An interview with author, Linda Cassidy Lewis, on her novel, The Brevity of Roses

“It was time to stop looking backward. . . . He opened the new journal and its blankness sent a ripple of fear through him.”
~ from The Brevity of Roses

The middle ground, I’ve been there: hesitant to let go of the past (if I let go, will I forget? And, then what?), unable to embrace the future (so many possibilities…too many possibilities!). It is only when I am completely present in the moment – when I throw caution to  the wind and ignore logic and follow my gut – that I wind up moving in the exact direction meant for me.

Linda Cassidy Lewis spins a tale of redemption from the middle ground for the characters in her debut novel, The Brevity of Roses. Jalal, Meredith, and Renee have little in common, except that each is tethered to the weight of a painful past. Incidental decisions, like a left turn instead of a right, bring the characters together. Unexplained connections urge them forward, to new life and to healing. Linda gives her readers a well-designed book and a story with unforgettable characters.

I’m honored to host Linda here today for an interview, where she talks about turning a short story into a novel and about coincidences in writing and life. At the end of the interview, leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway: a soft-cover copy of The Brevity of Roses. Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, July 19th, at noon.

CC: Linda, in your interview with Kasie West, you say that THE BREVITY OF ROSES grew from a short story. As you worked to expand the story into novel length, did the rest of the plot and additional characters unfold with ease?

Linda Cassidy Lewis

LCL: I wrote Brevity in total panster mode. The original short story was a skeletal version of chapters 2-7 in the novel. Before I finished polishing that story, I saw a mental picture of Jalal, despondent and alone in his house. I knew I had to explore that. At the end of writing the second story, I wrote a long letter to Jalal from Kirsten, the younger woman in his story (a character 180 degrees from Renee).

Soon after, I revised that letter into a separate third short-short. At that point, I viewed Brevity as a novella, a trilogy of sequential stories. I set it aside, for later revision, but I couldn’t quit thinking about it. Additional scenes for each story played out in my head. Meredith “told” me I had misunderstood her feelings about her first husband. I “heard” Jalal’s father explain the cause of their conflict. Renee appeared, revealing Kirsten as imposter. I started revisions and ended up with a novel.

CC: In your novel, the story of Jalal and Meredith reflects a philosophy that there are no coincidences in life. Chance encounters are often the catalyst for change, if we, like Jalal and Meredith, embrace those moments. Have you experienced coincidences in your own life that later proved to be much more pivotal in your journey?

LCL: I believe we only see “coincidences” in our lives because, most of the time, we live on an underground level, like ants. If our view were from above it all—the Eye of God view—we would see life from beginning to end and recognize the interweaving, the synchronicity of it all. Since you mentioned Kasie West, I’ll share how my “chance encounter” with her has been pivotal to my writing journey. In 2008, I attended my first critique group. That same night, Kasie also attended for the first time. I don’t remember that we spoke directly for the first couple of meetings, but I loved her critique comments to everyone in the group. Eventually, she became my chief go-to person when I needed another pair of eyes. And she became my lead cheerleader. She never let me give up on Brevity—and I wanted to do that many times. In my acknowledgments, I thank her for the “pushes and pulls that took me to the finish line.”

CC: You published this novel on your own (creating the artwork for the cover as well!). Since publication, what has been the best part, and the most challenging aspect, of being an Indie Author?

LCL: The best part, of course, is when a reader tells me they loved the book. That will never get old. The biggest challenge is finding ways to connect with more of those readers … and developing the patience to wait until that happens. Promotion is not something I have a natural affinity for, so the whole process after publication has been a challenge.

CC: What are you reading these days?

LCL: I’m reading Dancing in the Shadows of Love by Judy Croome, a writer from South Africa. It’s beautifully written, poetic, delicious. Next on my list is David Malasarn’s The Wild Grass And Other Stories. I’ve read a couple of excellent stories from it and can’t wait to read more.

CC: What advice would you offer an emerging writer?

LCL: In the past, I’ve glibly said, “Don’t listen to advice.” I apologize. Certainly, there is good writing advice out there. The trick is not to be a slave to it. If you try something, but it doesn’t work, it’s the wrong advice for you. I suppose my best advice is to write from your heart. If you don’t love what you’ve written, neither will anyone else.

~

Linda Cassidy Lewis was born and raised in Indiana and now lives with her husband in California where she writes versions of the stories she only held in her head during the years their four sons were growing up. At Out of My Mind, she blogs about her writing experience—typos and all. THE BREVITY OF ROSES is her debut novel. You can follow Linda on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

DON’T FORGET: leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of The Brevity of Roses!

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40 responses to “An interview with author, Linda Cassidy Lewis, on her novel, The Brevity of Roses

  1. Love the quote from the book and your intro to the interview! Really struck a cord for me. I enjoyed the interview, especially learning about how Linda turned a short story into a novel. Thanks. Can’t wait to read her book.
    Lynn

  2. Pingback: Please follow me! « Linda Cassidy Lewis

  3. I love Linda’s site and have been following her for some time now. I have not read Brevity yet but am looking forward to it. This was an excellent interview! Thanks!
    Chris

  4. I loved learning the history of how your novel evolved from a short story to the lovely work it eventually became, and the role your characters played in creating their own history.

