Monday, December 10, 2018

Interview with romance author L.J. Greene

Romance author L.J. Greene joins me today to talk about her new adult contemporary, Aftereffects.

During her virtual book tour, L.J. will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

LJ Greene is a self-professed obsessive multi-tasker who writes really boring stuff by day and lets her inner romantic fly by night. This California native is married to the most amazing man and has two beautiful children, not old enough to read her books. (They probably wouldn’t want to anyway on account of the “Ew, gross” factor.) She’s an avid reader of all genres with an embarrassingly large ebook collection, and a weird penchant for reading the acknowledgements at the end of a novel. She's also a music lover with no apparent musical talent, a travel enthusiast, and a cheese connoisseur. 

Welcome, L.J. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Aftereffects is a highly relatable friends-to-lovers story about two people who meet in a random way on the Golden Gate Bridge and, through a serendipitous twist, find that they share a similar adversity. As a result, they forge a true bond of friendship and that evolves into a very endearing relationship. But things go a bit amiss when the interests of their friendship clash in a rather heartbreaking way with the interests of their relationship. They truly want the best for each other, so the choices are tough.

What inspired you to write this book?
Two things: First, I always wanted to write a friends-to-lovers story. I think the friends/lovers theme is so enduringly powerful because the risk/reward ratio is so high on both sides. How amazing is it to be loved by the person who knows you best – knows all your flaws – and thinks you’re perfect anyway? But if things don’t quite go as planned, how difficult to lose both the love of your life and the person you most want to call when you lose the love of your life? There are tough choices to make in that equation and they’re very real for a lot of people. In reading the reviews of this book, it’s incredibly gratifying to see how many people relate to that in a very personal way.

The second bit of inspiration came from my dad, who I lost just as my second book, Sound Effects, was being published. This book honors him, and so many men like him for whom the call to parenting is no less than sacred.

Excerpt from Aftereffects:

Selene lifted her left hand and touched my face with her palm. It was definitely a new kind of closeness for us, at least sober—one to which I gave no resistance. Her skin felt warm and smooth as she stroked my cheek gently. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her face. My God, she was stunning. This close, I absorbed the perfection of her features, of her delicate earlobes. A tiny piece of dark hair curled around the back of one.

The air between us seemed to crackle quietly, and I sat frozen in my seat in case any movement might cause her to draw away.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you clean-shaven,” she said softly.

I could feel her breath, too, warm against my face. My fingers itched to reach up and touch her mouth, to feel whether it was as soft as I remembered. My heartbeat picked up not only faster but harder, like it was punching me from the inside.

Had a goal been scored just then I wouldn’t have noticed. Nothing could have pulled me from that trance. I didn’t hear anything going on around us. Not the crowd, not the announcer, not the buzzer.

Only her.

Only her voice and her eyes and her breath. The memory of her mouth.

“Do you have a preference?” I asked roughly. I had no idea what possessed me to ask her that.
No, that’s a lie. That other side of me wanted to be everything she wanted and would have shaved every single day if that’s what she asked of me.

“No.” Her beautiful lips curved slightly upward. “How could I choose between James Bond and Indiana Jones?”

Her palm came to rest on my jawline, and I took a deep breath. When had my wanting her turned into this painful kind of ache?

Under the sanctity of her expression, I had a sudden and startling thought that maybe we could write a different ending for the two of us. One I hadn’t yet considered. Maybe there was a different story we could tell in which the things we had to offer would be enough.

There was obviously more to our relationship than just friendship, and perhaps we could figure out how to have something more than what we’d allowed ourselves. After all, there was care and respect at the heart of everything we did together. That had to mean something.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve just begun work on my fourth novel, which centers around one of the secondary characters from Ripple Effects, Marcus Abbey. Marcus is just a great character – not your typical romance hero – and I’ve been thinking about writing his story ever since one of my beta readers for Ripple Effects told me she loved him so much she was kind of rooting for him to end up with the heroine! I’m really excited to finally be doing it!

All of my books are standalones and can be read in any order so readers can jump in at any time. But I do love bringing characters from the previous books together with new ones to see what might happen. It’s always a joyful romp.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I heard someone say once that everyone has one book in them, but very few people have two. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but when I finished my second book I thought, okay, I’m now one of the few. Finishing this book, my third book, made me feel like a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a consultant in the Silicon Valley. This typically means I have the pleasure of spending many hours in Bay Area traffic, hammering out the next scene in my head! In fact, that’s pretty much how this whole writing adventure started for me almost eight years ago – listening to “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” while sitting in traffic and musing about a totally different interpretation of that situation.

Aftereffects is my third book, and I’m enormously proud of it. It’s a beautiful friends-to-lovers story with a squeal-worthy HEA. The book took me nearly two years to complete, so your question about finding time is a really great one! I actually don’t think you find time to write. I think – at least this is my experience – you have to make it. Writing is work, no matter how you slice it. And it’s hard work, at that. So if you don’t love it, or maybe if you don’t need it more than you find it hard, you won’t put yourself through the agony of doing it.

I actually write something every single day, usually first thing in the morning. Sometimes it’s a lot; sometimes it’s just a few thoughts, but every day I write. To me, it’s kind of like exercise. When you’re in the habit of doing it every day, it’s not so hard. But if you take a few weeks off, re-entry is rough.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if this is a quirk, but I typically design my cover very early on in the drafting process of a book. I’ve found that it helps me to visualize my characters and connect with them as three-dimensional people. It’s also fun because it gives me the opportunity to write their shirt or their jacket or their wristbands into a scene, bringing the cover into the story.

I absolutely love the cover of Aftereffects. This is exactly how I see Keir in my mind. And I was so lucky to be able to collaborate again with Joshua Bruce from X Book Cover Design, who incorporated a bit of a mystical feel that I didn’t realize would be so fitting when we designed the cover two years ago.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in elementary school, I had a dress that said, “When I grow up, I want to be the President.” Looking back, I love that my mom and dad put me in that dress and sent me off into the world. I don’t know that I actually ever wanted to be president, but I never grew up doubting for a second that I could. That’s awesome, right? I’m certainly ready to see a female president – maybe one of my daughters…

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
More than anything, I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your having me as a guest. Blogs like yours play such a critical role in giving a voice to independent authors like me. I don’t ever take that for granted. And to those of your readers who welcome Aftereffects into their hearts and homes, thank you! It’s an honor to be part of your ‘me time.’


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

Always fun to hear about another new book. Thanks for sharing!

LJ Greene said...

Thank you so much for having me, Lisa! Blog sites like your play such an important part in giving a voice to indie authors like me. Thank you for everything!

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a good book.

LJ Greene said...

Thanks, Rita! What are some of your favorite books?

Victoria Alexander said...

Loved the excerpt, sounds like a great book!

LJ Greene said...

Thanks, Victoria! I'm maybe a little biased but I think so too! :)

Bernie Wallace said...

How many drafts did you have to write before you were finished? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Bernie Wallace said...

How many drafts did you have to write before you were finished? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

LJ Greene said...

I tend to write serially, which for me means that I work a scene until I'm largely satisfied with it before moving on to the next. That could mean three or four rewrites of a scene, or a dozen in some cases. Certain scenes were so challenging that I found I had to leave them and come back around at a later date with fresh eyes. This book took me nearly two years to finish because part of the inspiration was the loss of my dad, which made it very personal for me and created in my mind a high bar to get it just right. It had to stay in a very narrow lane between authentically dealing with the loss of parent and maintaining the real focus of the story, which is two friends falling in love and dealing with the ups and downs of that situation.