When we first moved out to Arizona from Massachusetts, I was shocked at how different the culture was here. In Arizona, especially during the early 2000’s, there was so much growth. That brought people from all over the country. It was a huge city, and there was far more crime than I had ever experienced in my tiny little home state. Within months of moving here, I watched a highly publicized funeral on television. After that, I dreamed of Cher and Brandon, and the story was born. It took me about three months to write.
Yes, Patti Roberts put together a book trailer for me. It’s on my blog and I love it! She did a great job of piecing music with photos to fit the love story and trials the characters go through. As an avid reader, do you enjoy looking at book trailers?
Collette, as an avid reader, I (Lenmeo) love to to investigate everything about a book that I am interested in reading. I check other blogs for reviews, author pages for insight and of course YouTube for the visual aspect.
Ah, the blessing of the Internet. I spent a lot of time researching law enforcement, courts, and shelters. While some of the basis of the story I had previous experience with,the details were necessary to research in order to get things right.Would you say that the setting of your book was as vital in the telling of your story as the characters themselves were?
Without a doubt. I could never have placed my characters back in Massachusetts. While there is definitely domestic violence, you would not see the coyote influence with illegal aliens as broadly as in a border state such as Arizona. Furthermore, in the opening scene when Cher first sees the state of Shelly’s marriage to Joe, it’s summer. The Phoenix area of Arizona in summer is hot, and no one enjoys our baking temperatures. The heat plays a large role in Joe’s anger.
Without giving away any spoilers, what would you say was the most challenging part of Forever Sunshine to write?
Oh my, it was the ending for sure. I knew I had to end it that way, but I had such a hard time putting it down on paper. It is such an emotional scene, and it reminded me of all the real people who have experienced a time just like it. My heart ached for them as I wrote it out.
What was your favorite part?
When Brandon proposes to Cher. His devotion to Cher is so sweet in my eyes, and I love how he accepts her totally and completely. He sees in her what she hasn’t yet - that she’s strong and capable and has so much to offer.
Which character(s) do you identify with the most?
I would have to say Cher in the beginning of her story. She was so young and so foolish, and she made plenty of mistakes that in hindsight she realizes and accepts. I think we all can relate to that. You are not born wise, and you will stumble and fall multiple times. If you can accept those moments as a learning experience and grow from there, you can do better in the future. I’d like to think that I have been able to do that in my own life.
Which was your favorite to write?
Brandon. I, like many of my readers, developed a huge crush on him. Some of my male readers have made comments to me like ‘why is he so perfect?’. I laugh and remind them that the story is seen through Cher’s eyes, and therefore how else would she portray him?
Are any of the characters in Forever Sunshine a direct reflection of yourself or someone you know?
Each person is an individual. While there may be a scene where I may have drawn on some personal experience, for the most part they act, speak, and live entirely of their own accord.
Where and or how did you come up with the names for your characters?
Once again, I give credit to the Internet. Oftentimes I search the most popular baby names from the year that they were born and try to pick out one that I think will fit the character’s personality fairly well. Cherisse, though, was an exception. Her name came with her in my dream.
How much input do you have in the cover art of your book?
So far, a lot. I have used my own personal photography for the cover of the two books I have out so far. Forever Sunshine’s cover shows one of our beautiful Arizona sunsets. The sun may set every day, but it rises just as gloriously in the morning just like Cher and Brandon’s love for each other.
Would you like to share any news with our readers about any upcoming books?
Hannah’s Blessing has just been released. After such an emotional story like Forever Sunshine, I opted to put out a happier contemporary romance as a follow up. While Diana still has some emotional growth to face in her tale, it is a happy ‘dream-come-true’ story. I have two more rough drafts completed, but I don’t have a release date or title for either yet. These stories will introduce the relatives of Chuck Evans from Forever Sunshine. That happened completely subliminally. I was writing about Andrew and Jamie, and the sentence ‘Jamie Morton, formally Evans,’ appeared. The next thing I knew, I had a whole brood of Evans cousins to write about!
Which of your two most recent books would you say was your favorite to write?
