Julie Lessman is, bar none, the nicest author I've had the opportunity to correspond with and work with. (not that I don't love you all!!!)
She is always so gracious and kind and I was excited that she agreed to another interview to celebrate the release of A Passion Redeemed. Please leave a comment to let you know you appreciate her time and you'll get another entry into the contest. Thank you all!
A Passion Most Pure released to rave reviews (and deservedly so!)...did reader response match or exceed your expectations?
Oh my, definitely exceeded expectations! I mean, when you read a review from a person who said she stayed up late to read it, then got in the tub the next morning to read a few chapters and finished the book—in the tub!—you pretty much don’t believe it. I actually found this tub review (written by a blogger I didn’t even know) via a Google Alert, so you can bet I e-mailed her to see if it was true. She assured me it was quite true and that, yes, she was quite pruned by book’s end!
Another reviewer I didn’t know wrote that she read the book while heating her curling iron, eating her breakfast, at stoplights on the way to work and … are you ready for this?? Under her desk at work during lunch hour, so she wouldn’t be disturbed!! I have to admit, responses like that tickle me to no end!
Some people weren't comfortable or happy with the level of romantic and sexual tension in APMP, how did you deal with these negative reactions as both a writer and a Christian?
Well, after I cry … I pray for God to bless the person who criticizes me, whether that criticism is via review or e-mail. The hardest one for me, however, was my first one-star review on Amazon, which began with the line, “This is simply a horrible book.” I cried all the way home from work on that one, worried sick that somehow I had missed God.
Once I settled down, however, I realized that it was God who led me down this path where I could use my passion for romance to create passion for Him. But trust me, I prayed like the dickens for that reviewer for days after that. And I have every confidence that my prayer of obedience is unleashing God’s mighty blessings in that woman’s life … not to mention mine! :)
A Passion Redeemed is your second book. What is different this time around in preparing and waiting for the release?
Well, I’m a lot less thin-skinned that I was with the first book, which makes it a lot more fun this time around. The bottom line is not everybody is going to like my books, and I’m finally okay with that. And I’m really excited to see what people think of Charity, because I have to admit, I LOVE this character (as I LOVED Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind!)—maybe because she is so wonderfully flawed and needy of love, not unlike I used to be before Christ. In fact my husband, who is currently reading A Passion Redeemed, does not like Charity AT ALL. The poor guy—he doesn’t realize he’s been married to her for over 30 years!! :)
A Passion Redeemed really affected me emotionally. My feelings went all over the place as I read and very fully engaged in each scene. Reading one of your books is an experience for sure! What was the process of writing it like for you emotionally?
Grin. Exactly the same! I am totally engaged with each and every scene I write, laughing one moment, and sobbing my heart out the next. In fact, when I read the final galleys for A Passion Most Pure, I actually went through about twelve Kleenex!
It kind of reminds me of the first scene from the movie, Romancing the Stone, where Kathleen Turner is being chased by desperados in a Western movie, only to have the cowboy hero rescue her and then ride off into the sunset together. The next scene is Kathleen Turner at her keyboard, sobbing her eyes out over the scene she just wrote. Both my daughter and husband thoroughly enjoy mocking me with imitations of me sitting at the computer sobbing and mouthing the words, “It is soooo good!” :)
5) A lot of people really hated Charity after reading APMP. Was this the response you hoped for? Did it have any impact on Charity's story in A Passion Redeemed?
Uh, actually, yes! You see, I wanted a Scarlett O’Hara antagonist in my book who would evoke a lot of emotion out of my readers, which Charity obviously did. One reader wrote that she loved A Passion Most Pure, but could I do her a favor—slap Charity for her! Another reader said she had this overwhelming desire to see Charity “maimed or killed.”
So when I told my agent and editor that Charity was the heroine for book 2, they were understandably concerned. But I think (or I hope) that A Passion Redeemed begins to help readers fall in love with this deeply wounded young women who has become one of my favorite O’Connors. In fact, if readers are not totally captivated by Charity in book 2, they will definitely fall in love with her in book 3, A Passion Denied, where she is real a hoot that you can’t help but love!
6) Charity is extremely manipulative and uses her beauty to her advantage. She reflects a lot of modern woman in this way very much. What is the most important lesson you hope that young women learn from Charity's story?
Goodness, in today’s amoral society, the most important message I would like to convey is that lust is not love. So many young girls today equate strong sexual feelings with love, so they move in with their boyfriends for a while, get married and then wonder why the marriage doesn’t work. Because although sexual attraction is nice, it doesn’t sustain a marriage and will eventually fade when the marriage does. Not only that, but I truly believe young women cut themselves off from God’s blessings in a relationship when they go against God’s precepts (the Deuteronomy 30 principal that is a major theme in A Passion Most Pure).
I believe this so strongly, in fact, that I drummed it into my kid’s heads from little on. Imagine my joy and shock when my college-age son told me what he said to his roommate, a Christian young man who was sleeping with his Christian girlfriend. “But I thought you loved her?” my son told his friend, and the friend answered, “I do, which is why it’s so hard to stop.” My son’s response? No, because if you really loved her, you’d want God’s best for her instead of cutting off His blessings by giving in to your own lust.
Let me tell you—that was a “proud mom” moment, for sure!
Julie will be back for tomorrow!