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***About The Author***
International bestselling author of the New Adult Novel, This Much Is True and the most recently released second novel in the Truth In Lies series of The Truth About Air & Water.
Katherine Owen writes contemporary edgy fiction, which translates to: she writes love stories that are contemporary in setting and both edgy and dark. Some readers term her books emotional roller coasters. She is not sorry. Owen writes about trust, love, and fate and how relationships are often tested by all of these things in one way or another. Love, loss, starting over. Yes, that about covers it.
Owen is partial to commas, dashes, and plot twists & turns and the ampersand sign. Apparently. With a degree in editorial journalism and English, she is aware of the grammatical rules. She chooses to break them. Sometimes. For her complete take on this, click here.
Connect with her on:
When did you know you wanted to me a writer?
KO: I knew early on I wanted to be a writer. It was a dream of mine (out of reach; it seemed) for a long time. I won a poetry contest at fourteen and majored in editorial journalism in college with a minor in English and took enough psychology classes to major in that too. As it turns out, I went into high tech sales with money and stock options as a draw and did a fair share of public relations and marketing work as well. I had a very successful corporate career in high tech sales and public relations and then seized the dream for writing full-time five years ago. I spent the first three years taking classes with The Writers Studio, (those assignments all wended their way into novels I’ve released) and wrote a few long manuscripts that will never see the light of day. I started out querying traditional publishing for an agent and came close with several after winning the Zola Award for the romance category with Pacific Northwest Writers Association in July of 2010. By then, I decided to self-publish and released my first two books, Seeing Julia and Not To Us in May of 2011.
Did your family always support your writing?
KO: Overall, my family has been very supportive of my career as a writer. I walked away from a lucrative career in high tech sales, so we all miss the money, and I recognize the sacrifice they make for me to enjoy my career as a writer and thank them often. I put all those skills I honed over the years in global account management and sales as well as public relations and marketing to work every day with this career as a writer.
How long does it take to write one book?
KO: It takes me about a year to write a book. The only exception to that process is Not To Us which I wrote start to finish in about six weeks. (That book is unique for several reasons but there are fans of my work who love that one the best. It is the outlier. The exception. From it, I take the encouragement for myself that I can get her done when the deadline fast approaches.) So I know I can go shorter, but the plotting and character development is what takes the most time. There is a ton of thinking that goes into writing a story. I don’t follow a pattern or normal trope for the storyline. All of that takes time to put together in my head. Writing—when it all comes together, and I finally figure out where it needs to go—comes rather easily when the story is complete in my mind but that’s usually about ten months into the book. For example, The Truth About Air & Water was half done in June of this year. It came together by the first part of August. I wrote the ending two days before it went to a few Beta readers; it was that fresh, but I knew I’d finally nailed as I saw the characters arcs so clearly by then. Yay for KO!
How do you deal with writer’s block?
KO: For me, writer’s block has more to do with being stuck with the plotting of the story. This last round I really focused on writing tighter, avoiding too many tangents, staying away from drama and making things more subtle in the subtext. Focusing in on improving my structure with the story did tighten up the writing. I was only blocked when I was unsure as to where to take it. I was stuck for months on the initial plot line that would separate them. MONTHS. But once I put a structure into place; the story came together, for the most part, and I was able to write. Best thing I did for myself was view Dan Well’s seven-point story structure over and over. THIS is what helped me tighten the storyline and stay on a path.
Tell us about your first book.
KO: My debut novel is Seeing Julia, which is about a young widow who is saved from self-destruction by a charming stranger only to discover that her life is not what it appears to be at all. This is my first book where we get an early glimpse of Kimberley Powers. Aha…the place in Malibu in The Truth About Air & Water belongs to Julia Hamilton. See how that works?
Of the books you’ve written, which are you most proud of?
KO: Two books are near and dear to my heart: This Much Is True and When I See You. This Much Is True is my breakout novel where I truly gained an audience (which, of course, invited the snarkiest of readers as well). When I See You is the just-about-guaranteed-to-make-you-cry kind of book in which I took a lot of risks and created two of my deepest characters in Jordan Holloway and Brock Wainwright. Tally is probably a younger version of Jordan on many levels; she just hasn’t quite achieved the experience that 27-year-old Jordan possesses nor reached that level of maturity yet.
