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message 1: by Dreamspinner (new)

Dreamspinner Press (dreamspinnerpress) | 2637 comments Mod
Laura Lee, author of Angel, the first title from our new imprint Itineris Press, joins us today from 1-6 EST to discuss her book, answer questions, and more!

message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Hello everyone. I thought I would get the ball rolling a little bit early. I'm the author of Angel, as it says above, and I'm looking forward to answering any questions about it. It is the story of a minister, Paul Tobit, whose comfortable but uninspired life is shaken when he meets a beautiful young man, Ian Finnerty. I hope some of you have had a chance to read it. It is my first novel and (I think, if I remember right) my 14th book and of course my first Dreamspinner/Itineris title. So I'm new to this community and looking forward to making your acquaintance.

message 3: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee P.S. I'm not sure what the "more" is that I'm going to do.

message 4: by Idamus (new)

Idamus | 6 comments *Waves hello*
I must admit, I've never heard of you before, but congratulations on the release, it sounds interesting

message 5: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Goodman | 62 comments I read really great reviews for the book and it seems to have a lot of fans. I don't want to "spoil" but it seems some find it a difficult read due to the ending. Is it a heartbreaker? Will their be a sequel to resolve this? I guess I'm a sucker for at least a hope of a HEA!!

message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Thanks, I haven't heard of myself often either.

message 7: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Goodman | 62 comments Oh yes!!! Hi! :)

message 8: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Goodman | 62 comments I am really interested in reading the book no matter the answer, I just like to prepare myself a little about what to expect.

message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee I've actually started working on a sequel, or a companion book. I started writing it, actually, before Angel was released. I think of Angel as a complete story, but after I'd finished it, after ten years of working on it, I went through a sort of post-partum depression.

I missed the characters and a friend suggested I just keep writing. "I can't keep writing, the story is finished," I said. But she thought I should just keep going for myself.

Angel is from the perspective of Paul, the minister, and if I ever do release the other book it will be from Ian's perspective. We'll have to see how that pans out, and how much interest the first book has, of course.

As to the ending of Angel, my take on what people respond to is, well, a couple of things. The first is that Angel is a love story but not really a romance with a big R in the traditional sense. But Dreamspinner thought its audience would respond to it even if it is a little bit different. I think it is better if people go into it expecting it to be more the story of Paul's journey in life, love and spirit. I think they're likely to enjoy it more.

Also, a lot of the time in stories where you have a conflict between people and the church, all of their problems are external. It was important to me that some of the conflict come from the characters themselves, and their own quirks and fears and flaws.

So, I guess the answer is, Angel is complete, but there may be another book some day that would expand on the story.

message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Fiona, as much as people try to avoid spoilers, after looking at the various reviews and interviews, I realize that if you read them all you could probably piece together most of the story. I try to be kind of coy about how it ends anyway to preserve the suspense. :)

message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Fiona wrote: "I am really interested in reading the book no matter the answer, I just like to prepare myself a little about what to expect."

I've been told it makes some people cry...

message 12: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Goodman | 62 comments Well it sounds lovely and I can't wait to read it. I think I will have to get out a big box of tissues though!

message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee A small one, I hope.

message 14: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Goodman | 62 comments Good luck to you. The book seems to be getting a lot of positive feedback.

I will get a small teeny tiny box, but if It's not enough I'm going to let you know!! LOL!

message 15: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments I was lucky enough to be one of the first readers of Angel and I loved it...and yes I needed a box of kleenex. But, the story could only go one way and be true to the characters.

message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee I have a hard time knowing how to talk about where the story goes. In a way, the mystery is more how everything plays out rather than what is played out. On the other hand, I think there is a certain amount of suspense anyway, so I don't want to interfere with the discovery of the journey.

message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Fiona wrote: "Good luck to you. The book seems to be getting a lot of positive feedback.

I will get a small teeny tiny box, but if It's not enough I'm going to let you know!! LOL!"

