Monday, August 18, 2008

Presenting A PASSION REDEEMED by Julie Lessman!

I’m thrilled to welcome back popular author Julie Lessman! Not only is she a talented writer of fiction, she gives some of the best interviews around. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your time with Julie!

THE BIO

Julie - HeadshotJulie Lessman is an author who has garnered much writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can visit Julie at her Web site at www.julielessman.com.


THE INTERVIEW

JA: Please tell us about your latest book, A Passion Redeemed.
JL: Gladly! A Passion Redeemed is Charity’s story—the sister everybody loves to hate—but I have to tell you, it is my FAVORITE of all three books in the series! Charity is sooo wonderfully flawed, that she was a real pleasure to redeem. And in answer to all the readers who have e-mailed that they wanted to slap Charity, rest assured that she gets hers in A Passion Redeemed and then some! :o)

Here’s a brief overview of A Passion Redeemed:


Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. She sets her sights on a man who wants nothing to do with her, and although the sparks are there, he refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with a woman who ruined his life. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.


JA: Charity played a major part in your first book, A Passion Most Pure. Without giving it away for those who haven’t read it, she wasn’t the most likeable person. What unique challenges did that present in telling her story?
JL: Well, I basically had to take a Scarlett O’Hara-type character and make people love her, a considerable challenge that worried both my agent and editor. They were concerned that people hated Charity so much in A Passion Most Pure (I think it was author Camy Tang who said she wanted to see her maimed!), that she would not be a likable heroine. But to tell you the truth, Charity ends up being one of my favorite O’Connors, and in book 3, A Passion Denied, my sister and I both liked Charity the best because she is a real hoot!

Julie Lessman - A Passion RedeemedHow did I make her likable? Since this is her story, I was able to show a side of her nobody saw in book 1—through tender relationship with her grandmothers and others, through wounded introspection and her painful past, and through other character’s love for her. Her great grandmother tells the hero that “She’s an enigma, our Charity. A real puzzlement. She begrudges fiercely and loves fiercely.” Though readers only saw the “grudges fiercely” side of Charity in book 1, they definitely see the “loves fiercely” side of her in book 2—not only in her love for the hero, but for grandmothers, her dear friend Emma, and finally, her family.

JA: As for the man that Charity sets her sights on, he’s determined to have nothing to do with her. What’s your favorite thing about this man (who I’m not naming, again out of deference to those who haven’t read the first book… what are you waiting for? Read it!)
JL: OMIGOSH, I absolutely LOVE this hero! He’s gruff, hot-tempered and no nonsense—what’s not to love? And he’s Irish! But I think the thing I love about him most is his relationship with God, which grows throughout the book. He grouses at God just like I do at times, coming just shy, no doubt, of a thunderbolt from Heaven!

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading A Passion Redeemed?
JL: I seriously hope that women, especially young, single women, will come away knowing that lust is not love, and that only when God is our primary focus in everything—romance, career, marriage—can the rest of our life come into true focus as well.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
JL: I just finished final edits on the third book in the series, A Passion Denied, and boy, was that a hard one to write! But most of my friends and critique partners like it the best of all three books, so we shall see what the public thinks!

Currently I am putting together another 3-book proposal for my publisher that will finish off the saga of the O’Connors. Book 1 will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, which will be fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Books 2 & 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean and Steven, during the exciting era of speakeasies, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger.

JA: I loved A Passion Most Pure, but some readers thought it got a little racy. What was the overall reaction it received? Any particularly memorable fan emails?
JL: Oh, my, yes!! I have to admit, I was worried when I got my first 1-star review on Amazon (and thankfully the only 1-star I received on Amazon so far, which is offset by 46 5-star reviews!) because it began with the sentence, “This is simply a horrible book.” My daughter even joked about readers picketing outside of our house. Fortunately, the negative reviews have been few and far between, but the wonderful e-mails and reviews have been in the hundreds!

