Tuesday Tidbits: Liz Flaherty, One More Summer
Tell us a little about yourself…
Life is new and wonderful for me these days. I retired from the post office in 2011, promptly gained 15 pounds—overnight, I swear!—and promised my grandkids, The Magnificent Seven, that I would make each of them a bed-size quilt. I also planned to write all day, every day.
What was I thinking?
I’ve learned to write when I feel like it, sew when I feel like it, and maybe even to eat a little less. I’ve gone back to school, where, yes, I am far and away the oldest kid in class. I’ve learned to share the house and sometimes even the kitchen with Duane, my husband of, oh, lots of years. And I’m having a Very, Very Good Time.
My fifth book—I’m not an overnight success, but I never give up—ONE MORE SUMMER, is a new release by Carina Press. I am thrilled to the point that everyone I know rolls their eyes as soon as I open my mouth.
What made you want to write THIS story?
Oh, my gosh, I was so lucky. This was one of those that wrote itself. I know how goofy that sounds, but I gave up trying to drive the writing train after the first chapter and just let it go. That had never happened before, nor has it happened since, but it was certainly fun (and exhausting—I was getting up at 3:00 AM to write) while it lasted.
Tell us about Dillon, your hero – why is he so special?
He’s just a nice guy, you know? He’s the one who can be as bad as he needs to be, but he’d just as soon not. He’s a good friend, the kid who lived next door your whole life and one day you woke up and realized he was the man of your dreams and there he’d been the whole time.
And Grace, your heroine; why is she so well-suited to your hero – or not?
I’m not so sure they’re well-suited in a lot of ways. My husband and I, even after 40 years, have virtually nothing in common (other than the Magnificent Seven and their parents, of course) and we have managed to disagree about every single thing that’s ever jumped into our paths. And I wouldn’t trade a minute of those 40 years. I think Dillon and Grace are more like us. Only she’s slim. Sigh.
What draws you to writing in the romance genre?
First, last, and foremost, happily ever after. I love relationship books, and romances are the ultimate in that.
What books/heroes did you like to read, growing up, and how have they inspired you in writing this story?
Well, Louisa May Alcott was the one. I literally read the covers off Little Women when I was about 10 or 11, and there was no looking back. I knew I wanted to do what she did. There were others who spurred me on, too—Jane Austen anyone?—but she started it all.
Heroes? Oddly enough, I have to go to the movies to answer that. Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, James Arness, John Wayne. They were bigger than life and I saw them as loving men who would not only protect and love their women, but would accept love and protection, too. I loved the heroes in books, too—oh, Mr. Rochester—but I learned how I wanted to write them from the ones in the movies.
What are you working on next?
Blogging! LOL. No, I’ve started a new manuscript, working title, Desperado, but it’s going slowly and I’m not sure it’s going to fly. Mostly, I’m having the aforementioned Good Time, and if that means starting over again, that’s okay, too.
Thanks so much for having me here today. I’ve enjoyed it.
My book—you knew there’d be a commercial, didn’t you?—is available at the following links.
Excerpt from One More Summer
by Liz Flaherty
It was no use. Grace had taken her lengthy bath in the claw foot tub, shaved her legs and nicked her ankle right on the bone where it hurt most, and put on her chenille robe. She’d poured a tumbler full of the expensive wine Steven had brought a case of and sat on the couch with the book she’d gotten at the library when she’d read to the kids earlier in the week. Louisa May slept on the couch back, twitching her tail occasionally and smacking Grace in the face with it. Rosamunde dozed contentedly in the baseball cap Dillon had left on the lamp table. The window behind the couch was open, affording Grace a cooling breeze scented by the rain that had fallen that evening.
She’d already gotten up once and closed the pocket doors between the living room and the dining room. But she could still hear it.
Laughing. There were Jonah’s guffaw, Maxie’s theatrical trill, and the husky whoop that was always such a surprise coming from Promise’s soprano throat. Now and then another laugh slipped in, quieter than Jonah’s but no less gleeful. Dillon was there too. They sat on the screened porch, a good forty feet from where Grace sat with her feet up, and still she could hear them.
They were playing Monopoly. Grace hadn’t played that since the day before her mother died. She remembered that last game, the board balanced on a bed tray across Debbie Elliot’s legs in the room that smelled of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder and sickness and medicine. Faith had sat on one side of her mother, Promise on the other, and Grace at the bed’s end.
“Sit on my feet a little, baby,” Debbie had said. “You keep them so nice and warm.”
Grace had won the game, and the next day—when Debbie was dead and life for the rest of the Elliots had irrevocably changed—she had hated herself for buying Boardwalk and Park Place and forcing her mother into bankruptcy.
“I made her die,” she’d told Steven.
“Her heart made her die,” he’d responded, but Grace hadn’t really believed him until he became a cardiac surgeon.
Sometimes, she still wondered. If Debbie had napped in the evening as she often did, would that hour of rest have made the difference? If Grace hadn’t sat on her mother’s feet with her eighty-five pounds of almost-twelve-year-old exuberance, would the final heart attack not have happened?
But she refused to think about those things now, nor would she consider the game of Monopoly with an inward shudder of dread. She thought instead of the laughter that was dancing along her nerve endings, and wondered if anyone else was using the little iron as their token for moving around the board. The iron had always been her favorite. She liked the way it felt between her fingers.
If she just got off her couch and wandered toward the porch like she was bored with her own company—which she was—would anyone make a big deal out of it? If Promise or the others acted surprised by her presence, Dillon Campbell would think she’d joined them just because he was there. Which was nonsense.
Of course it was.
She remembered how Dillon’s hand had felt when he pulled her to her feet the night before. She’d avoided unnecessary touch all her adult life, and one squeeze of Dillon Campbell’s fingers had her wondering if that hadn’t been a mistake.
She tried again to devote full attention to the book, but finally gave up and laid it aside. She sat in the harsh light from the reading lamp and sipped her high dollar wine and listened to the laughter of the others. Isolation and loneliness wrapped around her, not new feelings by any means, but somehow deeper and darker tonight.
Maybe this time, as Promise often accused, she was excluding herself and the loneliness was of her own making. Maybe if she stepped onto the back porch, no one would make a fuss and no one would make her feel as though she didn’t belong. It was, after all, her porch.
Carrying her glass, she whispered open the pocket doors and strode barefoot through the deserted dining room and the kitchen with its ever-present light over the sink. After a moment’s hesitation, she pushed open the door to the porch.
“Replacement power. Just in time.” Promise’s smile was wide and brilliant. Welcome to the human race. Grace heard the words she didn’t say. “Now that I’ve been trounced, Grace can take my place while I make popcorn. No one’s using your iron, so have at it.”
Grace sat in the chair Promise vacated, taking the little metal iron from the Monopoly box. It still felt nice between her fingers.
“I’m the banker,” Jonah informed her, passing money around the table. “Since I’m better at losing money than anyone else, I was unanimously elected.”
“I don’t even know why I play.” Maxie sighed, fluffing her blond hair with heavily be-ringed fingers. “I seem to spend all my time in jail. Unless Dillon rescues me with his ‘get out of jail free’ cards,” she added with a flutter of eyelashes.
“I’m just a soft touch for a pretty lady.” Dillon smiled at her, his eyes glinting silver in the dim, yellow light on the porch.
Grace’s heart hammered against her ribs.
Geezy Pete, Grace, grow up.
Liz has generously contributed a copy from her backlist to a lucky reader. Leave a comment, and enter the draw! Winner will be announced 16 Jan.