Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Holly for Christmas by Julie N Ford - Interview : Tristi Pinkston Tour Stop

As Brian McAlister struggles to move past being jilted not once, but twice by the only woman he's ever loved, he's all but given up on relationships. Then, on special assignment for the DA's office, he crosses paths with ex-socialite turned social worker, Holly Cavanaugh Winter-and romance blossoms.

Widowed, practically penniless, and reduced to shopping at WalMart, Holly is dreading the approaching Holiday Season. However, her angst isn't due to her husband's untimely death the previous December 25th, but because of a secret that could reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid the coming Christmas.

Love at first sight quickly turns frigid for Brian and Holly when Holly gets pulled into a manhunt for an accused murderer who now has his sights set on her. His case unraveling, Brian finds himself tasked with keeping Holly and her two daughters safe while bringing an assassin and the powerful man who hired him to justice.

A heart-warming story of suspense, healing, giving and receiving, No Holly for Christmas is the perfect addition to everyone's holiday reading list.

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Tell us about your current release.

No Holly for Christmas is a follow-up of sorts to my first novel, The Woman He Married. My early readers liked one of my sub characters, Brian McAlister, so much I decided to design a plot around him. In this book, Brian is still reeling from being jilted not once, but twice, by Josie, when he’s asked to step in for his father at the DA’s office who has recently suffered a heart attack. A defense attorney, Brian feels like he’s been pulled over to the dark side by accepting a special assignment to bring an assassin, and the powerful man who hired him, to justice.

Enter ex-socialite turned social worker, Holly Cavanaugh Winter. Forced to leave her posh lifestyle behind, move to a rural community south of Birmingham, Alabama, and start shopping at WalMart, Holly is dreading the approaching holiday season. Her husband passed last December 25th but his untimely death is not the reason for her angst. She has a secret, one she worries will reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid Christmas.

However, love at first sight quickly turns frigid when Brian inadvertently pulls Holly into the manhunt for a murderer that now has his sights set on her.

I love this book. It has romance, suspense and all my favorite holidays rolled into three hundred or so fast paced pages.

Tell us about a favorite character from the book.

Of course I love Brian. He’s sexy in that tortured brokenhearted sort of way, while casual but commanding with a fun sense of humor. But Holly is the character I really think is fun. I get tired of the same old romance character: pretty but doesn’t know it, meets a man who finds her attractive but somehow doesn’t see it, blah, blah and blah. So, I did the unconscionable and wrote a pretty character that actually knows she’s attractive. Holly is stylish and she knows that too. She’s snobby and yes, a wee bit shallow. But just like the rest of us she has her struggles and as the plot unfolds, goes through some very life-altering changes. In the end, like Brian, she finds that love, happiness and joy can be found in the most unexpected places.

 How did you start your writing career?

I’d always played with scenarios for stories and movies in my head but had never considered writing any of them down. In my second year of graduate school for a Masters in Social Work, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. After enduring chemotherapy, I escaped with my life and an unrelenting desire to tell Josie’s story. The only thing I can surmise is that somehow the chemo had an effect on my creativity, kind of how a superhero will receive his/her powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste. After a few days of the dialogue and narration for The Woman He Married knocking on my brain, asking to be released, I finally decided to sit down and write a page or two. A few pages turned into twenty and then I asked a friend to read it. She liked the story and wanted more so I kept writing. It was so much fun that four months later I had a whole novel.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

After I completed that first manuscript, as you can imagine, it was a mess. My sister suggested that I hire an editor to help me clean it up and gave me the name of a friend, author/editor, Heather Moore. I sent her the first chapter of my manuscript and then swallowed my pride when it came back bleeding from abundant strikethroughs and bloated with suggestions. Really? I’d naively thought I’d gotten it perfect the first time. As the editing progressed, she helped me navigate the modern writing world and all the “rules” I would have to follow in order to get published. Somewhere along the way we became friends. I don’t think I would have gotten this far without Heather. Now, after three published novels, Heather is still the first person I go to with questions and/or for support. A regular occurrence, as the field of publishing is brutal terrain. Tread lightly. 
 Who is your favorite author?

I would have to say my overall favorite modern author is Kristin Hannah. She writes great women’s fiction with just the right mix of narration, dialogue and description. Her characters and scenes are always vivid and they draw me into her stories. Jodi Picoult is another. I also enjoy romance/women’s fiction, that incorporate suspense, like novels by Karen Robards.

 If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

I’m actually working on a novel I hope will become a series. Book one is titled, The Cadaver Ball. It’s about a woman, Marley Evens, who travels from California to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt Medical School’s, Cadaver Ball. While there, she meets and falls in love with a politician, Daniel Cannon. Two weeks later she’s saying, “I do,” in a room full of strangers to a man she’s already beginning to worry may be harboring a few very dark secrets. In this first book Marley uncovers a pocket of human clones whose prime objective is to usher in the end of the world. Using greed, war, and decadence these abominations exist with only one purpose—to bring humanity to its knees. But there is one they fear, one foreordained to bring them down. And, it will likely take a few more installments for her to do so.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

I forced my husband to read the first manuscript. He’s a good sport and suffered through with minimal griping. The next two he didn’t “get around to” reading until he fell victim to a fairly serious motorcycle accident. Destined to spend three-four weeks laid up in a hospital bed with a dislocated knee, he asked me to bring him something to read. Devious Laugh. I brought him my second and third manuscripts, which both had been contracted for publication later that year. He read them and genuinely enjoyed both. Needless to say, I’d learned a thing or two about writing after the first one. 
Where are your fans most likely to find you hanging out?

At home. I am a serious homebody. I love to work in my office on my writing and promotions with my music blaring. I have a hammock out back where I often read until the sun sets after which I can then rock, watch the lighting bugs and muse about plots and characters. I enjoy cooking and spending time with my two daughters, watching movies and talking about books, politics and high school drama. I also like to clean, organize and do my own yard work. There’s nothing better than the feel of perspiration on my skin from hard work in the Tennessee sun, the way the grass and shrubs look when they’re freshly trimmed. Barnes & Noble, a quiet library, a canyon hike or an evening at the ballet would be my next choice.


Julie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in English Literature from San Diego State University. In addition, she earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. She has worked in teaching, childbirth education and family therapy. Besides writing, she spends many hours working along side her husband at their UPS Store franchise, but hopes to re-enter the Social Work field someday.
She is the author of three women’s fiction novels, The Woman He Married (March 2011) and No Holly for Christmas (November 2011), published by Whiskey Creek Press. The third, Count Down to Love (July 2011), published by Bonneville Books.
Currently, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters and one very feisty fish.

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1 comment:

Julie N Ford said...

Thank you posting this interview! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you have a very Merry Christmas :)
Julie N Ford