Having said all of this, I stand by The Truth About Air & Water and feel like I actually reached the summit of the proverbial mountain called achievement with this book. I can look around and see the view and enjoy the vista from up here. I paid my dues with all the other books I’ve written, and I improved in the writing of this one. There are so many subtleties to this storyline. I encourage readers to read it again to pick up on all of them.
What are the pros and cons of being a writer, a selling author?
Pros: If you’re truly a writer, you cannot not write. It’s a calling. It’s not logical. It just is.
Cons: It’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done from the standpoint that you spend a lot of time with yourself and play host to self-doubt to say nothing of the critics of your work when you put it out into the world. You have to overcome all of that that plagues you all of the time it seems.
Cons: Some of the best writers of our time you will never read because it isn’t about writing the best work; it’s about who gets the visibility. In the traditional publishing arena, this is who curries favor and who they believe will be a best seller—commercial grade—if you will.
In the self-publishing arena, it is still all about visibility and who curries favor and who is commercial enough to make those top bloggers and top online retailer sites some cash. I’ll leave it at that.
THAT has been an eye-opener for me. To the point that I do want to give it all up some days because I can land a six-figure job tomorrow and deal with the machinations that exist in high tech sales a whole lot easier.
But alas, I love the writing too much and I intend to navigate the waters of publishing even if it is rough and unsavory and downright disappointing at times.
Still glad you asked? Hope so. I wrote a lot more on this question but decided to just say this much.
What is your favorite genre? Who are your favorite authors?
KO: I read a variety of genres. I am a huge fan of Gillian Flynn, Tarryn Fisher, Katja Millay, Tess Callahan, and Jennifer Egan. The writing techniques of all of these writers influences what I do with my own work and the things I picked up in the classes at The Writers Studio adds to my repertoire.
Tell us about The Truth About Air &Water. What inspired this story?
KO: The idea of Tally came to me about three years ago during a writing assignment for one of The Writers Studio classes I took. In that assignment, she was an artist—promiscuous, bent on self-destruction—when she comes across a guy, who has everything going for him. Linc didn’t change too much from the initial beginnings, but obviously Tally did. I wanted to write about two characters that had been dealt their fair share of tragedy and show how it shaped their psyches and influenced what they did and ultimately what they wanted out of life. I don’t think of these two as being co-dependent. I see them more as being whole and complete with the other. Enhanced. In reality, these two would be perfectly fine conducting entirely separate lives on their own—away from each other—because they put their all into their chosen careers of perfection. Tally with ballet. Linc with baseball. However, I hope what readers come away with is realizing that ballet and baseball are just a means to an end, part of the fulfillment, but the true dream they long for is being loved for who they are, despite being famous for ballet and baseball.
What kind of books do you write? What is your style?
I’m a writer of dark, angsty love stuff. (Angsty is not a word; c’est la vie.) If you’re going to read my work, you need to prepare properly with tissues, perhaps some wine nearby, Advil or something stronger and don’t start my work late at night because there is a point where you will not be able to stop reading.
Did you plan from the start to write a series? You state that these can be read as standalones, can you explain?
KO: No. I never intended to write a series with This Much Is True. I’m not a fan of series. How many series have you read where the books get better and better? They usually don’t. I read The Bronze Horseman and fell in love. I read The Winter Garden and stayed in love, but have yet to finish the series with that one because I just don’t see how she can top the first book. Series are tough, tough, tough. Readers demand more, but it is REALLY hard to make them happy. So, ultimately, as my husband recently counseled, you have to do it for yourself. Ask the question: what do you want to do next, KO? That’s where I am. Guess what that means?
I wrote This Much Is True long. I knew it was long. My one and only beta reader hated Tally. I had to pull myself out of a dark abyss and believe in the book enough to put it out there all by myself and take the heat for making it one long-ass book. I took inspiration from Paulina Simons for that. F*ck it, if you can’t handle the long book. I abhor cliff hangers and I just couldn’t figure out where to cut it that wouldn’t leave readers hanging. I wrote it, released it, and felt like it was done. Received high marks and lots of four and five stars and after a long-ass while, I dealt with the one-star drive by reviews quite admirably.
