1. Can you give readers a quick snapshot of your newest novel The Promise of Us.
At its heart, this book is based on some favorite romance tropes (best friend’s older brother, unrequited crush, second chance-ish) although the circumstances are unusual. Basically, Logan returns to town to help his sister recover and, in his desire to help his sister mend fences with Claire, he hires Claire to redecorate his apartment. What starts out as a somewhat manipulative—though well-intentioned—plan flips on him. He remembers the version of Claire from before the gunshot wound and wants her to stop living in fear, so he sets about slowly challenging her limits to help her lead a fuller life. In the process, he falls for her, although his job and wanderlust (and Claire’s inability to forgive Peyton) conspire to make her push him away. Ultimately, they have to figure out how to compromise if they want things to work out.
2. What makes Claire and Logan’s story special to you?
Each book I write is special in its own way. I think what stays with me about this one is a sense of tenderness that developed in Logan that didn’t really exist before he spent more time with Claire. He was a fairly selfish guy (meaning he put his needs and career aspirations ahead of everything) for most of his life. His sister’s life-threatening illness was the first catalyst for change, but his relationship with Claire develops a new facet of his personality. I liked him so much by the end of the story. And I had fun writing Claire, despite her being a very nervous, conservative character at the outset.
3. Your heroine Claire has suffered tremendously (both physically and emotionally) yet she perseveres and has made a great life for herself. What gives her strength?
In my mind, Claire’s greatest strengths are her ability to be content with the little things and her gratitude for her family and friends. For the most part, she rarely laments her quiet life. When she had to give up her first love (tennis), she directed her energy into something else she enjoyed and made that a career. She feels that she is good at her job and she enjoys it, so that also gives her a sense of pride and accomplishment. I think her job (making old or ugly things pretty) is a bit of a metaphor for how she dealt with her injury.
4. Claire has had love and lost it. How has her past experience changed her?
I think losing her boyfriend to a best friend rocked her to the core. Those two betrayals shook a fundamental sense of trust in all relationships. And in love. She recovered much better from her physical injury that the emotional ones, that is for sure. In any case, this cynicism about love and friendship definitely makes it hard for her to believe anything Logan has to say, or to believe that he could truly love her.
5. What is her reaction to first seeing her childhood crush Logan?
She’s caught unaware, so she reacts badly, especially because she suspects he is trying to manipulate her. Hostile might be how some would describe her mental state, although Claire tempers her feelings most of the time, so it is more of a quiet rage with a hint of desperation to flee!
6. It seems like Claire and Logan are complete opposites. She is cautious about new experiences, while he jet sets around the world. Was it difficult to write about two very different characters?
No. They are opposites, but in a complementary manner. In other words, he is able to use his strengths (courage) to help her tap into her own, and she is able to use her strength (contentedness) to give him a sort of stability and affection sorely lacking in his life.
7. What common ground do your heroine and hero have?
The have the common ground of growing up in the same community, with all the values and ideals that help form us as children. They also have mutual friends and some shared history, which binds them. In terms of their interests, they are both creatives—him with photographs, her with fabrics and such—so they understand that way of seeing the world.
8. A hallmark of your writing is the maturity that your characters find throughout their journey of falling in love. What are some lessons that Claire and Logan must learn for them to get their happily-ever-after?
The hallmark of any well-written romance (of which there are plenty) is that its characters will have a strong arc (they will grow and become better, stronger individuals). In this story, Claire needs to learn to take risks again, and to trust that, come what may in life or love, she will survive and be okay. Logan needs to learn to compromise, and to learn that the relationships he makes in the here and now are more likely to bring true happiness than achieving any aspirational goal.
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