Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Author Interview With Lila Munro

Hello and Happy Hump Day everyone! Please welcome Lila Munro.  

CK: Please, tell us how and when you launched your fabulous writing career.

I’ve loved books since I can remember being read to and have been writing since I remember being able to spell. I was forever making up stories as a child, in fact one Christmas I asked for a typewriter and Santa delivered. He brought a mini-child-size typewriter and I wore it out pecking away. During my sixth grade year, I had a wonderful creative writing teacher that really encouraged me and was the first to tell me I had a knack for carrying a story line. I think that’s where the seed was initially planted. From there I wrote sporadically, though it wasn’t until a little over a year ago I decided to do something about it. I’m a military wife, and after moving to a new duty station was unable to find a job. Due to a floundering economy, all my jackette of all trades and skills could not buy me job. After a while, I decided staying at home wasn’t all that bad, and, after reading several romance novels that left me wanting at the end, I decided to resurrect the writer in me and give it a shot. I discussed it with my husband, who agreed I should give it a shot and, a few months later, I received my first contract and things have been full ahead ever since.

CK:  Where did you submit your first story?

I submitted my first story to a small press in Tennessee, Wild Horse Press. I chose them because they were small and upcoming. I thought that would be a good way to get my feet wet and a good environment to learn the ropes in.

CK:  Do you write full time? If not, how do you fit writing into your busy schedule?

I do write full time. Like I said, I was unable to buy a job the last time we moved. I also have the unique situation of my husband being able to provide sufficiently for us couple with the fact that our nest is empty. So, not only do I not have to work, I don’t have children needing my attention all day. There are those two dogs and a guinea pig, however.

CK:  Please, tell us, what are the pros and cons of being a published author?

I’m not sure there are any cons. The closest thing to a con I can think of is how time consuming everything is. I discovered recently, with the premiere of The Executive Officer’s Wife in August, just how much time promoting and marketing take up. There are days when I spend more time doing those two things than I do writing. However, even with that, it’s a career I wouldn’t trade for anything. I love writing and while I may never get rich doing it, I get a thrill beyond imagining at the thought of someone else reading what I’ve written and them enjoying it.

CK:  Would you do us the honor of providing a sneak peek of your most recent project, if possible?

I would love to share a bit about Bound By Trust. It came out October 1st through Whiskey Creek Press-Torrid, and can be purchased at their website: www.whiskeycreekpress.com/torrid or through www.amazon.com .It’s a beautiful and emotional story about a war widow and her journey to finding love and trust again. Her hero is all alpha, although, he has his doubts at times as to whether he can really live up to the person she needs him to be. Here’s a little excerpt:

With the sun hanging low in a kaleidoscope of hazy orange and pink, Rafe made his way down the path toward the creek. When he’d returned to talk to Madi, Jared had informed him she was gone on a walk to the creek. He was familiar with the way there, CeCe had let him use her creek access for fishing, but he did more sleeping and thinking than anything else while he was there.
When he found her, she was sitting against a cottonwood with her legs drawn up hugging them with her head on her knees. He heard her sniffling and thought perhaps now wasn’t as good a time for this as he and Jared had thought. Maybe this was one of those times she needed her space to grieve. Then an overwhelming desire to comfort her overcame him and he wondered what caused it and what to do about it. The urge to cradle her in his arms was nearly more than he could deny himself.
She must have sensed she was no longer alone because she turned and looked at him with hollow eyes filled with unspent tears. The sparkle he’d first been attracted to was gone and he knew it was his fault it was so.
“What do you want?” she said flatly.
“I came to apologize.” He walked over and squatted down beside her. Fresh air, sunshine, and pure femininity emanated from her. Now that he knew she wasn’t taken, the consuming desire he’d felt for her all weekend was reawakened and circulated through him. “Your friend Jared explained to me how wrong I was.”
“What exactly did he tell you?”
She could smell him as well. He’d had a shower and the clean smell of his soap and after shave assaulted her senses and sent her reeling. It was pronounced and raw, or maybe she was just hypersensitive to it. The effect it was having on her further drove the anger she felt toward him. She didn’t want to feel the attraction to him that overwhelmed her, and now that she knew what it could lead to she certainly didn’t want to acknowledge it.
“He told me about your husband and that there isn’t anything between the two of you. I was crass, and I assumed way too much. I’m sorry, for your loss, and the way I acted. But I’m not sorry for what happened Friday night. I haven’t been able to get you off my mind since then.”
He was too close, the heat she’d felt earlier came back.  It engulfed her and made her ashamed to be a woman. She needed to be away from him before she thought twice about giving in to her carnal desires despite the hate welling up inside her. Shamefully, she wanted to let him comfort her, to let him take her in his arms and run his hands over her and make her forget how upside down her world really was.
“Well, you’ll just have to because that was a one time thing. I’m not in the market for a relationship, and from what I’ve heard about you, you aren’t either, so we should just try to get past it and move on. Now, please forgive me for being rude, but I need to go back.” She rose to leave. “My things will be here tomorrow and I need to rest before then.”
She turned to go, but he caught her by the wrist and pulled her back. “I’m not the enemy, Madi, and I don’t think we can get past it. Don’t tell me you didn’t feel what I did.” He watched her lips quiver wanting nothing more than to possess them and taste her again.
“Really? Not the enemy? What are you then?” Her heart raced at the pressure and heat of his fingers on her bare flesh. He was right; she did feel it, no matter how much she wanted to deny it. “I’m not so sure you’re a friend either.”
His lips taunted her as she remembered how they had seared her skin, and a renewed sense of need swept between her legs. How could she hate someone so much for hurting her and at the same time want to tear her clothes off and let him have his way with her?
Before she could think any further and give him an answer, she felt him take her head in his hands and his mouth descended on hers. At first he just brushed them, then pulled back and looked into her eyes.  When she didn’t protest he landed on them again, teasing them with his tongue and prying them open. He tasted of mint and hops, and he was warm and inviting. So gently he kissed her, running his tongue along hers, she thought for a moment she was dreaming it from wanting him so much. Willingly she let him in and caressed him back. He deepened the kiss and she shuddered, affirming she sensed whatever it was happening between them. She put her palms on his chest, pulled loose, and pushed him back.
“Don’t ever do that again.” She spun around and started back up the hill.
“Don’t try to tell me you didn’t enjoy that.” He caught up with her and took her by the arm again.
“Whether I did or didn’t isn’t relevant. It can’t happen again. Now let go of me and leave me alone.”
He watched her disappear over the ridge and wondered what it was about her that made him think with only a couple of his brain cells at once. What really puzzled him was that her rejection bothered him. He could have any one of several women at his beck and call, but he had to want the one that didn’t want him back.

