1. Tell us a little bit about The Lost Souls series…
It’s the story of Charlotte O’Brien–a stubborn, sarcastic, intensely loyal, and compassionate girl who loses her parents at the age of twenty, her first love at twenty-two, and her faith in God and herself too many times to count. Without a clue of how to survive, Charlotte withdraws to her rural hometown and embraces humiliation and self-loathing with an unnerving honesty.
She is lost.
She commits to a relationship with her old friend Noble Sinclair, one of the finest people she knows, and stubbornly bucks all romantic myths by allowing the good guy to finish first. At least that’s what she hopes he believes.
But love doesn’t die; apparently it moves home and tortures Charlotte in the form of her first love who knocked up another girl. Charlotte fights to remain faithful as her past threatens to destroy her future. Ultimately she’ll discover “Who will save you if you can’t save yourself?”
The books are both heart-wrenching and hilarious. They portray that dark place, deep down inside all of us that responds to the pain we inflict on each other, and yet grant us permission to laugh as Charlotte hauls herself out of the darkness.
2. In the series, you fearlessly take your heroine, Charlotte to some dark places— how do you think these covers represent the story and Charlotte’s journey?
While Lost Souls is a love story, it’s also rather tragic and daunting. Charlotte grapples with questions that leave some of us staring into the darkness in the middle of the night.
What do we owe the dead?
Is there a divine plan?
How much of ourselves can we give to another before there’s nothing left?
Can we truly forgive what we can’t forget?
These covers are not only visually stunning, but brilliantly hint at the fact there’s a great deal more going on here than just love. Charlotte’s ethereal depiction in the background with her pleas written over her are right on.
She’s also a girl who doesn’t take her surroundings for granted. Charlotte beholds the clouds, the moon, the sunset, the ocean, the strength of the waves, the distance to the horizon, and incorporates those sights into her understanding of the world. The images within each ME are a nod to her connection to the Earth and they could not be more beautiful or appropriate.
Grand Central’s immensely talented Elizabeth Turner blew me away with these covers!
3. A lot of the action in THE LOST SOULS series is set in New Jersey. What’s your connection to the Garden State and why did you chose to set Charlotte’s story there?
I grew up in a rural town in Southern New Jersey which is a stark contrast to the urban setting of Rutgers University where I attended college. I’m odd in that I love the city and the country. The beauty of New Jersey is you can have both. It’s a haven for big personalities and bigger hearts nestled amongst mountains, 130 miles of coastline, rural fields, New York and Philadelphia as our neighbors, and of course lots of highway exits.
I wanted the Lost Souls Series to give a voice to the rich diversity that exists here.
4. What 3 words would you use to describe your heroine, Charlotte?
Unsinkable. Jersey. Girl.
This week we’re continuing the blog hop with fellow Grand Central/Forever Romance author Eliza Freed. Her debut novel Forgive Me (Lost Souls) releases November 4. She and I have chatted about her Lost Souls series, and it is fascinating, envelope-pushing, trope-bending stuff. The kind of thing I ADORE! And I cannot wait to get my grubby lil’ hands on her stuff so she can blow my mind! Wanna learn more about this emerging voice? Well, how convenient! I’m hosting her blog hop right here today. And…you’re welcome!
What are you currently writing?
I just turned in the developmental edits for Forgive Me, and I’m waiting for the copy edits to come back as I gear up for its July 1st release. I cannot wait for this book to launch! You can read more about Forgive Me, and all the books in the Lost Souls Series, on my Amazon author page.
In the meantime, I’ve been working on something new I’m calling Joe Tobias. Joe’s a goal-driven accountant at a Manhattan investment bank, and as emotionally stilted as he is hot. From clean eating and working out to climbing the corporate ladder, his only faith is in himself and the results of his hard work as he pounds away at every aspect of his life. Joe and his thoroughbred girlfriend of four years are poised to take over the world, but he doesn’t realize he’s striving for the “good life,” at the expense of his own life.
His ascent is suddenly derailed by a pot smoking, bacon eating, Catholic girl who is soft, gentle, and kind, and will literally bring him to his knees as she redefines his understanding of strength.
Joe Tobias is written from Joe’s point of view. I’ve always wanted to get into a man’s head and at 30,000 words, I can attest it’s as hilarious in there as I thought it would be. The book also pokes a little fun at corporate culture because, well because it deserves it.
