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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tantalizing Tuesday

Please welcome author Megan Johns into the moonlight today. To learn more about Megan, please visit her website by clicking here.

~~~~~
GRACEN: Mother’s Day has become as commercialized as other holidays, but, as far as I can tell, no one seems to mind. Some mothers prefer flowers, some a nice meal, while others prefer gifts like time alone. If you are a mother or wish you were one, what would be your ultimate gift on Mother’s Day? Do (would) you prefer your gifts bought or handmade?

MEGAN: Mother’s day in the UK is earlier - the fourth Sunday of Lent, three weeks before Easter – so I already got my present. I had a beautiful bunch of flowers which were a perfect gift and I did the same for my own mother, too. Chocolates, unfortunately, are a banned substance (apart from 85% dark chocolate).

I think a token gesture, no matter how small, lets people know that you care, maybe a gift or simply visiting and spending time alone.



GRACEN: (Megan combined her answer to questions 3 and 4, so what follows are questions 3 and 4)
With the situation in the Middle East, more and more people feel the need to demonstrate their support for the troops. Are you among them? Why or why not? If so, what do you, or have you done to show your support? (If you’re not, that’s okay!) Will you be doing anything special on Armed Forces Day?


Many people make a point to care for the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day, or have parties and picnics to celebrate them. What about you? What, if any, Memorial Day traditions do you have?

MEGAN: Armed Forces Day didn’t start here until 2009 when it took over from Veteran’s Day, also a relatively new event, but it is gathering momentum. It is important to ensure that we remember the sacrifices of our troops in all conflicts, not just WW1 and 2. Historically, we have focused on Remembrance Day in November (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the Armistice was signed in 1918 at the end of WW1). I always buy a poppy and observe the two minutes of silence. The date happens to coincide with my father’s birthday so, yes, we do visit his grave and lay flowers then.


GRACEN: (Megan combined her answer to questions 5 and 6, so what follows are questions 5 and 6)
If you wrote yourself as a character, who would you be if someone other than yourself? Would you have the same name, physical attributes, anatomy or would everything change? What would your name be and what would your character-self look like? Would you be the heroine or the hero? Why?

What about your personality and traits? What would you change and what would you keep? What new traits would you give your character-self and why those traits?


MEGAN: If I wrote myself as a heroine I would shed a few years, a few pounds (in weight!) and go back to how I looked in my thirties, but possibly taller. I would probably be more of an extrovert, bolder and more outgoing to guarantee plenty of action. As I like putting my characters in difficult situations, it would ensure they got into conflict so that I could delve deeply inside them.


GRACEN: When would you exist? Would you go back in time, stay in the present, or jump into the future? What time period would you pick and why?

MEGAN: As for when it is set, I would definitely choose the present as I like to bring contemporary issues into my writing whenever possible.


GRACEN: What type of story would it be (other than historical, contemporary or futuristic)?

MEGAN: It would be a love story with added interest. My reading tastes are quite eclectic, but I always like to have a romantic core.


GRACEN: Would you have companions (family, friends, pets, children) or would you be the loner-type? What companions would you have and what would they be like? What, if any, special qualities would your pet have if your character-self had one?

MEGAN: Companions? I would be an independent type, but I would need somebody to talk to, possibly a colleague or old friend, maybe a sister – somebody I could reveal my thoughts to.


Although I love dogs (I am the proud owner of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), I think my heroine would be too encumbered by a pet and conversation is quite limited!

I definitely would not want to be my character as her love life would be too much of a roller coaster- too much conflict, turmoil and constant ups and downs.


GRACEN: What about a love interest(s)? What type of relationship(s) would it (they) be? Would it (they) be anything similar to what you have now (or want to have), or would you be radical and change things up? What would he/she (they) look/be like? What would it be about him/her (they) that attracts you? Would he/she (they) have any traits you don’t like or would you make him/her (they) completely perfect? What traits and why?

MEGAN: What would the heroine look like? Natural. She would be too busy to worry about complicated hair styles or the latest fashion. As for traits, she might appear a little hard on the outside, but she would have a soft core. If she were modelled on me, she would be far from perfect!

The hero would be enigmatic. He would be dark and mysterious and slightly detached. I like to set challenges!


GRACEN: (Megan combined her answer to questions 11 and 12, so what follows are questions 11 and 12)
What is your main genre (erotica, erotic romance, romantic suspense, etc.)? What was the draw for you?



Besides your main genre we just discussed, what elements do you prefer to use in a story and why those elements over others? Any elements you would never use? Why or why not?


MEGAN: The Path of Innocence is contemporary romance whose central message is that love, when strong enough, will win through and conquer all ills.

