Name: Marie Lavender
Where are you from
I’m actually from the Midwest. I was raised in a family of five, with many extended relatives as well. In college, I majored in Creative Writing, and well, here I am.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest news is that I have two books coming out in February. One is a story that will be featured in the Valentine’s first kiss anthology, Cupid’s Arrow, and then subsequently released on its own. The story is called The Missing Piece, and it’s a new adult romance. The second is Upon Your Love, a historical romance/family saga and full-length novel, as well as book three of the Heiresses in Love Series. I am very excited for readers to discover both of these books!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing at the age of nine, or around there. Truthfully, I don’t remember exactly when it was, just that stories formed in my head and I didn’t write them down until I had a pretty good grasp on writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I always did, at least on some level. Notebooks full of fiction always littered my room, and getting published in the future was usually on my mind.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Technically, my first book was a literary fiction/poetry collection. At the time, I saw the self-publishing craze and I knew I wanted to try it as well. But as I began to organize the stories and poems for the book, I knew I wanted it to be an assortment of works, new and old, a progression of my journey as a writer. That book will be fully revised and re-released as Ms. Lavender’s Collection of Ramblings: Tales, Snippets & Poetry, sometime next year.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I wish I could say. The people closest to me claim they can “see” me in my writing. I simply write the way I’m comfortable with. I usually stick to writing in third person point-of-view, though very rarely I’ll go for first person narrative. As for ideas, I let the muse take over. There is one thing I can firmly claim. If there’s an uncomfortable topic I need to approach in my stories, I want it to be as authentic as possible. I can’t pretty it up with flowery words. Why? Because the character is living that pain, and with any stories, I have to honor my character.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Upon Your Love actually came from the ‘trials of love’ concept I had for the novel. Readers will understand its multifaceted meaning once they finish the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
One message is that you’re stronger when you admit you’re wrong about something than when you’re too proud to accept it.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, as it’s a historical romance, some of the background is based on the time period, on true events. I did a lot of research about the various locations in the book. Most of that is factual. And some houses are based on historic homes in real life. However, the characters and what happen to them? All of that is fictional. I guess I wrote the book as if imagining it was all real, if that makes sense. This novel is a family saga as well, and I kept thinking, if this were one of my family members, what would they do? So, in a bizarre way, it is loosely based on my idea of “family”.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most? A mentor?
There are some authors who definitely influenced my life and my writing. Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Delinsky, Annette Curtis Klause, Ann M. Martin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, Aphra Behn, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, R.L. Stine, Dean Koontz, Kris Tualla and the list goes on.
As for mentors, probably three creative writing professors specifically stand out to me. Let’s just say they all taught me to fearlessly follow the muse, and to never box myself into one genre.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I stumble across new authors all the time, as I run three blogs which accept guest authors. I also find a lot of new ones on Amazon. I guess I’d have to say I’m dying to read any book by Devika Fernando, and the rest of Melanie James’ Literal Leigh Series, among others.
My favorite author right now is J.R. Ward. I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood! I admire her bold take on writing about vampire soldiers, not to mention the hot moments and the occasional comic relief.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Probably my fiancé. He’s always supported my writing career, no matter what direction it takes.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Sure, it is. I hope to write full-time one day.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think I would. There is a point when authors have to let it all go, send their work into the world not knowing what will happen next. But, honestly? I poured my heart into Upon Your Love, honored every character and followed my vision for the book (while allowing for the characters to sometimes surprise me). I did the best job I could.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Well, I just know I always loved books, feeling the weight in my hands and pouring over their pages. With stories playing out in my head non-stop, it just felt natural to follow the muse into a career of it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! Here is an excerpt:
When the rider appeared from the forest, she couldn’t see him clearly. It was a man—that much she was certain—but the lapels of his dark coat and the thicket of limbs brushing her face kept her from placing his identity. He had dark hair and was tall, his body lean and muscled. She watched as he got down from a fine, black stallion and led it to the stream for a rest. The man took a drink from his cupped hands. He wiped the remnants of the water from his chin, and then seemed to search the area nearby. She shivered. Was it possible the man had been tracking her? If that was the case, her dagger would certainly come in handy. Adrienne crouched on alert, spying through her vantage point in the trees. From behind, she observed as the tension eased from his shoulders and he sighed.