CK:  Please share one of your earlier novels with us. 

My debut novel, The Executive Officer’s Wife, hit the e-shelves August 10, through Wild Horse Press. Readers can download it at www.wildhorsepress.com , www.allromaceebooks.com , or through www.amazon.com. It’s also based on the military community and centers around the cycle of being left alone. Libby’s father is a Marine Corp sniper and has landed in quite a pickle overseas and his command sends in Chase to be her safe keeper until her father can be retrieved. Here’s a little snippet:

Why Rosa hadn’t answered the door yet was beyond Libby’s comprehension.  She was trying to come out of what seemed like a comatose state of sleep in which she felt she had been lost for days.  She stretched and moved and was grateful that the incessant pounding had quit.  Hoping Rosa could contend with whoever it was, she rolled over wanting to savor this peaceful rest, but was jerked from it at the sight of the cowboy from Texas leaning on one elbow staring at her quietly with a grin on his face.
              “I take it you slept well, Libby?” It was more a statement than question. “I wondered if you ever would hear that knocking on the door, I didn’t think me answering it was a good idea or I would have and let you sleep longer.”
              “I’m sorry.” She cleared her throat. “In fact, I’d completely forgotten where I was.”  She pushed herself up and rubbed her eyes.
              Chase thought she looked radiant, the morning sun streaming in on her and her dark hair a crumpled mess.
             Bang, bang, bang.  This time a voice accompanied the frantic thumping.  “Miss Calhoun, please wake up and come to the door.”
              “Shit!”  She leaped from the bed and hysterically began searching the floor for her clothes, and then stopped midstream placing a thumb on her temple and forefinger between her eyes and took a few deliberate breaths.  “Calm down, Elizabeth.”
              “Who the hell is it that has you this upset?  Not another ex-husband or boyfriend I hope.” Chase asked leaving the bed and pulling on his jeans wondering if his boots would be necessary.
              “No, worse, it’s my driver.  What time is it anyway?  Good God, Rosa is probably having a conniption…have you seen my shirt?”  She was talking a mile a minute, the pitch of her voice getting higher all the while and searching the floor as if she’d lost something of great value.
              “Easy.  It’s not quite noon and…Wait…did you say your driver?  Who the hell is Rosa?  Your mother?”
              She looked at him as though he had cursed her to damnation.  Curtly she told him, “No, she is not my mother.” Then, with more panic than bite, “Yes, my driver. I told you last night you had no idea who you were dealing with, and I had hoped you wouldn’t find out.”  She was struggling with her shorts.
              “Miss Calhoun, please answer the door,” Bevins pounded again, “I swear it’s important…”
              Calhoun, why should that ring a bell?  Chase began an internal inventory of his still foggy mind.
              Another string of expletives flew from her mouth, none of which really shocked but only served to amuse him.  He thought she was kind of cute in a tizzy.  She raced down the hall and flung the door wide open. Bevins’ fist was raised ready to resume the assault on the flimsy wood.  The sudden motion caught him off guard and he had to take a couple of steps forward to keep from falling.
              “What the devil is wrong Bevins?”  Then in a more discreet whisper, “I am sorry, I forgot about you last night.”
              “Don’t worry about me Miss Calhoun; I slept on Murray’s couch.  Pretty comfortable actually.” 
              She then noticed her purse dangling from Bevins’ other hand. 
              “I was going to leave you alone as long as you needed,” his cheeks mottled pink, “But, I thought you would want to know the Colonel is on his way here.  I thought you might need some time to, well, collect yourself.”  He cleared his throat and glanced down.  She assumed her lover stood behind her.  “Your phone has been ringing all morning and I finally answered it.  Something happened overnight.  Anyway, he’s on his way here, sounded pretty furious, and he’s calling your new bodyguard, said it couldn’t wait until….”
              The unmistakable ringing of a cell phone interrupted him.  She turned wide-eyed back into the small living room and saw her stranger from Texas reach in his pocket and retrieve the ringing blackberry.   Holy Mother of God, what have I done?

