Monday, June 1, 2009

Author Interview (& GIVEAWAY!): Julie Lessman

In lieu of Mystery Mondays, I am very excited to bring to you another author interview! Julie Lessman, author of the Daughters of Boston series (A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied), was kind enough to answer a few of my questions as we celebrate the recent release of A Passion Denied. I have been very fortunate to exchange many emails with Julie during the last few weeks and have really come to appreciate the author behind all of these amazing, passionate inspirational novels.

I hope you enjoy learning a little more about her and her books--I know I did, and I'm looking forward to sharing my review of A Passion Denied tomorrow. It's another page-turner!


Julie Lessman photoWelcome to Melissa's Bookshelf, Julie!

What led you to decide to write Christian fiction, especially from a more passionate point of view? When did you know this was what you wanted to do?

Four life-altering words: Gone With the Wind. When I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere (grin), but I did begin writing (150 single-spaced pages worth) of a story that became the basis (some forty years later!) for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.

Fast forward to June 2001, when I was sitting in a beauty shop reading a Newsweek magazine cover article about Christian entertainment. It said Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. My heart jumped, and something said, “Now is the time to finish your book.” I started A Passion Most Pure the next month, finally selling it to Revell 4-1/2 years and 45 rejections later.

And why Christian fiction? Because I have two raging fires burning inside of me—one for heart-pounding, toe-curling romance and one for God. For me, when you merge the two, it not only leaves you with what I hope is an unforgettable story, but an inspirational lift that may last even longer.
:-)

What author has influenced you the most in your writing?

For me, that’s a no-brainer: Margaret Mitchell. The moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks in Gone With the Wind, I was a goner, my brain irrevocably branded with the burning desire for romance. God help me, I was only twelve at the time when some innocent, unsuspecting person put a copy of that book in my hand. I swear to this day that the binding not only burned my fingers, but also seared my life forever. Today, I like to think that not only are Margaret Mitchell’s fingerprints are all over me in my religious devotion to passion, but God’s as well—merging my passion for romance with my passion for Him.

Passion Denied coverA Passion Denied is your third book. How do you approach writing these stories now, in comparison to working on your first book, A Passion Most Pure?

Oh, great question. And the answer is—very carefully! You see, I am first and foremost a “seat of the pants” writer versus the more methodical “plotter” method, which means for A Passion Most Pure (and A Passion Redeemed also), I had a vague idea of where I was going with the story, but little else. For me, it was just a matter of writing that first line (be it the first line of a scene, chapter or even the book), and BOOM, off I would go, letting the story take me where it wanted to go.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy with A Passion Denied, primarily because by the time I got to that story, I had six years of family history to contend with (i.e. birthdays, ages, anniversaries, etc.). Suddenly I had to focus hard on details because not only did they have to line up with the prior stories, but they also had major bearing on future stories in the next 3-book series. As a result I have an age/birthday/anniversary chart that would boggle your mind for FOURTEEN characters. Not only that, but because I couldn’t afford to trip up on the details, for the first time, I crafted extensive and detailed synopses for each of the three books in the next series, which not only outline the stories for the hero and heroines, but a substory for each of the rest of the couples in the family. YIKES!!! Can you say complicated???

Do you have a favorite O'Connor? If so, who might it be?

This may freak out some people, I’m sure, but my favorite O’Connor is Charity. I think the reason is because she is SO much like I used to be (without the beauty) as a young girl and woman before Christ. 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 quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh. Mind you, many of the things she did/does are thing I did as a young woman who didn’t know God, so Charity comes by all her quirkiness quite naturally, I’m afraid. :-)

I saw the exciting news on your web site that you will be continuing this series with the O’Connor family for three more books, starting with Kate’s story. Can you give us any hints about what to look forward to?

You bet! My next 3-book series will finish off the saga of the O’Connors in grand style. Book 1 will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, which is fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Mind you, Katie is, as her father Patrick O’Connor likes to say, “a handful,” an independent spirit who has been struggling to get out from under his thumb for years. So when the Roaring 20s comes riding in with its wave of women’s rights (1922 was when the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced!), Katie finds her calling. Suddenly she wants to become a lawyer (the first law school for women was founded in Boston in 1910!) and eventually a congresswoman who fights for women’s rights. Only her plan runs into a hitch when she butts heads with another lawyer, Cluny McGee, the pest from her past. And when the Great Depression unleashes in October 1929, it brings a wave of trouble for the O’Connors that changes each of their lives forever.

Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean and Steven, during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Sean's love interest will be ... guess who? Emma—Charity's scarred friend from Dublin in book 2, A Passion Redeemed! And Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness … you’re too young to remember, but a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables, a TV show I used to watch growing up. Hubba hubba. I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved and include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples, hopefully with surprises that will blow my readers away. :-)

Do you have any plans for a new book or series after you finish the Daughters (and Sons) of Boston series?