A writer friend told me that everyone was doing series, and that I should think about it. The drumbeat for more of Linc and Tally was quite evident in many of the glowing reviews I received, so I spent some time on a plausible storyline and began the arduous task of writing The Truth About Air & Water and attempting to top the accolades for This Much Is True. The pressure for doing so was intense. It never let up for me personally until late July when I finally felt like I had nailed the second storyline and saw the character arcs for myself in The Truth About Air & Water. Then, my Beta readers came back after reading it with nothing but raves for the book and I suddenly felt like I achieved the virtually impossible—I topped the first book.
As an author, you seem to be unafraid of taking risks, is it difficult to write these stories? What do your readers say?
KO: Yes, I do take risks with my storylines and don’t shy away from writing about heavy issues in my work. My character Tally Landon in This Much Is True and The Truth About Air & Water is a complex one. She makes decisions that a lot of us could or would never make. Here’s the thing though I love Tally. She is so different from me and probably you as readers. She does things at seventeen that I would never have done. She is deep and flawed and perfect and real. I f*cking love this character. She considers herself the bad twin. The good twin in Holly is a constant presence in Tally’s life because being good—like Holly was—remains her ultimate goal. In The Truth About Air & Water, book 2, pay particular attention to the dialog exchange between Sam Wilde and Tally Landon in chapters nineteen through twenty. There is SO MUCH revealed about Tally and how she sees and views herself in life in these key scenes. I’ll go so far to say that not all of this is resolved by the end of The Truth About Air & Water. Perhaps, we ARE just getting started.
I am not afraid of tough storylines. My goal in the last few novels has been to kill less people and strive for a different resolution than offing them. I took some heat for things that transpired in my third novel, When I See You. Now, I stand by that book as well as Not To Us, but I did challenge myself to come up with plot lines that don’t always lead to the elimination of characters. I’ve grown as a writer in this way, and I’ve mostly succeeded with that. (But sometimes people have to go. Just sayin’.)
Bad stuff happens every day in real life. My growing fan base seems to appreciate that I take on realistic bad stuff and deal with it directly. I don’t just throw stuff in for the sake of extra drama. I think it through and decide if it works or not. I tried to make The Truth About Air & Water better—focused and tighter—on the issue at hand. There is a TON of stuff (300 pages worth) I left out. As I said before, Sam Wilde gave me a hard time for more than half the novel. I really really liked him. He was a distraction for me and for Tally. Linc demanded equal time. I had to sort that sh*t out. And I did. But it took some effort let me tell you.
Then there is Linc. He’s spent the majority of his life making up to his dad for the loss of both his older brother Elliott, who was perfect, and his movie star mother for Davis. Linc has a lot to live up to, and Davis Presley expects this of his son. This becomes even more apparent in The Truth About Air & Water. Davis, Linc’s dad, has built his entire existence of what is left of his life around Linc making it to the major leagues in baseball, and he has seen Tally as a threat to this goal since day one. Baseball is all there is. For both of Linc and Davis. (Until Linc meets Tally.) Davis Presley’s life force in Linc’s life is one to be reckoned with. Tally is just beginning to figure this out in This Much Is True. It dominates in book 2. Dominates.
As to the essential part of your question: Is it hard to write and address these tough issues. What do readers say?
KO: I’ve spent enough time on the first part of your observation that, in short; “no it’s not difficult to write a story dealing with heavy issues.” I must have a knack for that or something.
As to the second question? I don’t really go in worrying about the feedback from readers because I seemed to have garnered a growing fan base of readers who “get” me and in turn “get” my work. They already KNOW I color outside of the lines. I’ve had bloggers, who read nothing but smut, praise my work. They’re practically suffocating because of the lack of sex scenes in my work, but they keep reading because they are still avid fans of mine and they have a fervent need to know what happens next. Most readers seem to know I write the dark, angsty love stuff. I’ve adopted that tag line just to keep them aware. I don’t write light fluff. I don’t rely on endless sex scenes to fill out a novel. Instead, I focus on deep, complex characters and twists and turns in storylines that most readers are challenged to figure out and seem to love.
So. Are you a baseball fan or not?
KO: I’ve learned more about baseball than I ever thought I would. I needed a sport that had a long season and baseball fit that bill. I’m a football fan more than a baseball fan. I did extensive research on what happens in this second storyline. I’m pretty confident with everything I did here. I am a huge fan of Lincoln Presley. Let’s be clear.
Is The Truth About Air & Water the last time we will see Linc and Tally? It seems like there is room for more story, is there?
