It’s May 1st — we’ve made it! The long winter is behind us, and it’s time to run off to an island and have a little fun. And have I got the perfect island for you!
SOLACE ISLAND is the debut novel by romance author Sara Flynn. But let me let you in on a little secret. Sara Flynn is the alter-ego of a writer who loves romance, but has never written one before now. To celebrate the launch of the new book, we had a chat about it, where all — except plot spoilers, of course — will be revealed. AND — stay tuned, ’cause we’re giving a copy away at the end to one lucky reader!
kc: Welcome Sara! Congratulations on the publication of your DEBUT romance novel! How does it feel to have this new book baby out in the world?
SF: It’s a mix. Excitement, nerves. Hoping people like it and that SOLACE ISLAND finds its audience. Also, a sense that I’m stepping onto sacred ground, as I have been an avid romance reader for years.
kc: You’ve had some AMAZING feedback already, including a starred review from the Library Journal and a glowing endorsement from Jayne Ann Krentz. Were you expecting this kind of response?
SF: Absolutely not. What a thrill it was when I heard that Library Journal had given SOLACE ISLAND a starred review! I had hoped, that if I was lucky, maybe Nancy Berland, publicist extraordinaire, would be able to convince a blogger friend or two to review my book. Never imagined Library Journal would review it, let alone give it a starred review!
And then Cissy Harley who conceived of and runs the online romance community, Writerspace, built a beautiful author website for me. BUT that wasn’t all. Out of the kindness of her heart, Cissy gave my novel to the one-and-only New York Times best-selling author Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle!!! Who BLURBED my book! Holy cow. I was in a giddy stupor when I found out. Was blown away by her kindness. You see, I ADORE her writing. Have been reading her for years. I never, ever imagined in my wildest dreams that she would ever read anything I’d written, let alone BLURB it! I felt as though I’d accidentally stepped into an alternate universe where anything and everything is possible. Magical. One of the best days of my life.
kc: Well, it’s totally deserved. I am about half-way through the book now, and loving it. SOLACE ISLAND is a mystery and a romance all rolled up into one. What took you in this direction?
SF: I knew I wanted to write a romance. I read a lot of different romance genres. Really enjoy both romantic suspense, romance and regency romance. When I committed to writing a romance novel, romantic suspense is what came out.
I found I really enjoying writing contemporary romantic suspense. It feels like what I was meant to do, and I’m now working on the second novel in the series, SOLACE STOLEN.
I was wondering, kc, if you found that true as well when you wrote your Best-selling novel, FINDING FRASER? We both had written different types of fiction, before. And yet, once I started writing Solace Island, it was a sense of coming home. Like this was the type of fiction I was meant to write.
kc: Haha! Well, you know it’s true. I had a ball writing FINDING FRASER, and when it did so well, I was completely thrilled, since it was a new genre for me, too. But back to SOLACE ISLAND. What’s the most compelling part of the story for you?
SF: For me, I like romantic suspense novels that have a warmth to them as well. So that’s what I tried to do with Solace Island. I like walking the tightrope of cozy with a bit of humor. All the while the suspense element is keeping you slightly on edge. And then of course it is romance so I get to throw in a bit of spice for good measure.
I like how the relationship develops between Maggie and Luke, but am equally fond of the closeness between the two sisters, how they love and look out for each other.
kc: Romance, suspense and humour! You’ve got it all. [I like to think there’s a little suspense happening in this very interview, too. You did, after all, hint at writing in another genre before…]. So tell me, how was the writing process for this story? Easy, tough, lots of research…? Did one element of the story — either the mystery, the romance — come more easily than the rest?
SF: I’ve been reading romance novels since high school, so I know what I like my romance novels to contain. The story flew out. Fastest first draft I’ve ever done. However, I wanted it to be good, and eight more drafts were done before I felt satisfied with it. I was very lucky to have Nancy Berland on my side, because not only does she do PR but she had many romance novels of her own published. She was such a blessing for me. She knows the romance do’s and don’ts inside and out, and went through my manuscript slashing and burning. Her suggestions and comments made my novel a million times better.
kc: Okay, I’m going to give our readers a little hint, here. I happen to know you’ve had a bit of experience living on an island, yourself. Does the setting of SOLACE ISLAND reflect any special places in particular, or does it spring purely from your imagination?