A frisson of unease ran through her again. Taking it as a sign, she confirmed he was still faced away before she quietly eased out of her haven. Stepping up behind him, she lifted her dagger to his throat. A smile of grim determination danced over her lips as he stiffened.
“Who are you? Why are you here? Are you following me?”
“What if I was?”
Fine shivers moved along the surface of her skin, caused by the deep timbre of his voice.
“I would have to ask for your reasons, Monsieur.”
“I haven’t come to kidnap you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he sighed. “I didn’t expect you’d be prepared. I commend the effort, of course.”
She frowned. The compliment threw her for a moment, but she then brushed it off. Surely, he ridiculed her, and thought he could overtake her somehow. She shook her head. He would be gravely disappointed.
“You will state your reasons for your presence and your identity, sir.”
“And if I don’t?”
“You will regret it, of course.”
“Indeed? Do you intend to harm an unarmed man?”
She scoffed. “Unarmed? No, I doubt that. With the way you appeared to be tracking me, I am sure you’re quite armed.”
“Right again. What will you do about it?”
She shrugged. “This is Bellamont land. You’ve clearly trespassed. If I must, I will drag you straight back to the house. You know, I believe the foreman has a Winchester sporting rifle. He can be quite formidable when he puts his mind to the task.”
“I’m sure,” he murmured.
“What say you then?”
“I say, Mademoiselle, that you have no idea who you’re dealing with.”
Before she could open her mouth to take him to task, she felt a blow to her arm and the numbing pain caused her to drop the knife. Everything else happened in a blur. As he turned, he caught her leg, which caused her to collapse. But, before she landed, he grasped her up in his arms. He was too close, she thought. Panic threatened inside of her, but she fought it by degrees. She was a fighter, not some idiot who would succumb to a man’s power. Gabriel had taught her many tricks, as had her father. She forced herself to go limp so that he’d pull her closer. She let her eyes drift closed and pretended to have swooned.
“Mon Dieu,” he whispered.
Then she unmanned him with a swift rise of her knee. He coughed out a grunted response, releasing her.
She retreated from him, intent on finding her dagger, but did not see it. The leaves in the grass crunched beneath her hands and knees as she struggled to her feet. She would have to rely on the resources of the forest to save her if he pursued further. Somehow, she doubted he’d be able to. She turned and her mouth dropped open as she looked at her attacker.
His dark hair had fallen over one eye and he was hardly doubled over in pain. No, he scowled at her now and he seemed quite well. She’d missed her target, she realized. His identity shocked her further. She felt quite stupid for not recognizing him, even from behind. But, why had Christian tried to attack her?
“How…,” she whispered.
“You are not as fast as I, Mademoiselle.” Then he laughed, but there was no mirth in his expression. His eyes seemed darker suddenly. “You little brat,” he bit out. “You almost had me.”
She sucked in a breath and, when she saw him advance, she backed away. But, it effectively put her back right up against a nearby tree. She cursed. Christian closed in, blocking her in with his arms as he braced his hands on the tree trunk. Her breaths came out in harsh pants and her stomach had fallen somewhere at her feet. Dear God, what would he do? She jerked her arms out to break his hold, but his muscles were like the ratlines between the shrouds of a mast in a ship’s rigging. Solid. Struggling with his obvious intimidation of her, she managed, “Why are you trying to kidnap me?”
Some of the arrogance left his face. “I’m not. I thought we already established that.”
“Then why… this?” she asked, weakly. And why couldn’t she breathe? His clean, male scent caused her to feel lightheaded. No, she thought. That just had to be terror.
“I wanted to get you alone so that we could continue our plans. I didn’t mean for you to see me as a threat. I certainly didn’t expect a dagger at my throat.” He reached out and cupped her face, stroking the line of her jaw gently with his thumb.
Adrienne gazed into his nearly black eyes. She thought she saw a hint of admiration and something more, perhaps desire, in his gaze.
“P… plans?” she stammered, annoyed with the hypnotic effect he had on her. And what was that strange, but wonderful scent coming off him? She detected cologne which contained a hint of fresh pine. But then, she’d smelled it before, both in her room and at the Broussard’s engagement party. Even though the fragrance was pleasant, she tried to ignore it.