My favorite reader response? Gosh, there have been so many, but the following lines from a reader’s e-mail made me cry because THIS is the reason I write. The reader said:
“I just wanted to write to let you know that in all my life, I've never before read a book that has inspired me to change my life as much as this one has! The desire to turn my life over to God has never been this strong. Thank you for making such a strong impact on both me and my family!!” Oh, my—brings tears to my eyes every time! :o)

JA: I’m going to go off the “writing” path for a moment and say how much I love your book covers. Bravo to the Revell art department! They are simply beautiful. How thrilling is it when you get the artwork in your hands for the first time?
JL: Thanks so much, Jennifer. Well, it’s a cold chill that morphs into a warm rush! Trust me, two years of prayer with my prayer partners went into the cover for A Passion Most Pure, and Revell’s excellent artist, Cheryl Van Andel, allowed me maximum input, so I honestly feel the covers are anointed.

Julie - coverFor A Passion Most Pure, the heroine’s hair was originally down, which looked like a prairie romance, so I explained it needed to be up since this was 1916 Boston, and Cheryl graciously complied. I also asked her to make the hair more red and the eyes more green, which she also did. But the most important change was with the hero’s picture. The cover art originally had this namby-pamby picture of Collin and I almost started crying. I asked her if she had any other shots, and she said only one, but that everybody at Revell thought he looked too angry in that shot. I asked her to send it to me anyway, and WOW, it was exactly the look I was going for. Collin IS angry because he wants the heroine, but he can’t have her, so the smoldering look conveyed the romantic tension in the book.

On book 2’s cover, the hero’s hair was slicked down, making him look like a pompous English dandy, so I begged my artist husband (God bless him, he lives with a high-maintenance maniac) to lengthen the model’s chin, trim his sideburns and give him unruly blond hair. We even spent 30 minutes scanning the Internet for the perfect hairstyle (a celebrity who shall remain nameless), which my husband slapped onto the hero’s head. Ahhh … MUCH BETTER!! I sent my husband’s rendition to Revell, and Cheryl kindly went along with the changes. Oh, and since the heroine is supposed to be well endowed, I actually asked Cheryl to “endow” her a bit more, which she did! :o)

JA: When you’re not writing, what’s the most fun thing you can think of doing?
JL: Reading—preferably on a sunny beach with my husband by my side!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
JL: Thanks so much for asking, Jennifer, AND for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readership. I LOVE to hear from readers, so they can contact me through my Web site at www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site OR by signing up for my newsletter at http://julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/. The newsletter comes out three times a year and will keep readers updated on The Daughters of Boston series, as well as give them a chance to win books, get sneak peeks at the publishing process, and info on book releases and signings.

Thanks for coming back and hanging out with us, Julie. May God continue to bless your writing journey!

WIN THE BOOK

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of A Passion Redeemed just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on August 25th. 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!

43 comments:

Lindsey said...

Great interview, and thanks for the giveaway, too! I would love to read this. :-)

Elizabeth Wehman said...

I loved Julie's first book. Please include me in the drawing.

Vickie McDonough said...

Julie,

I loved your first book and can't wait to see how you redeem Charity.

That's cool that you had so much input on your covers. I know that's not always the case.

Julie Lessman said...

Lindsey, thanks for stopping by! Just a word of caution, though, if you win the book -- this is a series that MUST be read in order to get the fullest effect (i.e. there are several big surprises in book 1 that would be ruined if you read book 2 first), so hopefully you have already read A Passion Most Pure?

Elizabeth -- thank you SO much for your kind comment. I hope you like book 2 as well.

Hugs,
Julie

Shirley Kiger Connolly said...

Now that I've heard about it, I do want to read it and review it for Koinonia Book Reviews. Would love to win a copy, Julie. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Blessings
Shirley Connolly
http://apenforyourthoughts.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

As always, Jenn and Julie, great interview! I know I'll love this book as much or more than the first, so please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

Deborah Piccurelli
DebPiccurelli[at]verizon[dot]net

Keli Gwyn said...

Great interview, Jennifer. Julie's Passion series sound fabulous is on on my "To Buy" list.

Please enter me in the drawing.
keligwyn[at]earthlink[dot]net

Becky C. said...

Would love to read this book!

Please enter me in the contest.

Becky C.
rec(at)hiwaay(dot)net

lia said...

Hey! I wanna win the book! I can't WAIT to read it!


juliaisakutie(at)yahoo(dot) com

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hey Ladies!

Great to see you all :+}

This is a fabulous book to take on that last outing of summer... sitting by the pool, out at the beach, or just curled up in a quiet corner of the house. Enjoy it!

southernsassygirl said...

