You can find my review for Candid here! Without further ado here is my interview with Michelle Pennington!
Me: Hi Michelle! Before we jump into the interview could you share a little about yourself first?
Michelle: Here are a few things that kind of sum me up:
- I desperately want to be a good gardener, but I'm only good at growing weeds and big fat bugs.
- I'm a stay-home-more-than-is-good-for-my-sanity-mom. (I'm working on getting out more.)
- My life seems a lot funnier on Facebook.
- I can bake anything in the world except rolls from frozen dough.
- There is currently a baby powder/water paste smeared on my leather ottoman that I dread cleaning up-which is why I'm here instead of there.
- I like cooking, reading, photography, scrap-booking, sewing, crafting, painting, singing, and (my latest fetish) freezer paper stencil painting on t-shirts.
- I LOVE writing so I don't get around to those other things as much as I'd like.
- I once got addicted to buying fabric. Some people store food, I stock pile cute fabric. If the economy collapses and the stores empty out, my family will always have something to wear. I think my husband would look good in floral print trousers, don't you?
- I once shot 10 of 16 clay targets with my .410 shotgun. It was only the second time I'd ever shot it too.
Michelle: I don't remember ever wanting to be a writer. Of course my memory is not that great. My younger sister remember everying-and I mean from when she was still in the womb, so I might call and ask if she knows.
Me: Sienna has such a passion for photography do you share that same passion or was it something you had to do a lot of research on to get it just right?
Michelle: I've always loved photography and I have a knack for it that not everyone has. I haven't invested the time into that Sienna has however, so to do her justice I had to do some research. My mom and one of my brothers know a lot more than I did, so they helped me out a lot. I'm an artist though, so I understand how she would see the world through her photography.
I've always grumbled that I have too many interests to ever get very good at any of them. I've realized though that my real passion in life is writing. All my other interests help me get into the heads of characters and flesh them out from my own experiences, though, so I'm glad I have them.
Me: Lee is such a chivalrous and swoon-worthy character! Is he based on anyone you knew in high school?
Michelle: Oh, my gosh! Do I really have to answer this? There was a guy I went to school with that had Lee's manners and serious approach to basketball-which you'll see more of in the next book. Lee's good manners are probably one of the more unbelievable character traits I gave him, but funny enough, it was one of the only things about him that I borrowed from someone I know. I won't say the guys name, just in case this ever gets around to him, but he married one of my nest friends from high school and I know he's never changed. His mother was an influence on Lee's mother too-which makes sense when you think about it. It takes a certain kind of mother to create a son like Lee. Great. If anybody that I went to school with sees this, they'll know who I'm talking about. I mean , there were fewer than 40 kids in my class so it isn't like it will be hard to figure it out.
Me: Where did the idea for Candid come from?
Michelle: I was in yearbook in high school (the editor my senior year) back in the days of film photography. we had to sift through and organize hundreds of photos every year. We spent hours in it. I think all the time around photos affected my dreams one night because that's where Sienna came from. She was a student who was obsessed with photography and had a room filled with beautiful artistic photography. She was always a little unique and didn't fit the typical mode of a teenage girl. I couldn't stop thinking about her, but once her love interest showed up, I knew I was going to have to write her story someday. The technical side of the story has had to change a lot, but the story has always remained true to that first inspiration.
Me: I'm dying to know, what can we anxious readers expect to see in the sequel to Candid? Lots of Lee I hope! ;)
Michelle: Oh, Lee. How you do make us girls want more of you. Yes, there is a sequel. Candid is only the first book in the True Image Series. The next book is Focused. Not only will there be lots of Lee, but we're going to get the story from his point of view as well as from Sienna's. I can't wait for you guys to get a peek inside his head!
Me: Did you know when you first started writing Candid that you would be writing a sequel as well?
Michelle: Yes. I always planned it that way. I wanted the chance for my characters to really grow and change. That takes time. One of the characters that will grow the most is Sienna's mom. I know my characters really well-their past, future, flaws, and strengths. Sometimes it actually blinds me because I forget that the readers don't know everything I know. For a while I was surprised at the violent reactions people have had to Sienna's mom, but then I remembered that I know the rest of her story and they don't-yet.
I also wanted to show how a relationship grows. So many romances are focused on getting the characters to those three magic words (I love you) that they don't show what happens after that. So many times we say we think we love someone and then find out later that there was so much more to come.
Me: Now for some this and that questions!
Coffee or Tea?
Michelle: Hot chocolate actually-even in the summer!
Me: Summer or Winter?
Michelle: Summer all the way. I can't stand being cold. I think my husband would be happier living in the Arctic than in Arkansas. Sometimes I expect to see penguins running around my house because he keeps the thermostat set so low.
Me: Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliet?
Michelle: I must confess I love Romeo and Juliet. I memorized the balcony scene in high school and I can still recite it. "I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far As that vast shore wash'd with the farthest sea, I would adventure for such merchandise." *le sigh* While I'm confessing, I haven't read Wuthering Heights. No teacher ever made me and the movie didn't impress me.
