Please welcome Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy to the blog as Monday's Featured Author. Aside from being an enthusiastic author and reading addict, she also is a patient person who refrained from smacking a particular blog overlord when said overlord kind of forgot it was a Monday. So without even further delay, please read on to find out more about Lee Ann's work!
Tell us a little about yourself, Lee Ann:
I am a full-time writer and author living in the Missouri Ozarks, far from the historic small city of my birth (St. Joseph, MO). I am married with three children, teenage twin daughters and a ten-year old son who puts the “b” in the quintessential boy. My first novel, a paranormal romance titled “Wolfe’s Lady” debuted in December 2010 from Evernight Publishing. I have four more novels contracted to be out this year and one for 2012 thus far. I also have a fair record with my short fiction in both print and cyber publications and nine anthologies. When I am not writing, I love to read. Although I enjoy romance, I am an eclectic reader and read about anything – even the books that my kids bring home.
Give us the basics about your book:
My next book is called Love Tattoo. It is a paranormal romance and will be out from Evernight Publishing with a target date of April.
What is Love Tattoo about?
One unexpected late night encounter, one titillating kiss detours Cara Riley from reaching Nashville for a last shot at a singing career and lands her in Memphis. Dark, mysterious truck driver Will Brennan oozes sexuality and Cara finds herself drawn to him. Will quotes Shakespeare and dresses in black. He brings her to a higher level of sensual pleasure than she even imagined could be possible. As their relationship explodes into something real, she learns he has more than a few quirks. He sleeps by day and prowls by night. Their excursions to Beale Street, the Tunica casinos, and downtown Memphis become legendary but her curiosity grows. At his home – a castle – nestled in a wooded area just outside Memphis, she learns just what his sweet love tattoos really mean and must decide if she wants another. Whether or not they find their happy ending is all up to Cara.
How long have you been writing? Have you been at this for a while, or is this a new journey?
Writing has been a lifelong diversion. I spent most of the fifth grade writing my first novel attempt in the back of my binder, complete with illustrations and I’ve written ever since. I got serious about writing novels – long my dream – after my daughters were born because I realized if I didn’t get started, I might never write a novel. I did not want to be a bitter old woman who wished that I had at least made an effort and so I started writing. It seems crazy now, that I began with two toddlers underfoot but I did.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
It would be a combination of things. I have a deep interest in the paranormal and the idea for “Love Tattoo” occurred to me one night riding down a lonely, empty highway. Most of the other vehicles on the road that night were big rigs and the basic premise for the story came to me in a flash. When I got home, I wrote the opening lines and in a few weeks, came back to the start, read it and decided it had promise.
What tools have you used in your journey to improve your writing?
The best book for writers that I have ever had would be Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Since 2005, I have spent a lot of time on the Absolute Write boards and I feel it’s the best online community for writers. I learned a great deal hanging out there. I have several writer friends, some who I’ve known for years, and others I met online who still some of my best friends. We support each other, encourage each other, console together over rejections, celebrate when we hit, and share markets.
Are you a solitary writer, or do you utilize critique groups?
I don’t really do critique groups but I have a select handful of people who are my betas, who read my writing and point out what works, what doesn’t. I also have a friend who is an amazing editor and I know I can also get a gut-level honest report from her.
How much of yourself is present in your writing? Do you look back and find that characters possess a little of your own self in them?
I think probably every character has some aspect of me in them. They have to, really, because my life experiences are what I know. They also often are reflections of some of my near and dear – or as I joke with my best cousin friend Bill – my near, dear, and dysfunctional ! Some characters are composites; others stand on their own. People who know me well can sometimes point to something within a character that they recognize.
Tell us a little about you, the reader. What authors/genres do you love and why?
I love to read and conversely as a writer, I have less time to read than ever before in my life. I devour books, however, of all kinds although I am heavily into romance. I like all romance but I really enjoy paranormal romance maybe just because it transcends reality.
In recent months, I have been reading a lot of Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, loving them even though some people call them “vampire porn”. I also like Deborah Smith, Nora Roberts, and Janet Dailey who lives in my region. Two books I totally love are “Water For Elephants” by Sara Gruen and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger.
I also have been delighted to find a lot of new authors, some from the same publishers that I am working with. Misty Burke, Emma Short, and AD Blackburn to name just a few.
I also have a taste for speculative and horror fiction. I like King and Koontz and Ramsay Campbell and William Meikle.
Who is your literary idol and why?
I don’t know if I can point to just one! My real life inspiration was my grandmother. When I was a teenager, she showed me this manuscript she wrote for her eighth grade graduation back in 1912. It was so well written in the flowery popular style of the time. I asked her why she didn’t become a writer and she, in her very no-nonsense Granny way, said, “I couldn’t.”
She really couldn’t – she married and raised three sons, lost a baby daughter, during the Great Depression, was widowed, and was a working mom long before that was the norm.
Then she said the words that still encourage me to press onward – “But you should.”
Name one character in any book that you would like to share a cup of coffee with. What would you discuss?
I would like to sit down with Scarlett O’Hara, after she reached a mature age. I would love to get to know her after she had some seasoning. As a young woman, she made many mistakes, was too headstrong, and yet substance lurked under her pretty exterior. I would love to chat her up when she is about forty years old, see if she learned from her mistakes, how she pulled her life together, and if she went home to Tara after all.
Want to learn more about Lee Ann and her writing? Please visit her at the following links: