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  • Dorothea Benton Frank Q&A
    • What do you find to be most inspiring about summer?

      Summer is the time to relax, take a vacation and it’s a time for personal renewal. I remember that when I was very young I always felt that summer was a time when anything could happen – a summer romance maybe? The obvious benefits to summer are long sun filled days with less structure and more freedom. People tend to get outdoors, soak up some vitamin D, take long walks, tend a garden, get a tan, make homemade ice cream, watch fireworks... all these things are inspiring. And of course, don’t forget tomatoes. I am always inspired to find the perfect tomato.

    • Do you feel characters behave differently depending on the season?

      Absolutely. They say big doses of sunshine make people happier. I think that’s true.

    • Do you find you are drawn to certain types of characters when writing?

      Yes, but that greatly depends on the themes in story I want to convey. The story is always the main event and once that is pretty well decided I then try to develop characters who can all help shoulder the story and move it along.

    • What do you feel when you finish writing? Is it hard to let go of these characters?

      When I finish a book I have a hallejulah party that entails much dancing around and whooping! I do this privately in my office and then have a civilized toast over dinner with my husband – I buy dinner. It isn’t hard to let go of the characters because they all still live in my head.

    • Porch Lights revolves around a nurse returning home after the Afghan war to face tragedy; Do you think you’ve created a setting that would allow for the main character to heal?

      Seriously? Let’s hope so. The cast of PORCH LIGHTS is a mess!

  • Susan Mallery Q&A
    • What do you find to be most inspiring about Summer?

      Sunshine helps me write. The more hours of sunshine per day, the better. (I might change my mind about that in, say, northern Alaska.) I’m a California baby, born and raised. I live in Seattle now and, while I love the city, the long, gray days of winter do wear on me. I rely on a happy lamp to get my daily dose of endorphins and Vitamin D, to keep me feeling like myself. But in the summertime, when the sun is shining, this just might be the most beautiful city in the world, with sunlight bouncing off a million shades of green. Very inspiring.

    • Do you feel characters behave differently depending on the season?

      Yes, in the same way that people in real life behave differently as summer approaches. We become more relaxed, more open, more willing to try new things. Sunshine beckons us outside, gets us mingling with people we might never have met… the perfect recipe for romance.

    • Do you find you are drawn to certain types of characters when writing?

      Absolutely. The heroines of my books are all women I would love to have as friends. They’re different in many ways, but they share traits in common – a sense of humor, loyalty, a generous nature. The heroes are all handsome because, hey, they live in my head for two months, and I like a good-looking guy. But more than that, they are honorable, a word that encompasses so much. These are men for the long haul.

    • What do you feel when you finish writing? Is it hard to let go of these characters?

      It is! That’s why the Fool’s Gold series is so much fun, because it gives me the opportunity to check back in on characters we met in previous books. Josh and Charity from CHASING PERFECT, the first Fool’s Gold book, are building their family now, and we get to watch their kids grow up.

    • Almost Summer revolves around the relationship between Paige and Alistair, what was the best part about chronicling their blooming love?

      I love to watch the transformation that characters go through when they meet The One, the person who fulfills a need that no one else can. The happy ending is the satisfying “click” as two pieces become a whole. In ALMOST SUMMER, Paige is just coming out of a tough time. Her beloved aunt has died. Paige always yearned to see the world. She thought she was sticking around to take care of her aunt, but now that she has nothing tethering her to Fool’s Gold, she finds herself stuck, afraid to move forward. Alistair’s arrival marks a new season in her life. He’s a British surgeon who travels the world to operate on children in need, and his stories reignite Paige’s desire to explore.
      Alistair suffered a terrible loss, as well. His wife and baby were killed while he was away on a medical mission. Through Paige’s nurturing , Alistair learns to forgive himself and to fall in love again.

  • Nancy Thayer Q&A
    • What do you find to be most inspiring about summer?

      Nature! This is the season for happiness, friendship, and hope. The explosion of colorful flowers, the sweetness of honeysuckle, the dazzling sunlight, the relaxing warmth—they all remind us to come outside and pay attention to the gifts the world gives us. Now is the time to be alive.

    • Do you feel characters behave differently depending on the season?

      I think most human beings are affected by the seasons. When it’s cold and dark, we stay inside. When it’s warm and sunny, we go to the beach, the pool, or out into our own back yards. We wave at our neighbors. We visit our families. We feel more connected to each other and to the world. We feel braver.
      All my novels are intertwined and influenced by my own life. In Summer Breeze, Belle, Morgan, and Natalie find themselves on the brink of change, and inspired by their new friendship to dive into that change, just as they finally can dive into the warm waters of Dragonfly Lake.

    • Do you find you are drawn to certain types of characters when writing?

      In my novels, I’ve been determined to write about ordinary people, whatever ordinary means. I realize I choose optimists, women and men who face adversity and challenges head-on, using the help of friends and families, grateful for each day. I’m sure this is because I was born and raised in Kansas, where the state motto is: Ad astra per aspera: To the stars through difficulties. We all have difficulties, but we were all meant to aim for the stars.

    • What do you feel when you finish writing? Is it hard to let go of these characters?

      I’m usually sobbing when I type the last sentence. I hate to leave them. I want them to be happy. It’s as if my characters are my close friends, and now it’s time for me to go visit someone else. They are always there in my mind, living their lives as if they were real. But I’m also being sung a siren song by new characters who want me to unravel their lives with my words. . .

    • Summer Breeze revolves around the lives of three women and how Dragonfly Lake becomes the setting where their lives change; do you feel settings can sometimes become more important than the characters?

