Last week the Lark Journals got to to interview talented author, Jeannine Van Eperen, about her Whiskey Creek Press novel, Willow Spring. She also gives us a peek into some of her other novels. To learn even more about Jeannine visit her website at: http://www.jeanninevaneperen.com
1. Really enjoyed Willow Spring with its complex characters and intricate plot. What came first when you were planning the novel -- plot or character?
I think in this case the idea of a woman returning as a widow to the town of her birth. I don't really plot but let the story lead me. As I remember, I heard the Merry Widow Waltz, and I thought, how about a story, more realistic, with a widow, but she really isn't merry, she's hurting. She loved her husband and doesn't truly want to believe he is gone forever. Alana, also, now has money and she wouldn't have to feel inferior to some of the town's social leaders, and she believes the real reason she left is no longer there.
2. Alana and Bill have a bit more emotional baggage (and Alana has a child) than characters in some of your previous novels (such as Highway to Love). How did that change that writing process?
I really have no idea. I write light romances and some meatier novels. When I begin I'm not sure which it will be.
3. Melanie is a very likeable and realistic child. Did you model her on any one?
Not to my knowledge. I have a son and grandsons, but I also have a lot of nieces, so she probably is a conglomerate of all of them.
4. Willow Spring reminds me of so many small towns that have seen economic downturns. What was your motivation for writing about it? Have you lived in a town like that?
Oddly enough, I haven't, but I've seen a lot of them, especially westerns towns that have seen better days, and have gone downhill after Interstates whisked around them and then malls and Wal-marts closed the small businesses. There are a lot of small towns like that in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona that I have witnessed their deterioration while driving through over the years. I know it has happened in a lot of other states, but I'm most familiar with those I mentioned. Route 66 isn't what it used to be. I especially like the Texas Hill Country and believed it would serve the story well. Some of the towns' there have weathered the change to large shopping malls better. My husband and I especially like the town of Fredericksburg, so I brought it into the story. Willow Spring is, of course, fictional. Other towns mentioned are still going strong in Texas.
5. Willow Spring has an amazing cast of secondary characters (Mother Tucker, Minerva, Sid, Cora) that help drive the story. Did this story require more planning and research because of them?
Can I give a short answer, no?
For a longer answer, I believe I've run into people like those from time to time. Mrs. Tucker is an old-fashioned, Texas woman, trying to make ends meet by running a small boarding house with a few cabins. She's been around for a long time and she knows what's going on in town. She's not a gossip, but could tell a lot of stories if she wanted. Minerva has had a terrible shock and is trying her best to also make ends meet in her own way. My mother was in a nursing home for awhile, and I naturally observed the people there while visiting her. Some looked as if they felt lost, and I believe that is how Minerva felt--lost but trying to find herself. Sid is a typical down-home Texas boy (man) of which, I've seen a lot, and Cora is trapped in an abusive marriage and trying to find a way out. I believe most of us have unfortunately seen women in that circumstance. People usually believe I've unobservant. I don't as a rule notice their new decorations or hairdo, etc., but I must notice the other important things that matter in life.
6. You've turned the Pride & Predjudice romantic formula of wealthy man/financially struggling female upside down with Alana's dot.com wealth. Did you have fun with that?
Yes, I did. I hope I got it right.
7. Do you believe its possible to go back home again and fix what didn't go right the first time?
Let's hope that sometimes it is. I like to believe in happy endings.
8. What's ahead in your writing?
As you know I write for several publishers. With Whiskey Creek Press, I have a book coming out next year that is hard to describe. It's called Wydecombe Manor, and takes place in Cornwall, England. Several years ago I saw this huge house (mansion) high on a cliff above the sea. It's grey walls drew me, and I knew I had to write a book about people within that building. The story goes from the present to 1480s and tells the story of a love that went wrong, that never died, and finds fulfillment in the present, or at least tries to do so. I have another book that Whiskey Creek is considering, which means I've submitted it. With another publisher, Wings ePress, I have a mystery, set in Chicago, coming out in January called A Matter of Blood. I've already seen the cover and it is wonderful. Then I have a romance that takes place during the Great Depression, set in New Mexico called Rose of the Rio Grande, and a general fiction novel You Can Bank on It, set in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 1950s, that features the lives of several women who work in a bank. I recently completed a manuscript, a contemporary romance set in Chicago and Portugal. I'm doing my last read-through before submitting, and I'm working on two other stories. I also have another book that was published in October, No Escape from Love.