Thursday, May 07, 2009

Interview with Julie Lessman - Author of A Passion Denied

One of my favorite post of times past is the interview with Julie Lessman for A Passion Most Pure. I couldn't help but ask her to do another interview after I posted my review for the blog tour.

She is without a doubt one of the best authors on the scene today. Her writing exceeds all my expectations and she thinks like I would... Could a book be better than that?

Julie Lessman's Bio

Julie Lessman is a new author who has garnered much writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her website at http://www.julielessman.com/.

Julie, I always love having you here on the Daily Bee, such a treat. I think I've gushed to everyone that hasn't read your book and just about pushed it into their hands. There really is no one else with your writing style. You write so passionately about love and family, what was your family like growing up?
Gosh, Deb, in all the over 60 blog interviews I’ve done, no one has EVER asked me that question, which kind of shocks me. Way to put your finger on the pulse of an author, girl! First of all, thank you for your kind words about my writing style – that blesses me to no end. Secondly, you would think given how I write so passionately about love and family that I had lots of good experiences with both in my past, but unfortunately, the reverse is true … at least growing up.
I was #12 in a very dysfunctional family of 13 kids (3 brothers, 10 sisters … talk about PMS gone wild!) where depression, suicide, physical/mental abuse and mental illness were rampant. I was a really skinny drama queen that my brothers and sisters loved to tease. They used to call me “walking nervous breakdown” because frankly, I was a hoot to watch if they ticked me off. Like the time they picked on me and I ran outside and knelt in the snow, praying God would send them all to hell. Uh … see what I mean? I was not close to any of my family except my baby sister, Kate, who used to ask me to read my first novel to her over and over (written at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind, which, incidentally, is the same novel that became my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure forty years later!). Once I gave it to my mom to read, but she gave it back to me the next day and said she couldn’t get past the first page because it was so “dry.”

Needless to say, my family growing up was NOT the O’Connors. BUT … the good news is that at the age of 23, Jesus Christ transformed me from a hard, Bible-burning, caustic agnostic into a woman who lived and breathed for God, channeling all that ridiculous drama into total passion for HIM! And because my life changed on a dime when I applied His precepts, He not only restored my relationships with my father before he died and my sisters and brothers, but He also blessed me with a man who makes me feel as if I am living in my own personal romance novel. And the icing on the cake is that He has given me an incredible family as well, with an amazing daughter, son and daughter-in-law who are as passionate about God as I am. So, YES, I can finally say in all honesty that my wonderful family and I ARE the O’Connors … uh, with a little less drama!

I knew there had to be something behind the O'Connors and not just a good imagination.
..
In a Passion Denied, which character can you best relate to and why?
Well, you did it again – asked a wonderful question that allows me to talk about one of my favorite things about book 3 – the parent’s story, Marcy and Patrick. Every time I read their scenes, I sob my eyes out because I have been there. As inferred, Marcy and Patrick’s relationship is based on mine and my husband’s, which is tender, affectionate and communicative most of the time. But, there was this one particular moment in our marriage when I said something to my husband that wounded him to the core. So much so, that he literally shut himself off from me for days, as if his love had completely died. Suddenly I went from being a woman so secure in this man’s love that it was as natural as breathing, to having that love totally withdrawn as if a glass partition had separated us. The absence of his love jolted me so badly, that it was a physical ache and I thought I was going to die. We eventually talked it out and resolved it through my repentance and sorrow, but I will never forget how that feels to lose the love and respect of someone you cherish. Which is exactly how Marcy feels in the book, although she didn’t deserve it … but I did!

Reading about Marcy and Patrick really made me think about the price of Grace. To be so hurt and broken, yet be able to forgive and move forward. It's a priceless gift.
..
I figure you could have picked Brady to have any "hang up", why this one?
Mmm … three for three today, Deb. You are asking the good questions! Ironically, Brady’s “hang-up” was not the original problem I had in mind. You see, John Brady was such a godly Billy Graham-type character that I strongly felt I needed to give him an equally bad past. So I had things like pornography and child molestation with his step-sister (which never really happened, mind you, but he was accused of it nonetheless), but my editor said those subjects were way too dark for an Inspirational novel. So even though I felt that the sister connection was something I needed in order to explain why Brady could not “love” Lizzie (the girl he saw as a “sister” despite his attraction to her), my editor asked me to revise it. And in hindsight, I now see that my publisher was right, and the story is not near as heavy and dark as it was before I made those changes.

