Today I’m delighted to present Rebecca Reilly as my first PIF assignment. On March 8th 2015, I hosted one stop at her 4Wills Publishing Blog Tour and I figured I should re-post her blog at the time because it’s an excellent opportunity to know her a bit better.
A Conversation with Rebecca Reilly
Author of Haunting Megan
Tell us about your writing process. Do you map out all the details of your stories in advance, or do your stories evolve organically?
I do not map out my stories. I love the creative freedom of organic writing. A conversation, a jog through the forest, or stumbling upon a new location triggers an idea. I dream through it, usually while I hike or jog. I spend time getting to know my key characters before I begin. Once I start writing, my characters drive the story. I am often surprised where they take me.
The scenic mountain setting plays a huge role in Haunting Megan. Were you inspired by any real-life locations?
Many of my favorite trails are in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and several of them inspired me. There is strength in the mountains and a solidity that lasts. There are myriads of textures and all types of beauty. You can stand at a trailhead and choose very different journeys. And danger is always lurking. I like to think my characters take on one or two aspects of the environment in which they live.
Haunting Megan has some very dark themes: alcoholism, abuse, insanity, and murder. Is it a difficult or emotional experience to write about these topics?
It is always difficult to write when there is tragedy in the truth. Alcoholism and abuse ruin lives. But writing about destructive things I’ve experienced helps to heal. Reading can heal, too, or it can at least provide a needed escape from a harsh reality.
Are the events in Haunting Megan purely fictional, or did you draw from any real-life situations?
My mother was an abusive alcoholic, and many of the events of the opening chapters came from my childhood. I woke one night to my mother standing above me with a chef’s knife in her hand. When I was twelve, I visited her in a mental facility where she was confined after she attempted suicide. Those days and nights definitely sparked the beginning ideas for Haunting Megan.
Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
Inspiration for characters bubbles and pops around each of us; we need to tune our senses to absorb it. Sometimes, I see someone do something out of the ordinary at the grocery store and it sparks an idea. Sometimes a quirk in me, or someone I know, can develop into the basis for a character, or at least an illustration to help the reader understand him or her better. Fortunately, there is so much good, so much evil, so much insanity or quirkiness in all of us that inspiration is not difficult to find.
Are there any characters in Haunting Megan to whom you particularly relate?
Megan comes from me more than any other character I’ve written. Her insecurities, her brokenness, and her need to protect are qualities that grew from the abuse in my childhood. As with Megan, the love of a good man helped me see my value, accept my flaws, and grow into the woman I was created to be.
Tell us about your research process. What aspects of Haunting Megan required investigation and study?
Research is a big part of writing. I spent time in several mountain lodges and hiked many trails. I studied police procedures and psychiatric hospitals—though the images in the psychiatric ward come more from my memories of visiting my mother than my research. But even little details, like what needs to be done to a motorcycle to make riding in winter feasible, and what effect animals have on dead bodies, need to be investigated. It’s a shame when a reader in the know is pulled out of the universe you create in your book because you haven’t done your research.
Your books span a variety of genres (humor, religious, children’s, non-fiction sex and marriage counseling, and romantic suspense). What draws you to the genre of romantic suspense? How does the experience of writing for this genre differ from writing comedic or children’s books?
When I have a few minutes to relax and unwind, my first choice to read is a good romantic suspense novel. Of all the genres, romantic suspense is my favorite to create. When I hike or jog, I often ask myself, “What if…” questions that lead to plots of mystery and suspense. I’ve scared myself silly letting my imagination go while running on mountain trails.
I love to read and often devour over 1600 pages a week—so I explore a lot of different genres. I think the difference in writing varied genres comes not so much from the genre itself, but from the characters within that genre. The audience for whom I am writing plays a significant role, too. Creating a character for humor takes a sense of the ridiculous and a setting that matches. I’ll sound as crazy as some of my characters when I say this, but what and how I write comes down to the voice I hear in my head. I hear things differently depending on the character I’m writing, and the character dictates the genre. The mood, the tone of voice, and how I look at a setting all depend on how my characters feel. I even sit in a different body position depending on who is speaking in my writing. In other words, the character comes first.
Even though marketing my work would be easier if I stuck to one genre, I believe we are each created to be creative. I believe we each have something inside us to share with the world. I listen to that voice, and I write what comes from it regardless of my author profile.
Did Haunting Megan change significantly in the rewriting process?
Absolutely! The story itself changes dramatically from dream to first draft to final (which is the fun of writing organically). My beta readers give me feedback that helps me know what aspects of the story I did not communicate well. I get new ideas that help deepen characters, settings, mystery, humor, and other facets of the story. My first book, Into Dark Waters, went through fourteen rewrites.
You have said that your characters sometimes surprise you and that you did not originally intend for Haunting Megan to be a ghost story. Can you elaborate on your novel’s tendency to take on a life of its own?
The fact that my characters act and speak in ways I do not intend surprises and delights me more than anything else in the creative process. I can’t explain it. I’ve tried to rewrite events to fit my idea, and my characters forcefully intrude. For Haunting Megan, I rewrote the scene when the girls arrived at the lodge several times, and the ghost stuck her nose into my writing in every edition. So I gave up and made Haunting Megan a ghost story…or is it?
What, in your opinion, is the message in Haunting Megan? Is there a point you wish to your readers to grasp?