I really enjoy romance as a genre because it affords so much scope to explore other issues as well as enabling a writer to delve deep inside characters’ hearts and minds. I particularly wanted to write for women who understand that life is not clear-cut and The Path of Innocence is more than just a contemporary romance. It is also a deeply emotional book about the complexity of love and its contradictions


GRACEN: In your opinion, what author or story had the most influence on your writing? What about their writing or that story did you find so influential and why?

MEGAN: What author influenced me? I have to say Joanna Trollope because of the way that she deals with contemporary issues in such a pithy style, never wasting any words.


GRACEN: While authors and stories can definitely influence us, inspiration can be everywhere for a writer, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits or things that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, insert name here, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

MEGAN: Inspiration, as you say, is everywhere- people, events, places, past experience...
I was busy with a teaching career and quite late in discovering my creative streak. However, suddenly I discovered all this stuff in my head, the accumulation of years of experience, seemingly waiting to be unleashed. It seemed that my mind could take me off in so many different directions.

Events at the time also influenced the conception of The Path of Innocence. My daughter was about to go to university, so I guess that I was experiencing a few motherly pangs of concern. It started me thinking about what if a young person couldn’t adapt or found it hard to cope with emotional setbacks away from home? I have experience of this age group through work, so I know how vulnerable young people can be, despite outward appearances.

My thoughts also turned to the strength of a mother’s love and how none of us can take for granted its reciprocal nature. What events might shake those underlying feelings of love in one’s offspring? What about a parent who has betrayed their trust or been emotionally abusive?

The characters of Fiona, Roger and Debbie were emerging and The Path of Innocence started to take shape.

The book is set in the UK, in London’s suburbs, rural East Anglia and Scotland. Settings are a major source of inspiration for my writing. If I can mentally transport myself to a location with which I feel a strong emotional attachment, I find that ideas will spring from this sense of place. When I put my characters there too, they also respond to the environment so that it influences their behaviour and hence the plot.


GRACEN: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

MEGAN: Fiona is feisty, strong-willed and opinionated, a firm believer in true love. She is also naive which leads her into compromising situations, testing the strength of her resolve and making it difficult for her to live up to her own standards.

Roger is more withdrawn, serious and sensitive, emotionally scarred by an unhappy childhood.

They meet whilst she is throwing up, having stormed away from a guy at a party!

Excerpt:


Something about the gentleness of tone penetrated her flimsy defences and a loud sob erupted, despite her efforts to suppress it. Suddenly her hands began to shake uncontrollably and a river of teardrops spilled down her cheeks.

“I…I’m sorry,” she choked. “Making a fool of myself.”

“It happens to the best of us. Look, I don’t want to interfere, but are you sure there’s nothing I can do?”

“My jacket,” she sobbed. “It’s so cold.”

“Where is it?”

“In there,” she nodded toward the flat. “In one of the bedrooms.”

“Can I get it for you?”

“No! You can’t go in!”

“Well, perhaps I could ask somebody else to get it?”

She raised her bleary eyes to meet the stranger’s face and forced a tight smile.
Fiona’s mother, Debbie, plays a pivotal role. She has a lot of turmoil and conflicting emotions battling inside her as she wrestles with her contradictory feelings, caring for a sick husband whilst nurturing a burning sexual desire. Her journey is a very important theme of the book.

Excerpt:

She eyed a neighbouring cat clambering back on to her fence, watching it balance its tightrope way along the top. The cat probably failed in its attempt to pounce upon a butterfly, she guessed, and she followed its course around the borders of her garden until it finally disappeared behind a row of conifers. It seemed that everywhere she looked, there were fences or trees, boundaries hemming her in, locking her in parochial isolation. Sometimes, like now, she yearned to break through the barriers, to regain her lost freedom, to become a whole person again rather than a mere appendage to the main player. She fixed her gaze on a row of marigolds and it suddenly struck her how sad and wilted they looked, drained of life. Gardening, like everything else, could feel like a losing battle. Yet, she shook her head firmly, knowing that being a defeatist was of no use to anybody, least of all to her, and she knew that she mustn’t give up the fight. Promptly jumping to her feet, she began to unreel the hose and, blatantly ignoring the ban, she turned on the tap to full power and aimed the nozzle at the flowerbed, determined to shower the drooping plants back to life.



BLURB:

The Path of Innocence is my debut romantic novel. It is a contemporary novel, set in the UK, in London suburbia, East Anglia and Scotland.


The main characters are Fiona and Roger, two young and naive adolescents from very different backgrounds, who are travelling precariously towards adulthood along a path of self discovery, love and sexual awakening.


Fiona is strong-willed and idealistic, a firm believer in true love and family values, although her naivety leads her into compromising situations and she struggles to live up to her own standards. Roger is already disillusioned by an unhappy childhood and his encounters only serve to deepen the wounds.


The book explores the challenges they face, following their ups and downs and the pain they suffer as a result of showing too much trust in those they perceive as friends, only to be betrayed.


When they eventually meet, it takes a huge leap of faith for Roger to let Fiona into his affections , but they do fall in love and it seems that they have finally found the happiness that has, so far, eluded them both. Yet, they are unaware of the powerful struggle Debbie, Fiona's mother, has with her own conflicting desires and which threatens to bring their happiness crashing down.
Debbie's journey is an important theme and the book explores her inner turmoil as she wrestles between the contradictory emotions of wanting to care for an invalid husband, whilst also nurturing a burning sexual desire.


And the dramatic consequence of Fiona and Roger finding out her dark secret threatens to shatter their beliefs in everything.


The question of whether their love can survive a cruel twist of fate hangs in the balance right up to the end.

Excerpt:

Here’s Roger, poor little rich guy, forced to resume the vitriolic relationship with his father after his mother’s untimely death.


George and Heather departed after mid-morning coffee the following day and Roger was summoned to his father’s study shortly afterwards.


“I shall be returning to London this afternoon,” he informed him matter-of-factly. “You may stay here for the rest of the school break if you wish. There should be few distractions to interfere with your studies. Mrs. Mulwell will remain for one more month, until I or your grandmother have appointed another housekeeper.” Brusquely, he pushed a cheque at him, although he didn’t let it go. “An additional allowance. But I expect your commitment to exam success in return.”


Roger eyed the cheque and snatched it from the hand with a dry, thank you, although the thought of being bought off sickened him. Inwardly bridling, he watched his father gather a bundle of papers and tap them four-square into a neat pile.


“Of course, I would have wished for any son of mine to go to Oxbridge, but as it is…”
Contemptuously, Roger stuffed the cheque into his pocket before his feelings got the better of him, and concentrating hard on maintaining an even tone, he piped up, “Can I ask a question?”
Edward Rolfe did a quick double-take and glanced at his watch.


“What happened to Mother’s personal things?” Roger continued, undeterred. “There doesn’t appear to be one item of her belongings left.”


His father glared irascibly. “What are you talking about, boy? Your mother is dead.”


“Yes, wiped off the edge of the earth without trace, it would appear.”


“I’ve no time for this sort of nonsense.” He slammed down the lid of his briefcase. “Pull yourself together and grow up. And those are my final words.” Clicking the locks into place, he stood up to tower over his son. “If you haven’t got anything constructive to say, you might as well leave.”


“Yes, I’ll go.” Loathing oozed from every pore in Roger’s body and his voice faltered tellingly. “And leave you to get on with your affairs.”


“You have many lessons to learn, not least that business must take priority if you are to succeed.” His father made to brush past him, then he stopped in his track as Roger retorted acidly, “Oh, I didn’t mean business affairs.”


Turning around sharply, Edward Rolfe glowered at his son, but Roger met the menacing stare levelly.


“Just get out of my sight!”


“Yes, I expect you’d like that. I daresay my nuisance value is as tiresome as Mother’s always was. You never cared about her either. You were only interested in your own selfish gratification. And you certainly don’t care about your so-called friends. I wonder what George would think of you if he knew you were bedding his wife?”


Roger watched as his father’s normally inscrutable veneer contorted into an explosion of wrath and, glaring darkly, Edward Rolfe raised a hand, then slapped it hard across his son’s face.
The force of the impact stung, but ignoring the pain, Roger did not even twitch a muscle and he stared back in defiance, knowing that the bitterness that had festered for so long had, in that instant, turned into pure hatred, and there was no going back.


********


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REVIEWS
Euro reviews 5 stars http://www.euroreviews.be/bookdetails.php?book_id=1310
BKWalker 4 stars (two reviews) http://bkwalkerbooks.weebly.com/book-reviews.html

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Angela Kay Austin said...

Megan, if I met a man while I was throwing up...I'd hang on tight. This sounds like an interesting read.

Megan Johns said...

Hi Angela,
Thanks for your comment and, yes, I think I'd hang on tight too. LOL!
Megan

Sherry Gloag said...

What a great set of questions and answers. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview.
Hanging on to a good man is a must :-)

Megan Johns said...

Thanks for calling by, Jackie. Being very sensitive, the hero is not remotely an alpha male, but he has other virtues which make him attractive and most definitely for keeps.
Best wishes
Megan