Today is release day for That Summer by H.M. Shander. This is the second book in the Auorora MacIntyre series. Be sure to check out the excerpt after the interview.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
This all depends on who you ask. 😉 Some of my friends have a hard time reading my books only because they hear me in the main character, and try to figure out who the other characters are based off. Where there is a little piece of me in the main character, there is also a little piece of me in the secondary characters too! As for experiences, bits and pieces are real (and some are amazing therapy to write), but I’ll never tell you which bits.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I am currently half-way through writing the third book of the Aurora MacIntyre series. I was pretty sure I could leave Duly Noted as a standalone, but half-way through writing That Summer, I unequivocally knew I needed a third to wrap it all up. And depending on how that ends, there could be a fourth. 😉
Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work three days a week at my kid’s school in the library (yeah – super cool job!) so my two days off I spent as much time writing as I can. I also write after tucking my kids into bed. Weekends are a total bust, as we’re busy with activities and get togethers. Over all, I’d say I’d max out at about 25 hours a week.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I have a very general idea of what I want to write, at least in how I visualize the outcome. But as I’m writing, I just write and let myself get immersed in the characters and their problems. I still get to the end, but it’s a very different path than originally envisioned. And that’s okay. To me, it makes the story more real.
Please tell us about your current release.
That Summer is a spin-off (one beta reader likened it to Rogue One vs Star Wars. You know how it’s going to end but you’re still in it for the ride). It takes place during a nine-week time jump in Duly Noted. I had several people email me wondering what happened during those weeks. Well… this is it. You could read it as a standalone, but having read Duly Noted will give you more insight into the characters. Plus, there are some plot twists in Duly Noted, that will be spoiled in That Summer, through the quick recaps.
What inspired you to write this book?
Without saying too much, as it’s a bit of a spoiler, those who follow my twitter feed will understand where my inspiration came from. We were out as a family at a local Saturday night activity, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be interesting if a girl with vehicular PTSD fell in love with one of them. Telling you who the ‘them’ is, would be a major spoiler, as the main character doesn’t even find out until half way through the book. 😉 By the end of the night, I knew the two major characters and a couple obstacles they needed to face.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did a lot of research in the field of PTSD and prescription drug abuse. I read lots of medical papers on the subjects, and chatted with people who had lived through prescription drug abuse (finding people who dealt with the severity of vehicular PTSD that the main character did was hard). I needed to get both sides—the personal battles and how the medical field would try to heal. It was highly interesting.
If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?
The first features Aurora and Nate as they fall in love. The second features Aurora and her budding friendship with Nate’s younger brother, Lucas. The third (being written) features Aurora, Nate and It tests the boundaries of all the relationships. Which will survive? Which will fall?
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
I will only write successfully in two places – at my kitchen table when I’m home alone, or in my bedroom when I’ve tucked the kids into bed. I’ve tried the coffee shops and the library, but I’m easily distracted.
Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?
An absolute must is a hot drink (coffee for daytime writes, caffeine-free tea for evening writing sessions.)
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I was almost eight years old before I could read, but once it clicked, I became a voracious reader.
“Yes. Dammit, we’re going to try this again.” She smacked her hand against the roof of the car for effect.
“Aurora…” Lucas said, as he walked around and stood in front of her, “it’s finished for tonight.” Gentle, soothing hands gripped her shoulders as his blond head tilted down, his hair teasing the edges of his dark eyebrows. “And that’s okay. We can try again tomorrow.”
The parking lot was half-full of tenant vehicles, but the spots around Lucas’ car were empty. It was the perfect location to play ‘touch-the-car’, and endeavor to sit in it. Tonight, she had tried. Multiple times. And failed miserably. At first she could sit and touch the seatbelt, but with each successive attempt, she worsened. Her last crack at it, she launched back out as soon as her butt hit the seat. It didn’t matter how many times she tried, staying any longer than a few seconds caused instant panic. At least she’d stopped puking. PTSD was a complete bitch.