The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). “As yourself” means loving yourself comes first—before you can love another with the depth and feeling healthy love should have.
You have the potential to do great things, to love grandly, to live well. You are gifted, talented, and worthy of love. It does not matter how the world has abused you, or what society says about you, you are worthy to be loved. Finding the grace God offers you, finding the wonders He designed in you, those things open up your world. Healthy relationships, whether they are between siblings, friends, or romantic, depend on you knowing your value. Love yourself and live in the confidence of knowing you are worth loving.
Rebecca has an innate belief that if she dreams about something, she can accomplish it. Prompted by that sense of adventure, Rebecca pursued careers as a pastor, a health coach, a massage therapist, a Zumba instructor, a musical theater director/producer, and a writer – all at the same time.
An avid reader, Rebecca begins each morning in the hot tub with a good book. She then wakes her muscles and her creativity with a long trail run, grabs a cup of coffee and gets to work.
Rebecca took on five wildly different genres for her first seven books – a murder mystery at sea (Into Dark Waters), a humorous look at sex and marriage (Diary of a Christian Woman: How I Used 50 Shades of Grey to Spice Up My Marriage), a children’s chapter book on bullying and self-esteem (The Geek Club under the pen name Becky Reilly), and two picture books (Jammers and His Flying Bed Adventure and Heart of a Kitty). She returned to the romantic suspense genre for her sixth book (Haunting Megan). Her current project (summer 2015 release date) is a non-fiction work called Christian Sex and Marriage—It’s Complicated!
Rebecca has been happily married for thirty-one years, is the mother of two, grandmother of one, and lives in Northern California. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook (facebook.com/RebeccaLynnReilly), Twitter (twitter.com/RebeccaReillyL), Goodreads, and at www.rebeccareilly.net. Contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Page: Rebeccareilly.net
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/RReillyAmazonAuthor
Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RebeccaReilly
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Ignite passion and deepen sexual and emotional intimacy in your marriage. Inspired by the struggles, the shame, and the victories of Jesus Followers who thought sex would be easy.
Every section begins with testimonies. Every chapter ends with self-evaluation questions, conversation starters, and activity ideas to help you communicate with your spouse and strengthen the unity of your marriage.
I have no sex drive—am I broken?
What can I do to better pleasure my spouse?
How do I give and accept oral sex? Is oral sex wrong?
How do I get my spouse to listen to me?
How do I add romance in my marriage?
Can Christians play sex games? How?
What happens to our sex life when we get older?
I had an affair; can my marriage heal?
Warning: This material is straightforward and graphic. Not appropriate for young readers.
After suffering years of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic mother, Megan wakes to screams, cries of murder, and the room splattered with blood. Sent to the mountains to live with the grandfather who’d once abandoned them, Megan must learn to care for her young sisters and manage Wind Hollow Lodge. Megan tries to ignore the haunting memories of her past as she struggles to live a normal life. But she can’t ignore the ghosts who terrorize her, nor can she calm the fear that her sanity is slipping away. When deputies discover the bodies of men murdered on Wind Hollow land, people start to wonder just how crazy Megan Wilson really is.
The investigation at Wind Hollow Lodge is just another case to Deputy Jason Belt—until he sees Megan. Drawn to her beauty and her wounded spirit, his oath to protect and serve takes on new meaning. But why did she lie to him? What does she have to hide?
“Delightful, hilarious story that a lot of women can relate to!” “Brilliant for its realism! Rebecca Reilly is one entertaining author!” “Fun, easy, HONEST read!” “Great topic – relevant – you will LOL!” Food is not a great substitute for sex, but it’s all I’ve got. It’s not that I’m not happy in my marriage. I am. George is a good man, and I love him. I love our two children. I love our home. I love our church. And I love my job. I love everything I have. And I’m bored out of my mind. I know God created sex for marriage. And not just for beautiful people, either. Sex is supposed to bind a man and wife; to give them an intimacy they share with no one else. Sex is supposed to be fulfilling. And fun! I think we’re supposed to want to have sex with our spouse. George and I did it by the Book. We are the ones that should be tingling, panting, and dripping with lust. We’re the ones who should be the models of sexual satisfaction. I should feel as the bride in Song of Solomon felt: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine….Take me away with you–let us hurry. Let the king bring me to his chambers” (Song of Solomon 1:2, 4). But even Song of Solomon hasn’t helped spice up our boring chambers. And most of the time, I think George would rather have wine. I needed something else. I needed more specific instructions to liven up our life. But where does a sexually uptight, Christian woman (with a reputation to protect) go for help?
A cruise ship is an easy place to commit murder. Body disposal’s a cinch, and suicide’s the likely verdict.The only problem is determining how to choose the next victim.
Sad and sexy, women find Detective Jim Tanger attractive. He doesn’t care. His wife’s suicide three years ago froze his soul. When Jim hears that Sunburst Cruises has lost another young female passenger to an assumed suicide, Jim’s passions erupt. He pushes the department and the cruise line into letting him investigate. Battling seasickness and overwhelming shyness, Jim must protect the women and find the killer only he believes exists.
Julie Cooper loves her husband Joel. She hopes their anniversary cruise to Hawaii will be a new beginning for them. Before her suitcases are unpacked, someone unleashes a campaign of terror against her. Anonymous threats, cryptic messages in her cabin, and an attempt on her life force Julie to look at the one person who might want her dead; the one person she trusted with her life.