The first book is next up in my TBR pile, so I would love to get a copy of book 2! Please put my name in the hat, too! :o)

Christy

orca0024 at yahoo dot com

windycindy said...

Julie's books do have lovely covers. I always enjoy her interviews! Please enter me in your drawing for this second book in her series. I really appreciate your book giveaways. Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

~Ley said...

A Passion Most Pure was sooo good. (If agonizing. I voted Collin!) I cannot wait to read the next books. Put me in the drawing.

ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

CherryBlossomMJ said...

(I have a copy.) AND OH DO I LOVE JULIE's bookS!! Absolutely fabulous fiction. Great interview by the way, questions that really interested me. I cannot wait for more to come from you Julie!

ladystorm said...

I am very curious to see how you put Charity and the hero together and redeem poor Charity. I loved the first one and can't wait to read this one.

Stormi
ladystorm282001 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Mary said...

Terrific interview! I have the first book coming my way any day now and I would love to read A Passion Redeemed also. Thanks!

worthy2Bpraised{at}gmail{dot}com

Julie Lessman said...

Hey Vickie, nice to see you! And, yeah, I was REALLY blessed to get an artist like Cheryl Van Andel -- anointed creativity AND the patience of Job!!

Shirley, talking about wanting to read something ... I have itchy fingers that want to grab Flame From Within from the top section of my TBR file, but I have to be disciplined and go in order, but I gotta tell you that with your book, it is sooo hard to wait!

Deb, gosh I HOPE you like this book as much as the first one, but then you never know. Of all of my dozen or so crit partners, most like book 2 and 3 the best, but there are those diehards that like book 1 first and foremost. So we shall see!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Keli, Becky and Lia, thanks SO much for dropping by! I wish you could all win, but my husband would shoot me!! :)

Thanks, Jen, for the plug. I have to admit, I love this book the best out of all three, so it certainly qualifies as a pool or beach book ... at least for me anyway! :)

Christy, Cindy and Ashley, thank you for your kind comments and your interest in The Daughters of Boston series. I hope it becomes a favorite for all of you!

Maureen said...

I enjoy reading stories about people who aren't perfect and make their share of mistakes.
mce1011[at]aol[dot]com

Julie Lessman said...

Margaret, you sweetheart, my kind of gal!! And, likewise, I LOVE REVIEWERS LIKE YOU!!! :) Can't wait to get your take on A Passion Redeemed, my friend.

Thanks, Stormi, and yeah, I'm kinda curious to see if you think I redeemed Charity enough to suit the reader too! And enough to capture the heart of man hero like you know who!

Happy reading, Mary, on A Passion Most Pure. Hopefully when you are done, you will have a copy of A Passion Redeemed ready and waiting!

Hugs,
Julie

Pamela J said...

OK, now you've gone and done it!! I knew I was chomping at the bit to get to read A Passion Redeemed, just because A Passion Most Pure was SO fantastic. But, after reading the interview, well there's NO WAY I can miss reading A Passion Redeemed: one way or another. BUT I would like to try winning it first, so PLEASE enter me in your contest.

Hmmm... isn't there a scripture that says we are not to rejoice in other people's calamity? Well, perhaps since I am one of those people that wanted to slap Charity, and since I know I can be "rest assured that she gets hers in A Passion Redeemed and then some", I can concentrate on learning to love enemies because I'm sure there is that too somewhere in the book. (Might be hard to not rejoice just a little.)

I've been teaching in some of my Bible Study lessons and private council sessions about God needing to be our primary focus in everything so this is a plus for me, since Julie hopes people take away this specifically when they finish reading A Passion Redeemed. I LOVE IT!! Thanks for entering me.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

rebornbutterfly said...

The first book was great!
i'd love to win this one!

I'd like to be contacted at my shoutlife address, please :)

sarahw said...

really enjoyed julie's first book. would love to read this one. please enter my name in the draw.
thanks,
sarahwoll[at]hotmail[dot]com

Julie Lessman said...

Hey Maureen, well if you enjoy reading stories about people who aren't perfect, then you are really going to love book 2 in this series, A Passion Redeemed, because the 2nd sister, Charity, is anything but perfect!! But be sure to read book 1, A Passion Most Pure, first due to a number of big surprises that would be ruined if you read book 2 first.

Pamela J!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's like old times with you posting on my blog interviews, girl! Thanks for stopping by and your words of wisdom, as always.

