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 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