KO: The book just came out in late August but there has already been a new drumbeat from readers for more of these two. So. I recently announced to my readers that I’ve done some thinking around this and have come up with a workable storyline. Yes, there will be a third book for Linc and Tally some time in 2015. I don’t write fluff, and I’ve put these two through their paces quite enough already but there are some secondary characters around who can make life difficult for these two, and I’ve come up with a plausible storyline and have an idea where I want to take it. But alas, I don’t talk about my work-in-progress much more than that.
Who should read your books? What kind of reader?
KO: Readers who enjoy reading more of a dark romance with complex characters and appreciate twisty plot lines will enjoy my novels. I don’t write predictable storylines, and I don’t write to recipe. If you’re looking for light and fluffy, move along, my stuff is neither of those things. If you’re looking for sex scenes through the latter half of the book, you’ll be disappointed because although I like sex, I don’t think it should take up half the storyline. If you have an appreciation for a little literary flair and don’t mind the propensity for the f-word every so often or stories that will make you cry, read my work.
What are your future book plans? What’s in the works?
KO: There is going to be more of Linc and Tally in a third book. Yes, I have committed to fans for a third book (yet to be named) in the Truth In Lies Series. Caution: I’m not a fast writer (or, is that fast thinker?) so it will be a little while. Look for the third book some time in 2015.
I don’t do novellas. I don’t do serials. I have a WIP called Saving Valentines that I really need to get back to and two unnamed WIPs from my writing classes with The Writers Studios that both hold exciting promise. Writing. I am always writing or thinking about writing.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
For me, the best thing about being an author is that I’m doing something I love and am passionate about. I actually believe—as cliché and simple as that sounds—it’s the secret sauce to a happier life. It’s not easy, don’t misunderstand. Being a writer at eight is a lot easier than being a writer as an adult. As soon as you let the doubts and the naysayers past the front gate of your mind, they all take turns, and it gets complex and incredibly hard most of the time to write. You are your own worst critic, but those one-star reviews stay right there with you. It doesn’t matter how many five stars you get, if you let comparison have its way with you, there is always somebody who writes better, sells better, and reaps more rewards than you do. Still? Writing is truly living to me. And I feel lucky every day that I can do it.
What the 2nd best thing you like to do aside writing?
I like to cook about twice a year, and my family is forever grateful for those two days which are mostly likely the 4th of July and Thanksgiving and perhaps Christmas Eve dinner. Boom. I’m good on those two or three days, and I really do make a fantastic meal or two.
What’s the best advice you would give to young, inexperienced authors?
If you truly love writing, in other words, you have the need to write, read a lot and write even more. Study books you love. Study books you didn’t. Embrace what works for your own style. I write in a first-person, present tense not as a gimmick, but because I am actually good at it. I find the third-person, past tense a lot harder to write. Study all of those. Master them. Go with what works for you and listen to your inner critic about what is working and what is not and just keep writing and reading.
Name one book you wish you had written and why.
I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife. Audrey Niffenegger broke a lot of rules in that book. Jumping time. Handling multiple POVs so well. TTTW was fantasy mixed with romance mixed with literary. It’s a masterpiece; and I love it. I can only wish to write that well someday. I would also liked to have written Gone Girl for the same reasons listed above.
Who is the most favorite character you’ve written about and why?
Tally Landon has to be the most complex character I’ve written. After two books, I’m not sure that me as the writer or readers completely get where she is coming from and why she is the way she is. It’s not just Holly’s death that affected her, there is more back history that probably needs to be explored. So, yes, Tally is the most complex. Runner-up would have to be Jordan Holloway from When I See You. In some ways, Jordan’s just a more mature version of Tally Landon. Huh. Interesting.
Do you have more fun writing villains or more “morally acceptable” characters?
I have way too much fun writing villains. I wish I had more of a villain in The Truth About Air & Water but bringing back Nika Vostrikova for round two seemed too easy, so I went in a different direction. By far, my most memorable and fun-to-write villain was Savannah Bennett in Seeing Julia. Boom. SHE was fun to write. My sister read a draft and said she was too mean even for fiction, but I held to the notion that any woman can get like that when threatened so I kept her as mean as originally written. Another great choice for fun was writing Carrie in Not To Us. The taker best friend. Carrie impossible to love but man she ran a good game on our heroine, Ellie.
Favorite book villain you love to hate?