Molestation and Pornography are deep real issues that a man like Brady could possibly have in his past. That is one thing I've noticed in the Christian Fiction world lately, as new authors come on the scene, it seems that real issues are being written about and not covered up like they used to. My life is far from perfect, why would I want to read about a perfect life that is unattainable? I thought you covered that part of Brady's life well.
..
Were you ever unsure about putting "real" things in the book? For instance the issue with Patrick and Marcy or the very real indiscretions of Brady's past?
No, never, because it’s “real” things that teach us the biggest lessons in life, ESPECIALLY when God is involved. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Brady feels his past is unforgivable and Father Mac tells him that he knew a man who not only committed adultery, but murdered his lover’s husband. And yet, Father Mac says, this man is the only man God calls a man after his own heart. YES!! Three cheers for King David – a man of God who gives fallible people like me great hope. Because I have had more than my fair share of “real things” and dark failures in my life, and it thrills me to no end that God loves me and forgives me despite them all.
I asked this because I wondered what was going through your mind as you were writing about Brady's past... what would the readers think. Too much, too harsh or would they be drawn to it and see themselves mirrored in the pages of your novel.
...

Brady was a mentor and inspiration to many. Who inspires you?
Right off the top of my head, I would have to say King David in the Bible for the very reason mentioned above and more. David was a man who loved God with such abandon that he didn’t give a rip if he made a fool of himself doing it. King David had an emotional relationship with God that was as deep as any father-son relationship I know. He worshipped God with everything in him and loved Him deeply, and was always grief-stricken when he sinned against Him. That’s what I want to be like – a real, down-to-earth, feet-of-clay woman who loves God with every fiber of my being and every word that I write. A woman after God’s own heart – oh, God, let it be so!
I really cannot think of a better example of Grace than King David. He was a murderer, a liar, deceiver, adulterer... and so much more, yet he knew he was all these things and a man so unworthy. He also knew the most important thing of all - Who to run to. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Psalm 8:4
.....
Thank you, Julie, for joining me today. It was a pleasure seeing a different look at you, as a person and author.

Leave a comment between May 7th and May 14th for a chance to win a free copy of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed or A Passion Denied from Julie Lessman.


A Winner will be posted on May 15th - Luck of the Irish to you!

37 comments:

Renee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee said...

Wow!!! I've been following the blogs and different interviews with Julie and this one was the best yet! As far as Brady goes, I know a few people that have had some pretty terrible things in their lives like drug abuse and alcohol addiction and after God got a hold of them they completely changed! They're some of the most wonderful people I know! So I naturally love to read stories about people who have overcome with God's help! Keep up the great stories Julie, and there is NO way you are over 50, there had to be a mistake in that last interview!
Please enter me to win!

steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com

Becky said...

Eeeeeeee! I can't wait to read this book!

Great interview, Deb...very good questions. And I looooved hearing Julie's answers and getting to 'know' her better.

I, too, love real issues in characters in Christian books, and I always love seeing what occurs in the lives of Julie's characters when the Lord gets ahold of them.
You're an amazing author, Julie!

Julie Lessman said...

First of all, I want to thank DEB for hosting me on her blog, for her incredible support AND for saying that we think alike -- HUGE compliment to tell me I think like a young woman!! I kind of act like one too, sometimes, which embarrasses my husband, but alas, that's where the "young" part comes to a screeching halt, I'm afraid. Sigh.

RENEE, Geez Louise, you can be my friend for LIFE, girl, shooting me compliments like that! All I'll say is that when your hubby is an artist, it's AMAZING what PhotoShop can do ... :) But thank you for following the blog interviews AND for reading my books -- I SO appreciate it!

Grin, BECKY, I can't wait for you to read this book too!! My two editors, husband and most of my friends seem to think it may be the best of the three, so I hope you like it as well. And THANK YOU for your kind words and for stopping to leave a comment!

