Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Reader Nina Lillard and Author Emelle Gamble discuss the novel SECRET SISTER
 
Click to view at Amazon Books
 
Nina: What was your biggest reservation about putting your work out there, and what gave you the final push to become an Author? Did you have a full-time occupation before you published your first book?
Emelle: I had no reservations – was totally gung ho to share my stories and entertain as soon as I felt like I knew how to actually structure a story. Pretty arrogant, huh? I’ve always worked in marketing and yes, when I first started writing, I worked for AT&T.
 
Nina: Some writers do research in different ways to develop or frame up their story. Have you ever done something unusual to build a character or a plot? Like Traveling to a weird place, developing a ritual, sacrificing various writing instruments *LOL*, anything that was memorable, funny, intense, or something that became “your thing” to get you in a zone of inspiration.
 
Emelle: Very interesting question, and I am shocked to answer No. I think my characters – particularly the lead characters – come from a very personal history place, and I know them as aspects of myself, or those closest to me. This isn’t to imply my characters are me or anyone I know, but I do understand them and think I get what makes them tick. They seldom get away from me and act out – although that happens. Zoe, the hero’s sister in Secret Sister, was one of those. She had so much insight and spunk, and I had imagined her more passive.
 
Nina: Sometimes readers experience the stories you write in a completely different way than you intend. Have you ever been swayed to write additional pieces to a story to help your readers see your characters the way you see them?
 
Emelle: I have always been a huge believer in ‘the story stands alone’. I resisted, when I was an English major in college, reading criticism of works that based points of so-called insight on the author’s personal life. I realized once I began writing, that this of course was foolish of me, as all work is a chunk of the author’s soul, and reveals certain things. What has been a true revelation to me is how often my characters are viewed differently by my readers than by me. Now, a smart author would probably question their skills as writer and work on their technique (HA!), but of course, as your insightful question asks, something else is going on. I wrote a blog post once that said, ‘books belong to readers’. And that is the revelation – once a book is out there, the reader brings their own reality and life experience and personality make-up to the story, and very often sees things an author might not realize or simply sees things differently. It’s been shocking, and intoxicating at the same time. But no matter how carefully an author thinks they are crafting a character or a story, it will often, if not always, be seen to mean, or succeed or fail, for reasons that are different than what was intended, and that is completely legitimate. So no, I don’t try and convince someone of a character’s virtue. I let them meet the reader, and the rest is up to those two!
 
 
Nina: For me personally, Secret Sister was an incredibly remarkable story. I’m not sure if I would have felt as emotional had I read the book on my own, instead of experiencing it through the audiobook. I thought Stephanie Bentley was nothing less than perfect narrating it; and the combination of the story with the performance of it moved my heart in a very unexpected way. What was the process of picking the perfect narrator like?
 
Emelle: I contracted with ACX, who is the company who puts the narrator and the producers/actors together for audio books, and then sells them at Audible.com or Amazon or iTunes. You post a request for audition on their site, and prescreen actors and producers, who read and then submit short (5 to 15 minute) tapes. Stephanie was immediately empathetic as Cathy Chance, in particular. So while she wasn’t a ‘perfect’ match to how I heard the characters inside my head – I still feel she has a bit of a ‘valley girl’ tempo that I had not imagined – her depth of emotion and grasp of the drama of the story sold me immediately. In fact, listening to some of the story from her lips, I felt like I was not the author – she made me forget that I already knew what was coming next because she built the tension so beautifully.  
 
Nina: Please tell us a little bit about Secret Sister and what is was like to write this story.
 
Emelle: Secret Sister is truly the book that best expresses what I feel about true love. I am a hopeless romantic, and believe that some people are meant for each other, and are fortunate beyond blessing when they find their true love. The idea for the book came when I was sitting around with my critique group.  I threw out the notion that my true love, my husband of thirty-plus years, would know me ‘no matter what’…and hence the story was born. I found it fun beyond belief to imagine the circumstances of what happen to Cathy, and how difficult it would be to try and convince someone of your identity if you looked completely different.
 
The book deals with love on many levels, love of a parent, or a best friend, of your spouse. And it certainly is about the secrets we all keep from even those closest to us. It was emotionally taxing to write, but if I had to use one word, I would say creating Secret Sister and those characters was exhilarating. No matter what else I ever write, it will be always be my favorite creation.   
 
Nina: A Question for a character in the book…Nick’s best friend Bradley. One of the best quotes I ever heard is Bradley’s comment to Nick, “The heart remembers”. Having that in mind, do you believe you can allow yourself to love and be happy with a new person, as you once were?
 
 “Yes. I think you honor love by opening yourself to love again. You can never recreate what you had with another – especially if that other was your soulmate – but you can be happy again. I believe that, just as I believe I will never love as completely as I loved Mitch.”
 