As a matter of fact, I’ve been plotting a semi-contemporary series in my head for a while now, something that would take place in the Baby Boomer era of the 60s, and I’m starting to get pretty excited about it. A series title I’m thinking of at the moment is The Cousins McClare, and basically it would be a love/hate tug-of-war between cousins and their families (and their love interests!) in a small lake community in the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, where, by the way, I have spent many a happy summer!

Thank you, Melissa, for having me as guest on your blog. I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my Web site at http://www.julielessman.com/, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter. Currently in my newsletter, I am having a contest to win a signed author copy of Book 4, (Katie’s story) as well as the opportunity to have a character named after you or a loved one in my next novel. Also, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find it at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/.

Thank YOU, Julie, for being so kind and for writing such captivating stories! I don't know about everyone else, but I am anxiously awaiting Book 4!!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Daughters of Boston posterAnd this brings me to the second part of the post, today. Julie has been so kind as to offer a giveaway of any ONE of her three books to one lucky reader!

To enter, please leave a comment stating which book you'd like to win, as well as an email address so I know how to reach you, otherwise I'd have to pick another winner.

For an additional entry, become a follower and leave a comment letting me know you did.

If you are already a follower let me know and guess what--2 additional entries!

For another 2 entries, tweet about this giveaway (@Melsbookshelf) and leave a comment letting me know that you did!

For 3 additional entries, leave a comment on one of my reviews of Julie's previous books: A Passion Most Pure or A Passion Redeemed.

Remember, be sure to comment on this post regarding all your eligible entries and provide an email address! This contest will be open until Sunday, June 7th at 8:00PM Eastern! I will tally the votes and Random.org will choose our winner either that evening or Monday, June 8th!
HUGE THANK YOU again to Julie Lessman, I enjoyed having you as a guest on my blog!

43 comments:

  1. I'd love to win her newest book, A Passion Denied.

    I'm already a follower.


    Wordlily AT gmail DOT com

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  2. I'd love to win A Passion Denied. I've previously won the first two books in the series, so I'm hoping that means I have good luck with the Daughters of Boston. Maybe they like me! LOL

    ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

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  3. I would LOVE to win this book! I already have the first 2 in Julie's series. :)

    I've joined as a Follower, as well as commented on one of your previous reviews of Julie's books. That's 4 additional entries, right?

    Thank you,
    Lori

    sugarandgrits[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  4. WORDLILY -- Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment -- good luck in the contest!

    ASHLEY -- Boy, you are lucky, girl. Let's see if your luck holds out! :) Thanks for your support!

    LORI -- So good to see you here, too, my friend! Good luck in the contest.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  5. I'd like to win the first book in the series, A Passion Most Pure, since I have never read any of her stuff.

    Valorie
    morbidromantic@gmail.com

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  6. I am a follower.

    Valorie
    morbidromantic@gmail.com

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  7. Your review of her first book inspired me to go out and buy a copy, so I would like to win the second novel in the series, A Passion Redeemed.
    -I'm also a follower
    -I commented on your reviews of A Passion redeemed and A Passion Most Pure.

    Sarah
    Www.greenbeanteenqueen.com

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  8. My e-mail is greenbeanteenqueen at gmail dot com

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  9. Can I enter too if it international. I would like to read the first one please - A Passion Most Pure.

    vivienne_dacosta@hotmail.com.

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  10. Just started A Passion Most Pure. Would love to win her second book. Have heard such great reviews.
    Am also looking forward to her O'Connors series.

    desertrose 5173 at gmail dot com

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  11. This is a great series, I assure anyone who has not yet read it. I'd like to win A PASSION DENIED. After commenting, I'm going to follow this blog.

    courtneylp1323(at)aol(dot)com

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  12. I really, really, really want this book!! I've heard sooo many good things about it! Thanks for the chance to win!
    I also left a comment on your 'A Passion Most Pure' review.
    carolynnwald[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  13. I'd love to win Julie's first book, A Passion Most Pure! If I don't win, I'm going to try it when I get back to the US. I am already a subscriber, but hadn't followed through the little Google thing yet - I'll do that now. =)

    - Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

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  14. I learned about this author's series at My Friend Amy and I was hooked. I would love to sign up for book#2 please.
    I am a loyal follower, and I have tweeted this also.
    http://twitter.com/BurtonReview

    Thanks!
    marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

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  15. I'd need the first one!

    mj.coward[at]gmail.com

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  16. Great interview! I loved learning something new about Julie! (like her favorite character and who she is most like now and when she was younger) I sure look forward to the next series with the other O'Connor kids!
    No need to enter me in for the drawing, as I have mine coming to me soon. I just love reading the interviews!!

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  17. Please enter me into the drawing. I have not started the series yet, so any book is fine. cynthiakchow@earthlink.net

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  18. VALONE ... thank you for your interest, and good luck in the contest.

    GREENBEANTEENQUEEN ... first of all, LOVE the e-mail addy, my friend!! Secondly, did I read that you live in Missouri? I am assuming Springfield or Kansas City because those are the to cities I plan to do a book signing in the fall. Thanks SO much for your interest and support!

    SCRAP GIRL, thanks for stopping by, and yes, I do send to international, so you're good.