Hugs,
Julie

Carolynn W. said...

What a wonderful interview! I love learning more about Julie and what inspires her to write her books the way she does. We all go through so many challenges and trials to be molded into the ppl we become. And despite all our mistakes God never leaves our side!
Thanks for the chance to win!
carolynnwald[at]hotmail[dot]com

angela said...

I'm currently reading about David in the Bible right now. Powerful stuff. And I'm looking forward to reading A Passion Denied. Actually, I know a lot of people looking forward to reading A Passion Denied. Thanks Julie and Deb!

The Daily Bee said...

Thank you all for stopping by to support Julie! :)

Julie Lessman said...

CAROLYN!!! And I LOVE seeing familiar faces like yours, sweetie, on many of the blogs I'm on -- I can't tell you HOW much I appreciate you and your support! THANK YOU!

ANGELA -- "Powerful stuff," is right, when it comes to King David -- glad you think so too. And that's one of the things that I think I like about Brady the most -- that even though he is "a man after God's own heart" and fervent for God, he was soooo darn fallible and human, not only in his past, but in the story too. And yet, God loves and forgives him ... over and over. I'll tell you, the mercy of God gives me chills -- cold ones over what I really deserve, and warm ones over what God gives me instead.

Hugs,
Julie

Katybug said...

Great interview, Deb! I have read the first two books in this series, and I'm HOPING (Sweetheart, are you reading this???) to perhaps get #3 for Mothers Day. Thanks, Julie, for your time and for sharing so openly about yourself. Can't wait to read more of your stuff!!

Julie Lessman said...

KATYBUG, grin ... way to drop a hint, girl, in front of God and everybody! Mother's Day is always good for that, though, isn't it?? And thank YOU, for reading my books! Have a wonderful weekend, okay?

Hugs,
Julie

The Daily Bee said...

Katy - Hope you get it!! If the Hoffer really does go around reading Romance Author interviews... lol

Courtney said...

Okay, I'm following the blog interviews for A PASSION DENIED, and I'm so elated that I am!!! Very informative and interesting!
Anyway, I haven't been able to get my hands on the third book yet, but I'd love to win it! The other two before it are perfectly lovely and amazing. :0)

Thank, y'all, for the chance.

Courtney said...

Silly me! I didn't give my e-mail...

courtneylp1323(at)aol(dot)com

mez said...

Wonderful and insightful interview. Praise God for His restoring power and giving us a fresh, new beginning. I keep trying to win A Passion Denied, maybe this will be it!
Thanks for a chance.

worthy2bpraised[at]gmail[dot]com

Julie Lessman said...

COURTNEY!!! We definitely gotta get book 3 in your hands, girl, so keep at it. I am doing lots of blog interviews, as you know, so keep checking my website calendar till you win, okay? And thanks SO much for your interest.

MEZ, good to see you again, too, and I agree -- praise God for His restoring power, without which I would not be here or even writing. Like I told Courtney ... keep following the blogs and leaving comments because another gal who has been doing that just won A Passion Denied on one of the blogs tonight! You could be next ...

Hugs,
Julie

Amber S. said...

Another great interview! Thank you for all that you share...I am reminded to have an open mind (ie: if I ever get into the publishing world and have to change something in my plot). I also love your comments about King David...to know that God loved Him for pouring out his heart to God and for always seeking grace, not because he was perfect! Thanks for another chance to win!

stokes[dot]a[at]suddenlink[dot]net

Cynthia said...

I enjoyed reading the interview. It's nice to know that there are inspirational books where the character has some of the same struggles that we deal with. I look forward to reading this book.
Cynthia

Queen Catherella said...

Deb, any way to rig this contest??? :) Since I'm moving away and all, maybe this could be my going away gift????

Julie, your middle name must be "Inspiration". What an amazing series!! I can't wait to WIN and read A Passion Denied!!!

Cat

Julie Lessman said...

AMBER!!!!! Keep at it, girl, because you are close ... Three regular commenters (as regular as you) have already won their copies, so you are DUE, girl ... :) How's the reading going at Borders????

