Hi everyone! I'ts been way too long since my last post.
However, I'm back! And I'm bringing along with me Author Lauren Hunter and her awesome novel, The Coffee Shop.
I write stories where romance is the driving force of the novel, but I don't limit myself to just one genre. There is nothing wrong with that, but I have so many ideas and they are always going off in every direction. I have ideas for romance novels in the regency, paranormal, angel, ghost, and contemporary genres. I also write short stories and poetry and have had my poems published in anthologies from England, Holland, and the US. A number of my poems have appeared in The International Library of Poetry's anthologies, from which I received the Editor's Choice Award and was published in The International Who's Who of Poetry 2004. The Coffee Shop is not the first book I have written, it's the fifth of six so far, with a regency trilogy contracted for publication, and I am hoping to place my other novels as well.
How did you come up with the idea of your book, The Coffee Shop?
Now that's an interesting question because I woke up that morning fully intending to start in on a horror novel I had all plotted out (under another pseudonym), but the moment I awoke this idea literally popped into my head out of nowhere, like they always do. I had recalled something I had heard a long time ago and thought it would make a great book. As I lay there thinking on it I kept tweaking the story here and there, and in very short time I had my idea for The Coffee Shop all plotted out in my head.
I immediately started in on it and 19 days, and 85,000 words later, I had finished it. When I start into a novel I go into what I call a creative zone. As soon as I get up I start straight in on my writing and keep going until I am too tired to sit up anymore. I can't wait to get to it and hate to leave it. It is so exciting that you can't wait to find out what will happen next. It is very much like being right in the middle of a novel you don't want to put down.
As authors we all have our own way that we approach a project. Some literally make it up as they go along, all the way to the opposite extreme of plotting out every scene in vivid detail. I fall into the middle somewhere. I have the story summarized and I know where I want my chapters to go, but as to exactly what the characters do or say is unknown to me until I write it. I will start the chapter with an opening sentence and from that I know how the other character will react, what they will say or do, and then how the first will react in turn to that. From there the scene literally takes on a life of its own. I have an idea where I want the chapter to go, so I will steer it along in that direction. But for me it's a lot like reading someone else's book as I can't wait to find out what will happen next, and what they will say next. And sometimes a character you had never intended to be more than a side character suddenly takes on a very important role within the story and the story takes another path altogether.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes, and yes. You would be surprised how as authors we pull on life experience in our writing. That is not to say works can't be entirely imagined, as I am certain many authors do, especially fantasy, but even then conflict and interaction can be based on personal experience as a basis from which to work. I must say it makes it much easier to write, and adds an air of authenticity to parts of the story, being that it is fictional with smatterings of moments you've seen and experienced sprinkled in.
What can you tell us about Derrick and Annie's relationship?
Derrick has always been sure of himself, and although driven and successful, a bit of a playboy at heart. That is until he meets Annie. Before that he probably never believed it would have been possible for him to fall in love. But fall he does, and hard. And for the first time he isn't sure of himself, awkward and self-conscious as he initially fumbles along.
Annie, on the other hand, is more of an introvert, a bad relationship leaving her more on the cautious side. Fearful of being hurt again she doesn't want to jump into anything, and she isn't overly anxious to get serious any time soon. But the more time she spends with Derrick the more she starts to feel like she could have the life she had always dreamed of, but never believed could really happen.
What role does Destiny and Fate play in your novel?
I can't go into this in detail or I'll give away the story. I guess what I can say, without ruining it, would be that they are supposed to be together, and that if Derrick hadn't stopped in that particular coffee shop on that day then they would have bumped into each other somewhere else. They were supposed to meet, they were supposed to come together and be together, each giving the other something they didn't realize they needed.
Why did you choose to write about a recurring dream about love?
The idea literally popped into my head and I immediately fell in love with it. That the dream occurs the way it does, offering a forewarning and insight into what can be, allows him to see that what he wanted doesn't always turn out the way he thought it would, and that perhaps it is better to leave well enough alone. Trying to change things isn't always the best thing to do.
I know every author has a favorite part or excerpt of his or her book. Can you share yours with us?
You know, I've never thought about that before. I guess I am not like the rest in that respect. I have never gravitated to any one part of a story as my favorite. There will be certain scenes that will stand out in my mind, mainly because they are extremely emotional or shocking, but as to a favorite...I don't have one. I can share an excerpt with you but I wouldn't say it is my favorite part of the book.
