Monday, April 16, 2012

Dream of Me by Jennifer Froelich: Interview & Excerpt

Paranormal Mystery/Suspense
Design elements from Owl Always Love You by Just So Scrappy.
Bay-area dressmaker Erynne O’Keefe begins dreaming about a handsome stranger shortly after her mother’s suicide. Every night they walk along a damp street, empty beach or desert river until the light of morning pulls her back to reality. Practical and guarded, Erynne would like to dismiss her dreams as evidence of grief, but remembering her mother’s life-long struggle with strange dreams and nightmares, she fears they point to hereditary mental illness. Erynne begins searching for answers in a stack of her mother’s old love letters while trying to resist her growing feelings for the stranger.

But the man in Erynne’s dreams is quite real, living in Arizona and wondering why his nights are filled with dreams of a pretty stranger. Stubbornly resistant to commitments, Colin Green can’t believe he has become smitten with a figment of his imagination. To add to his concerns, his dreams always come with a persistent warning: Protect her. But how can he protect a dream? While Erynne and Colin move closer to finding each other, their dreams turn to nightmares as an unlikely foe becomes determined to keep them apart.

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Colin grabbed a Coke from the fridge and headed out back to the patio.  It was a beautiful evening; the sun was just setting beyond the mountains and the sweet smell of orange blossoms filled the air.  Night was descending and with the darkness, Colin’s dream refused to be pushed aside again.
He had been running from someone.  With his heart pounding in his chest, he ducked through doorways, under scaffolding, up staircases – never reaching any kind of destination.  In his arms he carried an old woman who wore a nightgown and looked at him with wild eyes.  Time passed in strange, jerking intervals.  His arms ached under the woman’s weight and fear, clouding around them like poisoned gas.
Colin emerged from an alley onto a rain-drenched street, passing graffiti on brick walls as he dodged potholes and puddles.  It was a cracked sidewalk that brought them both down.  The woman tumbled out of his arms, hitting the pavement with a sickening thud; Colin rolled clear, crashing into a collection of garbage cans.  His stomach turned over as he crawled back toward her, carefully lifting her head into his lap.
“Someone’s coming!” he whispered urgently.  “We need to keep going!”
He shook the woman gently, but when she didn’t respond, he turned desperately from left to right.  There had to be a means of escape – or someone who could help him.
The woman groaned, shifting in his lap and pulling his attention back to her face.  Colin gasped.  In the seconds he had been looking away, her appearance had changed.  Her skin had tightened; wrinkles faded, eyes brightened.  Her white hair had changed too, darkening to brown.  Her features were the same, she was just younger.  By at least twenty years.
She grabbed his hand and pulled toward him with more strength than he would have thought possible.
“Protect her,” she whispered.
Immediately, she released him and fell back in his arms.  He knelt there, holding her in the street until everything vanished into mist.  He woke with her words on his lips.
Colin shivered.  The warmth of the sunset was already a memory; the shadows in his yard long and dark.  He rose to go inside, wishing he could avoid bed tonight.  He didn’t want to dream again– not if anything similar was waiting for him in the recesses of his mind.  Instead he flipped on the TV and turned on more lamps than usual.  But the chill stayed with him long into the night, settling in his bones like fear.

Welcome Jennifer.  I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to chat with you and find out a little more about you. Let's start.  First, Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for your debut novel?

DREAM OF ME came from my own dream, actually.  I dreamed about the cobblestone street and the comforting presence of a friend, just as I described it in the story.  When I woke, I thought about the idea of that person being real -- somewhere in the world -- and waking the next day, wondering if I was real.  From there I added the romance, the antagonist and the supporting legend.  It was great fun to write.

What are your hero and heroine of the story like?

Readers tell me that Erynne and Colin seem like real people.  That’s the greatest compliment.  Of course, that’s how I see them too.   Erynne is so smart, but her abandonment issues have really crippled her relationships.  I think being forced to face the good and bad in her heritage is crucial for her ultimate happiness.  As for Colin, I’m ridiculously pleased when I hear women tell me how appealing he is.  Somehow, he is “dreamy” and “real” at the same time. 