Audio book link
 

Love is all there is, it makes the world go 'round Love and only love, it can't be denied No matter what you think about it You just won't be able to do without it Take a tip from one who's tried - Bob Dylan

 
 

 
 

58 comments:

  1. Great idea for a story. Enjoyed the interview.

    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. Thanks Sherry! I hope you get the chance to read it - or listen to it in Audible book form.

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    1. Thanks, Teena. Nina did a great job posing questions - very thought-provoking.

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  3. I know that this book is going to be a very powerful read. After reading your interview, it makes this book a little more special!! I've been wanting to read your book ever since I first spotted it. Congratulations on what I'm sure is going to be a big seller!!

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    1. Thank you very much. I truly wanted to share my thoughts on people who were fated to be together, and it was great experience writing it and then hearing from readers. Get yourself a copy! And let me know what you thought.

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  4. Great interview. Sounds like a good book.
    Sue B

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    1. Thanks Katsrus. Love your handle! I've got two sister orange cats - they run my life. HA!

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  5. I look forward to reading this book. Best of luck to you.

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    1. Thanks Danagy! I hope you enjoy it - most who have say they couldn't put it down and couldn't imagine how it would end!

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  6. Enjoyed the interview! This books sounds like a really good read.

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    1. Thank you Quilt Lady. It was fun to write - sometimes taxing - but I have so enjoyed the reader response to it. If you get the chance to read, please do let me know what you thought.

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  7. Thank you for being so candid. I feel like I've gotten to know the real you. I love learning how a book was put together and what the Author was thinking at the time. I feel like I got the inside scoop thanks.

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    1. You are welcome, Wanda. Thank you so much for posting. As I said, we authors give a lot of ourselves away with our characters - I think that is what is at the heart of story telling, wanted to share ourselves.

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  8. I love your comment that once you've finished the book, the interpretation then becomes between the book and reader (I'm simplifying your statement; I apologize). As a poet (among other things), it's sometimes hard to let go of that bond between work and self, but it's often so amazing to see what readers get out of the work. Sometimes, I've found myself nodding and saying, "Yes. That's exactly what I meant, only I didn't know it at the time." Or, "Wow, what a wonderful insight. I never would have read it that way." I love discovering all the fresh perspectives. Aren't readers profound?

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    1. I could not agree more, Michelle, about readers being profound. When I wrote Secret Sister, I designed a secondary character, Dr. Seth, as a blind man because I felt it would be interesting to see how he had to relate to his patients without 'seeing' them. I was bowled over by the reader response to that character, and how he reinforced the major plot points in ways I truly did not do on purpose. Yay readers! Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. I love hearing about the Audio Book Process! I listen to a lot of Audio Books while I work, and the narrator can make or break a book! It's so great to have a narrator that adds to the characters and drama of a story - it carries on that oratory tradition of bards and storytelling that have continued throughout the "human journey". And its so terrible to have a narrator that detracts from the story! Sometimes I go in knowing I'm going to LOVE a book, but the narrator is so awful (monotone, boring, lifeless, no voicing of characters or inflection with emotions), that by the time I give up on the Audio book, I don't even want to try the print version!

    Anyways Second Sister sounds like a great read! Maybe I'll try the Audio book! ;)

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    1. Your post shows a lot of insight, and unfortunately, the downside sometimes with audio books. I would love for you to try Secret Sister on audio. Email me at emellegamble@aol.com and I will be glad to gift you a copy! Then you'll have to tell me what you thought of my narrator, if you agree with Nina that she's great.

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  10. Replies
    1. Not as much as I love that photo! HA! My sister cats, Bella and Lucy, love it too.

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  11. I agree that a critique can help you see another side to the story. Belonging to 2 poetry workshops, the 4-20 members offer their views and a few say don't change a word. Although in poetry, usually they want you to use the least amount of words to get the emotion across.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that about your poetry critique group, Sunnymay. Very interesting. I think a lot of creative word craft is often most powerful with the fewest words, yes? But an artist uses what they think they must. Thanks for your post! I'd love for you to read Secret Sister and let me know what you think. If you'd like an eBook copy, email me at emellegamble@aol.com, and I'll gift you one - fellow artists unite!

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  12. I firmly believe in true love and love at first site. The day my late husband and I met he went home and told his mother that he met the woman he wanted to marry. We were married 9 months later and was married for 34 years at the time of his death.

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    1. Oh, dear Robbie, I am so sorry for your loss. But what a wonderful love you shared! Same with me and my wonderful hubby ('Phil-the-fist' a sweet ex-marine). Almost the moment I saw him I knew I would love him, and boy did we have obstacles to overcome before that happened. Thank you for sharing, and reinforcing, the theme of Secret Sister. True love finds a way.

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  13. Ah yes,true love. It was a magical and for me a fleeting thing. I was 45 and he was 55 and we were both giddy silly with it. I don't think we were apart after our second date until he died 4 years later. It has been 19 years and I still miss him.

