LET'S WELCOME JULIA GABRIEL AUTHOR OF: THIS REMINDS ME OF US
Rad-Reader: What gave you the idea for this book?
Julia: Serena's accident happened in an earlier book, Hearts on Fire, so I knew I needed to answer the question of what happened with her and Oliver. But I didn't realize until I started writing this book that she was going to wake up with amnesia. I wanted to explore the impact that situation would have on a marriage.
Rad-Reader: What gave you the burning desire to write the book?
Julia: All of my books are fueled by my own desire to find out what happens to the characters. Oliver has been a secondary character in the St. Caroline Series and I really wanted to see what was going to happen with him. I didn't know Serena's character as well until I really started writing this book—she's been in a coma for most of the series, after all! In addition, I wanted to explore a married relationship where two people have to navigate changes (which happen in all marriages) and come out on the other side with the marriage intact. A good marriage has to allow people the room to grow.
Rad-Reader: Can you give us the backstory on Serena and Oliver that the blurb doesn’t give us?
Julia: Well, Serena and Oliver are a married couple (a little unusual for a romance, I know). Oliver is the oldest of the Wolfe brothers and the most buttoned-down of the three. In Hearts on Fire, Serena is in a car accident that leaves her hospitalized and in a coma. The accident happens shortly before Oliver's mother dies of cancer. So, Oliver has the stress of his wife in the hospital, his mom recently gone, and two young boys at home to take care of. Serena is from a very wealthy family in Manhattan. When she married Oliver, a small-town firefighter, her parents essentially disowned her.
Rad-Reader: How did you go about creating these characters or did they create themselves?
Julia: My characters tend to create themselves. That's what makes writing so much fun for me—I get to discover who these people are and what's going on in their lives as I write the story! With the St. Caroline Series, I'm getting to know an entire town full of people as I go.
Rad-Reader: Serena has a real fear it seems to be around her boys. Was she may be at the time of her accident running away from her life? Did it get too overwhelming with the new baby on the way?
Julia: Serena's not running away so much as she's discovering things about herself. Oliver is one of those people who knew early on what he wanted to do in life—he wanted to be a firefighter and raise a family in his hometown. Serena's life was so tightly managed by her parents that marrying Oliver and moving to St. Caroline is what gave her the opportunity and the space to think about what she wants for herself.
Rad-Reader: Oliver is starting to be a pain. The whole passive-aggressive thing is not working for me. Why is Mason acting older than him?
Julia: I try not to create "perfect" characters who never make mistakes or have bad days or feel insecure. That's not realistic, right? Part of the story in these books (Hearts on Fire, Two of Hearts and This Reminds Me of Us) has to do with the ripple effect of Angie Wolfe's illness and death on her family and friends. I lost my own mom to ovarian cancer when I was 24—when I look back on my twenties, I almost don't recognize the person I was because her death totally upended my life for years. I think Oliver doesn't mean to be a pain or passive-aggressive but he's working through a lot of grief. Serena's accident and his need to keep it all together for his kids complicates that.
I liked putting Mason's point of view in this book. Young kids often see right through situations that adults can't. They're very honest and literal about things until we (society) train them out of it.
Rad-Reader: Even with Serena coming up with a logical the most explanation he is still pulling away. Is he even aware he is doing it?
Julia: No, he's not aware, consciously, that he's doing that. He's trying to protect himself from something he has feared for a long time would happen—that Serena would get tired of life as the wife of a small-town firefighter and go back to 'the big city' where she came from.
Rad-Reader: If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…
Oliver: Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Matt: Sean O’Pry
Becca: Sophie Turner
Jack: Liam Hemsworth
Ashley: Julia Garner
Julia: I like all your choices! Sean O'Pry is spot on for Matt! Liam Hemsworth would make a good Jack, but when I was writing the book, I pictured a young Jason Lewis (he played Smith Jerrod in the Sex and the City TV show). https://www.instagram.com/jasonleelewis/?utm_source=ig_embed
Matt: Sean O'Pry
Jack: Jason Lewis
Rad-Reader: What song or songs best describes your characters or your book best?
“Love is Strong – Matt Kennon”
When Oliver got the call that his wife Serena was in a horrible car accident, he thought he was going to lose her. He couldn’t. She is his whole world. He loves her more than anything.
