Today it's my pleasure to be a part of the PUYB blog tour for Lily Velden. I'm excited to have Lily here to speak with us about her novel, Heart Knot Mine. She's also generously provided a wonderful excerpt from her book. Before we begin the interview, let's have a look at Heart Not Mine...
Despite a successful college teaching career, Noah Daniels has become depressed. He feels he’s leading a monochromatic life: love has eluded him. When he’s offered a chance to teach in London as part of an exchange program, he accepts, hoping a change of scenery will do him good. But once he’s there, his outlook on love and sexuality changes in ways he never expected.
Robert Callinan is Noah’s English counterpart in the program. The men exchange not only their jobs, but also their homes, and it is what Noah stumbles across while staying at Robert’s house that sends him on a journey of self-discovery—both mentally and physically. A journey that puts color back into his life… just not in the way he expected. When the exchange program ends, Noah has to go home, but he doesn’t know if he wants to return to the life he left behind.
Heart Knot Mine is available at Amazon.
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Welcome, Lily. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Administration and Finance Manager by day, author, artist, and publisher by night. In other words exhausted! Sorry! I couldn’t resist—I never know what to say about myself. I’m just a quirky artist with a passion for the written word, who’d like to share some of the stories floating around inside my head and help other writers do the same.
When did you begin writing?
I’d have to say, for as long as I can remember. As soon as I mastered reading, I started writing stories and illustrating them. When my children were young, I started writing and illustrating stories for them where we were all thinly disguised as the characters. They loved it. Even today, my daughter calls me Meha instead of Mum, after one of the characters based on me, and when I try to impart some profound advice (maybe one day, they will actually listen!!! I live in hope.) they tease me and call me Mummefra the Wise Woman after another of the characters I created for them.
It wasn’t until 2009, though, that I began ‘serious’ writing, and another two-plus years to pluck up the courage to submit something to a publisher. I dabbled, at first, on an amateur author site. It was the warm welcome I received there that finally gave me the belief that maybe, with some hard work and dedication, I could actually be a writer.
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
I’m a ‘hybrid’, by which I mean a mixture of plotting and pantsing. I know the overall story arc before I start writing, but it’s the characters who dictate what pit stops and detours we make on the journey.
I must admit, I’ve never written a storyboard, nor mapped out each chapter in my life, and if I’m being honest, if I ever did, I’d probably rebel against myself. I’d join forces with the characters, start a revolution, and flick myself the bird while throwing some kind of literary spanner in the works that took the story off in a whole new direction.
Can you tell us about your most recent release? How did you get the idea for the book?
The inspiration for Heart Knot Mine came from the movie The Holiday starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. The plot differs to that of the movie, but it was the film’s concept of swapping lives in order to escape dissatisfaction and hopefully find a fulfilling new direction through a change of scenery that fired my imagination.
I wrote the opening scene the very next day, but then I left it alone for a while in order to allow Noah, the main character, to develop in my head. I need to get to know my characters because once we do know each other that knowledge often dictates the course of his/her journey through the story.
In Heart Knot Mine, Noah accepts an offer from the college where he lectures in Art History and Theory to do a swap for one semester with his counterpart, Robert Callinan, at an English college. It’s what Noah stumbles across in Robert’s house that thrusts him on the road to self-discovery.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
I truly don’t have a favorite. For me, that would be like asking me to choose between my children. Each character has qualities I love and admire and quirks or failings that I find endearing. LOL, they even have habits that drive me up the wall!
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Knowing when to end it—I love my characters so much that I have to fight against continuing their story until we’re all old and gray!
Which authors have inspired your writing?
Ayn Rand for The Fountainhead – excellent for making me remember why I do what I do.
Ira Levin for making the scary or the horrific seem so plausible.
I’d better stop there—I could fill quite a few pages with authors I respect and admire!
What projects are you currently working on?
I have two works in progress. One being Happily Ever After? which will be Book 3 in the How The Light Gets in Series (Book 1 being Same Page and Book 2 being The Race is On) and picks up Jaxon and Liam’s story a few years down the line.
The other story I’ve been working on is Echoes of Mercy, which tells the story of Jonah and his guardian angel, and has a supernatural element. Jonah’s story will come out first sometime over the northern hemisphere summer. The poor guy has been beyond patient—he actually introduced himself to me before Noah from Heart Knot Mine!
Both are being published by my newly established publishing house, Wayward Ink Publishing.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Write. Writing is what makes a writer, so write.
No matter how you feel, keep writing. Believe in yourself and in your ‘voice.’
So that’s it. My advice is simply to write. I don’t know of any shortcuts.
About the Author:
Lily Velden lives on the east coast of Australia, her family having emigrated from Holland when she was a child.
