Julie Lessman’s interview

» Posted on Jan 10, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Julie Lessman’s interview

Don’t forget to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com if you want to enter the drawing for a chance to win A Passion Most Pure.

Julie Lessman’s interview
1. What made you start writing?

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 write 150 pages of a story that became the basis (some forty years later!) for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

Well, as I mentioned above, I started writing at the age of twelve, but never really got serious until July 16, 2001—that’s 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 in my spirit said, “Now is the time to write your book.” I started A Passion Most Pure a month later, finally selling it to Revell 4-1/2 years and 42 rejections later.

3. How do you handle rejections?

Oh, gosh, after 42 rejections, I got pretty good at it! I even received three rejections AFTER I sold to Revell (from queries I had sent out three years prior before I got an agent), which brings the total to 45, but those three didn’t hurt at all! ☺ Actually, contests helped toughen me up a lot, but even so, whenever I would receive that flat #10 SASE, a malaise would settle over me like the web of a spider. But I learned a long time ago that praising God in ALL situations releases power, so that’s what I would do. I’d praise Him and then fill my mind with hope scriptures (which, by the way, you can find on my Web site at: http://julielessman.com/from-the-heart/), and it is AMAZING the difference that makes.

4. Why do you write?

Well, I would like to sound all noble here and say I write FOR God, but the truth is that for me, writing is a gift FROM God. I mean I’m so far gone, that my stomach actually does a little flip every time I open my thesaurus! To be able to pour my passion—for God and for romance—into a book that merges both is one of the most exhilarating things I have ever experienced. And because of it, my love for God grows deeper and deeper everyday because He allows me to glorify His name with my craft. What a privilege!

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Oh, you mean how I USED to spend my free time? That’s easy: watching old movies (Gone With the Wind, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Susan Slept Here are some of my favorites), reading more books, gardening and hosting elaborate dinner parties a la Martha Stewart. I’m pretty driven in whatever I do (anal might be a better word). And, yes, I’ve been known to pipe guest’s initials into their twice-baked potatoes, cut napkin rings out of real lemons to hold lemon green beans, and sketch a layout for how the food would be placed on the plate. Which was fine when I was younger and had the energy to do it, but these days, sitting at my computer with a candle burning and a cup of Hazelnut Cinnamon coffee is my pastime of choice.

6. What are you working on right now?

Right now I am finishing revisions for book 2 (A Passion Redeemed) and book 3 (working title: A Passion Denied) and hope to start book 4 in the next month or so. But with A Passion Most Pure just out this month and A Passion Redeemed out in September, I’m pretty busy with blog interviews, book signings and promotion in general. I do have a day job as a travel writer at Maritz Travel (2-3 days a week), so my time as an author is somewhat limited.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

Uh, I’m afraid so! ☺ Faith, the sister heroine of A Passion Most Pure is basically my spiritual self. Both of us have an intimate relationship with God where we talk and pray with Him as naturally as if He were physically in the room. He’s our best friend as well as our Savior and the true love of our lives. In fact, Faith and I are so much alike in the spiritual aspect, that a good friend of mine told me that reading A Passion Most Pure was “like going to lunch with me!”

Charity, the sister heroine of Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, is my rebellious and “passionate” self, before I came to the Lord. I was a wild child of the seventies before Jesus got a hold of me (as he does Charity in Book 2)!

Lizzie (or Beth), the sister heroine of Book 3, working title A Passion Denied, is my dreamer self. Lizzie is a bookworm bent on fairytale romance, just like I used to be as a little girl, sneaking downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed. In her story, Lizzie has to learn (just like I did) that true romance, the kind that really satisfies, comes from following God’s precepts, not the world’s.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.

A Passion Most Pure is a family saga with a love triangle between two sisters and the bad-boy hero they both love. Here’s the jacket blurb:

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith’s proper Boston family apart.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Basically the same advice that published authors gave to me: 1.) Join ACFW, FHL and RWA, both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft. 2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference. 3.) Join a critique group. 4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!). 5.) Go for an agent first, publisher second. 6.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.

10. How important is faith in your books?

Oh, my goodness, MONUMENTAL!!! I’m sorry, but to me, romance is just not romantic unless God is in the middle! For my tastes, there’s nothing “sexy” about sin in a romance novel or movie. I’ve had people tell me that Bridges of Madison County was one of the most romantic films they have ever seen. Are you kidding me??? Since when is adultery romantic, no matter the situation! Maybe that’s just me, but I personally can’t enjoy romance (in a movie or book) unless it is according to God’s precepts OR unless it uses sin to point the reader TO His precepts. That’s the reason I LOVE Inspirational Romance so much. And, yes, “faith” (or spiritual passion) is the key component in my novels … with romantic passion hot on its heels! ☺

11. What themes do you like to write about?

Basically ANYTHING from the Bible that God has taught me in my life. For instance, A Passion Most Pure has a number of scriptural lessons woven into the fabric of the story such as praying for those who hurt you, Matthew 5:44 or choosing life (God’s precepts) over death (your own way), Deuteronomy 30. Book 2 in the series, A Passion Redeemed, highlights how God will use a lot of things to bring His children to Him, such as a tempest in our lives or shame, Psalm 83:13-16. And finally, in Book 3, A Passion Denied (working title), I touch on lessons I’ve learned regarding submission to your husband or idol worship (uh, romance, in my case!).

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

I hate to admit this, but Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, is my VERY favorite of all three books of the series, even though everyone who has read Book 3, A Passion Denied, seems to like book 3 the best. I guess I hate to admit it because the heroine is such a Scarlett O’Hara-type character, which is not appealing to most people. But Charity O’Connor is such a wonderfully flawed heroine, that it was sooo much fun to bring her to God and follow her through all of her antics before she gets there. Also, A Passion Redeemed reminds me a lot of the old-fashioned romance movies where the utterly male hero butts heads with the feisty heroine (think The Quiet Man or It Happened One Night), when deep down underneath, there’s an attraction so charged, the two light up whenever they connect. ☺

13. What is your writing schedule like?

What writing schedule? Oh, sorry, you mean when it’s NOT Christmas and you don’t have a debut book coming out? (grin). Well, as I said before, I have a part-time day job as a travel writer, so that only leaves me 2-3 days a week to focus on my novels, precious time which gets eaten up with other priorities. (Groan, my husband’s quite fond of clean clothes and home-cooked meals, even though he doesn’t get either as often as he likes!)

My novel-writing days begin with a quick e-mail check (did I say “quick” – NOT!) while I sip coffee and eat peach oatmeal (yes, everyday!). Then I try to do 20-30 minutes on the treadmill before I read my Bible and have prayer time. I usually don’t get to write until ll:00 AM or 1:00 PM, but then I’m off and running until my husband walks in the door at 5:30 PM.

Margaret, thank you SO much for having me on your blog! I always enjoy your interviews … whether doing them OR reading them! ☺

Hugs, Julie