Her gaze cast towards the other vehicles around them. Anywhere but him. Shame and hatred blanketed her; shame that she couldn’t physically handle anymore, and hatred because of what she was trying to overcome. Normal people didn’t need to fight post-traumatic stress disorder. Normal people didn’t worry about their next car ride leading them straight to death. There was more hate than shame lately, which in itself was a good thing. It gave her something to fight against.
“Again, please Lucas.” Her voice almost a whine. “Just one more time.”
The gentleman stood strong before her, his stance unchanging. “As much as I’d like to see you conquer this tonight, it’s not gonna happen. You’ve pushed yourself all day. You’re on the edge of falling apart.” He flicked his hair away from his eyes as they settled over her.
“But I can do it. I just need another…” I can do this. I know I can. I just need another shot.
He shifted and closed the gap between them. “Your body and your mind need a break, okay?” When she didn’t respond, he squeezed again. “Okay? Look at me.” His hands smoothed out the wrinkles of her sleeves.
His soothing touch. It grounded her. When she flew off the handle, swore like a sailor, and lost all control, his gentle stroke from her shoulders to her fingertips brought her back to her senses. She couldn’t explain the way it instantly calmed her racing heart, steadied her breathing and focused her. Only that it worked. Every. Damn. Time.
She was so lonely and her body craved human contact. With all chemical relaxers completely out of the question since she’d quit her drug addiction cold turkey, the need for touch became her drug of choice. She was allowed two Xanax weekly, and she saved them for those times where she was so overwhelmed she couldn’t think straight. This wasn’t one of them. She needed his comfort more.
She and Lucas had been working on Operation Save Nate for the past few weeks. Every day two steps forward, one and a half steps back. It was maddening. She was never going to conquer her fears in time.
“Take a deep breath.”
Cool night air rushed into her lungs.
“Hold it for one… two… three… exhale.” Long fingers tapped out the count on her shoulder, ending with a tender squeeze.
His gaze held hers as she released the air. “Thank you.”
Her shoulders sagged as she leaned against the car defeated. “Now what?”
Aurora may be named after a fairy tale princess, but she has never believed in happily ever afters—especially since her PTSD won’t let go, and her addiction to prescription pills still taunts her.
Now with only nine weeks to get her shit together and prove herself to Nate, Aurora must find the will to believe in herself so she can stop her true love from making a career ending decision. In order to defeat her darkest fears, she needs help from the only person she trusts with her life—Nate’s younger brother, Lucas.
Through therapy and relapses, Aurora and Lucas become best friends. However, deep and dark emotions bubble to the surface threatening both the friendship and everything she’s worked hard to overcome.
When darkness descends, threatening to take you away forever, do you succumb or fight back with all you’ve got?
That Summer is the expanded portion of Duly Noted readers craved. A story of love and courage. A story of a beautiful friendship between two lost souls. It is the second book in the three-part series.
About the Author
I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. My original stories were handwritten on loose-leaf paper tied together with yarn, complete with its own custom cover courtesy of cut-outs from whatever magazines I had around.
My early love developed into a passion for writing contemporary romance novels. Now, as an adult who has experienced reality (not like my wildly naïve fourteen-year-old self) my characters overcome tough odds, with real (and dark) obstacles. However, the rewards are sweeter.
My heroes who are swoon-worthy and handsome and gentle, who have their own issues. No domineering alpha-males from me – I’ll leave those to many other wonderful authors I know and adore. My heroines are less than perfect with a very select few she’ll call friends. She’s neither popular nor outgoing but deeply loved by those lucky enough to know her.
Right now I am hard at work on the wrap up to Duly Noted & That Summer. I’m also tinkering on a novella which follows after Ask Me Again as I’ve received many emails from readers asking for more from Charlotte and Company.
It’s because of wonderful readers that I continue to write and develop my stories. I absolutely adore it when readers connect with me on twitter (@HM_Shander) because I’m very chatty on there, more so than my Facebook page (hmshander). However, regardless of the way you contact me, I’m sure to respond.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me, for posting your rating and/or review (because it truly helps an indie author like me) and for reading. Thank you to all the readers and bloggers who love my stories and share that with their friends, family and followers.