I don’t hate any of the villains I write about. They prove necessary to the plot, but also I don’t think anyone is intrinsically bad on purpose. I think circumstances and/or people make them that way.
Favorite movie, actor and actress?
I am a big fan of George Clooney because to me he is the entire package of wow. He is handsome and charming and seems like he’d be fun just to spend time with. I love George in anything, but especially loved him in Michael Clayton and Three Kings and all the Ocean movies and still miss him after he left ER.
I’m an intrigued fan of Angelina Jolie. I loved her character in Salt and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, of course. She is beautiful and seems like a very deep thinker.
I also love Jennifer Lawrence after seeing her in Silver Linings Playbook which I think was one of her finest roles. I’m a huge Meryl Streep fan in anything and the same applies to Diane Keaton. And last but not least, Anne Hathaway after seeing her amazing role as Maggie in Love and Other Drugs and One Day although I HATED that ending.
Favorite movies: Love and Other Drugs, The Vow, Silver Linings Playbook, Something’s Gotta Give and The Family Stone.
Favorite music/ song you won’t ever get tired of hearing?
Anything John Mayer sings is fine with me. Free Fallin’ and Your Body Is A Wonderland are all-time favorites.
Name three hot hunks you would take on a deserted island.
Henry Cavill, George Clooney, Brad Pitt
The most annoying celebrity of nowadays?
Guilty pleasure/s ?
Coffee, wine, vodka.
– ABOUT THE TRUTH IN LIES:
Who is your favorite secondary character from this series and why?
From This Much Is True, that would be Nika Vostrikova. We don’t understand this Russian girl and what motivates her. Well, we can guess. But there’s a lot of back history to Nika that makes her the way she is and we haven’t yet discovered all of that. Hmm…just writing that gives me an idea. Yay!
From The Truth About Air & Water, it would have to be Sam Wilde. Literally, this guy gave me a hard time half the time when I was writing this second storyline because he was distracting me and Tally! There’s also a back history to him that needs to be explored. Hmm…again.
One of the pivotal secondary characters is Linc’s publicist, Kimberley Powers. She is one smart, strong, calculating and at times ruthless woman. It was questionable at times if she is more of a villain or one of the good guys, another fact that makes her one of the most intriguing characters in the books. Is there a chance that maybe we could get a book with her as MC in the future too?
KO: It’s most unlikely Kimberley will get her own storyline. She appears in several of my books: Seeing Julia, Not To Us, This Much Is True, and The Truth about Air & Water where she actually played a major role like she did in Seeing Julia. Her public relations gig and image protection/consideration makes her an intriguing character to write and she helps out so much with plot lines. You do know that I did public relations for several years, right? Interesting. I’m glad you like Kimberley.
Who is the character you loved to hate and why?
KO: I don’t really hate any of my characters. I will say there is a lot more to Davis Presley than we know (that Tally and even Linc knows) so there might be more story there as well.
Which character was hardest to write about and why?
KO: Sam Wilde was hardest to write in the sense that he kept trying to take over the story line and Tally. I had to rein him in a couple of times. I REALLY liked him and I had to center myself on Lincoln Presley and maintain my focus.
Without spoiling anything, can you tell us which was the hardest scene and which was the most fun scene from this series to write about?
KO: The hardest scene to get just right which can also apply to just writing it was the scene with Davis Presley and Kimberley in meeting with Tally. There was a fine line between making Tally the victim and making Tally stand up for herself and even retreating which, on the surface, would be so unlike her. That scene was tough to write. I had to make it believable. A few readers don’t believe it which tells me they aren’t reading carefully enough because it’s right there why she makes the choice she makes in all her inner dialog. Truly? All her baggage weighs her down. I’ll leave it at that.
Can you list your favorite quotes from This Much Is True and The Truth About Air & Water?
“You’re breaking my heart, Miss Cloves and Vanilla.”
“Yes,” she says without smiling and gets this haunted look. “As I said, that’s part of the plan.” She turns away from me again and looks out the dark window but after a few minutes she reaches up with the back of her hand and wipes at her eyes.”
― Katherine Owen, The Truth About Air & Water
“Her agitation returns. She paces the room, kind of strutting the length between the living room and adjoining dining room. It’s sexy as hell. And all I can do is watch her move. I can no longer concentrate on anything else because I’m instantly captivated by her. Caught up in her presence. She moves through space as if she owns the atoms themselves, and they split upon her command. She is fusion. Nuclear. Cold.
