I’m pleased, today, to welcome author Julie Lessman to Word Lily! She is the author of the Daughters of Boston trilogy and, most recently, A Hope Undaunted.
Word Lily: One of my favorite aspects of these books about the O’Connor family is the relationship between Patrick and Marcy. In A Hope Undaunted, that relationship is still strong, but it seems more muted than it did in the earlier books. What’s your reasoning behind this? (I have my guesses, but I’d rather hear your rationale.)
Julie Lessman: Well, I’d like to hear your “guesses” too, but just so you know, originally I had a more detailed subplot for Marcy and Patrick involving Marcy entering menopause with wild mood swings, and Patrick treading lightly so as to not trigger an outburst or crying jag (a lot like my poor husband went through, who likened menopause to walking across a minefield! :-)). BUT … the relationship between Marcy and Patrick was toned down for A Hope Undaunted because my editor felt that 1.) There was too much going on (She was right because originally I had a subplot for EACH of the couples!) and 2.) She felt that because Marcy was 52 and Patrick 53, nobody would be interested in reading about their “love life” anymore, which, although I agreed with the first point, the second ruffled my feathers a tad.
As a baby boomer who thinks romance does NOT end at the age of 30, I purposely incorporated a love story between the parents that was both inspiring and deeply tender because frankly, I get tired of romance being relegated to the young. I mean, come on now — why should they have all the fun?? I will be 60 next month and I can tell you right now that once empty nest hit, my husband and I felt like teenagers on the loose again — more active with things like biking, working out, traveling and definitely more romantic than ever before in 32 years. I think when couples are raising kids, the romance tends to suffer a lot in a marriage, so when the kids flew the coop, it was like my husband and I could really focus on each other. And I can tell you right now that not only is my marriage better than it’s ever been, but I am one of those blessed women who feels as if I am living my own personal romance novel.
Word Lily: Hm, yeah. I’m not a baby boomer, but I agree with you. I know there are another couple books planned for this Winds of Change series, but beyond that, what’s it like to think about leaving the O’Connors behind and moving on to another family’s story?
Julie Lessman: Painful. Keep in mind that these people are like a second family to me — I’ve lived and breathed them for nine years now, and a part of me dreads letting them go. But God is preparing me because already I feeling myself pulled toward another new series. But I guarantee you, I will revisit the O’Connors now and then by rereading the books and then, who knows? Maybe down the road I’ll be able to pen a series about the O’Connor cousins during WWII!
As far as what I plan to write next after the “Winds of Change” series, I’m hoping to write a prequel about Marcy and Patrick O’Connor before they were married as well as a new trilogy entitled “The Cousins McClare,” a poor-man, rich-man scenario among three cousins amid the Irish-political landscape of 1920s San Francisco, prohibition and the Barbary Coast. Think Little Women meets Dynasty. And for those of you too young to remember the TV show Dynasty, think family wealth and poverty in a political setting.
Word Lily: I’m one of those not familiar with Dynasty, I admit! I know of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. I just got a dog this year; Maisie, and Old English Sheepdog, is almost 11 months old now. Tell us about your dog.
Julie Lessman: Well, as you may have noticed, all the dogs in my book (with the exception of a scruffy terrier mutt in A Hope Undaunted, are golden retrievers, and that’s because we had goldens all of our lives. Unfortunately, our golden named Bunker died Easter weekend at the age of 15, a ripe age that is almost unheard of for large dogs, but I believe in praying for longevity for our pets, so I did, and it sure worked.
Word Lily: Oh, I’m sorry to hear about your loss of Bunker! What books have you read and enjoyed recently?
Julie Lessman: Oh, it’s been a realllly good month for reading, let me tell you! First off, there was Mary Connealy’s Doctor in Petticoats (love Mary’s humor!), then MaryLu Tyndall’s Surrender the Heart (love MaryLu’s romantic edge and tense adventure!), Myra Johnson’s Where the Dogwood Blooms (probing spiritual message and romance that is wonderfully sigh-worthy), Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz (Laura always packs an emotional punch with a story and characters as alive and real as my own family), and finally, my current read is Melanie Dickerson’s The Healer’s Apprentice, which is simply a delightful medieval YA that is pure magic. Yep, all in all, a very good month!
Word Lily: That definitely sounds like a good reading month, yay! I think I’ll end up adding some of those to my wish list. I know you started writing A Passion Most Pure when you were still in your teens, but I haven’t found this part of your journey in the other interviews I’ve read: What’s your writing education/training?
Julie Lessman: Actually, not much! I only completed one year of college before quitting to get a job because I didn’t get along with my father (and my mother was deceased), so I wanted out of the house BAD!! But I knew I had some writing ability because I won speech contests in high school, was published in the National Anthology of High School Poetry, was an editor of the high school yearbook and newspaper, and won poetry contests in the one year of college I did attend. In my early 20s, I took an advanced creative writing course at Washington University and then a fiction-writing course much later in life. Surprisingly enough, I ended up with a travel writer job for many years that today would require a degree.
Word Lily: A more general question now. What are you working on now?
Julie Lessman: Well, I recently completed book 2 in the “Winds of Change” series, A Heart Revealed, which tells the forbidden love story of Sean O’Connor and Emma Malloy, and have just begun book 3, Steven O’Connor’s story, tentatively titled A Trust Restored. Both books take place during The Great Depression and Prohibition, providing a wealth of historical interest about this exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and Al Capone. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness (a la Robert Stack from the old TV show The Untouchables, which most of your readers are probably too young to remember), who not only battles crime with a vengeance, but also the guilt and regret of a painful past.
Word Lily: Ooh, sounds good! Thank you so much for your time! Anything else you want to say? Am I missing something?
Julie Lessman: Thank you, Hannah, for hosting me on your blog. It’s been fun! And I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my website at julielessman.com, either by sending an email via my site or by signing up for my newsletter. My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called Journal Jots which is a very laid-back, almost-daily journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Then finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication. Thanks again, Hannah, and God bless!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post expressing interest in winning and interacting with the interview. I’ll accept entries through Monday, October 4, 2010.
Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.