“A Safe Place to Land – Sara Bareilles ft. John Legend”
When she opens her eyes and finds herself in a strange place, she’s not sure other than, Ollie. She is one hundred percent sure of her husband. He was there to protect her from the harshness of the light and the world. She knew she was still alive.
“After the Storm Blows Through – Maddie & Tae”
When Serena comes out of the coma, she has memory loss. She can’t remember anything after getting married. So, she has no idea she has two boys, seven & five. Ollie is wearing thin with his mom passing now this. When his wife tells him, she remembers another man he shorts out. An untrusting seed is planted.
“She’d Say – Andy Grammar”
Serena was very close to Ollie’s mom. Losing her was a double blow as a friend and a mom. But her wisdom she could still use her from time to time. Although no one else from his family was speaking up she was speaking up to all his sons to the eldest for sure. Although he knew better, she couldn’t get him to see he was paying the poorest judgment in the matter of his wife.
Julia: Those are all fantastic songs! Matt Kennon's song really sums up Oliver's story, I think. And Andy Grammer's song about his mother would have to go in the movies for all of the St. Caroline books! I really wasn't sure how readers would react to Angie Wolfe being in the books after her death, but I think it's a comfort to a lot of us to think that a loved one is still watching over us.
Rad-Reader: What do your friends and family think about your writing career?
Julia: Well I have to say, I don't think my brothers (I have three) have read any of my books ha! But quite a few of my friends read them—and my mother-in-law, too.
Rad-Reader: Is this your full-time career?
Julia: It is! I worked for many years as a writer in the business world and spend several years teaching writing at a state university. But writing novels is definitely my dream job!
Rad-Reader: What time of day do you do your best writing?
Julia: I like to write first thing in the morning, but at this point, I've trained myself to write whenever, wherever! Plus, I tend to get ideas for scenes when I'm driving or at the grocery store. The story kind of runs in the back of my head all the time. I'm that weirdo who looks like she's talking to herself in the car but really, I'm recording a voice note to myself, so I don't forget the idea that just popped into my head!
Rad-Reader: Do you write better at home or when you go to a coffee shop or restaurant?
Julia: My normal day is to write at home. My son is at school during the day so it's quiet.
Rad-Reader: Do you have a writer’s group that you write with to bounce things off of in your town or online?
Julia: I have an amazing group of romance author friends—Anna James, J.B. Curry, Victoria Hanlen, and Ann Clement. We read each other's works-in-progress and then get together once a month for a potluck dinner to discuss. As we like to joke, it's much easier to plot someone else's book than your own!
Rad-Reader: Did you publish with a publishing house or self-publish?
Julia: At the moment, I am self-publishing my eBooks and print books. The audiobooks for the St. Caroline Series, however, are published by Tantor Media.
Rad-Reader: What three things can’t you leave home without?
Julia: My phone (since I'm a mom). My iPad Mini—because you never know when you'll need hundreds of books to read! Some kind of sugar—I have a wicked sweet tooth.
Rad-Reader: What is your next project and when is it coming out?
Julia: I am working on the next St. Caroline book, Once in a Lifetime. It's Ashley Wardman's book—Serena's best friend. She is a young widow and convinced that she had her "once in a lifetime" and that she'll never meet someone else as wonderful as he was. But of course, she will—and he made a cameo appearance in This Reminds Me of Us. But I'm not going to say who it is! Once in a Lifetime will be out later this year.
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers buy your books? Links
HEARTS ON FIRE:
GOOGLE PLAY: http://bit.ly/2Hic8Xi
TWO OF HEARTS:
GOOGLE PLAY http://bit.ly/2kbgHN1
THIS REMINDS ME OF US:
GOOGLE PLAY: http://bit.ly/GP_TRM
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links
My web site:
I'm on the usual social media places ...
I post exclusive excerpts from upcoming books in my,
Coffee Break Facebook group:
Thanks so much for being with us. I know how time-consuming it can be. I know we ask more than most for you to rack your brain on characters you have left behind several books ago. I know MY fan girl loves to dig in and get to know each character I read about. It's the writer in me. Thanks for an enjoyable read. Especially, for your graciousness and patience during my medical issues and allowing me to push back your date. Thank you!
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