    • Thank you, Natasha. The Brevity characters have been my most interactive so far. At times, I felt I was only taking dictation. They’re still talking to me. Pesky creatures. :-)

    • Natasha, I think that’s one of my favorite parts of Linda’s interview as well, especially since that’s an area where I continue to struggle. Linda’s experience speaks of a writer’s greatest asset: persistence (letting go and listening, too).

  5. Gosh, Linda, I was reading your interview with such interest and went a bit dizzy when I saw your kind words about my novel…but I must hasten to say that “Brevity of Roses” is a far better book, it’s fluid, cohesive and deep, I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed “Brevity” for ages. An amazing story. Can’t wait for your next one.

    Loved reading about your writing process too. I’m also a pantser – can’t write a thing if I plot everything out.

    Good luck with this book – I hope it gets wings!
    Judy, South Africa

    PS Please don’t enter me in the draw – I’ve already got my own copy to keep!

  6. I really appreciate hearing about an author’s process. ‘Brevity’ took me by surprise because I’m not a great romantic fiction fan. I got mad at the characters instead, and that had me grabbed! Seeing how those characters drove themselves, rewrote themselves, and made you work hard to realise them, is such a valuable insight. Thank you Linda, for sharing, and Christi for asking our questions.

  7. Hi Linda, I’m swamped with work today but I’ll be coming back here and read the interview more carefully. Thanks for dropping by at Molly Hacker’s place. We seem to have some things in common, not just in our books, but now we’re even being interviewed on the same day. LOL.
    Christa

  8. Christa, do you ever feel like we’re all circling round and round in this Social Media whirl and might actually meet up with ourselves one day? :-)

  9. Linda, I think you got a point there. We’ll soon say hello to ourselves. Well, I talk to myself a lot anyway. lol.
    Christa

  10. I always enjoy your interviews, Christi — great questions. And great answers, too, Linda. I also love this: “I believe we only see “coincidences” in our lives because, most of the time, we live on an underground level, like ants.” That really puts things into perspective.

  11. I love this book! (and Linda). Christi, I don’t need to be entered in the contest (already have my copy) but I just had to say that Linda is an amazing writer and it wasn’t hard to be her “cheerleader” because I fell in love with this book. There really are no coincidences and I’m so glad we were put in each others paths because Linda has been just as good of a supporter for me and my work.

  12. Thank you, Amanda. The no coincidences perspective is one I struggle to keep, but it’s freeing when I can rise to it.

  13. Great interview, Christi (and Linda, for your articulate-as-ever responses)!

  14. Thank you, Cathryn. Oh wait. How articulate am I usually? ;-)

  15. I love your belief that there aren’t any coincidences and essentially everything happens and unfolds the way it should. People are brought into our lives (like your encounter) because they were meant to and, if we pay attention, they will influence us to make pivotal decisions and affect our lives tremendously. Good luck in all your endeavors.

  16. Thank you, simplynareida. I do believe that, but I admit it’s hard to accept at times. Easy when good things happen, not so much when life seems bad. Good luck to you as well. :-)

  17. Sorry, Christi, I’m fairly new at this. I should have thanked you first thing. I appreciate you for the support by having me here. I offer a sincere thank you for the interview and giveaway. :-)

  18. Your book sounds wonderful. I too don’t have an affinty for promotion *sigh*, which makes thing s difficult. I guess all we can do is keep writng and plugging away, right?

    • Thank you TM. It’s counterproductive to everything I’m told by the marketing gurus, but I think at this point what I have to do is direct my energies back to the writing. My dislike of marketing is strangling the Muse. ;-)

  19. Hi Christi. Thanks for posting this interview. I loved reading Linda’s book & am unable to get the characters out of my mind (read it like a month ago :-) ). Great work. You both inspire me. Thank you once again.

  20. I didn’t recognize the name Optimisme. I had to follow your Gravatar to figure out that I know who you are. :-) I’m glad you enjoyed reading Brevity and to know that the characters stayed with you … wow! You made my day … heck my whole month!!!

  21. Hi Linda. I follow your blog. Just started following you on twitter after reading your post on marketing. Twitter id is pooja0212.

  22. Christie, thanks for doing the interview! Linda, thanks for giving us behind-the-scenes insights into your story!
    I am writing upmarket women’s fiction with a *gasp* male protagonist, too. This concept seems to confuse some people. I am grateful for role models who are paving the way for me. Thank you for blogging your self-publishing struggles and triumphs, and for sharing your process here. I hope I’m not too late to enter to win a copy of your book!

  23. Hey, Shelly. No, you’re not to late to enter. Good luck in the drawing.

    It’s nice to meet someone else stretching the accepted boundaries of women’s fiction. Yeah, us! :-)

  24. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Brevity of Roses is a wonderful book, one of the best I have read in quite a while!
    Good luck on your journey.
    Christa

  25. And the winner of a copy of Linda’s novel is….
    Natasha!

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by and leaving comments. And, a special thanks to Linda, for sharing more about your novel and your words of writing wisdom.

  26. Congratulations, Natasha! And thank you again, Christi, for the interview. :-)

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