    CARMEN ... soooo glad you are starting A Passion Most Pure -- let me know if you like it, will you? And if you don't, well, uh ... never mind! :)

    COURTNEY, thanks SOOO much for the endorsement, my friend, and good luck in the contest. :)

    Gosh, CAROLYNN, I "really, really, really" want you to have this book too -- especially with your diligence in following all my blog giveaways ... you sure deserve a win, kiddo.

    MEGHAN, thanks for your interest in my books and for entering the contest. Here's to a win!

    MARIE ... Wow, I am delighted you are "hooked"!!! YEAH! I am assuming you've read book 1 and liked it?? I am so grateful to
    Amy for not only recommending my books to you, but to Melissa as well (owner of this blog)! Very cool!

    MJ ... we'll see what we can do about getting the first book in your hands, girl. Thanks for your interest and for entering the contest.

    SHERRINDA, you are really something else, my friend, and I cannot thank you enough for your incredible support! Can't wait to hear what you think of books 1 and 2!!

    CYNTHIA, so glad you are interested in this series and hope you get a chance to start it with this contest! Thank you!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  19. I really want to read one of these books! Please add my name to the drawing. Thanks!:)

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  20. You've intrigued me with your reviews. I think I'd like the first book.

    I'm also already a follower. Thanks!

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  21. oh, the email is librariansbook(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. CHICKI!!! Good to see you hear, my friend, and good luck in the contest!

    MELISSA ... Sooo glad you are "intrigued" -- that's what I like to hear. Now if the book can do the same once you pick it up, we're in business, girl! Thanks for stopping by.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  23. I'd love to win "A Passion Most Pure" - please count me in!

    Thanks,
    megalon22[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  24. I just became a follower

    megalon22[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  25. I just left a comment on your review of "A Passion Most Pure". Great review!

    Thanks,
    megalon22[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  26. they all sound wonderful and i would be happy with any of them thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

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  27. CHERYL S. ... Trust me, girl, I'd love you to win APMP even more than you do, so thanks for dropping in and good luck in the contest!

    JESS ... Thanks for the sweet comment and I wish you luck in the contest.

    MINDY ... Sooo glad you think the series sounds good. Now let's see if we can't get the first book in your hands, okay? Thanks for entering the contest!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  28. These would be a new series for me but they sound wonderful - A Passion Denied would be my choice but I'd have to go back and read the first too as well.

    msboatgal at aol.com

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  29. SCOTTSGAL ... so good to see you again! :) Following blog giveaways is definitely the way to win a book.

    And if you do win, Scottsgal, I STRONGLY recommend going with book 1 first, A Passion Most Pure, because this is one series you really need to read in order to get the most out of it due to a number of HUGE surprises in book 1. Thanks for your interest and good luck in the contest!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  30. I would LOVE to win A Passion Denied...I have read the first 2 in this series and would LOVE to win the 3rd to be able to read over and over throughout the years!! They are all so wonderful!!!!

    -Alli
    papatya213@hotmail.com

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  31. I just left a comment for A Passion Most Pure - so hopefully that'll help my chances with 3 more entries to win A Passion Denied!! :-)
    -Alli
    papatya213@hotmail.com

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  32. I'd like to win and read A Passion Most Pure.

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  33. After seeing how everyone else did their emails - I guess I did mine wrong! So just in case:

    papatya213[at]hotmail[dot]com

    I posted a comment on Passion Most Pure and left a comment (above).

    Thanks, and sorry for the confusion!! :-)

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  34. ALLI ... grin ... I am thrilled to see you here, too, and I hope you win Denied. Gotta feeling you're gonna love it, my friend, based on the e-mail you sent me about the other two. Good luck!

    LITTLE EAGLE ... thanks SO much for stopping by and I wish you best in the contest.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  35. passion denied mrs.mommyyatgmaildotcom

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  36. I would love the first one in the series - these sound so fun!

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

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  37. MOMFOREVERANDEVER ... Gosh, what a cute e-mail addy, girl!! Reminds me of the mother in my series, Marcy O'Connor, who goes through menopause in book 4 (book 1 of the next series) and is sad because she doesn't want to stop being a mother. Her husband tries to convince her that she will be a mother forever ... Thanks for your interest in this series and good luck in the contest.

    GABY317 ... And I would LOVE you to have the first one in the series, too, Gaby, so here's to a win!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  38. I would love to read the first book in the series.

    Thanks,

    darkfyre1(at)gmail(dot)Com

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  39. Sign me up to win the first one in the series, please!
    makingdowiththenotsonew AT gmail DOT com

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  40. CHRISTINA ... Thanks SO much for your interest! And since this is a series that really needs to be read in order, the first book is a great place to start. :) Good luck!

    MJ ... Consider yourself "signed up," to win a book if your name is drawn, and thank you for stopping by.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  41. I'd love to win A Passion Denied.

    jdmimi at gmail dot com

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  42. JD ... thanks for your interest in A Passion Denied. But a word of warning ... this is one series that needs to be read in order to get the most out of it, so if you haven't read books 1 and 2, I would recommend you start there.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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