One of those little packets people keep in their purse during flu season...

message 18: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments Can you tell us how you were inspired to write this book?

message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee It was a mystery that nagged at me. There was a real life minister who was my tour guide when I went to Mount Rainier in Seattle. First of all, I was inspired by the mountain itself. Photos don't do justice to that kind of landscape, you have to be there. Then there was the fact that Mt. Rainier is a dormant volcano and so it has all of this potential explosive energy inside. It was only towards the end of the tour that I learned that my tour guide had been a minister in a previous life, and the idea of what connections there might be between ministry and mountain really piqued my imagination.

I don't know anything about the real life minister who inspired me. It's not his story, and actually my character looks different and is a different age. The only thing from the real minister that made its way into the book was that he called the mountain "magnificent in its symbiosis" which I liked and recorded in my journal.

So the working title of the novel was "The Minister and the Mountain" and I worked on it off and on for a decade before stumbling on to the second piece of the puzzle, which was the beautiful young man.

I saw a man who struck me as classically beautiful, and my response was more of an artistic calling than romantic attraction or celebrity attraction (he is an actor). Seeing his beauty made me want to create beauty and I thought I should write something about muses and that response. So I sat down and like I always did, I went to my writing exercise of the minister and the mountain and these two things collided into each other.

Of course, the minister falls in love with a man. It would be the kind of thing that would inspire and help him to grow but could also be the source of conflict. Once I came to that, I drew on my mountain inspiration throughout.

I consciously thought of Ian and Paul as representing the mountain-- that place where the earth meets heaven. Paul was the heavens and Ian the earth. So Ian is "earthy." Paul has his head in the clouds. And before they come together they're each a bit unbalanced, Paul too much in the clouds, not grounded in the physical, Ian in touch with his body but cut off from the spirit.

Anyway, that all sounds very intellectual. Once I had that idea, I ran with the characters where they took me.

message 20: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments And they both have explosive potential, just like the mountain :)

message 21: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Yeah, that is the thing, the whole story really was shaped by this metaphor of the volcano. It is beautiful and it sort of puts the wonder of God's creation into us, but it has the seeds of its own destruction within it. So I thought it was a fantastic vehicle for a story, to draw from nature itself.

So the question becomes, do you avoid Mount Rainier because it is going to erupt some day, or do you take a chance and build your house where you can appreciate its beauty.

You don't need to get into the metaphor of the mountain to enjoy the book or the love story, but that was my inspiration and where it came from.

message 22: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments I loved how both Ian and Paul grow to be more in the eyes of the other. Paul's preaching became more real and Ian cleaned up for Paul and became the man he was meant to be.

message 23: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments Or maybe more the man Paul thought he was meant to be.

message 24: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Jenny wrote: "Or maybe more the man Paul thought he was meant to be."

That's an interesting observation.

I'd be interested in your take on that, because the book is of course from Paul's perspective, not Ian's-- whether Ian is who he is meant to be (his authentic self) with Paul.

message 25: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments I think that Ian wants to be a better person because of Paul's love, and that he changes to be that person. On the other hand, he is more authentic than Paul and accepting of who he is from the beginning. He is gay and doesn't question that. He wants to be better for Paul, and works towards that end. He accepts Paul for who he is as well. But, I do think his interest in the church stems from his interest in Paul and he stops drinking for Paul's sake. Perhaps Paul is the catalyst for Ian finding his true self.

message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee That's actually one of the questions that we put on the book discussion group list we put together: whether or not you think Ian's interest in the church is authentic or whether it is more an interest in Paul.

I don't have the answer to everything because nothing exists beyond what is spelled out in the book. The most interesting thing to me about writing is to see what readers take away from it and who they think the characters are.

I always say that the writer only writes half the book and the reader writes the other half.

message 27: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 7 comments Reader Response Theory is based on that Idea...

message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Now I have something to look up in Wikipedia.

message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee It's gotten quiet. Is it time for me to do the "more" now?

message 30: by Laura (new)

Laura Lee Hey folks, even though it is not the "meet the author" time any more, there's no reason I can't answer your questions if you post them here, so please keep firing away if you are so inclined.

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Angel (other topics)

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Laura Lee (other topics)