Wednesday, May 20, 2009

with Julie Lessman

If you missed it, yesterday was an introduction to Julie Lessman and there was also an excerpt from her new release, A Passion Denied. Today is her interview and I'm so glad you've joined us! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the book giveaway Julie is doing for us! :-)

Julie, tell us about The Daughters of Boston series.
Gladly! This series is about a pretty lively Irish-Catholic family in 1916-1923 Boston, where I explore the romantic and spiritual passions of the oldest three daughters, as well as a tender and romantic relationship between the mother and father. All three books in the series have the word “Passion” in them, and with good reason. I have two passions in life (other than my husband and children), and they are God and romance, so I pour my heart into both in these books, presenting a king of “sweet and sour” taste of romance where passions definitely run high—both for God and for romance.

I've heard that you're the Seeker's Queen of Hot and to keep a fire extinguisher handy—why is that? Is there a purpose for that style of writing?
Yes, I suppose that title fits because my style of writing is definitely what I would call “Edgy Inspirational,” but this book is NOT about sensuality. It is about real people with real emotions, desires and temptations, doing their best to deal with them according to God’s precepts. Yes, it is a saga of deep passion—but passion for God as well as romantic passion. This series is a love story on a number of levels—the heroine’s romance with God … her romance with the hero … and an inspiring and deeply romantic relationship between the parents. I refer to it as “edgy Inspirational” because I utilize strong and realistic romantic tension in order to convey the difficulty of living for God in a fallen world, as well as the joys and blessings of applying His precepts.

And the purpose for this style of writing? Well, frankly I got SO sick of the world pushing its amoral agenda in romance novels that I decided to try and write my own where I could push God's agenda instead. My thinking was to promote His precepts with the lure of the same kind of passionate romance that I fell in love with at the age of twelve, when I read Gone With the Wind, which, by the way, is when I started writing A Passion Most Pure. Back then I wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what is today my debut novel, but I didn't finish it till after I turned 50. That is the reason my tagline is “Passion With a Purpose,” so I can reach women like me who crave a great love story without the gratuitous sex.

According to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide consider themselves to be Christian.” The majority of these women fall into a category I would define as “Mainstream Christianity"—women who proclaim God, but not always in their sexuality. Many of these women want compelling novels with strong romantic tension and often turn to the secular market to satisfy this need. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they were drawn to a novel of passion and encountered God's ideas on sexuality along the way? :-)

Which book (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite? And why.
Oh, without question, book 2, A Passion Redeemed, was the most fun book to write—I actually wrote it (almost 500 pages) in two months, and that was working part-time at my day job! It just seemed to flow from me, I guess because Charity is so much like I used to be before Christ that it felt natural to be writing her story. I had to laugh at my husband while he was reading Redeemed because he couldn’t stand Charity. Poor guy, I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’s been married to her (without the incredible physical beauty) for over 30 years! :-)

Don’t get me wrong, I love Faith O’Connor, but in all honesty, she is more like the woman I am today—heavily dependant on God, emotionally involved with Him and a person who prays at the drop of a hat, so I almost feel one with her. But Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost. I think that’s why she fascinates me so much, because I look at her (and women like her) in the same way I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus. And quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh.

What do you do when you're not writing?

Grin … sleep, eat, and watch an occasional movie with my husband. I’m actually pretty boring right now because I have so many deadlines at the moment and an elderly aunt to care for. But when I do get some free time down the road, I love to read, lay out in the sun and listen to oldies, bike ride on the Katie Trail with my family, watch old movies and musicals and go out to dinner with friends.

What are your challenges in writing and how do you overcome them?
Oh, gosh, tearing myself away from e-mails and other Internet-related activities that literally steal my time away from writing—that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

But I would have to say the toughest challenge has been staying grounded in what God wants for me versus what I want for me. Sure, I would love to be a bestselling author, but what does God want? I am learning (very painfully, I might add) that I must become less so that He can become more. But I will be the first to admit, that as a human being who thrives on the positive feedback of readers, this is a challenge that has taken me by surprise. My love for God has always been deeply passionate, but never have I encountered anything as difficult as this—staying focused on God rather than my books. One of my favorite Scriptures that I try to pray daily is 2nd Corinthians ll:3—“Do not let “my mind be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” Sigh. Easier said than done.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Mmm … there’s so many things I could say! I guess one of my quirky tendencies is that I lay out in the sun—in as low as 45-degree weather!! You see, I’ve had a skin condition since I have been a little girl, and it needs sunlight. I actually had someone take a picture of me in my twenties because they couldn’t believe I was lying out on a blanket next to a patch of snow! For me, the sun is so therapeutic, both physically and mentally, that I still lay out in my driveway today while listening to oldies. Only now … ahem … since I AM an “oldie,” I make darn sure I park both my car and my husband’s to block me from the street and the neighbors. Oh, and I also wait until the temperature gets a wee bit higher than 45 … say 60 or so. :-)

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now?