“Our matchmaking endeavor, chére.”
“Yes, that. Did you forget?”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Fight scenes can be challenging. I often have to watch videos of fencing duels or fights to visualize that kind of scene. Seeing how it plays out helps me to design my own.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not really, but I’d certainly love to! I have a historical romance/fantasy series in mind about a coven of witches set during the time of the witch trials. I know exactly where I want to base the fictional town, and I would love to travel there to get a true feel for the place. It also wouldn’t hurt to comb through their archives.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The Heiresses in Love Series’ covers were designed by Solstice Publishing. Except for Upon Your Honor, which was designed by Deborah Melanie. But when I get a renewal contract for UYH, I’ll most likely have to change the cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
This book took me a year and half to write. The research was fairly difficult, but I suppose the hardest part was when the characters started fussing at me and eventually I had to resign myself to letting them do what they wanted. LOL.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
OMG! I learned I can actually write a full-length novel. To date, Upon Your Love is the longest book I have written or published.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Well, I have a different actor in mind for every character I’ve written. If UYL was made into a film, I’d want Jessica Green to play Adrienne Hill. Her coloring and hair are perfect for the character. Plus she’s tall, which Adrienne is as well.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Be patient, and don’t be afraid to do the necessary hard work to prepare yourself, to become a better writer. It’s tempting to pursue your goals to the exclusion of all else, but you also have to be certain you’re ready for this crazy author journey. Remember, it’s not just about your love of writing. That’s only half of it; publishing is a business.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you like my books, and I’m happy to connect with you on social media! I’m grateful for all of you!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m re-reading The Beast by J.R. Ward, to prepare myself to launch into her new book, Blood Vow.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not exactly, but I do recall being somewhat obsessed with The Bobbsey Twins and The Boxcar Children.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My characters. I feel everything they experience.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I’d like to see my grandma again. I really miss her, but I know she and my grandfather are in a better place.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I’d really rather not say. I don’t like to think about my own death. Plus, I’m hardly arrogant. I’d leave that decision up to my family or my spouse.
Fiona: Other than writing, do you have any hobbies?
Sure! I love shopping, reading, and sometimes changing the décor in my house. I’m really into creative projects. I guess that explains why I also double as a cover artist.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a big fan of the DVR, or Netflix and Hulu, because I can finally watch something when I need to take a break. Somewhere in the middle of my crazy schedule, anyway. LOL. I enjoy watching Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Bones, Outlander, When Calls the Heart, Once Upon A Time, Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, Blindspot, Scorpion, Elementary, Sherlock and Doctor Who. I’m sure there are many more, but those are the only ones that come to mind just now.
Favorite foods: Italian foods, sushi, chicken Oscar, chicken costoletta, seafood, pad thai
Colors: I love most colors, but hot pink is my favorite.
Music: OneRepublic, Owl City, Ellie Goulding, Lights, Paramore, and the list goes on.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I always thought owning a bookstore would be cool. Why wouldn’t I want to be near books all the time?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have a website at http://marielavender.com/
And three blogs:
Blurb for Upon Your Love
The Hill family saga concludes as loyalties are questioned, faiths will be tested and undying love may come at a terrible cost…
Fara Hill, mother and faithful wife, is torn between her family at home and her urge to be at sea. Soon, she learns some disturbing truths. Was the past a fairy tale instead of reality?
Chloe Hill, loving wife and young mother, questions her faith when her husband sets an ultimatum she cannot meet. Will she be able to keep her marriage from falling apart?
Adrienne Bellamont Hill, born of a valiant captain and a fiery redhead, is untamed to her core and will bow to no man. Then Christian du Plessis enters her life with an offer she can’t refuse. Discovering the man behind the polished gentleman, she is drawn to him in many ways. Holding out for love is a family tradition, but can she resist the temptation of passion?
Christian finds this young woman to be a fascinating challenge, and is torn between keeping his distance from her and succumbing to her charms. A fierce battle of wills ensues as he sees she is much more than he ever imagined.
Butdanger lurks, threatening to destroy everything…
Can these two strong-willed individuals unite in the cause before time runs out?
Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 23 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015.Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards.Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition.Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award.Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.
Amazon author page: Author.to/MarieLavender