Sunday, June 10, 2018

#Interview with author Julie Anne Long of The First Time at Firelight Falls

Lexi: Our guest today is an author that switched genres, very successfully. We’ve fallen in love with her historical romances, and now we’ve fallen in love with her contemporary romances, too. Please join me in welcoming Julie Anne Long!

Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today!

Lexi: It’s amazing to say, but you are here to talk about book FOUR of your Hellcat Canyon series! Secrets are a theme in this series and all we can say is we’re glad you write romances so we know there’ll be a HEA once we get through the nail-biting. In The First Time at Firelight Falls, your heroine, Eden, has a big secret she’s managed to keep for years. Are you like Eden, a good secret keeper? 

You now, I actually think Eden's ability to keep a secret is more about her pure stubborn ability to stick to her guns when she 1) knows she's right about something, and 2) believes it's the best thing for Annelise. Annelise is her world, and she rightly assumes that revealing her father's name to anyone, really, would introduce a note chaos into their happy, safe lives. So she keeps his name to herself for as long as she can...even as it starts to become clear that her motive for doing that isn't entirely unselfish, and that Annelise's need to know who her dad so keeping his name to herself while

And I guess I definitely do have that in common with Eden–a stubborn ability to stick to my guns when I know I'm right about something. :) And if I thought keeping a secret was the right thing to do, frankly I think I'd be awesome at it.

Lexi: Our vote is that you are. It doesn’t matter what genre you write, its your amazing talent that shines through and brings whatever story you are telling, or secretly thinking about, to life. Had you been plotting the Hellcat Canyon series for a long time before you wrote book one?

Such a lovely thing to say—thank you! You're very kind. You know, I'd wanted to write a contemporary series for quite a while, and I found inspiration in the small towns and extraordinary rugged beauty of California's Sierra Nevada Foothills. California is covered with thousands of miles of forest, and lots of history and mystery (and some say, Bigfoot) lives in those hills. :) And with small towns, you find people who are happy there and would never dream of leaving (Eden in THE FIRST TIME AT FIRELIGHT FALLS), people who've retreated there for escape, and maybe have a few secrets (Britt in HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON), people who can't wait to get out but can't seem to make it happen (Glory in WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK), people who get away and then realize home is where their heart is (Avaon in DIRTY DANCING AT DEVIL'S LEAP). I seldom really plot in detail before I launch into a book, but I let character and setting sort of influence the direction and shape of a story. If you zoom in with your writerly lens over a place, you can kind of see all the stories in progress in the town, and you can just run with it from there.

Lexi: It’s easy to fall in love with Hellcat Canyon, and the families that live there. They are protective of their own and love fiercely. Your hero in The First Time at Firelight Falls, Gabe, embodies that and not only because he is an ex-Navy SEAL. Care to share one of your favorite things about Gabe, or a favorite line of his?

I loved writing Gabe and Eden in part because they're already pretty happy with their lives when the story begins, but for each of them there's a growing awareness that something is missing. Sometimes it's hard to write a genuinely good guy who seem interesting, but that's what I personally find sexy these days: a grounded guy, a mature (mostly) adult with a great sense of humor, an enormous sense of professional commitment, who has a great group of diverse friends and knows exactly who he is and what he wants and doesn't play games...but who can still be laid low by a woman. (and it helps that he's SO hot). Gabe has known some loss and challenge in his life, but it's only made him value life that much more and he can sort what matters out from what doesn't pretty quickly. He doesn't waste time. I love his honesty and his cut-to-the-chase approach to wooing Eden—how he's made it possible for them to fit an entire honest, frank courtship into the little chinks and fissures in their schedules. And I love his self-awareness—he knows when he's acting like a jerk in certain situation (no spoilers here!) but he can't help himself because has no precedent in his life for how he feels about Eden.

He might be my favorite hero of mine yet. :)

Lexi: I’m already in love with Gabe and can’t wait to read The First Time at Firelight Falls! Thank you for stopping by the blog and congrats again on the release, Julie! We hope to see you again soon for the next one! 

36137941The First Time at Firelight Falls 
(Hellcat Canyon #4)
by Julie Anne Long
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Avon
ISBN 0062672908
Single mom Eden Harwood has a lively daughter, a blooming business—and a juicy secret she’s hung on to for ten years. She doesn’t mind a bit that there’s no room for romance in her whirlwind life . . . until six-foot-infinity, smoldery-eyed, bass-voiced Gabe Caldera reminds her of what she might be missing.

