LJ Evans released her next book, Avenged by Love, yesterday! She’s quickly become one of my favorite authors. I’m always excited when she announces her next book. I was even more excited when she agreed to a review for the blog. I asked her some questions about the author herself and of course about her latest book. Let’s take a look!
My review is a bit later than planned, but keep an eye on the blog for my review of Avenged by Love! I can already say that it’s a book you need to read!
About the Author
What inspired you to start writing?
My 5th grade teacher was the first person to say anything about my writing, and after she encouraged me, I wrote everywhere. I had gazillions of journals and notebooks stashed all over that I would write snippets in. Then, I started writing fan fiction before it was called that, like the story I wrote with me married to Luke Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard. HA! Really, writing has almost always been part of my life. I’d stop for a few years here and there, but it would always come back to me. Now, the reason I actually hit “publish” was different. I did that because I needed to get Cam’s story out in the world. After I wrote My Life as a Country Album, it kept tugging at my insides as if it would burst out on its own if I didn’t do something with it. Weirdly said, but true. Also, my sister would have sat on me and tickled me until I couldn’t breathe if I didn’t. 😉 It took me a lot longer than it should have to work up the courage to do it, but it’s been a rockin’ journey ever since.
What is your all time favorite book? Why?
So unfair!!! One? Really, it is pretty hard to narrow it down. I will say that Amy Harmon’s Making Faces was one of the reasons I started to write again after I’d stopped for a couple years. Her words spoke to my heart and made me want to create my own. She’s been an inspiration ever since.
Two of my favorite books of all time are Venetia by Georgette Heyer (sassy, incredible historical romance heroine) and Rebecca by Dauphne Du Maurier (so twisty and gothic and descriptive).
I have favorites in multiple genres, so I could list a bunch of others… but you asked for one and I gave you three, so I’ll stop myself from continuing.
What recent books do you think everyone needs to read?
Warrior Blue by Kelsey Kingsley! So gorgeously written. And if you like something not entirely romance, check out Rebecca Donovan’s The Cursed Series. Part 3 and part 4 were just released this month. Her character development is off the charts.
Besides writing, what are other hobbies you have?
Wait, I’m allowed more? Just kidding. I love to scrapbook, and I love messing around with pictures on PicMonkey. I don’t take any good photos myself, but I love playing around with other peoples.
In your books, music plays a big role. All of the chapters have song titles, what inspired you to do this?
The first book in the album series, My Life as a Country Album, practically wrote itself while I was listening to old Taylor Swift songs while my daughter and I were preparing to go see her Red Tour (yep, that long ago). The first song that hit me was the Mary’s Song, and I literally saw Cam and Jake and their parents and the whole beginning chapter. Names and everything! The more songs I listened to, the more the story unfolded in my head. Taylor’s words inspired mine. I really wanted to call the book My Life as a Taylor Swift Album, but there’s this pesky thing called copyright, ha! I did ask her team if it was okay to use the lyrics, and they gave me the guidelines for how that could be done without costing me more money than I’ll ever have in this lifetime. After that, it’s just become something that helps me write. I’ll hear songs and have to pull over the car to write down the scene that popped into my head.
What role does music play in your life?
It’s funny because I feel like I came to music late in my life. I listened to the radio and bought CDs when I was younger, but I couldn’t tell you half the time who wrote or sang what. I’m still pretty bad at it, but I feel like once I found country music, it changed me. I felt connected to the stories they told. I felt like they were telling my life story. So, while I truly love almost all genres of music, and you’ll see a variety in my books, country music will always be my go-to for me personally and for my stories.
I know Avenged by Love just came out today, but can you tell us if you have any other projects you’re working on?
Gah! So many!! It’s very exciting. I have My Life as a Holiday Album that I’m trying to finish up a draft of at the moment. It won’t be live till December, but it’s hard for me to write, so I’m giving myself lots of time to edit and perfect it. It’s a set of short stories that are all about the kids of the Album series main characters. Each story moves us through the timeline and the overarching plot. It’s fun and VERY challenging.
Then, I’m on to Dani and Nash’s book, which is the fourth in the Anchor Novels, called Damaged Desire. I can’t wait to write Dani because she is feisty, strong, and yet also needs healing and to remake her dreams. That’s what all the Anchor Novels have in common—that evolution and rebuilding of our dreams as we go through life. Plus, everyone kept asking for her story after I wrote her brother Mac’s story in Forged by Sacrifice.
There’ll be two more stories in the Anchor Novels after that.
I also have a historical fiction that I play around with a lot and an urban fantasy novel that I work on. Both of these will take me forever because I don’t write in them consistently, and they are genres that I struggle with, but still adore. We’ll see if they ever come to life.
About the Book
Describe your book in five words or less.
Wow… you know my books are long, right? Five words is almost an impossibility. But I’ll try. Noble hero, nerdy heroine, epic sacrifice. It’s not a sentence, and it’s six words…but it’s all I got.
What inspired Avenged by Love?
When I wrote the 1st Anchor Novel, Guarded Dreams, I expected it to be a standalone novel—one and done. But everyone—including me—loved Eli’s pals, Mac and Truck, so much that I couldn’t help give each of them their own story. Then, I listened to “Ocean,” by Lady Antebellum and part of his story just came to life. Jersey’s part of the story was sort of inspired by things going on in my world, so it was very much therapeutic for me to write it.
When you wrote Avenged by Love did you have it all mapped out or did you let Truck & Jersey take you along for the ride?
Like all my books, I have a basic structure. I know where the characters are starting from, and I know where they’re ending, but then I just write and let them tell me where they want to go. Honestly, I never thought I’d write a fake marriage story. Never… but then—bang—that’s what the story demanded.
If you were to put yourself into this story, what kind of character would you be?
Ooh. Good question, but I don’t have a very exciting answer. I’d probably be like Eli’s mom, Mandy. The book lover. The person making sure that people are out their living their dreams, but finding ways to be happy in my day-to-day life. I would never be the main character. I just don’t like the spotlight that much.
What is your favorite quote from Avenged by Love?
Only one???? The tag line, of course, is my absolute favorite, “Love is the only real superpower.” I believe that with all my heart. Love can heal. Maybe that should have been what I said about the book in 5 words or less. 😉
What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
I truly want to bring to light the fact that “feminine issues” shouldn’t be taken lightly. That they are serious, medical problems that need care and attention. But honestly, more than that, I would love for people to see that that every single one of us deserves a second chance. A second chance to to be loved, and forgiven, and healed.
Books By LJ Evans reviewed on the blog:
I really loved this interview and all of LJ’s answers. It’s always fun to get a glimpse of the person behind our favorite books. If you’ve read anything by LJ Evans, I’d love to hear about that in the comments!