Publication date: April 7th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Dylan Blackard is back in town and certain everyone knows his secrets.
Putting away his notorious reputation as the wild guy with a womanizing past, he’s now on a new path, wanting to be the good guy his brother can stop worrying over. As long as he gives up his old vices—including women—he can keep himself on the straight and narrow and finally live up to everyone’s expectations.
However, obsessing about his lack of self-control is making Dylan one humorless, cranky hermit. That all changes, though, when his brother hires a new employee, the stunning Emma Keller, who will be sharing an office with him and all of his tightly wound nerves.
Emma, a spunky young woman from New Jersey, isn’t about to feel sorry for Dylan and his situation. She is beyond distracting to him, and that is enough to turn his emotional balancing act upside down. Not only is she intelligent, and a smart aleck, she’s also very determined to pull the sexy Dylan Blackard out of his self-imposed isolation.
From the moment he meets her, he feels alive again, but Emma doesn’t come as a gift with a pretty bow; she comes with major baggage—a family embedded in its own tumultuous history.
Will Emma be the tipping point that causes Dylan to regress into his past destructive behaviors…or will he actually pursue her for keeps?
*Due to adult language and sexual content, this New Adult Contemporary Romance is intended for readers over the age of 18.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
2. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
3. How did you choose the genre you write in?
4. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
5. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
6. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
7. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
8. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination
9. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
10. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I’m married with children and live in New York City. I’ve had a pretty rich life, full of adventure, because of my father’s career, so I’ve lived all over the United States. (No, I’m not an army brat - the question I’ve been asked on my first day of school since I was six.) When I was young, I always thought of my middle class upbringing as perfectly normal, but as an adult, I now see how very different my childhood was from other people's experiences. Some of it was very unique and truly wonderful, other parts were very difficult and I didn’t realize how much I coveted the more conventional families of my friends. However, my parents did instill the joy of reading at an early age. I was a proficient reader at age four, and an obsessive reader by age eight.
As an adult, my career path started in corporate finance, and then I moved into television advertising with an emphasis on a heavy sales background. Once I quit my corporate job to raise our children, I was supposed to write full time, however, life and relevant public issues got in the way and I got involved in non-profit work for several causes that are important to my family, so the writing was put on hold for a bit. At one point a couple of years ago, I decided our public life and the non-profit work was consuming my life, and I really wanted to go into a cave and be a hermit and just write stories. My friends laugh when they hear that, I suppose because people who know me in person consider me to be very outgoing and outspoken. I think this is a persona I created and cultivated since I was a child as a way to cope with my family’s nomadic lifestyle - I’ve lived in 36 homes and attended 28 schools including college. I became very resilient and good at making friends wherever we moved to. I guess I felt my life depended on it, so sometimes I felt like an actress. My siblings were less successful at this.
Today, I’ve made it a point to make sure my children’s lives have stability so they’ve only lived in three homes all within the same city, and they’ve had the same friends since nursery school, something I never had. And now I say NO to most people so I can have my privacy and my writing time.
2. & 3.
I first started writing comprehensive stories as a teenager. I wrote my first full-length novel (over 400 pages) when I was twenty, and another when I was twenty-two. I did get the attention of two NY agents and the books were shopped around along with movie options. I didn’t write romance at the time; these were mainstream fiction novels. I did not have success with publication at that time.
I had never read a romance novel until 2005, and I remember this well because it happened after my family suffered through my brother’s suicide. A friend who lived in the apartment below me appeared at my door with a box full of romance novels. She said, “You need to change your soundtrack.” I was always reading a lot of dark “literary” novels, and she wanted me to read something more fun and happy. The first romance I read was a Karen Marie Moning novel from her Highlander series - and it was fun, and helped to get me out of a very dark place. That’s when I started thinking about writing romance, too.
As a child, it was the voice of the character Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird that influenced me heavily in storytelling and how to present a character to the reader. As an adult, I’ve read thousands of books across many genres. Anne Tyler’s and Jhumpa Lahiri’s books taught me how to take ordinary characters and show them dealing with everyday life. Stephen King’s novels taught me how to take risks with your characters and subject matter. Karen Marie Moning and other romance writers taught me how to create the happiness everyone dreams about.
