Loni has become a wonderful writer friend. Her debut novel TAKING CHANCES is a heart-wrenching and sweet romantic tale that is available now. If you like characters who steal your heart, then drag you through emotional ups and downs on their path to overcoming adversity, you’ll love this novel. You’ll be crying, you’ll be cheering. It’s Hallmark in a book and, like a Hallmark movie, will leave you with a warm glow when all is said and done. Before we talk about Loni’s characters, Clair and Alex, let’s say hello to Loni.
I’m so happy to have you here today, Loni. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me on my blog. Can you share a bit about yourself and how you got started writing?
Loni: Wow Mae! I didn’t know dropping by your blog would get so much praise. I can’t tell you enough how much it excites me that you loved Taking Chances!
Hmm… A little about myself you ask? Well, I’m married to my high school sweetheart (of sorts) and have been for eleven years now. We dated in high school for a bit, nothing serious, but then I moved away to another state for a year before moving back a year later after I graduated a different high school. We reconnected and were engaged three months later. When you know, you know! We have two beautiful daughters age 3 and 6 and I have a little more grey because of them! Just kidding, they are my life; I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I didn’t find a passion with writing until a few years ago. I never even considered it as something I would love to do. Once a friend convinced me to read this series she loved (Harry Potter and Twilight) I was hooked on reading. I hated it in school and sadly associated reading as boring. I wish someone would have opened my eyes up sooner! Anyway, once I started reading, I decided to start writing book reviews. That’s where it all started. Then I had a crazy idea about a homeless girl and decided to give writing a novel a shot. What’s the worst that could happen? I looked at it as a challenge to myself mostly. My challenge has taken to me to places I never dreamed.
TAKING CHANCES is your first novel and a truly lovely debut. Your two main characters, Clair and Alex, were both once homeless. I remember reading your explanation of what originally prompted you to tell their tale and was intrigued by your insight. Can you share it again now?
Loni: Thank you for saying that! First you must know my mind has a weird cycle it does when given the opportunity to think on its own. I know, it scares me sometimes too! One day on the way to work I noticed two men and one woman walking together down the side of the road. They were young, I’m guessing in the early twenties. They looked homeless with their ragged clothing and large over-sized backpacks, but I can’t be for certain and it was merely my assumption. I didn’t think about them again until on my way home that evening. I wondered how far they were able to walk in the eight hours I had been at work. I wondered if one of the men were dating the girl. Then I had this thought, “OMG! What if she got pregnant, while she was homeless?? What would she do???”
See I told you. My mind can go from one extreme to the next with the snap of your fingers. This was how my initial idea of Taking Chances came about.
One of the things I liked best about your novel was your ability to immediately engage me in the lives of the characters. I fell in love with Alex from the moment he appeared (OMG, he’s such a white knight!) and was emotionally torn for Clair. You gave her serious trust issues that dovetailed perfectly with your plot. While Alex also had ‘baggage,’ Clair was the pivotal character who grew throughout the book. Did you finder her harder to write than Alex for that reason?
Loni: I was actually pretty amazed at myself when I finished writing this novel. I couldn’t believe I managed to intertwine so many little plot threads and have it all flow so perfectly together. Originally this book was going to be first person from Clair’s point of view. But the more I wrote, the more Alex kept talking to me. He wanted his own part. He wanted us to see his side of things, not just read about through Clair’s eyes. For that reason, I think Clair was more difficult. I knew from the start Alex was troubled but possibly the sweetest man known to mankind. He’s strong and loving and loyal, but not afraid to tell you like it is.
Making Clair grow as a character was tough. I didn’t want her to be too whiny, too soft, or give in too easily. Trying to get her just right the way I wanted her was a lot of work!
I’m glad you gave them both their moments in the spotlight because I enjoyed having both POVS. TAKING CHANCES is layered with a good deal of raw angst, and I can only imagine some of the scenes must have been draining to write (given the rollercoaster of emotions you wrung from me)! Fair statement?
Loni: Haha! Yes! There are several scenes that were tough to write. I don’t want to specifically name them, that would spoil it, but (and you may laugh at this) for me, the love scenes are the absolute hardest. I spent DAYS on them. We all know sex is sex, but to describe it in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re reading a step by step guide on lovemaking was tough for me. More than anything, describing how much you love someone and all the feelings that go with those moments in more ways than just a simple “I love you” is a lot harder.
