What was the inspiration behind this story? I once worked in the healthcare industry and had the experience to work in a physical rehabilitation hospital. While there, I couldn’t help but notice the dynamics of the couples. How when one of the two suffered a life changing injury, how that impacted their relationship. Sadly, most couples fell apart under the strain; however, other couples not only thrived but grew stronger and closer. That kind of life, the one that is forged in the pressure of a completely different life to adjust to, inspired me. Those couples stuck with me decades later when I decided to write romance. There are real life stories just like Matt and Katy’s every day.
Tell us about your main character. Matthew McCall – how can I describe Matt.. He’s stubborn, old-fashioned and all about family. The high school football hero that got the girl. Then lost the girl when she wanted to be more than just a wife and mother, and his world and her ambitions collided. He chose home. She chose her dreams far away.
Which is your favorite minor character and why? It would have to be Matt’s sister, Beth. The care and faith she has in her brother made me tear up a few times. Teddy is tied with her. His engaging manner and blunt attitude is to be admired.
What is your favorite personality trait of your main character? In Matt? His stubbornness. It might also be his worst trait. In Katy, her ability to chase a dream for herself. That too might be her worst trait as well. See a theme here? 🙂
What is your favorite personality trait of your bad guy/girl? There is no real villain in Love’s Bitter Harvest. I guess pin that on anyone, it would have to be Matt and Katy. They don’t help the situation in the slightest for most of the book.
Tell us something funny about one of your characters. Matt has the need to throw something when he is confronted or angry. He does it with several inanimate objects in the book. And it fails in amusing ways. Watch out for the blackberry cobbler.
Your character is at a bookstore. Which section is he/she shopping in? What book is in his/her hand right now? Katy works in the publishing industry. I see her standing in the fiction section scrutinizing and critiquing the covers and quality of formatting.
Your character has the music blasting. What’s playing, and what is he/she doing while listening? Matt would be listening to modern country. Katy would most likely listen to R&B. Both of them used music while they worked. Matt in the orchard and Katy designing book covers.
I’m inviting your main character to dinner. What should I make? Home cooking. Any comfort food. You can win Matt’s heart with a well made southern chicken fried steak.
Your main character is planning a vacation. Where is he/she going? That might be tricky considering Matt’s limitations. I don’t see them as travelers. Real home bodies and happy to be so.
Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing? Matt’s heart broke mine. He still loved his Katy so much even after their marriage fell apart. I found myself yelling at both him and Katy to just kiss and fix their relationship. I knew that Matt would be a stubborn guy. But dang, I had no idea how stubborn.
Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.
Katy didn’t know what to say. Breathing felt like an impossible task. The guilt at Matt’s blunt accusation choked her. It was not the fact he said it but the truth of the words. She replied in a small whisper. “I didn’t know. No one told me.”
Matt nodded with a sigh. Its sound heavy with exhaustion. “Because I told them not to. Beth wanted to. The doctors too. But I told them no.”
Matt met her eyes. Tears streamed to drip off his jaw and his expression crumbled. “I ached for you to be there, longed for you to walk through the door. But…” he lowered his head with a choked sob, “if I wasn’t man enough for you before, I sure as hell wasn’t man enough for you now.”
He pulled back from her. His voice hoarse as he said quietly, “I’m so fucking tired. I’m going to sleep.”
Katy felt any words she could counter with would be both worthless and false. Her actions proved Matt right—even if she knew him to be wrong. She stood so he could go. As she watched him roll into the darkened living room, she asked softly, “What was her name? The woman?”
Matt paused. “I don’t know. It didn’t matter.” He glanced back at Katy before facing forward to continue his retreat. “She wasn’t you.”
How long did it take you to write this book? Six months.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters? This is always fun but easy for me since I see the book play out as a movie in my head while I write. Sound effects and music soundtrack too. As far as a casting? I would say Jake Gyllenhaal for Matt, and Jen Nikolaisen for Katy.
How did you come up with the title? I spent over a decade in Kentucky and the story is based around a generational farm. The thing with any crop is if you’re not dedicated or committed to it in both good and bad times, in winter or fall, the fruit doesn’t matter.
Tell us about your cover art and how it pertains to your story. I love this cover as it portrays storms and clear skies. The apple that both our characters have taken a bite of and then turned away from. It’s perfect.
Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?) While as a reader I believe books are usually an escape from life, I also believe they can be a doorway to finding something real and tangible. We need to have gritty, gut punching stories in order to remind ourselves that while fantasy is amazing, real life can be just as good of a story.
Fiction can often provide powerful life lessons. What message do you hope readers get from your book? Second chances. They aren’t always simple and they definitely can be painful. But if we are willing, they can be better than the first. And stronger.