Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alyson Reuben

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal's office aside she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.
Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women's fiction, leading to the debut of ABEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.
Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.
Alyson is with us today to talk about her latest release
She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?
When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.
Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.
Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.

Isn't that a beautiful cover?  
Keep scrolling after the interview to read an excerpt.
Let's get to know Alyson!

Welcome! First, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write? 
I’ll start out by saying how glad I am to be here today, Dawn!
 My writing career launched itself in 2nd grade, after I listened to a visiting author give a lecture at my school about his children’s books.  Immediately following his visit, I sat down and penned my first story (untitled) about a girl and her dog.  As a young adult, I wrote several short stories.  Later, I wrote for my local newspaper and contributed to several online sites.  But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I became truly serious about my writing.  Last year, the Wild Rose Press published A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, a WWII historical romance.  My latest, CASTLES WE BUILD, is set in the roaring 1920’s.  A FALLEN STARR, my current work in progress, is a young adult story, set in the 1940’s, about a girl who is working with a fortuneteller in a carnival.  They’re all very separate stories, written in different ways.  The one thing that links them is that they’re set in the “vintage years”.

Tell us more about Castles We Build
The theme in CASTLES WE BUILD gives new meaning to the adage, “When it rains it pours”.   Julia Hampton is an ordinary wife and mother living in extraordinary times, swallowed into even more extraordinary circumstances.  The story starts out with Julia happily living with her second husband, Ford, and their three children in their lavish beachside home.  When her first husband, Landon, who she thought died nearly ten years ago in WWI, shows up alive, claiming he still loves her, Julia’s calm life is suddenly turned upside-down in an avalanche of shocking events.  Passing through fire, water, and wind – literally – by the end of the story, everything centers on which man she chooses to spend the rest of her life with.

You seem to have a favorite time period in to use as a setting in your work. What draws you to that time?  
I enjoy reading several types of stories, from contemporaries to futuristic.  Yet, as I sit down to start a new book, it will almost always end up having a historical slant, specifically the vintage years of the 1920’s – 1950s.  That doesn’t mean my stories are old-fashioned, though.  Not at all!  Although CASTLES WE BUILD is set nearly eighty years ago, modern readers will easily connect with Julia’s way of dealing with specific dilemmas.  After all, no matter what time period, issues involving men, marriage, and family are ones that women can always relate to.  This is why the story is also categorized as a contemporary women’s story.

I hear you also have a love of vintage fashion. What fashion trend from the past do you wish would come back in style today so you could wear it?
Oh Lord, there are too many of them to list!  lol  I guess if I had to choose just one vintage trend, I’d pick hats.  I collect the 1920’s cloches and the adorable little hats of the 1930’s – 1960’s.  If they ever come back into vogue, I’ll try wearing a different one every day!  I’m also crazy about vintage jewelry, although I’m not about to wait to wear the pieces I’ve collected.  I pair-up vintage jewelry with my outfits on an almost daily basis.

What has been the best part of your writing journey?  
Oh, wow, that’s another tough question to answer.  There are several awesome things about my writing journey.  Probably, the most important one is seeing my characters come alive, not just for me, but for those who read my books.  I’ll never grow tired of hearing people tell me that they are sad when they finish the last page of one of my stories, because they wanted to find out what is going to happen next in the characters’ lives.  That’s a very rewarding feeling for any author!  Also, I’ve met so many new friends along the path to publication, from fellow authors to reading fans.  The world of books is almost like one huge family – all the better since writing can be a very solitary profession.

What do you do when you aren't writing?
There’s absolutely nothing I like better than spending time with my husband and daughter.  We live in a small community and there is always something going on, whether it’s ballgames, fundraisers, or parties.  I’m also an artist, so I try to save room for sketching and painting.  My other hobbies (and there’s never enough time for them all) are antique-hunting, being outdoors, taking long walks, cycling, touring old scary houses, watching good movies, going out with my fab friends, and, of course, reading!  It might sound like I’m very busy – and I am- but, overall, I consider myself pretty average.