I can definitely appreciate that! You also introduced two highly likeable secondary characters who added to the feel of ‘town life.’ I could easily see your story unfolding in Anywhere Town, U.S.A., which made it highly relatable. I especially loved the diner where Clair worked and wanted to drop in for a cup of coffee. Do you find it easy to ‘set scenes’ like you did with the diner?
Loni: I guess it depends on what’s coming up as I write. Sometimes I haven’t a clue what will happen next and sometimes I do. For this book, it all seemed to flow together since it all started with a Diner. I built off of that. I find it easier to create my own towns and places of interest. This way, I can make it just the way I want without a reader telling me that they actually live in X town and that is not what their street looks like. If I select a state, research basic geography, I can do what I want.
Okay, some general writing questions because we’re all curious about how others work. 🙂 Plotter, panster or somewhere in between?
Loni: Somewhere in between. Usually I have an idea so I’ll just start writing. When I get stuck I do a very broad outline. This usually leads to me eventually writing out dialogue for a particular character and when that happens, I know it’s time to start writing.
Favorite time of the day to write?
Loni: At night. Most of my writing is done after eight, when the kids are in bed. There is no room for concentration when those two are running around.
I love coming up with names for my characters when I’m starting a new manuscript. How do you choose yours? Any specific reasons for selecting ‘Alex’ and ‘Clair’?
Loni: I have a baby name book left over from my pregnancy. It’s a great resource for name hunting. No particular reason for Alex and Clair… but doesn’t their names sound well together???
LOL! I like that! 🙂 What are you currently reading on your Kindle, Nook or in print?
Loni: Oh boy! Don’t kill me, because I know you’re a fan of the series. I’ve been trying forever to read book 4, City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I love the series, but I find it super difficult to manage reading and writing at the same time. For now, writing has its grip on me.
I am going to have to put writing on the back burner though, because I just downloaded this awesome sounding book that I’ve been dying to get my eyes on! It’s called Weathering Rock by some chick named Mae Clair … have you heard of it??? It’s going to be wonderful!!
You are a HOOT! And yeah, I think I’ve run into that chick and her book a time or two *big grin* Any favorite authors or book titles, you’d like to share?
Loni: Yes, of course! Back in my book reviewing days I found a new author, Stefne Miller. She has three books out currently: Salvaged, Rise, and Collision. They are so uplifting and awesome. I’m always encouraging others to pick up her books. You can get them anywhere. And soon Collision is going to be made into a movie. It will be awesome. I will need Kleenex. A lot of Kleenex!!
Another book I’d recommend has stuck with me since the first day I read it. It has a taboo subject about a brother and sister falling in love. I know it sounds gross and I thought the same when I read the synopsis. But I’ve never been one to just toss something aside when I could be amazing. There were a lot of readers out there that just can’t seem to get past this taboo subject and refuse to give it a try. I understand that everyone has their own views and opinions, but this book was simply amazing. It was so heartbreaking and made me cry like no other book has before. I mean, I’m talking the kind of cry where you’re curled up in the fetal position bawling. I think when an author can invoke that much raw emotion out of their reader, they’ve done something amazing. Regardless of the tears and the sadness, the plot and the characters were so well written that the taboo subject didn’t matter anymore. Their story is what mattered in the end.
I highly recommend checking out Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.
You’ve definitely got me curious. I remember reading Flowers in the Attic back in the day (and the books that followed) and that also involved a brother and sister. I never would have thought I’d get wrapped up in a story like that but I loved those books!
Any new manuscripts you’re working on that we can look forward to?
Loni: Yes! I’m extremely excited for my next contemporary romance. Painted Memories will hopefully be out by the end of January 2013! You can check out the synopsis, the bookcover and even read the rough 1st draft of chapter one
Wonderful! And some quick random questions ~
Silver or gold?
Loni: I’m not picky… either.
Mountains or seaside?
Loni: Oh now you’re just talking silly… seaside of course!
Sunset picnic or candlelight dinner?
Loni: Candlelight dinner
Dusk or dawn?
Loni, thank you again for visiting my blog and taking the time to do this interview. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share before we close?
Loni: Mae, thank you so very much for having me stop by your wonderful blog. You’ve had so many other awesome authors over and I’m honored to be a part of your lineup.
I’d like to add a big “thank you“ to anyone who’s already read or is considering to take a chance on Taking Chances. It’s truly an honor to be selected out of the millions of books available out there in the world, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Read Chapter One of TAKING CHANCES and excerpts on Loni’s website HERE.
Buy TAKING CHANCES Exclusively from Amazon for $1.99: