You have written in many different genres and always keep your fans wanting more. For Layla, you are dipping your toes into a paranormal story that has lots of secrets. How do you describe Layla without giving anything away? #spoilerfreezone
What is supposed to be a short, romantic getaway for new couple Leeds and Layla turns into an extended vacation full of bizarre occurrences. But no matter how much Layla wants to leave, Leeds is more focused on finding answers for the unexplainable.
The paranormal elements in your story are faint...just a whisper...until they take over. What was it like adding another worldly twist to your writing for the first time?
It was HARD. Super hard. I love using my imagination, but I also love realistic stories, so I found myself trying to pull back on things I didn’t feel were realistic. But then it got a lot easier when I decided to just make Leeds’s reactions sort of mirror what I would do or say in those early moments. I put a lot of my own thoughts in Leeds’s character. He finds it hard to explain some of the things that happen, so his reactions are probably what my reactions would be at first. Until there was no room left for doubt, anyway. Then his actions veer very far from what mine would have been.
Love-at-first-sight is such a mundane phrase for what these two share. Their passionate relationship seems to move in fast-forward. What is it about these characters that make their connection so instantaneous?
I knew where the story was going to go, so I needed their meet-cute to be believable, fun, and I wanted them to be a couple readers would root for. I probably rewrote that first chapter dozens of times, but I focused mainly on their banter. Sometimes we meet people we instantly click with on so many different levels. Leeds and Layla clicked with their sarcasm, their humor, their taste in music. And she read him without even knowing him. To Leeds that was special. I think he felt seen in a world where he’s often overlooked.
It becomes somewhat of an inside joke between your couple that, before Layla, Leeds’ always wore a look like he was “dying inside.” The truth is that he was deeply unhappy before meeting Layla. How does she change his life?
Leeds is lonely and holding back on his dreams because of doubts. Leeds sees something different in Layla. She’s carefree, fun and gives him confidence to follow his dreams. In a sense, I think she’s his missing puzzle piece. She fills the parts of him that are empty.
Before Leeds, Layla doesn’t have a real direction in her life. What does this romance provide to her and why is she so grateful to have found her hero?
Layla is fresh out of college, living with her parents and unemployed. Leeds’s career gives her focus, and being with him in Tennessee got her out of a place where she probably felt useless and unproductive.
Can readers expect more paranormal elements in your books moving forward?
I’ll never say never!