Moondrops & Thistles
This is an interview that never came to fruition.
The questions were provided. Permission
for posting was granted.
Q: Can you
tell us a little bit about your novel Moondrops & Thistles
and what inspired you to write the story?
LK : In 2009, I released a novel about a young pop star, Ryan Reynauld,
who has to do some serious growing up in a short time. The main secondary
character was his bodyguard Fred Dawson. He goes by Daws and is Ryan’s
antithesis: calm, widely capable, sturdy. Readers loved Daws so much
they asked for more of his story. I knew he had one. I knew he was ex-military
and he had an earlier relationship with Ryan that Ryan didn’t
know. So when I needed an idea for Nanowrimo
2010, I decided to give Daws his story. From there, he became a Desert
Storm vet, in honor of my husband, and I gave him a strong fiery heroine
to deal with and to help him along in honor of military spouses. I set
it 9 years before Ryan’s story, Off The Moon, in order
to fill in their background at the same time, and to coincide with the
actual events of Desert Storm.
Q : Military relationships are often romanticized. What do you think
the appeal is, and why do they make such heartwarming stories to tell?
LK: I think that would be easier for non-military to answer! I suppose
it does look awfully romantic from the outside: the strong, brave hero
heading off to the front and the strong, faithful woman staying behind
to wait for him (or vice versa). It’s a strongly romantic premise.
And if a relationship can survive that kind of ordeal, it is a sweet,
incredible romance. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want that
kind of “I’ll go through anything with you and still love
you and be there for you” relationship? I love seeing photos and
videos of homecomings and have full respect for the couples who do make
it. It’s terribly heartwarming to see the reunions. From the inside,
it’s not so romantic. It’s hard. It’s hard when they’re
away and it’s hard when they come home and you have to readjust
to not being the “one” in charge and you both have shell
shock emotional issues and so on. Many who make it through a tough deployment
don’t make it much farther. It is hard. And yet, that “defeat
the odds and come out ahead” thing is ... well, romantic!
Q: Being a military wife yourself what were you able to take from your
own life to incorporate into this story?
LK: I didn’t make Deanna an actual Army wife, for story reasons,
but she deals with a lot of the same issues. There is an unwritten law
that says as soon as they deploy, be it war or long field exercise,
something happens. The bathtub drain breaks (that happened to me), the
vacuum stops working (also happened), you get nasty bronchitis and have
to take care of a three year old on your own while expecting the next
little terror and trying to hold down a job (yep), and on and on. I
had to deal with a flooded house by myself and a well that stopped working
and a ten day power/water outage and, all of the normal (and some beyond
normal) school issues with my kids, and oh, so many things, with no
one around to help walk me through them or even to help me escape now
and then. Deanna got to deal with some of those things, also. I was
sure to put her in a city away from family with only a few new friends
she isn’t sure of yet, in order to make it a real military spouse
I also gave Daws flashback nightmares and uncertainty
as to whether he wants to allow himself to be close to her and share
his experiences or to keep distance and hide his thoughts within. It
doesn’t end when they come home, for either partner, and I wanted
to highlight that point.
Q : In the book, Fred Dawson takes his job very seriously; he puts the
mission and his men first. What inspired you to write about a military
man who was so committed? Why not portray a soldier with less dedication?
LK: In the first place, since it’s partly a tribute to my husband,
I couldn’t make Daws any other way. He’s always been a mission
first, highly committed kind of guy. Also, there are so many cases of
the media (film, articles, books, even music) that depict soldiers who
are unsure of what they’re doing and even feel guilty about their
job. Even worse, they’re too often depicted as no more than sheep
following orders who never question those orders and don’t bother
to think about whether the mission is something in which they believe.
I suppose there are a handful of those in the military, but in general,
it couldn’t be further from the truth. I can tell you, they question
orders. They are smart and highly skilled and capable and they understand
the mission, much more than the rest of us who only get heresay. They
reenlist by the hundreds because they believe in the mission and they
know what good they’re doing. If all of those media depictions
were accurate, our military would not be the strongest in the world,
as it is. Daws is the typical Army NCO. Yes, serious about his job,
highly protective of his men, and fully committed. The atypical not-so-dedicated
soldier has been done and overdone. I wanted more reality. I wanted
Q : In a world where the military is slowly being pushed into the background
again after over 10 years at war, why do you think it's so important
to tell stories about military love? The softer side of these rough
and rugged soldiers.
LK: I read a quote not long ago by a big name celeb who said something
along the lines of soldiers knowing how to fight but that they should
learn the softer side of things. I stared at that quote for some time
wondering how big the hole is where he’s been living. Do people
honestly feel that way? The truth is these men and women who give so
much of themselves and have to be away from their loved ones so often
understand the value of love so much more deeply than most of the rest
of us. They give. They know how to give of themselves. They know how
to sacrifice for love. They do it for love: of country, of family, of
strangers in other countries who desperately need help. No one knows
the real value of the softer side of things more than soldiers do. It
is important to share these stories of love because, as the scripture
says, there is no greater love than to give your life for another. It’s
not the fighting that makes them heroes. It’s the intense love
they have within that makes them willing to fight for others.