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    1. Your post brought tears to my eyes, Nancy. Isn't it truly magical though, when you meet that one who sees and understands you. I know were blessed for those four years - so sorry it wasn't more. Thanks for sharing - come see me on FaceBook any time!

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  14. Enjoyed reading the interview. I am always looking for new authors to read. this one I will add to my TBR list
    jwisley(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Joye. I feel Nina is a natural at interviewing and hope she does more of this with other authors. And I am thrilled you'll read Secret Sister - do let me know what you thought! XXX

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    1. Aw, what a lovely post, Brenda. Thank you for being a reader who supports we authors. It's what we work for! XXX

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  16. A great post thank you. Love does indeed make the world go round.

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    1. Its the one thing that we will all remember on the way out - who we loved and who loved us. thanks, mary!

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  17. I'm so happy at how amazing this interview turned out. I loved learning a little more about Emmele's writing process how Secret Sister came to be. It's one of my favorite books!

    Thank you, Emelle for being so gracious and taking the time to answer my questions. I feel honored and so humbled.

    Big Thanks also to everyone who are commenting here. I'm so grateful that Emelle chose to share this piece with you, too. Secret Sister is a wonderful story and such a fantastic ride. I urge everyone who enjoys a love story to give it a chance. Have some tissues ready, and let it steal your heart. You deserve it!
    Much love and harmony <3

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    1. Nina! Thank you for your generosity and insight! I think you need to do this more often. You got to the heart of the matter with this book, and made me think about a lot of things I hadn't looked at. Everyone, let's tell Nina she needs a blog full-time!

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  18. Loved the book!!! I usually don't like that type of book but I found this one very refreshing. Keep up the great work!!

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    1. Thank you Hattie - my number one goal is to write believable and well-motivated characters, so I think even those readers who were not crazy about how real and flawed they were, felt like they met memorable people. Thank you for your post.

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  19. Enjoyed the interview, sounds great! blacksnake@mchsi.com

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! If you get the chance to read, please let me know what you thought about Nick and Cathy...and Roxanne!

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  20. Interesting interview and great books

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    1. Thank you Gran! I hope you'll try one and let me know what you think. STRANGER THAN FICTION is free right now, a classic romantic suspense. XXX

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  21. I agree, Nina should blog! Good interview, thoughtful and respectful. I'm so tired of people putting each other down.

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    1. I hear you, dear dog lover! No more debates for me, just great interview questions from great book lovers like Nina Lillard! Have a great weekend, and do let me know if you get a chance to read Secret Sister! XXX

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  22. Enjoyed the interview and I cant wait to read this book.

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    1. Thanks! I hope you will let me know what you thought - email me at emellegamble@aol.com anytime.

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  23. Enjoyed reading your blog about Secret Sister. It sounds like a story I would like.
    JFWisherd(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thank you for stopping by JF - I hope you get a chance to read!

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  24. The interview with you about Secret Sister was interesting to say the least. It sparks an interest to read more. It was also nice to understand what inspires you and your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

    belgre at centurylink dot net

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    1. You're welcome, Belinda. Thank you for your post. Authors are that funny breed of folks who tend to get inspired about weird things...almost anything, actually. HA! XXX

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  25. Loved getting insight into your writing. I'd jump at the chance to check out a place for a book - and you don't. lol Looking forward to reading you - if you're not in my TBR pile, you will be soon!

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    1. Thanks so much for your post, Mom 2 Many! Let me know if one of my books looks like your type and I will be honored to gift you one. XXX

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  26. Sharon Baker slpetera@yahoo.comJanuary 31, 2016 at 2:52 PM

    Such great books. So good to have an author that does such a good job. Look forward to reading each one.

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    1. Sharon, thank you very much for your kind words. And for understanding that we authors do work hard, and its all in the hopes our readers will enjoy and be entertained.

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  27. Oh wow. I really loved what you said about how 'books belong to readers.' I had never thought of it that way! Very insightful and intriguing! Also, fantastic interview!

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    1. Thanks, Sabrina. Yes, once The End is written, its up to each of us to find our story in the book, right? Thank you for your post, and do let me know if you ever get the chance to read Secret Sister.

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  28. That was a great interview. Going to add your books to my TBR pile for sure :)

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    1. Thank you, Amber. I think Nina is a natural - and very skilled at asking questions that make the author think about what she's written. HA! I hope you get to read about Nick and Cathy and that devil, Roxanne!

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  29. I think you're a "hopeful romantic," Emelle...not hopeless! I guess I just never believed in that whole "one-person-meant-for-me" idea. I like to read about it in books, though!

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    1. I love this description, Catherine. You are a very insightful gal. Thank you for the post - and we can agree to disagree about that 'meant for me' thing. It's what makes the world go round, right? XXX

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