Meet Julie Lessman
I’m so happy to present another awesome debut author, Julie Lessman. Julie’s first novel, A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston, Book 1), is the first of a multi-book series. Let’s get to know Julie…
Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, was released January 2008. Visit her Web site at www.julielessman.com.
JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Tell us a little bit about it.
JL: Well, I think the jacket blurb says it best, so here goes:
She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...
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.
JA: I love the premise of this book… a love triangle between an Irish rogue, a proper Boston socialite, and her younger sister. How did you come up with the idea?
JL: As one of 13 children (in a family that included 10 girls!), I guess you can say I experienced my fair share of sibling rivalry. I often butted heads with my sister who was two years older than me. She was … ahem … quite voluptuous and very attractive to boys while I was … well, basically not! :) I was so skinny, in fact, that when I played on a girls’ softball team, my older brother commented: “What position do you play? The foul line?”
Needless to say, the idea of competing with my beautiful sister for a boy’s affection was deeply rooted in my childhood, which is actually when I started writing this novel, at the age of 12, after reading Gone With the Wind. Suddenly my passion for romance was awakened, and although I only penned a 150 pages of a single-spaced manuscript at that time, the story is actually the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it!), almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him! :)
JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your book?
JL: Well, the MOST important thing I would like readers to take away from this book is the reality of how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and SHOULD be. Like breathing. This book may be fiction, but this is NOT a fairy tale here. It is possible to have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe. He’s crazy about us, and if most people really understood that, their lives would turn on a dime and blessings would overtake them. Believe me, I KNOW this firsthand—I used to be a hard, cynical, coarse human being before God pulled me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “Yo, Julie! Get a clue. You’re the apple of my eye!” :) He’s been the love of my life ever since.
JA: Your tagline is Passion With A Purpose. What does that mean to you?
JL: Well, I say it best on my Web site, so I'm going to just repeat that here. My books are what I would refer to as “edgy Inspirational,” meaning they are a tad more passionate than the majority of Inspirational fiction in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) market. And I did this on purpose. You see, I’m the type of woman who loves a heated romance, you know—the heart-fluttering, pulse-pounding emotional tug-of-war between a man and a woman. It draws me, always has, from the early days of Gone With the Wind. But for me, heated romance is not enough. Without God and His precepts in the middle, it’s nothing but lust—heat that burns but doesn’t keep you warm.
Let’s face it—passion is powerful. It can drive a woman into the arms of a man, or a person into the arms of God. In truth, romantic passion gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God. After studying the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible, I’m convinced that the God who created passion and intimacy did so to mirror the intensity of His own love for mankind. It is my belief that romance laced with God’s precepts is also powerful—it can draw, woo and win advocates to its cause with the stroke of a keyboard. It is my hope that A Passion Most Pure is a novel that strikes the balance between romantic and spiritual passion for the broad base of readers searching for its message, and by interweaving the two, bring them into an intimate relationship with the true author of romance.
JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
JL: Well, I had hoped to write a fourth book in the “Daughters of Boston” series since there are four daughters in the O’Connor family, but I haven’t sold it yet, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen there. But I would definitely like to do more series. I love writing about families in depth, exploring the emotional highs and lows of a large family (As one of 13 kids, I wonder why! :)).
I especially enjoy incorporating the love affair between the mother and father of the family because that is so critically important in today’s society and so overlooked. You should never stop having a love affair with your spouse—it’s the greatest thing a mother and father can give to their children—a tender and passionate love between each other. And it’s so much fun for me to incorporate in my books the wonderful lessons I’ve learned with my own husband, humbling though they may be!
Eventually I would like to write a book about my own family, growing up with nine sisters and three brothers, which would be more of a slice-of-life, bittersweet piece of autobiographical fiction. But family saga/romance is where my heart is, so I am sure I will be coming up with plenty of ideas in the future.
JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
JL: Mmm … maybe that I pray for EVERY person who visits my Web site or reads my book? En mass, of course, or I wouldn’t get any writing done! :)
But I guess the biggest thing that surprises people is that I am basically a recluse who has the misfortune of having an outgoing personality! If I had my way, I’d stay at home, grafted to the seat of my computer chair and WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!! But with lots of family to keep up with, four prayer partners, 21 crit/support partners, and plenty of coworkers and friends I interact with on a daily basis, my “loner” personality doesn’t stand a chance. Which I guess is a good thing, although there are unproductive days where I am not so sure. :)
JA: What do you read for fun?
JL: Are you kidding???? ROMANCE!!!!! I am more of a “Calgon, take me away,” type of gal rather than “slice-of-life,” so I don’t read a ton of Women’s Fiction or nonfiction, mostly lovely, uplifting, heart-pounding romance. The bigger the book, the better, in my opinion (which explains the … ahem … length of my own novels!). Turn my head with romance and nail me with God’s precepts in the process—that’s my kind of book! Like Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love or Liz Curtis Higgs’ Scottish trilogy—Wow, “pure” enjoyment!
JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Julie Lessman publishing news?
JL: Thanks for asking, Jennifer! I plan to have an e-newsletter that will be e-mailed to anyone who signs up on my Web site, but I have not implemented that feature yet. So in the near future (hopefully the next month), anyone who wants to stay up with the progress of my books and their release dates can do so by signing up for my newsletter.
Thank you, Jennifer, for having me as your guest—it’s been fun!
Thank you, Julie, and continued blessings on your writing journey!
Win the Book
A Passion Most Pure is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on February 1st. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!