Ouch, Patty, that’s a pretty tough question because the lesson the Lord is teaching me right now has been so painful, that I’m afraid it’s still a bit raw. He’s teaching me that it doesn’t matter if I final in contests or if my numbers on Amazon are high or low or if a reviewer thinks my books are too sensual or not. All that matters right now is that my heart is stayed on Him and His will for my writing. Period. I’m getting there, but I have to admit—it’s slow.

Thanks so much, Patty, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my website at www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find us at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/.

Thank YOU, Julie, for being here with us! It was wonderful having you!

Julie has offered to do a signed giveaway for the winner's choice of one of the three books in the series. To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment (and your email addy if I don't have it or it's not on your blog/site) on this intro post or tomorrow's interview with Julie. The drawing will be open until Saturday evening and the winner will be notified and posted on Sunday. (Here's a hint--Julie's been well known to pop in and out and reply to commenters, so on the comment page, click the little box to follow the comments via email.)


To purchase A Passion Denied from:
Christian Book
Amazon

Next week's author spotlight and interview is with another Seeker, Janet Dean with her new release, Courting the Doctor's Daughter. Hope to see you then! :-)

13 comments:

  1. Linda8:09 AM

    The very reason I read Christian novels (other than I am a Christian) is because I know the passion is God-centered and not 'flesh' centered as in secular novels. I'm so glad I found this genre in Sept. 2008 at the Mall of America!

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com
    Thank you, Julie!!!

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  2. One of my friends started reading A Passion Most Pure because I had been talking about Julie so much - and let's just say that she is amazed! Thank you for all these blog giveaways, Julie. Maybe I'll win eventually.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

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  3. What a well-grounded, lovely lady she seems to be! The books sound wonderful too. Thanks, Patty, for introducing us to her!

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  4. I love Christian romance novels and refuse to read any other kind. I've read the first two in this series, and I have one word--AMAZING!

    BTW--that sunbathing skin condition thing was hilarious. Laying next to snow...haha!!

    courtneylp1323(at)aol(dot)com

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  5. Oh, LINDA, can I quote you??? "Passion is God-centered and not 'flesh' centered" -- AMEN to that!!! That's the ONLY kind of romance I can really enjoy.

    JOANNE, thanks for stopping by! And "well-grounded"? If so, then the only reason for that is that I am "grounded" in Him! I would absolutely LOST without Him ... as would we all!

    COURTNEY ... thank you SO much for your kind word!! But all the credit goes to the only One who truly lives up to the word "AMAZING"!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  6. Another wonderful interview! I'm really enjoying connecting with you so much Julie!

    By the way, my dad actually bought me A Passion Most Pure last week, so I have really been enjoying being able to read at home! I still love Borders, but it sure is nice to read whenever you want (when I'm not studying for tests or working on homework :).

    I'll have to try posting on Amy's blog again, too. Thanks for the advice and the offer for help! I'll have to let you know how it goes!

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  7. Hmm, I don't really read Christian romance because most of the time (to me), it seems a lot of fluff. But having said that, this interview made me very curious to see how Julie uses sensuality to convey a Christian message. Very interesting!

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  8. I love all these blogs that do author interviews, i like to get to know the people that write my books! Aren't Julie's books some of the best out there? I've read the first 2 and got the 3rd coming to me, but I would love a copy of A Passion Most Pure since mine got up and walked away! Please enter me! Thanks again for the great blog!

    steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. Thanks, AMBER, and I think I do remember you telling me your dad broke down and bought APMP for you -- I forgot! Way to wear him down, girl ... :)

    And I love connecting with you and my readers, too, because we are all just people trying to live for God, nothing more. And it's a good thing I'm just a small-fry novelist right now because I can actually have fun getting to know my reader friends as much as they get to know me.

    STONEFOX ... oooo, you are JUST the type of reader I love to lure to my Historical Family-Saga Romance, because I GUARANTEE you will NOT find anything like it out in the Christian market (i.e. extreme level of passion for both romance and God AND a family saga). I dare you to read it ... and if you find a shred of "fluff" in the depth of these characters or the plot, then I will issue you a public apology! :)

    Gosh, RENEE, thank you for your kind comments AND your support ... they are such a blessing to a new writer like me.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  10. I would love to win a copy of A Passion Most Pure. I've been able to obtain the last 2 books, and borrowed the first book. So to complete my series I would love the first book, I've heard so many great things about the books and they are certainly living up to the reviews.
    Thank you,
    Katherine

    peachykath79[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  11. KATHERINE, well, girl, we'll see what we can do about getting you that copy. Posting here is a good start, and check my website calendar for TONS of other giveaways, some of which don't have many commenters, so your chances will be good.

    And, Kath, I just mailed your signed winner's copy of A Passion Redeemed on Monday, so you should get it this weekend or next week, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  12. I got the books from my friend and Finished them this past week!!! So, so great Julie!

    Now i need to build up my own collection!
    please enter me :)
    rebornbutterfly (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

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  13. REBORNBUTTERFLY (SARAH!!), I am THRILLED that you enjoyed them, my friend. You may want to check my website calendar for all the blog giveaways going on right now because there are a TON ... most of which are your choice of book in the series or even a series giveaway!

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete

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