The guest today on Reading Reality is Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy, author of several time-travel and historical romances, including today’s reviewed book, Guy’s Angel. I had the opportunity to ask her about her fascination with history, and her self-description as a “Rebel Writer”. Let’s see what she had to say.
First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself. You call yourself a “Rebel Writer”. Is there a story there?
Well, there is – two different stories, really. Guy’s Angel is my 8th novel release from Rebel Ink Press so that’s one. But the back story is that in my college years, my significant other at the time owned a Dodge Charger painted up like the famous “General Lee” of “Dukes of Hazzard” fame and we did a little presentation for our marketing class as a rock band, “The Rebels”.
Guy’s Angel takes place at a fascinating time, not just because of the “between the wars” but also because general aviation was just beginning “get its wings” so to speak. What made you pick this particular time period?
The 1920’s was my older set of grandparents’ (my grandparents are from two different generations depending on which side of the family) heyday, their youth and glory years. I grew up on their stories and always loved anything about the 1920’s.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My mom read to me from a very early age and encouraged me to read as a child.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
My Granny – yes, the one who came of age in the 1920’s – once wanted to be a writer but circumstances prevented it. She shared her dream with me when I was a teenager and told me, “I couldn’t but you can and you should.” And so I did.
And are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plot everything out in advance, or do you just let the story flow?
I’m mostly a pantser. When I begin a new novel, I know where it begins and how it will end. Everything in between just grows and happens.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
They do – and they’re like my kids. They do what they want anyway!
You have written several stories that are historical or partially historical (In Love’s Own Time, Guy’s Angel, Long Live the King, and the upcoming In the Shadow of War). Where does your love of history come from?
I grew up in St. Joseph, MO, a old river town with a great deal of history. And I grew up listening to the stories of my grandparents and other elder relatives so I always found myself fascinated by the past. I grew up in a Victorian era house and in an old neighborhood where everything was very traditional.
I have to ask about Long Live the King. You wrote a time-travel fantasy romance about Elvis! Tell us a little about what inspired you?
Well, I love Elvis and his music. I’ve made the trip to Graceland. And my aunt, who passed away after a very courageous battle with cancer in late 2010, adored Elvis. She also encouraged me in my writing and so I wanted to do something as a tribute to her. She’s the Janet the book is dedicated to – and at her funeral, the family opted to play Elvis music instead of traditional hymns!
Speaking of In the Shadow of War, would you like to tell us a little bit about it, or any of your other upcoming projects?
I live in Neosho, Missouri which is where Camp Crowder, better known as the “real”Camp Swampy from the Beetle Bailey comic strip was located. Part of it remains as a National Guard base but there’s also a community college and a lot more. So I became intrigued with the history and my other grandparents came of age during World War II so I wanted for a long time to write a romance in that era. In The Shadow of War is it. My next historical after it will be Dustbowl Dreams out Sept 17 from Rebel Ink Press and it’s set in 1930’s Oklahoma. It’s inspired in part by Charley Floyd, better known as Pretty Boy Floyd, who makes a cameo appearance in the novel.
What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?
Oh, wow, hard question. I’d have to say the first adult novel I ever read, at a young age, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It’s far from perfect but it has it all, romance, war, intrigue, betrayal, angst, joy.
Morning person or Night Owl?
Lee Ann, us night owls have got to stick together! Thanks so much for answering all my questions. I love the idea of playing with history, and I’ll admit, the Elvis book fascinates me. The “what if?” questions are always the interesting ones. And it sounds like fun!