What's next for you? What are you working on now?
Besides A FALLEN STARR, I’m writing a couple of short stories for The Wild Rose Press, both in early stages.  I’m not very good at sticking with writing just one story at a time.  I catch myself starting a new story while I’m still working on another.  It works out to my advantage by keeping me out of a writing-rut.  Plus, I can be involved in several different adventures at once!

How can readers get to know you better?
You can find me at the following locations:
My Amazon page:
Goodreads site

Thank you for visiting with us. I'll step aside now and let our readers have a peek at Castles We Build

There he is.  A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery. 
            Landon Sloane.
            For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in.  I’m about to pass out….
            Suddenly, he grins.  And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness.  Saving me, period.
            He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.
            Now he’s kissing my cheeks.  My forehead.  My chin.  The places behind my ears.  The hollow of my neck.  The skin above my lace collar.  My breasts through the voile fabric.  My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock. 
            And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic.  Calling his name.  Over and over.  He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.  Yes.  Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane.  Alive.  Very alive.  And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.
            Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers.  In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication.  I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking.  To satiate me with his heat and energy….
            A little girl’s cry floats through the room. 
            Gracie!  Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine.  No, I’m not thinking clearly.  That wasn’t a girl’s voice.  Just a bird outside the open window.  One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.
            For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing.  He looks the same.  Yet, different in several ways.  Slimmer…a little too slim.  A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.
            I’m lying here half naked.  With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago.  And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach.  “Why, Landon?  Why didn’t you come home?  Where have you been?”
            He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears.  “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa.  Most of the men didn’t….  Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives.  They had bartering friends who traded with them.  Local radicals who supported the enemy forces.  I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”
            His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age.  I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand.  To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead. 
            “So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment.  Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence.  Guards with guns and long pikes.  Shared it with criminals and other detainees.  We didn’t even know when the war was over.  Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free.  Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.”  His voice is hard now.  Gritty.  Full of hatred and anger.  In a tone I don’t recognize. 
            “They finally released us last month.  Because of some new political uprising, I think.  I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free.  Back where I can see you.  Hold you.  And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.”  He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.
            The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.
            It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer. 
            Like Brent’s.
            I reach for him, pulling him to me.  Prison.  For almost a decade.  What a nightmare that must’ve been.  The hurt is palpable, transferring between us.  “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear.  “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound.  Alive.”
            He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball.  And we stay that way.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  For a very long time.
            His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time.  He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom.  And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him. 
            The bedroom is mostly bare.  A utilitarian iron bed.  A dresser.  A shabby club chair.  But nothing else.  I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze.  There are no finches in it.  Or any other birds.  The door is hanging open, facing the outside.
            He won’t cage anything again.
            I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.
            None of this is the way it should be. 
            It’s all messed up somehow.
            Ford’s face enters my mind.  Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.
            Oh, God.
            I’m married to someone else.
            And I have a family.
            Two men. 
            Two husbands.

 Castles We Build can be found in paperback and Kindle format at: amazon


Jerrie Alexander said...

I should probably qualify this post by saying that I'm already a big fan of Alyson. A Beautiful Cage is one of my favorite books and I'm sure Castles We Build will be too.

Alyson writes such beautiful stories. Her research is spot on!!

Great interview and excerpt!

Alyson Reuben said...

I'm excited to be here today, Dawn! Thank you for hosting me. :)

Your blogsite looks fantastic!

Alyson Reuben said...

I wish everyone could be as wonderful as you are, Jerrie! Thank you so much for the kind things you've said about my books (and me)!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Loved the excerpt, Alyson. I was so entranced with your A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, that I'm sure this one will be the same quality read, full of emotion and history and characters one never forgets. Wishing you the best.

Alyson Reuben said...

I'm glad you liked it, Vonnie! CASTLES WE BUILD is different from A BEAUTIFUL CAGE in several ways, but it is certainly full of emotion. Thank you for stopping by!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Great excerpt...guess I'll have to buy the book to find out what happens next, huh?

Alyson Reuben said...

Thanks, Teri! Yes, I'd love for you to read the rest of the story and let me know what you think about it. ;)