Lovers Oak has got it all: a steamy romance between a hot sheriff and a transformed rich plantation girl, twisty intrigue, and a beautiful, breath-stopping atmosphere of the Deep South. For a person like myself who's never been there, the colorful descriptions of the locale made me want to come for a visit, and not only to see the inspiring mega cotton plantations that I imagined ceased to exist sometime during Gone With the Wind era. It's the feeling in the air, and the details on Corrine's pages that made me want to read more. She has created a one-of-a-kind novel: entertaining, beautifully crafted, and unexpectedly sweet.
Raised in a family of teachers, Corinne has dreamed of seeing her name in print, and now finally--to her joy and ours--she is about to release her first novel Lovers Oak.
Corinne's first novel, Lovers Oak, is available for preorder on Amazon. Add it to your to-read list on Goodreads.
1. Corinne, what gave you the idea behind Lovers Oak? What was in your first rough draft that you felt was fundamental for this novel?
I have been a Gone With the Wind book and movie enthusiast since I was little. Everything from the old plantation homes to the idea of working on the land has enthralled me. It wasn't until I was in college that I was able to travel to the deep south. The first time I saw Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana I knew I had to write a book about a plantation like that with deep roots, history and beauty all around. I also love romantic suspense so the idea of Thrilly Lilly was born during that college trip. I felt like Lilly's story was the center of it all. Everything that she had been through and still was able to come out the other side made her a heroine I could root for, flaws and all.
2. What starts off as a forbidden love story between a rich plantation girl who falls in love with an attractive officer grows into something much more: many years later the girl reinvents herself and grows up into a much more likable version of herself. In place of her extravagant clothes and carefree attitude, she is now responsible and yet still fragile, making her very real and likable. I found it a genius idea to see such a big transformation in a lead character and still make readers like her. How have you achieved this, and did you have any worries that it wouldn't work and your lead character would turn your readers off?
I did believe that my character could grow and change like so many of us do after adolescence, myself included. I believe her experiences in her past pushed her to a more humble and honest place. However, in my first draft that I submitted her growth wasn't as fully developed as it ended up being. Thanks to an amazing editing team consisting of my agent Ella Marie Shupe and my publisher Catherine Treadgold I was able to round Lilly out and show her true transformation over the years to the loving, caring person she ended up being in the end. I did worry she would come off unlikable, but I feel like more and more novels nowadays have flawed main characters because that's what real life is like. We all have things in our past we'd like to change, but then they wouldn't have made us who we are today. I hope Lilly's transition from a self-centered teenager to a more empathetic and kind adult was a gradual one throughout the book.
3. Show us your writing corner. What would we see if we sneaked in on you while you're creating those fantastic stories of yours? What inspires you to write?
I'm dreadfully boring, I'm afraid. I have an office in the house I share with my two boxers and most of the time I'm trying to get some peace and quiet away from my dog babies to be able to write. I feel fortunate enough to be able to sit down and just let the words flow and then be able to go back later and edit. I rarely suffer from the dreaded writer's block because once I get an idea, all I really need is time to write and research as I go. I have been writing stories since I was in fifth grade. I started because there was great appeal for me to take real life friends and create a fictional world for us to live in. More and more friends would ask me to write stories for them and then I continued on my own through middle and high school on my parents' old Apple computer because I loved writing so much. I finished Lover's Oak when I was in college, but didn't think I could ever get it published so it sat unread and unloved for over a decade until I finally said, "what the heck?" and here I am!
4. What's next for you? Any future projects you could tell us about?
This summer I took another stab at romantic suspense and found that I felt rushed throughout the entire process. The suspense part is always more difficult because you don't want to give too much away to the reader and have them lose interest or figure out the ending too soon. So I changed gears into something that was easier for me to write which is contemporary romance with some suspense mixed in. I will be doing a series about an Irish family living in the Bronx. It will be a six-book series with another series taking place in other parts of the country after this one ends. I'm very excited about it because it's a new direction for me--which can be scary--but I'm having a great time writing these characters and having the ability to keep them around from book to book. I've finished the first one and am in the process of editing it with my agent. I will be starting the second one this weekend, as a matter of fact.
5. What are your hopes for the evolution of the publishing industry? With the drastic switch to the electronic readers and lowered prices of books, how does it impact your plans as a writer?
I wish I knew more about this to sound intelligent about the ebook world and how it relates to publishing, but sadly, I am without much knowledge in this area. I love books in hand, but to be honest, I couldn't live without my Kindle--a book with me wherever I go, whenever I need it. It's pretty amazing what ebooks have done for our society and me in particular. I used to have to cart books around with me all the time. Now I have thousands at my fingertips at any second. The convenience factor is the biggest reason I use Kindle more that hard copy books now. As a writer who is just starting out in this field I feel fortunate to even have the ability to sell my book for one penny--let alone a paperback price of $15.95 and however much the ebook will be for Lover's Oak. I feel extremely fortunate to share my words with the public so for me, this truly isn't about the money and never has been. I have a full time job that I enjoy and spend most of my time on. I write because I love it and have done it thus far for free so any money I make is a bonus for me.
6. Finish the scene. "She lowered her skirt to hide her weapon tucked into her garter belt and burst into the bar. For a moment, there was silence. And the eyes of dozens of men centered on her, some looking at her as the source of unexpected entertainment, and others already starting to evaluate whether her confident entrance was all for show. But no matter what anyone thought, she knew what she had to do . . ."
Her sister was being held against her will on the other side of the door in the back and although her obstacles seemed insurmountable, there was no other option in sight. Strutting and weaving through the tables, catcalls simply background noise, she kept her eyes fixed on the black door. However, the moment she reached it a hand slid around her waist, pulling her close. Him again. She didn't need his help before and sure as hell didn't need it now. Before she could throw him off, however, his leaned in a whispered in her ear. Damn. It seemed like rescuing her sister just got a hell of a lot harder.
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