Rad-Reader: What made you want to tell this story?
LaVerne: I've always been a sucker for the older brother's best friend/kid sister romance trope. I love exploring how the dynamics change between two people who thought they'd known each other so well - but learn there is plenty they don't yet know about that person. The safety net of their original relationship gets ripped away, and they've left adrift in a scary new world. Once upon a time, I was that kid sister and I married my own older brother's best friend. I remember all those feelings and fears so well, so I thought I was uniquely placed to write such a story.
Rad-Reader: Where did the idea come from?
LaVerne: Lucy's story came to me during the height of the Me Too movement. I wanted to write about a woman who'd had an awful thing happen to her, but who was also determined it wasn't going to be the defining moment of her life. But she couldn't do it alone. Who better to help her than the person she trusts most in the world?
Rad-Reader: Can you give us the backstory on Lucy and Sam?
LaVerne: I'd love to! Lucy's crush since childhood is her older brother's best friend, Sam. She would follow them around and generally annoy them because she just wanted to be in their space. The crush stayed true through her early teens, but Sam kept her at arm’s length. Then Jordan, her brother, died. At his funeral and in immense pain, Lucy runs away from the site, Sam follows her to comfort her, and she throws herself at him, kissing him very inexpertly. All she remembers is him pushing her away in disgust. Since then, Lucy kept her distance from Sam, horrified and beyond embarrassed at the rejection and knowledge that her crush isn't reciprocated. But the embers of her feelings for him never quite went away.
Rad-Reader: Was Lucy overseas for six years?
LaVerne: Yes, she was. The country of Australia is regarded as a cousin to us Kiwis, and it is a natural progression for New Zealanders to leave after schooling to experience life in a different environment while still having the safety net of familiarity. Being a little country and isolated at the bottom of the world like we are, traveling to other countries and exploring the rest of the world has almost become a rite of passage for our young adults.
Rad-Reader: Who assaulted Lucy? Did they catch the person?
LaVerne: The perpetrator was a friend of Lucy's then flatmate. There is a horrifying statistic, certainly, in NZ, that one in four women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. There is an even more alarming thought that many more assaults remain unreported, but the exact numbers will never be known because of the very fact they are unreported. Lucy's attacker was never caught because she was one of those who never reported the crime. He was an entitled kid whose parents had a lifetime of practice in covering for his 'mistakes'. They had high-level jobs in society, and as such, Lucy believed it would feel like she was going through the trauma all over again if it was dragged through the court system, with a high likelihood of her not being believed. She didn't want to risk that or be outed as a victim when she was working so hard to be anything but.
Rad-Reader: How did Lucy’s brother die?
LaVerne: He died in a car accident after drinking and driving as a teenager.
Rad-Reader: Where is this story taking place?
LaVerne: This story is set in Auckland, New Zealand. Our biggest city, it still has pockets of rural land dotted around the ever-sprawling suburbia.
Rad-Reader: What kind of work does Lucy do that she went overseas?
LaVerne: Lucy works in a bank as a teller, but the job was more about something to keep her occupied and to pay the bills while she lived and experienced life overseas, rather than a career path. Another draw-card for Kiwis to 'hop over the ditch' for a time is that Australian jobs pay more than Kiwi, and it is a great incentive for our young people when they're trying to get ahead.
Rad-Reader: Why wouldn’t she have come home after the trauma?
LaVerne: Although very friendly, New Zealanders generally like to keep themselves to themselves. We've been brought up with a 'She'll be right' attitude, meaning we often just put our heads down and keep going, hoping the situation will sort itself out in time. Sharing our problems and traumas isn't a comfortable thing to do and so the idea of counseling hasn't really become an everyday thing here. Lucy is typical in this way and hoped that if she ignored her trauma, it would eventually be forgotten about, and she could get on with her life. Home was a sad place having lost both her brother and then her father. She didn't think she'd have the strength to be reminded of those losses every day along with coping with what she'd been subjected to. It took her coming home to realize that home was the only place to be to heal her heart, surrounded by all those that loved her unconditionally.
Rad-Reader: Sam pulled a 360* the morning after agreeing to help her by kissing her in front of her mom. Why is he doing that?
LaVerne: Sam knows Lucy is on the cusp of pulling out of their agreement. But he can't allow that to happen and still ensure her safety, not after hearing about her past. Kissing her in front of Janet is a calculated effort to prevent her from backtracking as he knows Janet would be thrilled at the prospect of them together.
Rad-Reader: He knows she’s scared and insecure about them as a couple why doesn’t he put her mind at ease?
LaVerne: Sam is in the same boat as Lucy. For so long, their relationship has had boundaries and branching out from those firm lines is a scary proposition for them both. He's also very aware that she needs to be the one in control, and so he doesn't want to have her think he has any expectations of her or to push his expectations or hopes on to her.
Rad-Reader: Why does everyone say not to hurt him when he hasn’t declared what or who he wants?
LaVerne: Sam has always been the go-to guy - the one to call on when you need help with anything, and everyone knows and loves him well. Lucy's coming home has shaken everything up - including Sam himself. When you're close to someone and watching a romantic relationship form, you see some things much clearer than the people involved. There is no baggage to carry around weighing everything down and muddying thoughts.
Rad-Reader: What happened to his family? Are they close?
LaVerne: Sam's parents went through a nasty divorce when he was in his early teens. While his parents fought, he was largely ignored causing him to act out. His bad behavior was dangerously close to escalating when his new friend, Jordan (Lucy's brother), brought him home. Seeking the warmth and love he was missing at his own home, he spent more and more time with the Caldwell family, whom he credits with saving him from going down the wrong path. He loves his own family, but he feels a stronger bond to the Caldwell family.
Rad-Reader: What exactly are Sam’s intentions? Is he just playing her?
LaVerne: Sam jumped in without thinking through the consequences. Although he knew he was the safest option Lucy had if she was determined to go down this path (and he knows how stubborn she is, so knew she would go through with the crazy plan), his conscious also told him he wasn't doing it through purely noble reasons. He'd always fancied Lucy but thought it was inappropriate so had tried to shut down on any sexual thoughts of her. But things buried have a way of making their way to the surface in one way or another.
Rad-Reader: Lucy still believes Sam is with her because he wants to help her and care for her. Why doesn’t he tell her otherwise?
LaVerne: Sam worries Lucy is mistaking an old crush and hero-worship for something deeper. He doesn't want to trap her in a relationship with him if it is under false pretenses.
Rad-Reader: Paintball is the perfect example she the one he wants and like her. Yet, she doesn’t see it. Why?
LaVerne: Oh, she definitely sees that he wants her. There is no doubting that! :) This is the first time she understands the power she has in making him want her, the cost to him in showing restraint and she delights in it. It gives her a huge boost in confidence.
Rad-Reader: Do you think it’s because he doesn’t get into it when she makes advances? Because he doesn’t want to scare her, but she takes it as he doesn’t want me because I’m unlike the women he normally dates.
LaVerne: There is definitely a bit of all of the above in Lucy's mind. The trauma has made her second-guess many things in her life, including her ability to judge people and situations. It has lowered her self-esteem and confidence. All the years of him keeping his distance and dating women the complete opposite of her painted a picture in her mind that she was as far from his ideal as it was possible to get.
Rad-Reader: Is she just not listening about him wanting her too? Also, about him fantasying about her also or is she not understanding?
LaVerne: Lucy knows from early on that she's in danger of falling for him for real. The more she allows herself to hope his feelings for her might be deeper than like and a deepening lust, she shies away from it. Loving him and not having it reciprocated would destroy her and she's already had so much taken away from her in the past.
Rad-Reader: He seemed to panic, when he was musing to himself and the word love, was involved. Is he not wanting long term with Lucy? Or does he already have a girlfriend and this is a pity job only?
LaVerne: Love means pain and risk to him after watching his parents destroy each other, so to equate it to himself and Lucy is more than terrifying. He can handle the love that comes from friendships developed over the years and the easy love he has from the sense of family with Lucy's mum because there is no risk, but as soon as the word 'love' is equated to Lucy, he panics because there is so much more to lose.
