I’m from the old river town of St. Joseph, Missouri. I love the history there – the small city is filled with history and growing up, I felt like the past was close enough to touch. My roots go deep there and a piece of my heart remains in St. Joe no matter where I live.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your career?
I wanted to be an author from an early age. I didn’t go directly from childhood to writing novels but the idea always remained. Before I began writing novels, I spent some time working in broadcast radio, in education, and some other mundane jobs. But in my early thirties I realized if I wanted to take a shot at realizing my dream, I needed to get started or I might never accomplish it.
Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
My latest book is my second full length historical romance, Guy’s Angel. It’s a story set in my family’s old neighborhood in my hometown and owes a lot to my lifetime loving of flight. Upcoming, I have a contemporary romance I’m very fond of, Heart of the Ozarks, then another historical, Dustbowl Dreams, and something different, Kosovo Tales: Two Hearts, One Love
Here’s the blurb for Guy’s Angel:
When a young woman really believes the sky is the limit, amazing things can happen….
Lorraine Ryan wants to fly airplanes so she heads for the local airstrip in 1925 to make her dream come true. Most of the flyboys think she’s cute but a woman’s place is in the home, not the cockpit. When Guy Richter steps up and offers to teach her to fly, she’s captivated with both Guy and flight. He nicknames her “Angel” and takes her up into that wild blue yonder. Before long, they’re deep in love.
Guy, a former World War I flying ace, is haunted by his past. His demons include his war service, the death of his only brother in an accident the previous year, and the Valkyries that he evaded in France who trail him in the hopes that they can complete his destiny. But his dreams lie with Angel and as they grow closer and closer, he soon realizes that if anyone can save him, it’s his Angel.
Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
You know, I don’t believe I ever have. I find ideas almost everywhere but I’ve never been inspired by the news or a contemporary event.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
My biggest challenge is time. Back before I gained my first novel acceptance, I thought I was busy – always writing a novel and caring for my family but now I know I wasn’t. It’s necessary to combine promotion with writing and then you have to factor in edits….it makes for long days and hours. Even when I go away for a vacation or break, I take my laptop and I’m working, always working.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Perseverance and patience are necessary. Don’t give up easy but also don’t be so arrogant to believe your work doesn’t require edits. Always strive to improve your work, to make it stronger and tighter. Stay up with current trends and be flexible.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I seldom suffer writer’s block but on the rare occasions when I do, I move on to another project.
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
I have many favorite authors and it’d be hard to narrow it down. Angela’s Ashes touched me deeply and Frank McCourt’s honesty about his life made me realize it’s okay to share our past even if it’s humble. Gone With The Wind was the first grown up book I read and I read it in about the fourth grade. After that, I read mostly adult books although my mother tried to vet which ones right up until I read Harold Robbins when I was sixteen. After that, I think she gave up!
How did you deal with rejection letters?
I’m very stubborn and my parents always said I never knew as a child when to take ‘no’ for an answer. Rejections hurt, I’ll admit, but most of the time they made me more determined to get an acceptance so I’d tear apart my query letter, make it stronger and better, send it out again. With the first novel I signed a contract for (Kinfolk, July 2011, Champagne Books) I sent out 80 queries before I was offered the contract.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A good basic grammar book (I actually use the fifth grade discarded grammar textbook my cousin gave me as a birthday present when we were still in grade school), an excellent dictionary, a good computer (I’m a big believer that owning a laptop is vital but everyone doesn’t agree), and learn how to research.
Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I won’t write about violent rape, describe gore so gross it makes the reader want to vomit, and I may write heat but I keep it loving and sensual.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Hmm….what haven’t I done for research? (wink)….I learned to load and shoot black powder rifles, hiked on a rugged Arkansas mountain, drove down a narrow track on the same mountain, and learned to cook over an open fire, pioneer style.
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A Page In The Life: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogspot.com
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy http://leeannsontheimermurphy.blogspot.com
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