Reborn Butterfly and Sarah -- thanks so much for your kind words about A Passion Most Pure, and I hope and pray you enjoy A Passion Redeemed as much ... despite Charity!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Carolynn W. said...

Oh man I'm sooo excited!!! I can't believe it's finally out...I've been waiting forever!! Please enter me, I can't wait to read Chaity's story! I absolutley LOVED 'A Passion' and can't wait to get my hands on the entire series!

Lucie said...

Thank you for the interview with Julie Lessman. I am getting ready to read A Passion Most Pure and would love to win A Passion Redeemed. What a great series. My two daughters (18 and 20) are waiting in line to read it!

Blessings,
Lucie

LucieInCA [at] aol [dot] com

Julie Lessman said...

Carolynn, I know what you mean -- I've been waiting FOREVER for it to come out too!! :) Thank you SO much for your enthusiasm and support ... YIKES ... I hope it's worth it by the time you finish A Passion Redeemed!!!

Lucie -- Oh, I just LOVE "family reads" where everybody reads a book and discusses it -- how fun!! I hope you guys enjoy it.

Hugs,
Julie

kelsey raber said...

love your books! keep writing!

Cheryl said...

I read the 1st book in the series and I loved it. I would love to read #2. Please enter me in the contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Julie Lessman said...

Kelsey, you sweet thing, SO glad you made it by!! Thanks soooo much for your comment.

And thanks, Cheryl -- hope book 2 meets with approval too ... :0

Hugs,
Julie

bookwurm70 said...

Please enter me, can't wait to read the next book in the series. Loved the first one!

Gail
bookwurm70 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Smilingsal said...

Please consider me for this book giveaway. Thank you.
smilingsal55[at]yahoo[dot]com

Bonnie Leon said...

This is a great interview--so much fun.

I'd love a copy of the book.

Bonnie Leon

www.bonnieleon.com

Julie Lessman said...

Gail and Smiling Sal -- thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Good luck!

Hey, Bonnie, thanks for dropping in. I have to admit, always makes me a wee bit nervous when an author of your caliber reads my books ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Liv said...

Ouu I can't wait to get this book - so I hope I can win it! LOL
christianlit [at] hotmail [dot] com1 :)

Julie! the new series sounds AWESOME!! :)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey Liv,

Thanks sooo much!! That means a lot right about now as I STRUGGLE with the synopis on book 3! The first two synopses have turned our really nicely, but Steven's story has been like giving birth, labor pains and all!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

bekka said...

I loved the interview! Passion Most Pure is one of my FAVORITE BOOKS!!!!!! It left me breathless the entire time I read it! I can't wait for the next one with Charity!!!!
In His Steps
Bekka

Doreen said...

Wahooo!! I have a Passion Most Pure and now I would love a copy of this book! purposedrivenlife4you(at)gmail(dot)com

Julie Lessman said...

BEKKA!!! Thank you SO much for your wonderful comment. If A Passion Most Pure left you breathless, hold on to your hat with A Passion Redeemed -- it's my favorite of all three books in the series, but maybe that's because Mitch and Charity are SOOOOO much fun together! Hope you think so too!

Hey Doreen -- good girl, you're making the rounds -- that means somebody is smart and checking out my Web site calendar to see where all the book giveaways are!! Clever girl. :)

Amber said...

A PASSION MOST PURE is such an amazing read! I am getting married in two months, and this story really touches base with the vast amount of emotions that stream through relationships. I am really looking forward to Charity's story in Book 2 because I would love to see her 'redeem' herself from Book 1! I couldn't imagine a more gripping debut novel.

Amber said...

I forgot to leave my e-mail address with my comment... I'm new to this blogging thing! :)

carpediem7884[at]rochester[dot]rr[dot]com

Thanks for entering me into the contest!

Julie Lessman said...

OMIGOSH, Amber, your comment -- and your incredible e-mail to my Web site -- made me cry!! I CANNOT believe you signed up for a blogger account JUST SO you could leave post a comment on my interviews -- absolutely amazing!! Thank you SO much for your kind words AND for taking the time to comment (and sign up to comment) when I KNOW you must be crazy busy with a wedding in two months! YIKES!! I pray God blesses you in the months and years ahead, my new friend.

Hugs,
Julie

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... Gail! Thanks for stopping by everybody :+}