For this interview I boarded my virtual plane and flew to Texas to chat with Simone, a charming author of romance whom I’d met online several months ago. Before I knew it I was standing before her door just a bit nervous about meeting my friend in person. The door opened and I was swept into a home fragrant with baking…muffins? Simone, a slender woman with a gamin hair cut and winsome charm led me past the mouthwatering aromas of the kitchen to a covered patio. I settled into the proffered chair and looked around at the charming spot while Simone ducked back into the house. There was a waist-high wall of red bricks all the way around and above was a wooden lattice. Red and pink roses grew on it and I could hear bees buzzing around the blossoms. Amongst the roses were vintage gasoline signs, including a HUGE Mobil horse. It was a delightfully interesting spot.
Simone emerged from the shadows of the house with a tray. Oh my! Warm berry muffins fresh from the oven and iced tea. I’m in heaven! I take a bite. Mmm!
(Okay. Back to work.)
“Simone tell me about yourself. What’s your favorite fruit?”
She smiled, looking at the warm muffin in my hand. “Raspberries.”
I dust the crumbs off my fingers and concentrate on my job. “I see you brought out one of your books: When Music Ends. Can you tell me about it?
She lifts the book and reads the blurb from the back. “What is the sound of a broken heart? How does a fated love rise from a pleasant note to a passionate symphony?
Budding musician Erin James knows all too well the noise of neglect and tragedy, and that her infatuation with her best friend Sheridan’s older brother, Sean, is doomed never to blossom into something more.
Young builder Sean Murphy isn’t really in the market for a relationship. He’s more interested in helping build his father’s construction company. Even if he were, his sister’s best friend isn’t even on his radar.
That is, until Sheridan plays matchmaker. A pity date quickly flares into irresistible passion. But as their love reaches a crescendo, personal tragedies and impossible decisions threaten to end their harmonious, unlikely romance.
When the music ends, will these troubled lovers find a way to compose a life together?”
I swallow a sip of iced tea “Wow. I read online that this is a series?”
She nods. “ My next new release, which I hope to have live in late May, is called “When the Heart Heals.” It’s book 3 in my contemporary romance series “The Hearts in Winter Chronicles. When the Heart Heals tells the story of Drew Peterson (half-brother of Michael Burke, for those who have read books 1 and 2) and his long-time on again off again relationship with Alyssa, his high school sweetheart.”
“I haven’t read all of your books but they aren’t all sweetness. As an author how many people have you done away with over the course of your career?”
Simone’s gaze drifts to the roses on the trellis as she thinks through her stories. “A few. I’ve lost a foster mother and a dad to cancer, a mom to liver disease, and a brother to a band of train robbers. There have also been a few extras, of course. Oh, and there’s the man who attacked Rosalind in Beautiful Rose. No one ever admitted anything, but I’m pretty sure her lover, Vidal, did that one in himself. If those bloodied knuckles were any indication, he did something he shouldn’t have, but under the circumstances, who would blame him?”
I blink at the way she phrased her answer. I can tell her characters are real three dimensional people. I understand that as mine are that way to me, too. “Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it?”
She reached for a muffin. “No, but I did change the end of Keeping Katerina because I couldn’t stand to do away with the person who was supposed to die at the end.”
“Are you ever jealous of other writers?”
“I used to be jealous of other writers, but no more. Now that I’m able to tell my own stories, I feel a sense of pride. I don’t care if I’m ever famous. That’s not what it’s about. I get to tell my stories. For me, that’s enough.”
I pick up another muffin and wonder if I should…but they’re so good! “Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?”
A smile touches the corner of her eyes. “Ooh, I’ve done data entry. I liked it. I listened to books on tape and had a lot of fun. I miss that.”
Just then a couple of small finches swoop into the patio. One trills from the brick wall but the brave one lands near my chair looking for crumbs. Both of us grin at his antics.
“Do you laugh at your own jokes?”
She shakes her head with wry humor. “I’m probably the only person who laughs at my jokes. Everyone else gives me a blank look. I don’t usually joke in books. It doesn’t work.”
“Simone, let me include an excerpt for my readers. I’d love to have them sample your writing.”
Here is an excerpt from When Music Ends:
“Walk with me, Erin. Let’s talk, okay?”
“Yes, let’s.” She took his hand in hers; lacing their fingers together the way they used to do, they left the building.
Outside, the autumn air was rather chilly, and Erin shivered. She remembered suddenly that their relationship had begun the same way, with a shiver. Sean released her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulders instead. She snuggled into his warmth.
There was a bench in the courtyard, in a patch of feeble sunlight, and they sat, ignoring the piles of cigarette butts on the ground around their feet.
“Okay, Murphy, spill it. Just what the hell were you hoping to accomplish by making me fall madly in love with you and then dropping me like a rock? Was I just an easy lay after all?” She tried to sound playful, but it wasn’t really that convincing.
“Of course not. Don’t cheapen what we had like that. I loved you and you know it.” He sighed. “I’m sorry Erin. I know I hurt you. I didn’t want to, but I didn’t see another way. I didn’t want to get in the way of you pursuing your dreams.”
“Sean, you were my dream, you and our life together. The symphony, the music lessons, the family…”
“It’s too small. You could achieve whatever you want.”
She laughed, and it sounded bitter and ironic. “Funny, isn’t it, how people say that when it’s so clearly not true. Did you ever stop to ask what I wanted? I never asked to be famous, to be in some high powered orchestra and deal with all the internal politics and backbiting. I just wanted to play my instrument, make music, be part of a group and make people happy. And I wanted to come home to you every night. I told you that, but you didn’t listen. You were so sure you knew me better than I knew myself. What I wanted was to get my degree and come home. I certainly didn’t achieve that.”
“You almost have your degree. A few more months will do it.”
“But now I have no home to go to.” She let that sink in, wondering if he would finally understand.
“Erin, if what you’re saying is true, why didn’t you insist I talk to you? You just let it go, didn’t ask any questions, didn’t protest. I thought you were done with me, glad I stopped meddling in your life.”
Erin shook her head. “I didn’t want to bother you. I guess I figured you were done with me, that you were sick of your silly adolescent girlfriend and wanted to move on, find someone else, someone not such a baby, not so…I don’t know…boring.”
“How could you think that? You’re not boring. You’re amazing. Didn’t I keep telling you that?”
“You know what they say, Sean, about actions and words. No one has ever really wanted me. I was glad you did for a while. I didn’t expect it to last. I dared to let myself hope, but then you did what I had expected. You got over me.”
“I never did. I thought you were over me.” Sean’s voice turned a bit irritated. “Oh, this is ridiculous. You know, both of us have been doing a fair bit of assuming. I think it might be a good idea for us to stop second guessing each other and just say what we feel.”
“It is, but isn’t it time to be honest?”
“Yes.” Neither of them spoke for a long moment as they pondered their words. At last, Erin said, “Can I start?”
“Of course. Ladies first.”
“Sean, from the night you took me to homecoming, and kissed me in the parking lot until this day, the love I have for you has never wavered, never changed. I love you. You’re my one and only, Sean, forever. If I can’t have you, I don’t want anyone. Why, when I’ve already found my perfect love, would I even attempt to replace you? I would rather have your memory than any other man. And to this day I still want you as much as I ever did.”
She was very close to him, and the temptation was too great. He kissed her, rewarding her sweet words with a tender wet touch of his lips.