Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome, Joanne Otness

Welcome, Joanne! I'm so happy to have you here at From the Pages! I know everyone is looking forward to getting to know you so if you don't mind I'm going to dive right in and begin asking questions.

How did you celebrate your first contract?

I traveled to New York to visit family and had lunch at Tavern on the Green—with a toast to Chasing Galahad!

Tell us a little bit about your book, please.

Should a woman who is afraid of the water have to travel across two thousand miles of it just to find a man?

That’s the opening line of Passion Flowers by Molly Charles and the question heroine Leigh Taylor Cole asks herself as she travels to Hawaii to find Deke Kearney and bring him back to Seattle to meet with his estranged grandmother. Leigh thinks the search will be simple - she doesn't expect to fall in love or be caught up in Deke's attempt to protect his son from kidnappers - much less to allow the Hawaiian spirit to soften her resolve and help her find answers to a family tragedy. Leigh and Deke both discover that releasing the past and embracing the present allows their passion and love to truly flower.

Where did you get the idea for this story?

Both of the Molly Charles books begin in a favorite travel destination and return to the Pacific Northwest. In Passion Flowers the story starts in Maui—and many of the ideas came from trips to Hawaii. Specifically, for this story, a Mark Twain quote inspired the story:
–For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surf is in my ear . . . I hear the splashing of the brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.- Mark Twain, a Biography*

Any advice for an author just starting out on the writer’s journey?

Never give up! Time is going by anyway, and you may as well be building a writing career along the way. Keep learning about the craft by attending writers’ conferences and workshops and reading books on all aspects of writing. The advice you hear today that seems overwhelming, may come in handy in the future.

Have you gotten any piece of writing advice that has been particularly helpful?

An agent at a national conference offered this advice: always know where you are as a writer. Think about it—are you a beginner? Or more advanced with two or more completed manuscripts? Have you won contests or given workshops? Knowing where you are will help you decide what to do next. And that’s important at any stage of the game.

The question most readers want to know but never get the chance to ask, do you ever write in your pajamas? I don’t write in PJ’s, but will often do editing late at night or early in the morning wearing a comfy bathrobe and drinking a cup of tea.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

I’ve traveled extensively (I was a flight attendant for an international airline) and enjoy visiting a variety of destinations – especially London, New York, and Hawaii – but I would still choose to live in the Pacific Northwest. This is beautiful country and I love it!

What are you reading now?

I usually have several books going at once. Right now, I’ve declared myself snowed in, so I’ve spend the afternoon cruising through first chapters to see what I want to read next . . . the current contenders are Sleight of Hand by Kate Wilhelm; The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith, and the next selection for my neighborhood book club, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s been a great way to spend a snowy afternoon!

What a wonderful way to spend some snowed in time! Love your reading choices!

Do you speak a foreign language?

I speak French. It’s easy to lose the vocabulary so I just bought a 2009 desk calendar with daily phrases and a CD—hopefully, this will keep me focused!

Do you have a pet?

I have two dogs. Charly is a sixteen-year-old mixed breed (but never mutt!) Yorkshire Terrier type. Zoe is a six-year-old yellow Lab who loves to walk around the house carrying stuffed toys.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Molly Charles is a pen name for the writing team of Jena MacPherson and Joanne Otness. We are often asked about collaboration, and many people are surprised that we can co-author a novel. Our process is one of brainstorming story ideas, identifying key scenes and plot points, and then starting the process of drafting and editing. We exchange work and take turns layering in new materiel. Believe me, it’s pretty interesting to watch the characters develop using this method, and often very surprising to see what they have been up to while you weren’t paying attention!

Thank you so much for stopping in to chat today, Joanne. I apologize for not being able to upload your cover; Blogger is being persnickety and refuses to accept its format. But I'm sure readers will be so enamored with the excerpt below that they'll go looking for your book on their own and see that you've got a beautiful cover!

Readers, Joanne has graciously offered a copy of Passion Flowers to one lucky commenter! So, comment away and check back to see if your name has been randomly drawn to receive this delightful book!

Passion Flowers by Molly Charles

The restaurant host was a huge Hawaiian man wearing an orange and white flowered shirt. A happy smile gleamed on his round face.

"Aloha! Welcome to Mike's. Restaurant or bar?"

Leigh crawled out of her thoughts and managed to smile back at him. "The locals hang out in the bar?"

He nodded, indicating an open flight of stairs leading to the upper deck. She thanked him and navigated around a large group waiting for dinner. A singer grated out the lyrics of a corny country song, and laughter swept down the stairs as she began to climb.

Somewhere on the upper deck a guitarist hit his final lick, and the old wooden building rocked with whistles and applause. The noise died down, giving way to a Rod Stewart classic, "Tonight's the Night.” Tonight’s the night. Leigh smiled grimly to herself. Maybe she'd be lucky. Maybe tonight would be the night she found her quarry. It would be a great relief, for she was more than ready to put this time-consuming distraction behind her.

She'd spent the last months becoming thoroughly disgusted with David Kearney. Searching for the man and getting frustrated by every dead end, growing angrier and more appalled that he had been so absent and unfeeling that he had not been in contact with his own grandmother for years. What decent man would turn his back on the woman who raised him? Not a man Leigh wanted to find.

But a promise was a promise. Carefully, she picked her way along the narrow wooden steps. Glancing up, she stopped. And stared.

A tall lion of a man in a faded blue Aloha shirt and khaki shorts blocked the top landing. Sun-streaked hair too long to be businesslike. Scruffy three-day beard. All bronzed and hard-muscled, he was impossible to ignore. Especially if you liked the type. Which she most certainly did not.

The lion was shaking out a match. A just-lit cigarette hung from the corner of his mouth. Seeing it, a tremor of distaste rippled through her. Didn't the restaurant have a no-smoking policy? Still she couldn't help but watch as he took a draw on the cigarette. Exhaling, he descended the stairs, his deep-set blue eyes boring into hers.

Giving him a cool glance, she climbed purposefully until she realized his territorial position on the stairwell didn't afford room for them to pass without touching. Too late, she shrank back, digging her hip into the railing.

He stopped and grinned lazily at her, his cigarette clamped between even white teeth. Through a curl of smoke, she caught a glint in his eyes. Of what? Amusement? Irritation? She wasn't sure which and she didn't much care. She was travel-cranky and stressed out--just let him try to mess with her. It would be a relief to unleash her temper on a deserving subject.

He took the cigarette from his mouth with an annoyingly graceful swagger. "I won't bite," he drawled, his whisky-rough voice dripping with deliberate sarcasm.

She shot him her best frosty glare. "More than I need to know."

His expression was impassive, but his eyes flashed in response. Leigh looked away and took a step to sidle past. Their hips brushed. Just a feather touch, but she swayed precariously. He grasped her wrist, steadying her with a strong brown hand that looked stark against her pale skin. A disturbing sizzle of electricity jolted up her arm.

Leaning close, his breath hot at her temple, he purred, "Until I know you better, babe."

Babe? She jerked her hand away as if she'd been burned and rubbed her wrist.
He chuckled and moved on down the stairs. A quiet sound at first, his rumbling laughter grew louder until it chased her all the way up to the second floor.

Writing as Molly Charles:
Jena MacPherson and Joanne Otness
Passion Flowers—January/09 Five Star Expressions
Chasing Galahad—May/06 Five Star Expressions

Five Star Standing Orders
Title – Passion Flowers
Author: Molly Charles
Price:US $25.95
ISBN 13: 9781594147517
ISBN 10: 1594147515
Product number: 243768
Published/Released: January 2009
Shipping Weight: 2.00 lbs /0.91 kgs

Published by FIVE STAR An imprint of the Gale Group
ISBN #978-59414-751-7

Hardcover: $25.95
Order through your favorite bookseller or online at:


sharon said...

Interesting interview and the excerpt was great. Passion Flowers sounds like a great read!

Dru said...

Great interview and I like the subject matter since I too fear water.

Susan said...

A tall lion of a man...that is a great image! Enjoyed this interview very much.

Mary Ricksen said...

I enjoyed your interview. and the tall lion of a man, stuck with me too. I am big on imagery when I read or write.
Your dog carrying the stuffed toys around reminds me of a German Shepherd I had years ago. He would go into my friend's, daughter's, room and steal her dolls.
It was creepy to see him carry dolls in his mouth. The dolls were pretty realistic.
One day he took one outside when we were visiting. A neighbor a couple of doors over, started to scream when she saw it. I laughed so hard it hurt, and then showed her it was a doll. She got really angry and stormed into her house. Well, what can I say? It's a dog lady, they don't know any better!

Emma Lai said...

Great excerpt! I love the imagery and the attitude.