She’s both a left and right brain person, holding qualifications in both Finance and Fine Arts. She tells her friends that her way with numbers will make her a profitable artist and writer… one day.
Lily has always had a love of language and a beautifully crafted sentence, and admits to having a fetish for collecting quotes, poems, and song lyrics. What she won’t admit to is how many notebooks she’s filled with those quotes… Her fascination carries on into her artworks where she often incorporates text. When a shoulder injury slowed down her art practice she decided to explore her love of the written word more fully and began writing. “I’ll paint my pictures with words.”
Not that she’s abandoned artmaking in its entirety—Lily collaborates on the designs for all her book covers.
There are many things Lily loves, here are just a few of the PG rated ones: a good laugh (all the better if caused by a naughty joke), the smell of freshly baked goods and mown grass, a smile from a stranger, rainbows after the rain, and witnessing a promise kept.
Her latest book is the M/M Contemporary Romance, Heart Knot Mine.
For More Information
Visit Lily Velden’s website.
Visit Lily’s blog.
Connect with Lily on Facebook and Twitter.
More books by Lily Velden.
Sitting with my ass parked on my favorite barstool, at my favorite bar—the Redhead Piano Bar on Ontario—I nursed my bourbon and silently asked myself the usual questions. Well, actually, it was really only the one question phrased a hundred different ways. That’s what happened when you went the route of academia—you learned how to complicate the shit out of things and use fancy-schmancy words. If you thought about it, it was a bit ridiculous to be using three-plus-syllable words to ask a question, when most of us were usually seeking a simple one- or two-syllable word answer. Yes. No. And, if we’d really lucked out: maybe.
I snorted into my drink, remembering the words of my most admired college professor, Ross Whedon: Noah Daniels, how many times have I told you? An academic will always take a whole paragraph for what could have been said in one sentence. Christ, even my thoughts were long-winded.
What was my question again?
What the hell is wrong with me?
I mean, really, what the hell was wrong with me? She was gorgeous. Tall and willowy, with long, flowing mahogany hair that still managed to look sleek and glossy under the dim lights of the bar. Big brown eyes, clear skin, an impressive rack, and when she walked away from me, I saw she had a great peach-shaped ass.
That’s right, she walked away. Why?
Because I gave her the brush-off. That’s why.
Hence my question. What the hell is wrong with me?
She wasn’t irritating. Her voice didn’t grate. Quite the contrary. She was charming and friendly. In fact, I’d go so far as to say she was interesting and articulate—she was in PR. Surely that meant she could string together a sentence?—and yet, I’d passed on her not so subtle come-on. I looked at her again, knowing I could have her if I wanted her, but try as I might, I couldn’t muster even the slightest bit of enthusiasm for the idea.
And that was the problem.
Me and enthusiasm didn’t seem to be on speaking terms anymore. All the color had seeped out of my life. I was living a monochromatic, black-and-white photograph of a life where everything was a shade of tedious.
I wasn’t sure how it happened, or even when it happened.
It just had.
It crept up on me, like a slow-spreading parasitic vine, gradually sapping the vibrancy from my life. One day I woke up and everything was gray, dull, and lifeless.
And it had been that way for a while.
Lifting the glass, I paused, letting the bourbon wet my lips before throwing my head back and tossing down the last of my drink. Closing my eyes, I hissed, relishing the searing burn to my throat—a small reminder I was actually alive—a living, breathing, sentient being and not merely a walking, talking robot.
If only there was a whiskey burn for my emotions, I’d be set.
Glancing down at the aged cherrywood bar, I vaguely wondered what they used to achieve such a high polish. It was almost mirrorlike in its sheen. I could clearly see my face reflected upon its surface.
And instantly wished I hadn’t.
After grimacing at the shell staring back at me, I decided scrutinizing myself wasn’t such a good idea. Taking my own advice, I looked up, meeting Seth the bartender’s gaze. He raised his eyebrow at me in query, and I gave him a brief nod, watching as he poured me another finger of Booker’s.
As he slid it across to me, not a word was spoken. I nodded, he nodded, and we both went back to doing our own separate things—me to thinking, him to serving the other patrons. The opening notes of a melody from the piano situated at the opposite end of the dimly lit room, and the dulcet tones of Stella McClaren floated above the chatter of the Thursday-night crowd. They went quiet as she continued. I wasn’t surprised. She was good.
The start of the music was my alarm clock, telling me it must be eight o’clock. Time to head home to the never-ending pile of papers waiting to be graded.
Sighing at the thought of what awaited me, I took another sip of the amber fire in my glass and swirled it around my mouth before letting it seep, drop by drop, down the back of my throat. Once again, I said my silent thanks to the bourbon for serving a dual purpose: anesthetizing me while at the same time reminding me, with its burn, I was still alive and breathing. Quite an achievement.
BOOK TRAILER AT YOUTUBE: