We are privileged today to interview Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy, a very talented writer and one of my favorites. First the cover of her brand-new release, The Patient Heart.
Relax, Lee...refreshments are on the side table. Help yourself. Here we go:
1) How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a writer?
I remember dictating a story to my mother before I could read or write – and by the age of nine or ten, I told everyone who would listen I wanted to grow up to be a writer.
2) What did you do for a living in your “previous” life? I worked in broadcast radio straight out of college and did a little bit of everything. I began as an advertising copywriter and worked up to doing on-air work including commercial production, news, interviews, and weather. I took time out when my kids were very small and when I returned to the working mother world I worked for the local school district as a substitute teacher until I gave that up to write full-time beginning with this school year.
3) Do you have a family? Yes, I’ve been married for seventeen years and we have three children, fifteen year old twin daughters and a ten year old son.
4) What do your closest relatives thinking of your writing career? My dad – who passed away three years ago – was one of my biggest supporters. My husband and kids think it’s wonderful I’ve made the leap to becoming an author. And I have several amazing cousins who are there with support and help.
5) What genre do you write? At this point romance in almost all flavors, from sweet to heat.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser? When I start a novel, I know where it begins and how it ends. For everything in between, I am a total pantser.
7) Do your characters ever take over when you’re writing? They do – they often do things I didn’t anticipate and then I have to roll with it.
8) Do you get inspiration from real people or places? Yes, I do. My novels and stories are set in real places, most of them places I’ve lived or visited so I’m familiar. Real people do inspire some of my characters but they’re also so altered the character really is not any one person.
9) Have you ever gotten a story idea from a news story?
10) Would you like to be any of your heroines? They’re all a little bit me but I wouldn’t mind being Cara Riley Brennan, my heroine from my paranormal romance series from Evernight. She’s talented, she’s brash, she’s strong, and she’s amazing.
11) Would you marry any of your heroes? I love them all. I’d have to become a bigamist but I’d love to marry any or all of them!
12) Do you do a lot of editing before you submit a manuscript? I do. These days, I even edit as I write. I write slower now than I did when I first starting writing novels and much more deliberate. Before I submit, I go over the MS several times.
Now some personal questions (please feel free to elaborate) :
1) Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
2) Do you listen to music when you write? What do you listen to? Almost always. I have eclectic music tastes but I often listen to something fitting the theme of my work – i.e. when I was writing my WWII historical, I listened to a lot of Glenn Miller and Andrews Sisters, writing A Patient Heart I listened to rock and roll.
3) Favorite color? Green
4) Black, white or gray? Black
5) Favorite ice cream flavor? Pralines and cream.
6) Favorite.line of description from one of your books:
After we spent our emotions, poured them into one another, we sat down on the sand, wrapped together and listened to the wondrous night music of God.
7) Favorite dialogue from one of your books.
From “In The Shadow of War” coming May 17 from Rebel Ink Press:
Something shifted within Bette and her tears ceased. She lifted her head up with pride and said, “I’m Mrs. Levy, Mr. Brown and yes, there was a soldier here. He’s my husband, Private Ben Levy and he’s shipping out tonight. I’m not ‘Miss Sullivan’ anymore and if it’s a problem, I’ll leave now.”
8) Favorite minor character from your book: I liked Ross Ramsay, the main character’s older brother from Love Never Fails so much I gave him his own story in an upcoming Rebel Ink Press Single Dad anthology.
9) Dog or cat? Dog
10) Country or city? Both – depends on the mood I’m in and what I’m doing
11) Beach or mountains? Beach
12) Skirts or pants? Pants
13) Early morning or late night? In my life they tend to segue into each other but I probably do my best work early mornings.
14) Cruise in the Caribbean or camping in Yellowstone National Park? Caribbean!
A bit about the book
A Patient Heart
Contemporary romance, Valentine’s Day theme, second chance at love
Rebel Ink Press (Feb 2, 2012)
As a little girl, Catherine dreamed she'd marry Connor Donavan one day and as teenagers, that dream seemed within reach. Until Connor ended their relationship, leaving town and breaking Catherine's heart. Ten years later, far from the old hometown, Catherine reports for work as a nurse one snowy January evening and learns that her new patient is none other than her old love, Connor. When he recognizes her, all the old feelings stir but a few sparks fly, too. As Connor recovers from an accident, Catherine realizes she loves him more than ever and he seems to love her as well. But after he leaves the hospital and convalesces at her home, his real life intrudes into their quiet time together. Then Connor leaves Catherine behind and she stays until a message sends her speeding to Kansas City, to Connor's club... On Valentine's Day.
“Kiss me,” he said, those dark eyes steady like a star in the night sky. Their pull drew her in like the tide on a beach, irresistible and powerful. Catherine couldn’t resist so she maneuvered in and put her mouth over his. As if weighted with magnets her lips attached to his and he kissed her back, strong for a man in the hospital. The deep mouth caress made her tingle and her body revved, answering the intensity with the same. She broke away first, still skittish about being caught.
“Is that better?” she asked.
“A lot,” Connor said, “I’ll be here when you get back but hurry or I might starve.”
Catherine laughed. “I doubt it.”
When she returned with a bag from one of the fast food places out on Neosho Boulevard in hand, she found him back in the chair. He sniffed at the aroma wafting out of the sack when she opened it and sighed with happiness when she handed him his double cheeseburger.
“Thank you,” he said, appreciative. “It smells so good.”
She opened her single burger. “Go slow, Connor. You haven’t eaten much yet and I don’t want to make you sick.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said as he bit into the thick burger. He devoured it but with such slow precision Catherine found no fault. She finished hers at the same pace and removed the trash then sat back on the edge of the bed since he had the sole chair.
“That was awesome,” Connor said, looking somnolent after his meal. “I think it made me sleepy, though.”
Always a nurse, she asked, “Would you like to go back to bed?”
He turned his head so he could face her. “I don’t unless you want to climb in with me.”
All of sudden, he evoked the past, revived memories that sent a fever racing through her blood with warp speed. Whether he kidded or meant it, Catherine’s heart race increased, so much she was glad she wasn’t hooked to any monitors. Her breath caught somewhere between lungs and throat and then he winked.
“Scared you, didn’t I?” Connor said, laughter enriching his voice. “I’d love to just cuddle with you but somehow I figure they wouldn’t like it here.”
“No, I don’t think they would. You got my attention, though.”
“Did I really?” One minute he seemed tough, the next vulnerable and she couldn’t read him, decide which was real or if both were.
“Oh, you do,” Catherine said. “But you might want to lose the Foley first, heal a bit more and get some strength back before you invite me into bed, here or anywhere.”
He shifted in the chair, winced and with a wry smile replied, “Point taken, lady. So if we can’t go to bed, what are we going to do?”
Somehow she doubted they were going to play checkers but she laughed. “Tell me what’d you be doing right now if you were back home and not in the hospital.”
“What time is it?”
She checked her watch. “It’s almost seven.”
Connor sighed. “I’d be at my club and the early crowd would be there. We’d be serving drinks half price right up until seven and then we’d have an hour before the band, if we had one tonight. If not, I’d tend a little bar, keep an eye on everything, stroll through the place doing a meet and greet and keep everything rolling.”
“You do all that?”
“Yeah, I do most of the time.”
“Don’t you have any employees? You make it sound like a one-man operation.”
He chuckled. “It was when I started the place but I’ve got a couple, a guy named Larry who tends bar, Lupe, who works in the kitchen, and King, my bouncer. They handle a lot. Then I have three waitresses, Trixie, Lisa, and Jen.”
Catherine counted six, four of which were women. Green jealousy reared up, ugly and potent but in a mild tone she asked, “Are they running things while you’re gone?”
“I hope the hell they are,” he said, and then dismay clouded his face. “I hadn’t thought about it. How many days have I been here? Two?”
“This is the evening of the third full day,” she told him. “If you feel up to calling, I’ll loan you my cell phone.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Maybe I should call up there tomorrow. Tonight, they’ll be busy or they should be. What day of the week is it, anyway?”
“This is Tuesday.”
Connor nodded. “They should be able to handle it. I bet they wonder why I haven’t called by now – I planned to check in every day. Did you cancel my reservation or did I just dream you were going to do that?”
“I haven’t,” she said, “It slipped my mind but I can do it whenever you want.”
His eyelids drooped to half mast. “I’m tired tonight. Maybe you can take care of it tomorrow.”
“Okay. Now, seriously, do you want to lie back down? I can help you crawl back in bed without tangling the IV lines and the Foley cath.”
“Maybe in a few minutes,” he said. “I want to get my strength back and get out of here as soon as I can.”
Fatigue touched his face but under it she saw determination and stubborn will. On impulse Catherine rose from her seat on the bed and came behind the chair. She plucked a comb from her purse and fluffed out his shoulder length hair. “Then will you let me comb your hair? It’s a mess.”
“Yeah,” he said soft-voiced. “I’d like it.”
She laughed. “It may hurt – some of it is tangled. I’ll try to be gentle.”
She ran the comb through his hair, lank now from his hospital stay but she thought under normal circumstances it would be just as soft and thick as she remembered. Catherine worked the knots out of his locks with careful hands and he grunted with pleasure more than once.
“Don’t quit,” he said, eyes shut. “That feels nice.”
“Good.” Catherine teased the comb through his hair again. “Tomorrow maybe you can get a shave.”
“Maybe I should just let you shave it all,” he said.
A frisson rippled down her spine, delicious and cold as she imagined how he might look without facial hair. Curiosity warred with an inner appreciation of his moustache and beard which gave him an exotic flair and desire to restore him to the clean shaven look she recalled.
“It’s your call,” Catherine said and he grinned.
“My people at the club would crap,” Connor laughed, “It itches so I think I’ll let you shave it all. They won’t recognize me.”