SF: Hee … hee … hee … Well, they always say, write what you know!
kc: Indeed they do. Though just who are ‘they’ anyway? On that note, let’s talk about inspiration. Was there something special that inspired you to write this story?
SF: I have attempted to write romance a couple of times, but never got past the first couple chapters. Nothing ever felt good enough. My critic yardstick was super-high because I read so much romance.
kc: Who are your favorite authors? Do you read to find your inspiration?
SF: I never read romance for inspiration. More because I just really enjoy the writing, the stories, knowing that even when bad things happen, everything will turn out Happy Ever After.
As far as favorite authors, clearly, I love Jayne Ann Krentz! And now, because of her kindness to me, an absolute stranger, I love her even more. I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything she’s ever written as Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle. I just finished reading her most recent novel WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE. Really enjoyed it! I’ve read and loved Lisa Kleypas, both her modern and regency, Eloisa James, Karen Hawkins, Elizabeth Boyle, Lorraine Heath and a handful of others.
kc: Sara Flynn is the pen-name you’ve taken on for this story. Has it been fun and freeing to write under another name?
SF: Absolutely. One hundred percent! I’d made several stabs at writing romance. People always say, you should write what you read. But when I sat down to write, other types of books emerged. Then, last spring, I came up with the pen name, Sara Flynn. It opened something that had been blocked inside and words started flowing out.
kc: Do you have any plans to go out in the world to promote the book in person? Is there a way for your readers to get a signed copy?
SF: Yes! I am going to be debuting SOLACE ISLAND at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Atlanta in the beginning of May and will be signing at the RT Book Fair, May 6, 2017, from 11AM-2:00PM. I’m in the process of looking into setting up media in New York and LA. I might see about going to Toronto as well. I also will be attending SIWC this Fall to help ring in their 25th Anniversary, and will be signing at their Book Fair as well, along with you, kc dyer! Hurrah!
kc: And then your secret identity will truly be out of the bag! Okay, let’s talk about the sequel. Without giving away too many details, can you tell us a bit about what’s coming next for the denizens of SOLACE ISLAND?
SF: The sequel, SOLACE STOLEN, has had four false starts where I get to around page sixty and then go, oh phooey, this isn’t right and throw it all out. I am on my fifth attempt and it is going well, but I haven’t gotten past the resistance wall yet, so we shall see.
SF: I have a Meg Tilly commercial women’s fiction manuscript that I need to send out. I love this project and have been working on it off and on for around 12 years. And Solace Stolen, of course. I also can be seen in the Netflix movie, War Machine starring Brad Pitt that will be released May 26th. I saw a screening of it and was very impressed with everyone’s work in the film. It’s really wonderful. And what’s next for you, kc? When we last spoke you mentioned you were doing the finishing touches on a new novel. I’d like to know more.
kc: Hahahaha. Okay, so that’s an interesting little tidbit. I can’t wait to see you on the screen again! As for me, I’m still at the ‘dark and mysterious’ stage of this new manuscript. I have an epic middle grade fantasy in my agent’s hands right now, as well. No rest for the wicked, eh? Before we finish, anything else you’d care to share about ‘SOLACE ISLAND’? Where can we find you on-line?
SF: Well, I hope all you romantic suspense readers out there love my new offering! I had so much fun writing it. You can find me on twitter @saraflynromance or @meggamonstah and my new website is: www.saraflynn.com. My old website that I don’t really post on anymore but has lots of stuff on my other books, tasty recipes and old blog postings is: www.officialmegtilly.com
kc: Thank you so much for sharing the excitement of launch day with us, Sara [aka Meg!] I hope everyone loves your new book as much as I do! I know you’re en route to Romantic Times today, but I hope you have time to celebrate. Cake! Confetti! Champagne!
And for you, dear reader, we have a wee contest. If you’d like to win a hardcover copy of Sara Flynn’s debut novel SOLACE ISLAND, either leave a comment on this post, or tweet using #SolaceIsland. You’ll have to answer a skill-testing question, just to make sure you’ve been paying attention here. How about the title of Meg’s new Netflicks movie, in which Brad Pitt is lucky enough to be her co-star? I’ll draw and announce a winner this Friday, May 5th. Go for it!
And, as always,