The principal of Hellcat Elementary is usually knee-deep in fawning PTA moms, but Gabe only has eyes for the fiery, funny, skittish redhead who barely knows he’s alive. But this ex-Navy SEAL never fails to get what he wants. And what he wants is to fan those sparks between him and Eden into the kind of bonfire you can see two counties away.

The passion is explosive . . . and the tenderness has them thinking about forever. But when Eden’s past waltzes into town for a reckoning, her secret blows them apart. Still, Gabe will never back down from a fight . . . especially if the ultimate prize is Eden’s heart.

About the Author:

In a Nutshell...

Well, where should I start? I've lived in San Francisco for more than a decade, usually with at least one cat. I won the school spelling bee when I was in 7th grade; the word that clinched it was 'ukulele.' I originally set out to be a rock star when I grew up (I had a Bono fixation, but who didn't?), and I have the guitars and the questionable wardrobe stuffed in the back of my closet to prove it.

But writing was always my first love.  
I was editor of my elementary school paper (believe it or not, Mrs. Little's fifth grade class at Glenmoor Elementary did have one); my high school paper (along with my best high school bud, Cindy Jorgenson); and my college paper, where our long-suffering typesetter finally forced me to learn how to typeset because my articles were usually late (and thus I probably have him to thank for all the desktop publishing jobs that ensued over the years).

Won a couple of random awards along the way: the Bank of America English Award in High School (which basically just amounted to a fancy plaque saying that I was really, really good at English); and an award for best Sports Feature article in a College Newspaper (and anyone who knows me well understands how deeply ironic that is). I began my academic career as a Journalism major; I switched to Creative Writing, which was a more comfortable fit for my freewheeling imagination and overdeveloped sense of whimsy. I dreamed of being a novelist.

But most of us, I think, tend to take for granted the things that come easily to us. I loved writing and all indications were that I was pretty good at it, but I, thank you very much, wanted to be a rock star. Which turned out to be ever-so-slightly harder to do than writing. A lot more equipment was involved, that's for sure. Heavy things, with knobs. It also involved late nights, fetid, graffiti-sprayed practice rooms, gorgeous flakey boys, bizarre gigs, in-fighting—what's not to love?

But my dream of being a published writer never faded. When the charm (ahem) of playing to four people in a tiny club at midnight on a Wednesday finally wore thin, however, I realized I could incorporate all the best things about being in a band — namely, drama, passion, and men with unruly hair — into novels, while at the same time indulging my love of history and research.

So I wrote The Runaway Duke, sent it to a literary agent (see the story here), who sold it to Warner Books a few months after that...which made 2003 one of the most extraordinary, head-spinning years I've ever had. I'm now with Avon books, and I've just launched my new Pennyroyal Green historical romance series.

Why romance? Well, like most voracious readers, I read across many genres, but I've been an avid romance reader since I got in trouble for sneaking a Rosemary Rogers novel out of my mom's nightstand drawer (I think it was Sweet Savage Love). Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Laurie McBain...I cut my romance teeth on those ladies. And in general, I take a visceral sort of pleasure in creating a hero and a heroine, putting them through their emotional paces, and watching their relationship develop on the page. And of course, there's much to be said for the happy ending. :)

And why Regency Historicals? Well, for starters, I think we can blame Jane Austen. Her inimitable wit, compassion and vision brought the Regency vividly to life for generations of readers. If Jane Austen had written romances about Incas, for instance, I think, we'd have racks and racks of Inca romances in bookstores all over the country.

But I'm a history FREAK, in general. I read more history, to be perfectly honest, than fiction (when I have time to read!) these days. When we were little, my sister and I used to play "Little House on the Prairie"—we religiously adhered to the "schedule" outlined in the books, making mud pies on baking day and pretending to milk our long-suffering malamute, Shadow, when it was time to milk the cows.

If you've made it this far and you're dying to know more JAL trivia, in this section you can visit the Julie Answers Questions About Julie page to read some decidedly unique FAQs and check out a few interviews with me, find out where to meet me, or peruse my truly random photo gallery.

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