CYNTHIA, thank for dropping by, and oh yeah, these characters in this series DEFINITELY deal with some of the same struggles young girls do today, so I would love to hear what you think AFTER you read the books ... and hopefully the reading will start here with a win!

CAT!!!!! Oooo, you sound a bit like Charity when she's finangling Mitch -- good job!! And thank you SO much for your kind words! Good luck in the contest, sweetie, AND with your move.

Hugs,
Julie

Linda said...

WOW, what a powerful interview! INTENSE! I've read several others, but you went after the difficult issues, the 'real' ones that I haven't seen before. I'd really love to be entered into this contest.
Thank you for the interview Julie and the opportunity to win this book.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Julie Lessman said...

LINDA, thanks so much for stopping by and your kind comment ... and, yeah, Deb is a master at interviews, in my opinion, drawing the author out with the realllly good questions!

Hugs,
Julie

rebornbutterfly said...

Great interview!
I want to win the previous books in the series! I hope this is my winning entry :)

rebornbutterfly (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

Tammy A said...

I absolutely loved the first 2 in this series and now after reading this interview am even MORE excited for the third installment! Please enter me in the contest! Thanks so much!
TammyA
Tatertam1@aol.com

sherrinda said...

Wow, Julie, this WAS a good interview! I love hearing about the characters and get a little background on them and who they are based on. I am sooo looking forward to reading book one!

Deb, I love your site! It is so pretty!

bookwurm70 said...

Thanks for the insightful interview. Can't wait to read the book, sounds like it deals with a lot of serious issues. Please enter me!

Gail
bookwurm70 at gmail dot com

Julie Lessman said...

REBORNBUTTERFLY ... Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment ... glad to see you're working on getting the first two books!

TAMMY A -- Thanks SO much for reading books 1 and 2, and I hope you will like 3 as well. These O'Connors tend to be a passionate and dramatic bunch ... uh, just like their author! :)

SHERRINDA!!! Congrats on your win, and I'll be sending your book the first part of next week, so keep your eyes peeled. And maybe you will win book 2 as well -- who knows?

GAIL ... thanks for dropping in good luck in the drawing! And, yes, Denied does deal with some serious issues that are near and dear to my heart. Hope you will agree when you finally read it.

Hugs,
Julie

The Daily Bee said...

Thank you all for stopping by and the comments on the interview. Julie is the easiest author to interview and review because there never is anything bad to say! =)

If you haven't read book 2 or 3, like I said, these are a MUST read.

And Cat... you know I can't do that! If you were staying around you could read my copy... but you're leaving me so... lol


Good luck to you all! ;)

The Daily Bee said...

Thank you for the blog comment, Sherrinda! =)

The Daily Bee said...

Linda, I wasn't sure if it was too intense but I really, really wanted to ask the questions that were rolling around in my head... so I went for it!

Nade said...

So far, I haven't read any of Julie's books--would like to. Thanks for the opportunity.
Sylvia G
nade@gorge.net

Purely Sony said...

First of all, I’ve just got to say…this is one of the best blog interviews that I have read! I thoroughly enjoyed it Deb! You asked questions that I always think, “wish they would have asked that” and you did! Great interview! I really felt like I got to “know” Julie a little bit better. =)

Julie, you have become one of my top two favorite authors. A Passion Most Pure is still my favorite book. When I first finished reading A Passion Most Pure, I thought, this is the kind of book that I have been waiting to read…I LOVED it!! I own book 1 & 2 and would love to win book 3, A Passion Denied! I really can’t wait to read it, so let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that I win (hehe)! Deb is right; you are definitely one of the best authors out there and I’d be safe to say that when someone reads your book they know this is definitely a Julie Lessman book. Thank you Julie and can’t wait to read your next book!

Thanks Deb! :)

Julie Lessman said...

Deb said: "Julie is the easiest author to interview and review because there never is anything bad to say! =)"

Thanks so much, Deb, but uh, you obviously haven't talked to the reviewer who just said she put A Passion Denied down halfway through because "In my opinion, smut is smut. Even if you slap God's name in it on occasion it's still smut."