      Characters are always most important to me, and the setting is never more important than the characters, but it often influences the characters’ actions and emotions.
      When I look at a lake, I see plot possibilities: the sensual pleasure of swimming, the intimacy of being around people wearing a mere strip of bathing suit, or the tragedy of drowning. Dragonfly Lake is beautiful, and its beauty causes people to feel more relaxed and optimistic. A community is formed by the people living around the lake, and so my characters are drawn together, to have fun at cook-outs, badminton games, and building sand castles. Summer on Dragonfly Lake is like a jewel sparkling in our lives, the bright shining gleam of hope in our days.

  • Holly Chamberlin Q&A
    • What do you find most inspiring about summer?

      Definitely the sun! I live in Portland, Maine and though we are in the southern part of the state, our summers come late and don’t linger for long. Sunlight fees like a precious gift, with the warmth it brings! It’s early June and our fireplace is still on every evening and I’m still wearing gloves when I leave the house.

    • Do you feel that characters behave differently depending on the season?

      I don’t know about that, but setting a book during the summer months does assume certain factors. For example, school is out so characters of school age are not constricted by class schedules, but perhaps they are feeling lonely without their school friends, or maybe they are dreaming about a summer romance. Also, maybe the lack of time constrictions and the desire for passion causes some small change in their “usual” behaviors. Adults are gearing up for vacation, and possibly worried about spending too much money and being away from the office. A book set in the depths of winter might see teen characters dealing with tests and school projects while adult characters are dealing with broken snow blowers and the expenses of Christmas. In the end though, I don’t think a season has much to do with personality or motive. I know for better or worse, I’m the same person year round!

    • Do you find yourself drawn to certain types of characters when writing?

      I don’t write mysteries or crime novels so I don’t have to create and then live with evil or depraved characters, which I certainly would not be drawn too! Characters surprise you though. You can start out liking a certain character more than another character, and then by the time you’re mid-way through the novel, the character you once liked best doesn’t seem so great and the character you once felt lukewarm about now seems special.

    • What do you feel when you finish writing? Is it hard to let go of the characters?

      When I am finished writing a novel the first thing I feel is relieved, and then deprived, then exhausted. Before long, I can barely remember the story I just wrote. Seriously, it’s as if the previous months of intense concentration have been wiped from my memory. I think it’s my brain’s way of clearing space for the next story and set of characters to emerge. A friend who just read LAST SUMMER said to me the other day, “I really hate that Mackenzie Egan.” I said, “Who’s that? I don’t know her.” I had to be reminded Mackenzie Egan is one of the most important characters in the book!

    • LAST SUMMER revolves around the relationship between mothers and daughters. Did you ever feel you were projecting yourself into the characters?

      It’s impossible to divorce yourself entirely from your characters or your story. After all, you’re the one writing the book! That said, I make a conscious effort never to allow personal feelings—good or bad—about people in my own life to seep into my work. I am not an autobiographical writer and have never wanted to be. Any similarities between my personal life and the lives of my characters are unintended. For example, on many levels all mothers and daughters share certain emotional experiences. I am a daughter; my mother and I are close. Of course lessons I’ve learned from our fifty years together are going to inform the fictional relationships I create, but there will be absolutely no details!

  • Wendy Wax Q&A
    • What do you find most inspiring about summer?

      I grew up on the west coast of Florida in a small beach community called St. Petersburg Beach. (It’s that comma of land in the center of Florida that curves out into the Gulf of Mexico.) TEN BEACH ROAD, which came out last summer, is set there.
      I’m used to the feel of sand between my toes—honestly in the summer we never wore shoes at all if we could avoid it. I grew up cartwheeling down what seemed like a never-ending stretch of white sand beach, building sand castles, and running in and out of the Gulf to cool off. OCEAN BEACH, which is out this summer, is set on South Beach, a place I visited as a child.
      The beach is summer to me and calls it to mind all year long. A sunrise or a sunset looking out over the water is something that has always inspired me. If I can enjoy that sunset with a cocktail in one hand and some Cheez Doodles in the other … all the better.

    • Do you feel characters behave differently depending on the season?

      Yes. I know I’m not smiling and chatty and open to possibilities when I can’t feel my feet. For me, characters are no different than real people. Bundled up against the cold makes for a very different mindset than sunshine on bare skin and the feel of a warm ocean breeze rifling your hair. (I did mention that I grew up on a beach, right?)
      People who live in the tropics are bound to react differently than those huddled in an igloo. Short days versus long, even humidity versus dry heat—all of these things impact us and affect how we react. The time of year a book is set in plays a very important part in the story and how the characters develop and respond. (Even though I may dream of cooler places in the summer, hot and steamy is more like home.)

    • Do you find you are drawn to certain types of characters when writing?

      I’m repeatedly drawn to women discovering who they are and what they’re made of. As a result, I tend to write about women who face adversity and discover their strengths, and often their true purposes, in the process.

    • What do you feel when you finish writing? Is it hard to let go of these characters?

      There’s always a certain amount of relief for me in typing ‘The End.’ Writing a novel is a long journey and getting to the end is very satisfying. I do miss the characters I’ve been living with so closely when the novel is finished, but they never disappear completely. In a way, they’re always with me.
      One of the best things about being a full-time writer is that you know there will be more compelling characters in your future; people that you create from nothing and breathe life into. One of my favorite things is going to book clubs and hearing the members discuss characters I invented as if they know them.

    • Ocean Beach revolves around three women looking for a second chance; do you think there truly are complete do-overs?

      Yes and no. I think people get second chances all the time. The trick is to be paying attention and to be ready and willing to seize them.
      In my novels second chances are about never giving up, about having hope and taking action. And like the women in TEN BEACH ROAD and OCEAN BEACH, a little help from your girlfriends doesn’t hurt!

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