Q : As an Army wife, what was your least favorite experience in the
military world and what was your favorite moment?
LK: My least favorite in general was being so far away from family and
missing most of my nieces and nephews growing up, holidays, special
events, and having our families miss all of the same for our kids. The
worst moment ... well, I have two especially. The first was when my
husband left for Desert Storm and I couldn’t help wonder if my
one-year-old would grow up knowing her father. The second was when he
was supposed to be on a military plane on his way home on September
11th when we lived just outside Washington D.C. and I wondered whether
I should pack the kids and vacate from our Army post. A terrifying time.
My favorite was the travel opportunity! All of it in general, and specifically
the one month train trip we were able to take around Europe since we
were stationed in Germany, got a low-cost pass through our military
travel office, and he’d saved up leave time. An absolutely incredible
Q : Do you hope to write more military themed novels in the future?
If so, what do you have in mind and if not, why?
LK: I don’t have any other military books planned. There will
be a future novel that Daws and Ryan will feature in to an extent, but
otherwise, I don’t think I’ll do more than maybe mentions
here and there. This is my second, well, third if you count that Ryan
was an Army brat. Protect The Heart from 2010 is military related,
back in earlier days, and a tribute to my great uncles. I have other
subjects I want to cover, and mainly, I center everything on the arts.
That’s where I want my focus. This one had to be written, but
since it has been, I’m ready to move along. Never say never, though.
I write what I need to write, whatever the subject matter.
Q : What inspires you to write and what made you decide to pursue it
LK: I’m from a very artsy family. Most of us are involved with
some type of art: music, painting, sewing, singing, photography, acting.
When I was young, I wrote musical plays for fun. I must have been around
ten or so, I would guess. Then I moved into poetry and a fanfic play.
But a story developed in my mind during my teen years that wouldn’t
let me go. I wrote a couple of scenes of it back then and stored it
in a file bin. Then came college term papers, marriage, kids, military
moving, and I pulled away from my writing. I now wish I hadn’t.
What brought it back was being stationed in a place that did not fit
me at all and my husband being sent to Korea for a year while I dealt
with the area and a stressful job and a three-year-old son who liked
to climb up on the roof or over the 6 foot privacy fence to make me
go chase him down through the neighborhood (it was hard to shower in
those days! I often had to wait until my 7 year old was home from school).
To maintain sanity, I started that story again with the same scene I
first wrote (the original had been lost). From that day in June of 1996,
it became an obsession. I took a novel class to be sure I had the technique
right (I didn’t! That class was wonderful!) And by 2003, I had
finished a different story. It had only been four years in the writing
and rewriting and I was pretty happy with it, so I decided I should
share it. I titled it Finishing Touches and put it out myself.
The handful of readers who gave it a chance (this was before ebooks)
gave me “I couldn’t put it down” reviews. So, here
I am, still doing what I love with plans to do it until I can’t.
Q: How influential have the other wives you've met in your time as an
Army wife been to your writing, your goals, and your ability to deal
with tough situations?
LK: There are four in particular from my Army
spouse days who stand out. The first is a relative on my husband’s
side who had been in for several years. When I was a brand new bride,
she and her husband had us over to play cards and such. Two were in
the unit that was sent to Germany with us who I knew to an extent already.
They were also more experienced and available for occasional help, although
that was limited as they both had young kids of their own. The other
was an officer’s wife who used to be a major. I found her fascinating:
both strong and gentle, friendly and open but with that military reserve
you can always spot when you know it. She became the model for Ryan’s
mom. Since we’ve become Army(Ret.), I still enjoy bonding with
other military spouses, both former and current. There’s something
we share others can’t fully understand. A few of them helped read
through Moondrops & Thistles to double check facts and
feelings and such. They are acknowledged in the book.
Q : Is there anything else you would like to tell your readers about
Moondrops & Thistles, something that perhaps sets it apart
from your other novels?
LK: What sets this one apart, other than the strong military theme,
is that it’s one of two of my six novels my husband read all the
way through! Romance is not his genre. Still, this one and Off The
Moon pulled him in and I think he sells more of them than I do!
So, for males reading this, or for others of the more literary bend
who prefer to avoid most romance novels, these two are your best bets
if you want to give my work a try.
This one is also the only one that has a shorter
and spicier version. The full version is print and ebook, but the shorter
version is available as ebook only. It’s still not horribly graphic;
it simply goes a touch beyond stopping at the door, so to speak. It’s
aimed at romance readers who prefer less “extra” in their
stories and more love scenes. I’ve taken a lot of the social/family/military
stuff out for the ebook only version. It’s an experiment. I’m
not sure I’ll do it again, although I am tempted to try it with
my Rehearsal series. We’ll see.