CK:  What are your future goals?

I have so many irons in the fire right now I have a hard time keeping up with myself some days. Currently I am working on a series called The Sergeant’s of Lima Co. and it’s about three young enlisted marine’s—Alec, Hunter, and Brady and the women they find that are almost too much to handle. I’m also working on a wonderful stand alone story called The Language of Love about a young graduate student trying to finish her dissertation to obtain a doctorate degree in cultural anthropology. The only thing in her way is her inability to decipher the language of the indigenous people she’s studying in the Amazon. Enter right one doctor of linguistics, who also happens to be the source of her research funding. It’s different from what I normally write because it has nothing to do with the military, and thus far has been loads of fun. I’m also toying with the idea of a Valentine’s Day novella. The idea has been plucking at my creative center lately and I think I shall have to listen to get it to be quiet. As far as personal goals, I always want to learn from each book how I can improve and hone my skill. At present, my most pressing issue is character point of view and how to maintain one at a time.

CK:  What are your hobbies?

Of course reading everything I can get my hands on. I’ll read just about anything, but tend to veer toward contemporary, erotic, and historical romance. I also embroider (I think that’s a dying art), crochet, and I do a bit of quilting occasionally. Although, all that has taken a back seat to writing.

CK:  How do you unwind?

I live only ten minutes from the beach and am very drawn to water. When I feel the need to regroup or refocus I pack a bag with a notepad, a good book, the IPod, and a can of Pringles and head to the ocean. After a few hours, I come home refreshed and rejuvenated. When I can’t go to the beach due to crummy weather I love a good bubble bath coupled with a good highlander book and a good glass of white wine.

CK:  Do you mold your characters strictly from imagination or from those you cross paths with in everyday life?

My characters are a combination of both. I do extensive character sketches. It is a skill acquired while taking a seminar in children’s literature. I observe people and take detailed notes of them—their actions, mannerisms, physical traits. I try to imagine what is going on inside their head. Then when I’m ready to develop a character I write their complete history. I know what they eat, drink, their favorite music, their family tree, their nervous habits. These are all things I’ve observed in someone else. So, yes, finally an answer she says, all of my characters have traits or looks or habits of someone I’ve observed, but they are not based on those people specifically. Those I observe give me the basis for the characters, but are not in and of themselves the characters.

CK:  Do you allow your muse to take total control, or do you create an outline before writing? 

Well, I would like to believe I am in complete control of everything, however, that would be absurd to think I’m in total control. I do start out writing with a definite outline, but somewhere along the way my muse pecks me on the shoulder and say “Hey, Lila, what if this happened that way” or “Hey, Lila, did you know that Piper is afraid of motorcycles?” I need the outline to keep my story line straight and time line in order, but along the way I learn more and more about my characters and my muse is usually the one to point those things out. I’d say my muse and I have half ownership of control.

CK:  What methods of research do you utilize? I know, I know! The internet is available, but what about the library? LOL

Funny you should ask that. I research in the most unusual places as it turns out. I do use the internet and library, but my research extends far beyond those places. Some of my research isn’t exactly PG13 in nature. For instance, for the series I’m currently working on, I’ve had to take some extensive field research trips. My first hero, Alec, gets saddled with a stripper named Piper. In order to get into the head of Piper and feel what she feels, I did my research at a strip club and at my local Adam and Eve where most of the dancers in town shop. I actually stood under the black lights to get the feel of what it’s like facing a crowd in that environment. I have also talked to some very interesting characters about the local underground leather culture so as to be able to understand my second hero’s girl, Abby. She’s damaged in a way Freud probably wouldn’t understand. As you can see, I’m serious about my research and end up in some of the most unusual places.

CK:  Where can you be found on the internet?

Feel free to contact me online at www.lilamunro.weebly.com or through email at lilasromance@gmail.com . I also share a joint effort website with three other talented writers. We’re located at www.wickedmuses.webs.com , and you can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Lila_Munro.

CK: What advice can you pass on to new writers?

For new writers, my advice would be to never give up, and always, always aspire to do better. If you receive a rejection, don’t whine or complain. Brood a bit if you must, but move on. Figure out what you are doing wrong and fix it. If grammar is your issue, fix it. If it’s spelling, fix it. If it’s poor character development, fix it. For me, I have a terrible affliction called MMS (multiple muse syndrome). No matter what I do, I get inside too many heads at once, and heaven help me the points of view shoot off the charts. I am currently learning to reign that in and stay in one characters head at a time. I’m also famous for telling people write what you know and do your research.

CK: Lila, thank you so much for sharing. It was awesome having you here today! I’m glad our paths crossed!

Thanks so much for having me, Charisma. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here! 

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