Rad-Reader: If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…
Lucy: Jennifer Lawrence
Sam: Tomas Skoloudik
Suzie: Alexandra Daddario
Janet: Gwyneth Paltrow
LaVerne: Ooo! I really like your picks! I'd never heard of Tomas Skoloudik before. I can see some cyberstalking on Pinterest in my future! Lol. Here are mine:
Lucy: Elisha Cuthbert
Sam: Matthias Streitwieser
Suzie: Ksenia Solo
Janet: Laura Linney
Rad-Reader: What song or songs best tells your characters or your book's story?
“Broken & Beautiful – Kelly Clarkson”
Although Lucy had gone through this trauma in her life, she wanted to be whole. She had it all, in all aspects except for one area. She just needed one, one man, the man she had loved for more than half her life, to hold her and love her. If not, maybe be could point her in the right direction.
“You Say – Lauren Daigle”
After telling Sam what happened to her, she felt relieved of the shame and the pain she had been carrying. Yet, she explains to him she needs his help to find some men or a man, one she could feel safe with. So, she no longer felt stunted in her sexuality and intimacy she feels around a date and in the bedroom. He wants her to believe she is free.
“Keeping Score – Dan & Shay ft. Kelly Clarkson”
After courting Lucy for a week and getting her comfortable with his touch (holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc.…) Sam figured it was time for a sleepover. All went well once morning came their idea of success had far different meanings and created far different results that Sam had expected.
LaVerne: Again - your picks are gorgeous and so perfect for moments in the book!
"Feelin' Love - Paula Cole"
The slow, sultry rhythm, sexy lyrics and seductive delivery of this song echoes the care Sam shows Lucy during their lovemaking. He's determined to show her how it is meant to be between two consenting adults and only pleasure should be present in the bedroom.
"Breathe Me - Sia"
Lucy and Sam's friendship is essential to who they are. They will always be there for each other and hold each other up when the other falls or is in pain.
"Bring Me to Life - Evanescence"
Sam is determined to banish all the darkness from Lucy's soul and bring her back to life.
Rad-Reader: What other genres do you like to write other than romance?
LaVerne: I've always written in the romance genre, but I have mixed it up a little within the genre. My other books are romantic suspense, and paranormal/fantasy romance.
Rad-Reader: Did you publish the traditional way or self-publish?
LaVerne: I'm traditionally published with a small press - The Wild Rose Press - who I absolutely adore working with.
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite genre to read in
LaVerne: I read anything and everything. Even the cereal box at a pinch! The most difficult thing about writing for me is finding the balance between writing or reading. I love to do both! These days, I use reading as a reward for hitting my targets in writing, and that seems to work to keep the balance.
Rad-Reader: Do you have a regular time of day that you do your writing?
LaVerne: I'm a night owl and tend to do my best writing when the house is quiet, and the children and husband are fast asleep. Most nights I'd get to bed around 1 am.
Rad-Reader: Do you use an outline, storyboard or something like Pinterest to help with your story set up?
LaVerne: Pinterest is just the best tool ever! I use it more to browse rather than storyboard to get a general idea of how my characters look and then they come alive in my imagination. If I refer back to an image too often, they seem less real to me and they stop talking to me.
Rad-Reader: Are you a pantser where you just let the ideas flow, or do you find ideas while at the coffee shop, restaurant, or the mall?
LaVerne: When I first started writing, I was an out-and-out pantser. Once I wrote myself into a dead-end for the fifth time, I realized I needed to do better, if only to stop driving myself crazy! Nowadays, I'd call myself a plantser. I know the beginning incident, vague events throughout the middle, and the ending. As soon as those become clear, I start writing and discover more along the way. I'm a people-watcher, like most writers I suppose, and love to observe how they interact with each other, mentally noting body language, tone of voice and facial movements. I like to think I'm subtle with it though! LOL. Ideas are everywhere. You've just got to be paying attention.
Rad-Reader: What is your next project and when is it coming out?
LaVerne: I'm currently writing Suzie's story. I wasn't meant to be because I have a paranormal story I've been trying to complete for a couple of years, but Suzie's voice is strong. I had no idea until I'd completed Home To Me that I'd be writing her story, but she is one strong character! I love her already :)
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers buy your books? Links
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links
Website - https://www.laverneclark.
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.nz/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/
Thanks so much for having me, Char. I had the best time!
We would like to Thank you for being with us. We know that writing is not your only career and we know just how valuable your time is. Thanks again.
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