The Story


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 experience.

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 the truth.

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 experience!

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 seriously?

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.

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