BUT ... after I prayed for her REALLY HARD, I actually tell people about it because now I think it's kind a funny ... but I sure didn't at the time! Of course, it helps that several people commented that that particular review sealed the deal for them -- they want the book! :) So I guess even having something "bad to say" is a plus in this business!

It's ALWAYS fun being on your blog, Deb, because both you and your readers are SO much fun! Thanks again for hosting me.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

NADE!!! Girl, we have to get you with the program and get a book in your hands! :) Thank you for interest. I am having lots of giveaways on blog interviews that I have listed on my website calendar at www.julielessman.com, so check it out because I'm giving away LOTS of signed books.

And, WOW, PURELY SONY ... you win the prize for making my day! Thanks SO much for your kind comments and for reading my books. You know, when an aspiring author first writes a book, they have NO IDEA if anybody is even gonna like it, and I certainly didn't have a clue. But God is faithful and now I am actually able to write for Him, which is a total blessing. And another HUGE blessing? Connecting with readers like you and Deb and others -- WOW, what a rush! Thank you for your support -- it means more than I can express.

Hugs,
Julie

Purely Sony said...

Julie ~ (Big smile) Your welcome! I'm glad that I was able to make your day. =) And it's great to connect with you too Julie! Thanks again.

Purely Sony said...

Deb, just in case you need my email, mrsbingley1@aol.com

Thanks again Deb! =)

Carole said...

I second those who commented on the interview questions, because I believe this is my favorite interview with Julie.

I appreciate you sharing openly about your growing up years, Julie, and would love to know what happened at age 23 to cause you to allow God to transform you. I am also often drawn to David's life and message of God's grace there.

Thank you so much for the chance to win one of these wonderful books.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, PURELY SONY ... I think you are related to Deb, aren't you? How? Sister? Cousin?

CAROLE ... thanks for your kind comments. I tend to be a pretty open person (uh, ya think?) and sometimes too much so, but honesty is HUGE to me, not being afraid to face your frailties and even bringing them into the light to possibly help someone else. So when I get an interviewer like Deb who asks the really pointed questions, I actually love the chance to speak my true mind. WHICH, is what I try to do in my books (because at least in my books, the characters get the blame instead of me when they make fools of themselves) :).

What happened at age 23 to cause me to allow God to transform me?? Oh, honey, you are going to be SORRY you asked! You know how long my books are ... ahem, well I'll try to give you the Cliff notes version, but it won't be easy ...

I guarantee you, you wouldn’t have liked me back then. I was a 23-year-old hardnosed agnostic from a devout but dysfunctional Catholic family of 13 kids. I was so angry at God that I actually used to say I wanted to burn Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. As a wild child of the 60s and 70s, I tried everything to be happy -- from astrology and tarot cards … to transcendental meditation and witchcraft -- you name it. My vocabulary would have made a sailor blush. Suffice it to say that I was pretty angry at God. According to the world’s standards, I had everything going for me -- a hunky boyfriend with a Corvette and a boat, a great job, my own apartment (at a time when other friends still lived at home), and I was acing an advanced writing course at Washington U., a prestigious college in St. Louis. But I wasn’t happy. I felt a lot like Peggy Lee (she's an oldtime singer, before your time, I'm sure) singing, “Is that all there is?”

Then one day, this annoying gal at work approached me. She had a lesser job than me, was divorced with a kid and no boyfriend in sight. I hated her because she came in humming every day, happy as a lark while I was utterly miserable.

And then it happened -- one life-altering moment when she and I were alone -- I looked up from my typewriter and said, “Just what in the heck (except my language was a bit saltier back then) makes you so blankin' happy all the time?” She said, “I’ve been praying you would ask.”

Oh, no, a Jesus freak, I thought to myself, but I found myself going to lunch with her, badgering her with questions and accusations. I don’t remember now if it was weeks or months, but either way, I met Jesus Christ through the remarkable patience of a God-sent angel by the name of Joy -- pretty appropriate name, eh?

Since then, my life has been a journey of “joy, because EVERYTHING with Jesus Christ at the center is pure joy -- especially romance! A Passion Most Pure is my love letter to a God whose love took me from the dark into His glorious light, and I hope and pray it -- and all the books I am privileged to write -- bring Him the glory He so richly deserves.

Hugs,
Julie