Today we are honored to have one of our all-time favorite authors visiting UTC. Lisa Kleypas is a master storyteller, whether she writes historcials or contemporaries. If you haven’t read an LK, you are truly missing out! She’s an absolute must-read!! For a chance to read some LK books with us, please join us in our Lisa Kleypas reading challenge. You can sign up here. Now without further ado, please help us welcome our Author of the Month, Lisa Kleypas!
Thank you so much, I’m delighted to visit.
It’s my favorite kind of story to write–the redemption of a tortured hero. I really enjoy the challenge of exploring how a cynical and bitter man can possibly be turned into a loving, caring hero. One of the themes in the book is that occasionally you have to believe in something that doesn’t seem possible. For Alex, love is one of those impossible things. He refuses to love or be loved by anyone, because he is certain that it will inevitably lead to pain and ruin. Ironically, part of Alex’s redemption is brought about by an unlikely friendship with a ghost–also something pretty tough to believe in. But ultimately the most significant relationship in the book is between Alex and Zoe, who is a chef and co-owner of an inn at Friday Harbor. She is gentle, compassionate and idealistic, and she’s the last person you would expect to break through Alex’s defenses.
It was tremendous fun to research and create the character of a World War 2 pilot. I listened to so many sad, romantic songs of that era, and I played Johnny Cash’s cover of “We’ll Meet Again” constantly. The insight I had was that instead of the ghost being someone who would guide or advise Alex, he doesn’t remember who he is, or why he is there. So his dilemma parallels Alex’s, in that they are both men who are not fully realized–each needs to figure out who he is supposed to become, and what is really important to him, before it’s too late. I knew that I wanted Alex and Zoe to have some kind of connection with the ghost’s past, and this happened in a way that I think was romantic and touching. I cried a few times while writing the book, especially the end, and that never happens to me.
Yes, I’m not going “full Harry Potter,” but the heroine, Justine, has some innate magical abilities. I’ve done a lot of research so far and I’m continuing as I write the book. One of the things I learned has become part of the plot: in Irish mythology, there is a kind of spell, or curse, called a geis. (Pronounced like “guest” only with a “sh” instead of a t at the end.) Justine discovers that a geis was placed on her as an infant, so that she can never fall in love. The reason why this was done to her, and how she breaks the geis, is a big part of the story. And of course there is a mysterious and handsome hero, named Jason Black.
One of the most important things for a writer is to stay fresh and try new things, so you don’t end up turning out cookie-cutter plots and characters. So when I was vacationing in Friday Harbor and pondering various plots, the island’s amazing ocean views and scenery looked so mystical that I decided to just go for it and add some magical elements to the books. I think it adds an element of lyricism to the writing, and there are wonderful opportunities for metaphor with magic . . . for example, Alex is not only haunted by his past, he’s literally haunted as well. And Justine’s fears and disappointments in love are represented as a spell that has to be broken.
I am hopeful, and there is a very strong chance that Joe will get a book. First I’ll have to make certain the plot is right, and then my editor will help me figure out if the whole thing is a good idea, and how and when it would be published, etc.
For years I used to get up at 4AM so I could write before it was time to take the children to school, but I just can’t do that anymore! So I have a little rented office in a historic newspaper building in town, and I try to keep to a 9 to 5 schedule. I exercise two days a week before writing, and I’m trying to add one more day, but it’s not easy to motivate myself to work out (I’m a slug by nature). I usually try to write four or five good pages per day, and I start out each day by editing the previous day’s work. By the time the manuscript is finished, I’ve combed through it about a zillion times. I can sit for an hour working with one paragraph, or even one sentence, and then when I see how much time has gone by, I’m tempted to bash my head on the keyboard.
Without a doubt, Devil In Winter was the easiest . . . it poured out in a period of ten weeks. A “gift book” . . . the characters were fully formed in my head from the very beginning. I think a lot of it had to do with the chemistry between Sebastian and Evie–they were such an unlikely pair, but whenever they were together, it just worked beautifully. (Another relatively “easy” book was Seduce Me at Sunrise.) One of the most difficult was Smooth Talking Stranger. Although I liked the characters of Jack and Ella individually, it was a struggle at times to write their scenes, and I worried constantly that they didn’t have enough chemistry. After I finished the novel and read the galleys later, I was relieved to see that the spark between them was there, it was just that I’d been too close to the book to see it.
Oh, thank you so much! I think a hero should be strong but never abusive, and once he meets the heroine, she is the only woman in the world for him. And there’s something else . . . it’s hard to put precisely into words, but I think so many great romance heroes in general have this quality of darkness or danger or a sort of edgy masculinity, so that when a hero finally connects emotionally with the heroine and shows his tender side, it’s incredibly satisfying. In fact, there’s a quote from Dream Lake in which Zoe tries to describe that longing for connection:
“Sometimes you meet a really nice guy, but no matter how you try, you can’t seem to make yourself want him. But that’s not nearly as bad as when you meet the wrong guy, and you can’t make yourself not want him. You feel hollow inside, just waiting and wishing and dreaming. You feel like every moment is leading to something so amazing that there’s no name for it, and if you could just get there with him, it would be such a . . . relief. It would be all you’d ever need.”
I’m sure I will, although I don’t have any planned yet.
Imagine by Jonah Lehrer (a fabulous non-fiction book about creativity) Heartache Falls by Emily March (a dear friend and terrific author) and of course I’ve preordered The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips who is wonderful in every way.
Two matinee movie tickets, one for me and one for my daughter.
Thank you, this has been lots of fun!
He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoӫ and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow.
But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark. Dream Lake is classic Lisa Kleypas: romantic, powerful, emotional, and magical.