bombshell to start a story. Partway into the first draft I realized I was grieving for a childhood friend who'd recently passed away from a brain tumour. The novel became a tribute to the kind of impact a good man can make on the lives of others, even if he can't be as involved as he wants to be. In the book, it's the protagonist's older brother who wants to be there for her, but he's been gone most of her life and she doesn't know or trust him. It's sort of a mirror image of my friend Jared, who had to leave his children long before he wanted to. In the end, I was able to dedicate the book to Jared and his widow even let me use one of his poems in the dedication, which sets up the story far better than I ever could.
2) What did you enjoy the most about writing it?
Feeling like I could do something, however trivial, for Jared's family. I wasn't able to get to his funeral, because I live in London now and have two small children. A lot of people wrote such touching tributes and shared memories of him online, especially on Facebook. I don't feel like I'm good at that sort of thing, so the novel was my best attempt to capture a little of my memories of him and what I'll always miss about him.
3) Describe the book in a sentence
Madison Lukas knows she's boring, unattractive, and lucky if she has any offers for love, but her nosy, overbearing older brother insists she's amazing, gorgeous, and should hold out for the man of her dreams.
4) What advice would you give to future writers - both in the writing and publishing process?
Take the time to work on your craft. I've been writing one to two thousand words a day for almost twelve years now, and I'm still learning. While it may be frustrating to work so hard for so long and not necessarily see success, every page you write puts you a page ahead of where you were yesterday. Keep going. Eventually it will pay off. Nowadays I can feel how much easier it is to write description, set up scenes exactly how I want them, and have a feel for what kinds of stories produce the reactions I want from readers. When I was a teenager, I'd have despaired at the thought of working this long, but some processes do not have shortcuts. I'd also recommend getting training and doing this as early as possible. I didn't go to a professional workshop until I was twenty-five, and it took me five years after that to sell my first short story. I think I could have achieved this benchmark younger if I'd taken classes or workshops in my teens.
5) Are you working on anything else?
Right now I'm writing a novel called Nobody's Damsel, which is the sequel to my Amazon bestseller, Someone Else's Fairytale. These books are about Chloe, a forensic scientist from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who turns the head of Jason Vanderholt, a Hollywood A-lister. The plot has that element of escapist absurdity that is a lot of fun, but aside from the setup, these aren't farcical books. They're a real look at "what if", and pairing a real life hero with a guy who plays them for a living makes for some great chemistry.
Thank you Emily!
On the 24th OCTOBER (TOMORROW!), CASTLES ON THE SAND will be free on Amazon for 24 hours. Check it out!