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Getting each first draft started -- out of my head and saved on a file.  I’m in the process of writing my third novel right now, and some days it’s really hard to get much accomplished.  I am definitely insecure and neurotic about my writing – while I’m dreaming up concepts, researching, or even later, when I’m in the editing stage, I feel a little less pressure, but with those first few chapters?  They are like the first five minutes of a run.  My chest hurts and I’m breathing hard!

Tell us about your next release.

It’s called A PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS, and it is a story about sacrifice – both the good kind and the bad kind.  Rachel is the main character; she’s an FBI agent who goes to Mexico to investigate a serial killer who believes he is the Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, reincarnated.  There, she’s unexpectedly partnered with a federal agent whom she dated in college– only back then, he used an alias and was working undercover for the DEA.  Needless to say, she is NOT happy about his age-old deception or the feelings that are resurfacing as she tries to focus on the case.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

Yes, I think so.  My main characters become like good friends while they are developing in my head.  At some point, they introduce themselves by name.  Minor characters I tend to name randomly from Sun Devil football rosters .

What does your family think of your writing career?

They are very supportive.  My two sisters are my beta readers/first editors and offer great encouragement and advice.  I wouldn’t be able to finish a single manuscript without them.  My kids have always known me as a writer, I guess.  That’s strange to think about.  I suppose in their eyes, it’s normal for Mom to daydream, disappear behind piles of research or leave pots of water boiling on the stove to write some scrap of dialogue.  When my son was little, he told me I was his favorite author … next to Roald Dahl, of course.  I loved that.  And my daughter read her first sentence sitting on my lap, pointing at one of my novels on the computer screen.  That’s an amazing memory.

What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?

My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was a teenager and I’ve been hooked ever since.  For a while, I seriously considered fashion design and envisioned a modest little shop and studio, a lot like the one I created for Erynne in DREAM OF ME.  Constructing garments is amazingly satisfying.

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

We moved a lot when I was growing up.  A lot.  The longest we ever lived in one house was three years.  After going to seven high schools (yes, seven) I really wanted stability in my life, so I decided to major in accounting.  I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with that one – especially since my dad was an accountant.  I was working my way through college with a job in accounts payable and one day I realized that I hated it!  I wanted to do what I was good at.  I wanted to write.  I switched to journalism and got my degree from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.  After graduating, I worked as a freelance editor and ghost writer for about a decade while privately working on my own fiction.  Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I read recently that, for a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.  Playwright Eugene Ionesco said that.  It’s certainly true for me.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers?

Yes.  Read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.  Read it often.  I try to read it every time I start a new project.  It’s a little book with big advice – I still learn from it all the time.
I agree, that is excellent advice.  That's all I have, for now.  Thanks so much for sharing some of your thoughts and creative process.  It's been fun!!

My debut novel is Dream of Me is available for Kindle, Nook and other e-book formats. It will be available in print form by mid 2012. I'm currently editing a completed second novel and beginning to research/write my third.

I am a graduate of Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and now live in beautiful Idaho with my family.

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Joanne said...

This book sounds intriguing with some mystery and maybe some romance. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.

Joanne B

Layne said...

Just wanted to let you know that on Wednesday, April 18th, I'll have a link to your blog on my blog,, on my What are You Reading Wednesday post. I mentioned one of the books I won in your Spring Cleaning giveaway, so I thought I would link to your blog. I know we all need these little links to help build our readership. Please feel free to stop by. Have a great day!

Pemberleychick said...

DREAM OF ME was such a good book! I would recommend it to anyone who loves suspense and the kind of book that you will stay up late reading and thinking about. Jennifer Froelich is a new author that everyone should be watching.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Love the excerpt, looking forward to reading the rest of your book :)

Gale Nelson said...

Love the description of this book. Look forward to reading it. Thanks Gale

michelle said...

I love this book, very interesting story and so imaginative.

Heather said...

This looks like a really good story. Thanks for the interview.