What makes your work different?
The Lost Souls Series has an inspirational message layered within the pages of drug use, curse words, and sexually explicit situations. It’s absolutely a love story, but it’s also a tale of faith and forgiveness. To say it was a challenge to find its position in the market would be an understatement. I’m hoping readers will identify with its very real depiction of our faith and our fight. We might get to our happily ever after, but in Lost Souls it’s a hilariously ugly journey through hell along the way.
The feedback I always hear about the main character, Charlotte O’Brien, is how incredibly real she is. Charlotte plummets into some dark depths and then cracks us up on her way back to the surface. She’s unsinkable, but flailing and gasping for air some of the time.
Why do you write what you do?
I love New Adult because it depicts a time period in our lives that lends itself to amazing stories. If you’re lucky you have some discretionary cash in your twenties and the freedom to explore–the perfect recipe for extraordinary adventures. I’m also drawn to New Adult because it’s still evolving. I like the rulelessness of it, the innovations with formatting, point-of-view, and voice.
I write about people hurting each other because I’ve recently become fascinated with our capacity to crush one another, and enamored with our ability to forgive. I spent years studying diversity and how it impacts our interconnectedness. Now I’m curious about how we are the same. Because regardless of our differences, we all love, we all hurt, we all need. I’m a passionate student of the human condition.
What is your writing process?
I always start with a character and then I imagine what they would say. With Joe Tobias I was walking around my house and noticed I have five clocks which are either grossly off on the time, or not working at all. I thought to myself, “This is a character.” I developed Lorelei, a quirky, free-spirit, who’s also a romance novel editor. From there I thought it would be most entertaining to pair her with someone rigid and disciplined. Joe Tobias was born.
I steal every quiet moment to think, “What will Joe and Lorelei say to each other? What’s going to happen to them?” I’ve been writing a lot about forgiveness and that doesn’t appear to be changing with Joe Tobias. I’ll imagine a dozen more conversations while I’m laying out the story. I don’t work off a complete outline, but definitely a firm idea of the big moments in the story.
Next stop on the global blog hop? Robin Muse . (Yes! That is her real name!) Look for her post next Monday, April 28!
I never wanted to be a writer. When I was little, I wanted to work in an office. My mother worked in a bank and she would bring home carbon paper for me to use in my “office” and I loved it. I wanted my own desk, and phone, and paper clip holder. By the time I was twenty-two I had exactly that and it was wonderful. But then things changed…and what I wanted changed…and I left my office.
I moved home to rural South Jersey. It takes twenty minutes to drive four miles here because you are sure to be stuck behind a combine, a tractor, or someone who believes cars as well as life should move slowly. The sky is bigger, the coast is closer, and the people are mostly related somehow.
Since moving home I’ve had this story idea running around in my head. What if a girl moved home because she was heartbroken and humiliated? What if she fell in love with someone new? What if she couldn’t forgive? What if, JUST ONCE, the girl was not an idiot and picked the “nice guy?” What if he wasn’t so nice? There were so many questions. I would drive the country roads listening to music and this girl’s story would unfold. I never considered it a book because I was not a writer.
Then I became a victim. It was a heinous crime committed every night for almost a year. The three of them–Charlotte O’Brien, Jason Leer, and Noble Sinclair–would invade my bedroom at 3 am and kidnap my most beloved friend–sleep. They would keep me awake and tell me their stories. I told them, “I am not a writer. I can’t help you.”
And they said, “Shut up. Either write our stories or you’ll never sleep again.” So to rescue sleep I began writing. They were an enticing threesome but oh, the pain they inflicted on each other every night. It was all over the place at first. Their tales were not in order; characters flew in and bowed out. They moved so fast. They would keep me from hating them with just a glimmer of understanding, delivered at exactly the right time. I wrote it all and it magically weaved into a story.
At 68,000 words I started to wonder what the hell was going on and I was certain it was horrible. It was the worst book ever written.
By 80,000 words I began reading my book at bedtime, because I couldn’t think of one I liked better on my shelf. I was in love with it.
By the time I typed The End, my book was 113,000 words and my goal was to self-publish so my friends and I could read it and laugh about it endlessly, but my husband encouraged me to traditionally publish. EVERYTHING I read about the process of getting a book published caused me to stress eat, but I promised him I would give it my best effort for six months.
Grab a cookie and follow along.
My very best,