Me: Dogs or Cats?
Michelle: I prefer dogs, but I don't have one. A giant orange cat named The General Lee (from the Dukes of Hazard's car) is curled up next to my laptop right now. My husband won that argument, and I have to admit that as cat's go, The General is pretty awesome.
Me: Johnny Depp or Leonardo Dicaprio?
Michelle: Johnny Depp. Leonardo Dicaprio just doesn't impress me. Even my 5 and 7 year old daughters are in love with Captain Jack Sparrow. What is it about that man that women find so attractive? I don't even think he's that good looking. He's just has an elusive something that we call charm or magnetism because we can't come up with a better word for it.
Me: Thanks so much for stopping by today Michelle and doing this interview! It was a pleasure having you here! I'm so excited for Focused to come out!
You guys if you saw my face when I read that there will be stuff in Focused from Lee's point of view you would have been laughing your butts off. Now Michelle has surely made the wait impossible! Pick up a copy of Candid and get prepared for Focused! You can get a copy easily from Amazon.com. You know you want to after all this talk about Lee! The moment you read this excerpt I'm about to share with you from Candid your gonna be dying to read this book. And now for the excerpt from Candid...*drum roll*
Turning the corner, I stumbled to a stop. The new guy was there, doing battle with a squeeze bottle of sweet relish. He must have felt me watching him, because he looked over to where I was frozen next to him. He smiled and shook his head. “I hate these bottles,” he said. “You can’t ever get the stuff to come out.”
Finding my voice, I answered, “I wouldn’t know. I hate relish.” Then I fumed at myself for saying something so stupid and wasting a chance to impress him.
He laughed though. “I may have to pass on it myself.”
“Can I try?” I offered. He silently handed the bottle to me. I closed the lid and gave it a hard shake upside down, forcing the relish to move towards the lid. Handing it back, I said, “That should do it.”
“Thanks,” he said, taking it back.
I felt the sweep of his warm, slightly callused skin against mine as our fingers accidently brushed each other. Our eyes met briefly before we both turned away.
I picked up a bottle of mustard and concentrated on squeezing it out in one long, perfectly straight line across my hotdog. Just as I sat the mustard down, I heard what was being said over the loud speakers.
“And here we go, folks. Luis Ramos, #31, will kick off for Haskins. It’s a good high kick and the Webster Warriors will take possession at the 15 yard line.”
“Oh, flip!” I said, forgetting that I was trying to look cool. The third quarter had started. I glanced at my hot dog, then down at my camera and realized that I could only manage one of them at a time. With my bad luck, I would probably miss the most important play of the game if I didn’t hurry. I hated to waste perfectly good food though. I held my hot dog out to the new guy and said, “I gotta go. You want this?”
I didn’t wait for him to say more before I practically tossed it at him and hurried back to the field. I got set up again just in time to catch a great shot of an amazing interception that put Haskins in possession at their own 30 yard line. Within a few plays, they made a touchdown, and I’d been lucky enough to be in the perfect position to get a great shot of the running back as he crossed the goal line with a defender in hot pursuit.
I stepped back and relaxed as Haskins kicked off again. I was just regretting the loss of my dinner when I heard someone right behind me say, “Hey, do you want your hot dog back?”
Spinning around, I saw the new guy holding my hot dog and bottle of water over the fence. I couldn’t believe he’d followed me. “Uh, yeah, thanks. I think I have time to eat it now.”
“Great. I don’t really like mustard.”
He handed it to me over the fence and I asked, “Why didn’t you just throw it away?” Then, knowing I needed to hurry and eat it, I took a bite.
“Well, I could tell you really wanted it. You must have been hungry.”
I swallowed and tried to decide if he was making fun of me. His expression showed only friendly interest, however, so I relaxed. “I was starving. Maybe I won’t faint on the sidelines now.”
He laughed and I was spellbound by the deep masculine tones that danced over me like a symphony. It was the greatest sound I’d ever heard. Realizing that I was grinning back at him and probably looking like an idiot, I took another bite.
“My name’s Lee Franklin. I just moved here a few days ago.”
After awkwardly finishing my bite, I said, “Yeah I know. I mean, I knew you just moved here, not your name.”
We looked at each other silently for a moment before he prompted, “So what’s your name?”
Wanting to kick myself, I told him, “Sienna.” Then remembering that I had a last name, I added, “Whitfield.”
“Sienna? That’s a cool name. Are you on the school paper or yearbook staff or something?”
I glanced at my camera, staring at it for a second before I remembered what it was. “Oh, yeah. Both. I don’t do much writing though. Mostly I just cover the photography.”
“It looks like a hard job. Well, I’d better let you get back to it. I didn’t mean to distract you for so long. I’ll see you on Monday though?”
As he left, I turned back to the field and stared at the game without watching it. It was like he’d put my attention in his back pocket and walked away with it.