Hannah’s Blessing was so much fun. I mean, seriously, what woman wouldn’t want a wealthy, drop-dead gorgeous man to come and sweep her off her feet? To Hawaii,no less? It was very entertaining to research yachts, fancy houses in Malibu, private airplanes, etc.
Why do you think that readers can relate to your characters?
My characters are very human. A lot of the feedback I have received from Forever Sunshine centers on the fact that these characters could be your next-door neighbor. They are very human, make mistakes, fall down and get back up, just like we all do.
What if anything do you want readers to take away from Forever Sunshine?
The morale of this story is that bad things do happen to good people, but we are able to learn and grow. I want readers to see that domestic violence survivors are strong women that often make terrifying choices all on their own. These women run away,often without the help of their family and friends, and for that they deserve a giant shout out for their bravery. The same holds true for our law enforcement officials. Every day they take a chance of pulling over a car or running into a house and coming face to face with a gun. While we don’t often see it when we look at our neighbors, there are so many scenes of tremendous sacrifice and bravery that I just wanted to put it down on paper.
Do you have any bookmarks or signed bookplates that readers can inquire about?
Yes, I have plenty of bookmarks that I bring to all of my book signings. I would love to do bookplates at some point but haven’t yet.
Aside from writing, what are your other hobbies and interests?
I have a few. Reading, of course, any chance that I can get. I also have three children that keep me very busy. Living out in the glorious desert of Arizona, we do a lot of hiking, horseback riding and traveling when we can. I picked up a love of travel from my mother. When I was little, she used to tell us kids to hop in the car for a road trip. I still love to do that and will jump in a car or hop an airplane whenever I am able to. I love to see new places and experience new things and hope I pass it on to my children as well.
Where can readers purchase a copy of Forever Sunshine and your other books?
My books are available online in print and electronically through all the major retailers,such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Diesel, Smashwords, and iTunes.
What formats are your books sold in?
Both paperback and eBooks.
Where can readers get in touch with or follow you?
Will you accept inquiries from other bloggers to host giveaways on their blogs?
Absolutely! I would love to!
Would you mind other bloggers contacting you about interviews or Guest Posts?
For sure! I have recently begun to interview authors and have a separate area on my blog where their posts are. I think it’s a wonderful tool to help spread the word about our books, writing process, and names.
Do you review books?
Not professionally. I am a writer first and foremost! I love to read and will write my reviews on Goodreads. I have even done some writer interviews following a book I have read. However, I like to keep them informal because I think reviewing is another full-time job. You tell me. Is it?
It most certainly is Collette! As a new blogger, I am learning this very quickly, but I'm having a great time along the way.
Aside from marriage proposals, are there any types of questions that you will not answer for readers?
Who says I won’t answer that? Haha. Just kidding.
Actually, I am very open to any kind of question, as long as it is respectful. I have received some crazy questions from people through Facebook, for instance, and I try to answer them honestly and directly. I'm sure you can relate to that, right?
Yes, I can definitely attest to the odd person and request from Facebook.
And lastly, a question for fun.
What is the airspace velocity of an unladen swallow?
Seriously!? I haven’t taken math in years! No fair asking an English person a math question… that’s cheating J... Ok, to be more adult-like now, I would have to ask what the air speed is, if it is morning or evening since there may be updrafts, and what the surrounding terrain is like. If the bird is in the mountains, the air speed may fluctuate due to cross-breezes and the like. Ha! Now how does that sound? I hedged that one. If you give me those answers, I’ll have to be honest and say I will just Google! Is there an answer to that one?
To be very honest, I would have to consult Google myself. This is a question that I actually got from my husband. He is such a character. I asked him for an interview question and he gives me a quote from Monty Python's The Holy Grail. Typical! :)
Wow, that was an amazing interview. Thank you for answering all of our questions. I hope that you will visit us again soon. We would love to have you back when your next book is released to talk again.
Thank you so much for having me. I had such a blast answering these wonderful questions for you,and I would love to come back again! Best wishes and thanks again. Keep in touch.