There was a rap at the door. “Your hot chocolate is ready.” “Thanks, I’ll be right down.” There was a pause. “You sure you’re all right?” “Why do you keep asking me that?” “Oh, I don’t know. I can hear something in your voice.” “In my voice? What are you, part dog or something?”
Derrick chuckled. “There might be a girl from college that may just agree with you on that.” Again there was a pause. “May I come in? “Actually, I was about to get dressed.”
“So, you’re saying you’re not decent?”
“No, I’m wearing a bathrobe.”
“Well good, because I’m coming in. “No, Derrick…” But he had already opened the door, and setting the cocoa aside he came over standing before her as she sat on the bed.
“Okay, now I know something’s wrong. Annie, why didn’t you tell me how bad you hurt yourself?”
“It’s not that bad. I’m not about to make a big deal out of nothing.”
“You don’t need to be brave for me. If anything it’s really important that you be as honest as you can, with both yourself, and me, about this. I don’t want you doing any more damage because you are trying to force yourself to do something you shouldn’t be.”
“All right, I’ll admit, my ankles are a little sore. I must have stretched the muscles or something.”
“It looks like they are a lot more than a little sore.”
“Well you know what they say. A sprain is a lot more painful than a break. Although that would obviously depend on the break. But I’ve sprained something, and I’ve broken something, and I’d have to agree with that assessment, the sprain was much more painful. But as far as that goes this isn’t even that bad.”
“Pain is our body’s way of telling us we are hurt.” Derrick looked concerned.
“You do realize you sound like Mr. Rogers?”
“Those people that feel you have to be in pain to accomplish something.” He shook his head.
“Well, I’ll agree with you on that score.”
“If they hurt you need to stay off them. You don’t want to make it worse.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Well, look at it this way, by using them while they’re sore you will probably lengthen the time it takes for them to heal.”
The idea of experiencing what she was now for any longer than she absolutely had to, was not an appealing concept, to say the least. “I’ll try to take it as easy as I can.”
“Well I am not going to spend the remainder of the weekend in this bed.”
“What are you saying?”
Before she had a chance to reply, Derrick had slipped one arm beneath her knees, the other around her back and under her arms.
“Whoa! What are you doing?”
“Well, I would have thought that was obvious.”
“Oh, you have to be kidding me.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You are not serious.”
“What? So, you’re going to carry me everywhere?”
“Oh now that’s just too much!”
He was already lifting her into his arms as though she was nothing, and she wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her out the door and onto the balcony. He was wearing a sweater but she could still feel his taut and rippling muscles beneath it. The muscles in his arms flexing against her as he carried her carefully down the stairs. The heat from his body reached through her bathrobe as she held her face close to his, the scent of soap and aftershave wafting up around her as he grasped her tightly to him. Setting her on the sofa next to the fire, he turned his face to hers. For a moment they just stayed like that, holding each other, their lips close as his eyes moved down her face to her mouth.
What books have most influenced your life most?
There is no one book that has been an overwhelming influence on me. I would say it is a culmination of the many books I have read that have influenced me and how I am now experiencing life. As I like many different genres, horror, fantasy, ghost, paranormal, regency, the classics, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Plato, Dante, Homer and so on. As you can see I am all over the place, with each genre or era providing its own unique influence.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Hmm...the thing is that as you are writing it you are formulating how you want it to flow, and how all the pieces will fit together and still have it all make sense. I am always worried I will miss some small inconsistency so I try to be very thorough about every detail to make sure it works within the storyline, that there isn't any conflict or incongruity. So by the time you are done you have pretty much looked at it from every angle, and tried to fit all these ideas together so that you have a finished product that your are pleased with. By the time you are finished it's the way you want it to be.
If the manuscript had been lost and I had to start all over again from scratch it would wind up a very different story. The main story line would remain the same but every scene would be an entirely different conversation about who knows what. I've had that happen where I will write the same scene twice and I am surprised how very different they are.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I never really thought about it. I guess that we should be grateful for what we have.
I realize how that tries to describe life in a very simplistic way, even suggesting we shouldn't want for something more, and that is not what I am saying. But in the context of the story this does apply, and once you've read it you will see what it is I am saying with that comment.
Definitely check out her book on Goodreads here!!