today I am delighted to welcome a friend and fellow author to my blog, Lynette Sofras! Her new contemporary romance, "The Apple Tree", is released on December 16th! The book was the Grand Prize Winner of the Inspired Romance’s Kick Off! Writing Contest and is a wonderful read for anyone who's a true romantic at heart.
"The Apple Tree" will be available tomorrow (just click on the cover). You should read it during the holidays, preferably cuddled up in a comfortable chair at the fireplace. I most definitely will! ;-)
You should also check out Lynette's awesome blog here, and read her witty insights about life and writing.
To celebrate the release of her new book, Lynette is giving away two e-book copies of "The Apple Tree"! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment with your e-mail address. Good Luck!!!
Could you please tell us something about you?
First of all, thank you dear Deb for inviting me to your wonderful blog!
Well, I’ve spent most of my life in England, apart from six years living in Greece. I returned to England when my son was just a baby and trained as an English teacher. I was able to give up teaching a couple of years ago in order to satisfy my lifelong dream – to be a writer.
When did you decide on being an author?
I don’t think I would be exaggerating much to say it was around the time I was first able to write stories at school – probably around the age of 5 or 6! I’ve always loved writing and it’s always been my dream to spend my days doing just that. In fact, I remember writing an essay about my future when I was about 10 and I described myself living in a remote cottage, writing in my twilit garden – and my English teacher wrote “bad for the eyes”! Teachers, eh?!
What inspires you to write?
Reading good fiction always spurs me on, but what inspires me has to be dreams. All my story ideas seem to come in my sleep.
What is the premise of your book?
‘The Apple Tree’ is about second chances. We all make mistakes and sometimes these scar us quite badly. But we can learn and grow stronger from them and we all deserve a shot at true happiness. The question is, do we recognise it when it’s offered to us and do we deal with it in the right way? My heroine, Juliet, made her mistakes because she didn’t trust her own judgement and allowed other people to influence her. Only through a great deal of heartache can she learn to accept herself and be accepted for who she is. But it’s not all grim – I hope the humor also peeks through.
What is your favorite passage in the book?
There is a scene near the end, where Juliet is tending her parents’ grave and Nicholas finds her. By this time they have become almost like strangers again, neither one knowing what the other is thinking or feeling. He no longer understands her while she believes he hates her.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a bit of both, actually. It’s important for me to know where a story is going, but I hate rigorous planning – I much prefer to let a story evolve and am always open to letting my characters lead me astray…which they often do!
How do you develop your characters?
I don’t – they seem to develop themselves. I know many writers say that and it’s absolutely true. But I do like to put my h & h through the emotional wringer before letting them find true happiness!
How did you come to write romance?
We all love a bit of romance – it’s what makes the world go round. I love to explore emotional intensity, relationships fraught with conflicts, trusting that they will be resolved, but never quite being sure they will until the moment happens. It wasn’t planned – it just happened.
Which books/authors influenced you most and why?
All the classics, without a doubt. I do enjoy the Brontës and Jane Austen for the way they explore and portray their characters’ emotions in such a restrained way. (And of course, Deborah Court – I have read your novel several times and don’t think you have yet received the full praise you deserve for the way you craft your prose!)
Which is your favorite hero/villain in a movie or TV series?
Lol – nice question! Until your Elathan hits our screens, I’ll have to stick with Captain Jack from ‘Torchwood’ - because he’s both hero and villain!
Is there a contemporary author, musician or actor you particularly admire?
Contemporary authors: lots! Ian McEwan and Audrey Niffenegger are the first two to spring to mind. (But I also admire you, Deb – for your passion and dedication to your writing!)
How do you celebrate Christmas?
Quietly! Christmas is a family time and I love to keep it that way, spending it with those I love best in the world in a truly traditional style.
Thank you for this great interview, Lynette! It was a real pleasure to have you here.
Excerpt from "The Apple Tree"
She gazed at a street lamp in front of her, watching the moths jostling for position as they flapped round and round. She thought Nicholas was like that light, attracting all the moth-like creatures, the Annabels, the Clarissas, the Livvies and probably many more, all irresistibly drawn to his lovely flame. He could have married any one of them and made the same mistake as her. Had he always been entirely truthful with them all? Had he never come close to feeling that intensity of emotion he seemed to have shared with her, close enough at least to have wrong-footed somewhere en route? Could he really know himself so well and be so perfect? Robert certainly thought so. He made him sound like a saint. Saint Nicholas—no, sorry, got one of those already—and he was a do-gooder too!
Some ten or fifteen minutes must have passed and Julie wondered if Livvie and Nicholas had finished ‘catching up’ and whether Nicholas had been left with sufficient strength to have maneuvered her car from the drive without further damage to either it or the van. Damage her insurance company would now have to sort out for her.
“There you are!” he exclaimed from a point close behind her. “I’ve seen to your car for you.”
“And Livvie too, I trust?”
He actually managed the merest flicker of a smile, if it wasn’t just a tic in his cheek, that is. Livvie’s ‘catching up’ must have been very therapeutic, Julie thought.
“She’s an old friend,” he explained dismissively, to no-one in particular.
But not very old, Julie thought. Then she caught her breath as Nicholas came to sit on the bench beside her. At last he was coming to his senses!
“Can I ask you one question, Julie? Was it because you thought I was a simple gardener that you felt you had free license to trample on my feelings?”
She groaned. “Oh Nicholas, you know that isn’t true.”
“Then it seems I know very little,” he replied dryly. “I suggest you go home now before you freeze to death.”
She jumped up from the bench, her feet, in their light, strappy sandals smarting with the cold as she planted them solidly in front of him and gazed down at him. “My marriage was over long before I met you. It was a mistake that should never have happened. I was ashamed of it. It was like my career in a way. Passing your exams doesn’t automatically make you a good doctor in exactly the same way that signing a book in a registry office doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll have a good marriage, or even a proper one! Simon and I were never really husband and wife, we were just good friends.”
“Simon?” He nodded and repeated the name in a voice heavy with sarcasm. “Simple Simon? Simply making mistakes?”
Julie knew he was referring to her observation that sometimes people simply made mistakes in their choice of marriage partners, so the insult was double-edged. “You have no right to insult him.” she reproached quietly.
“No, of course not. He’s your husband.”
“No, Nicholas. Not anymore, but he is my friend.”
“Really? That’s what I thought I was. It seems you treat all your friends the same way. Badly! In my book, friends don’t cheat and lie. You should have told me instead of deliberately letting me believe you were someone…something else”
“How could I, knowing your views? I grew too attached to you.”
“All the more reason for telling the truth, don’t you think?”
“But I couldn’t bear to risk losing what we had.”
“We could never have anything built on a foundation of lies. If I asked your husband, would he tell me you were never really his wife? Would he betray you the way you betrayed him? Do you hate all men, Julie? Or is it that you simply don’t know the difference between right and wrong, or the truth and lying?”
She was as wounded by his tone as much as his words but still pressed on, her voice little more than a shaky whisper. “I don’t hate you, Nicholas. I love you.”
“I’ll leave your keys on the bench.” His voice sounded icy.
She backed away a pace and stared down at her feet in misery. Was there nothing she could say to move this man with whom she had shared so much love? Had she really damaged their relationship so irrevocably? How could he have changed so much, her tender lover? Had she done that to him?
She wanted a glimpse of the old Nicholas to reassure herself that he had existed and she hadn’t dreamed him up. This cold, hard stranger bore no resemblance to him.
When she raised her head, Nicholas was no longer there. She had told him she loved him and he had simply walked away. How much more humiliation could she take?