Since I was only seeking traditional paths, the novels I wrote in my twenties were not published. When I decided to publish my romance novels, I didn’t even consider going back to my old agents since they don’t handle the romance genre. I had been following the self-publishing industry for several years and decided that’s how I would publish my romance novels. So the challenges in that were very new to me. Instead of dealing with my agent and having my book shopped around to publishing houses, I had to learn about book promotion for indie authors which is more than one platform and it’s constantly changing. Visibility in a very large market and reaching new readers is an ongoing challenge.
I guess the only thing I would do differently is that I would have started self-publishing in 2010 rather than waiting until 2013. Since I can’t change that, I don’t dwell on it.
I loved the books I wrote in my early twenties and so did my agents and the editor who discovered one of my books in the infamous slush pile. However, when I read the books now, I love them less and I have no interest in publishing them. I watched an interview of one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett, where she said she can’t even go back and read what she wrote in her twenties which is funny since I have those early books of hers and I love them.
I wrote a book in 2010 which is not a straight romance. It’s loaded with political intrigue and small-town shenanigans. It was a difficult book to write and required a lot of historical research. I did add two characters that fall in love among this great divide of their townspeople, however, I’ve kept the novel under wraps all this time. It’s a modern day Romeo & Juliet Meets Lord of the Flies and Pride and Prejudice rolled into one. It’s loaded. I have since decided I will write another version that is completely a romance, and the political conflict will be secondary to the romance between my two favorite characters in the novel.
ALL of my novels have characters that are based on real life people, either in my family, friends, or people I’ve met, and the experiences are mostly taken from real events. In FEARSOME, Jessica’s genius academics paired with her social awkwardness are based on a friend who has an amazing career in academia but it took her years to find the right man. She’s beautiful and brilliant and kept making the same mistakes with men over and over - I guess I was taking notes on her for years. In FREEDOM, Dylan is based on my brothers who were both diagnosed as bipolar. Their experiences were vastly different. I even add in OCD (obsessive compulsive behaviors) and behaviors on the autism spectrum since these are prevalent in my family tree.
I do have to create the plot and the conflict so my characters can have their HEA. However, even Emma from FREEDOM is based on a real person I knew as a teenager (daughter of an actual mobster), and I had to put her into some mob-related incidents that occurred in the New York City area over the last year.
The toughest criticism is when a reader doesn’t think my portrayal of people with certain disorders is authentic or they find them unnecessary to the story. I can only write flawed characters and I have to care about them to make their story meaningful to me, so that’s why I add many elements from my life who have to live with autism, bipolar, OCD, suicide, and in Emma’s case, the mob.
As a writer I know there’s one fact that is true for every writer: I will never write a book that every single person loves. That’s okay because for the one person who doesn’t care for my story, I’ve received over a hundred emails from women who tell me they were that child prodigy like Jess and they suffered from not being able to read social cues very well, but now they embrace their genius IQs. I’ve also received so many messages from readers telling me they love how Dylan’s bipolar behavior was portrayed, and they or a family member has struggled with it for years.
One of my most humbling messages was from a woman who was sitting by her husband’s hospital bed post-surgery, and it was touch and go. She said reading FEARSOME helped her get through that very dark time when she felt alone and terrified. If my books can make someone feel good, even for that day, that’s good enough for me.
I would love for my readers and fans to know that they can always reach out to me, either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Facebook. I love hearing from individuals whether they want to ask me a question, say hello, or share their opinions on my books and what they’d like to see from me in the future. One reader said she was embarrassed to email me because she thought it was stalkerish - HA! Hardly! I love connecting with readers! If people weren’t reading my books I’d be pretty miserable.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
*I received a free ARC of Freedom from Xpresso Booktours for my participation of the blogtour, in exchange of my honest and unbiased review.*
A fantastic book that deals with mental illness and how a couple overcome their illness in life and stay together.
It's nice to a book where these issues are dealt with as we don't see it in romance books.
The author draws you in so you just want to keep on reading.
An excellent read
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