Yet, she is so graceful and purposeful it makes me want to follow her wherever she goes. It’s not just a mental thing it’s more like a mind meld. I get her. I think she knows I get her, but I would bet that neither one of us can explain the why.
And then there’s the physical attraction. That’s a given. But there’s so much more to it than that. It’s everything about her from the melodic sound her voice makes that seems to have worked its way into my brain like the lyrics to a song. It’s the way her eyes metamorphose into different shades of green depending solely upon her mood in that given moment and being lucky enough to be the one who lives to see it.
She is living color, and I’ve been in a black-and-white world for far too long without her.
Powerful stuff. It surrounds me. I’ve felt it since I first arrived. The forcefield of her. The magnetism of her. The power she wields over me. I’m alive again because of her, like a dying plant that finally gets some water. I’ve got it bad for this girl.
The light comes through the darkness and shines on me.
She’s my water.”
― Katherine Owen, The Truth About Air & Water
“This kid makes you believe in magic. She tells me in great detail all about the movie Frozen. “You should be Kristoff because he’s the guy, but how does that work?” She laughs. “Because he likes Ana. And Mommy is the queen, and so you’ll be the king, but neither of you will die,” Cara says thoughtfully. “Okay, Daddy?”
“Okay. I’ll be the king, and Mommy will be queen and neither of us will die.” I look up at Tally but she’s turned away from me.”
― Katherine Owen, The Truth About Air & Water
“His head is bleeding again. It takes all my willpower not to reach up and help him out when he starts swiping at it with a baby wipe. But then he’s picking me up and putting me over his right shoulder taking me completely by surprise.
“Put me down.”
“I know that’s not in the plan,” he says gravely. “You’ve got to stick to the plan, Tally. We’re on number nine then. Prepare yourself. You’ve got to keep it together until you finish what you’ve started. That’s how a plan works.”
He’s not smiling when I get a glimpse of his face, not at all.”
― Katherine Owen, The Truth About Air & Water
“Yet she lays out this family plan the way you’d say, “After yoga, I’ll go to Lia’s for the mani-special and then wax on about hairstyles and hemlines until dinner.”
If I were gifted at making long-term plans, which by now we all know I’m not, and if I was at all hopeful, which we all know that I can never be, although it crosses my mind that it’s entirely possible these are all just huge, f*&king, temporary setbacks and nothing more, even though it’s been going on for over three years now, since Holly died, and I met Lincoln Presley. Events that could be construed as somehow inevitably related. Yes, perhaps there’s an expiration date on the said pursuit of unhappiness. Perhaps, things will eventually go my way after I actually discover what that way is supposed to be.”
― Katherine Owen, This Much is True
All my favorite quotes from my books are listed at Goodreads.
Can you elaborate on a particular scene in This Much Is True, book 1, which may shock a few readers? What inspired that scene and why was it important for the plot?
KO: This is in reference to a scene in This Much Is True. I won’t spoil it for readers who haven’t read book 1, but I think you have to come at this from the perspective of where Tally was—resigned to her fate at the time. She wants things to work out with Linc but now there are so many lies between them and the biggest one of all remains; and Rob knew all of Tally’s lies, most of them anyway. Yet, Rob was there, loving her in his own twisted way and maybe in Tally’s mind that all she had, all she deserved. This wasn’t about Holly at this point. This was about Tally being the survivor and basically accepting her fate. Circumstances had them at the cemetery—the one place she goes to be with her sister—and the one place Rob knows to go and find her (and Holly on some weird-ass level). Yeah. I really didn’t get too caught up in where they were but the fact that they were together should lead to readers understanding the why of it all. She’s lost. He’s the one who showed up to find her (and maybe himself.) Rob’s deep; I’m not sure readers pick up on that. Perhaps there is more story there, too. Huh…
NOW. If you go to The Truth About Air & Water and reread what Tally says to Sam in chapters eighteen, nineteen and twenty, I think it becomes even clearer how this girl sees herself and where she fits into the world even some time later. Or doesn’t.
What would be your perfect casting for this series?
KO: There are some looks to Megan Fox that are good reminders of Tally. Both her eyes and her dark hair could easily be Tally’s. But casting Tally? That’s a tough one.
As for Linc? Hmm…Lionel Clerc (male model) is fresh in my mind and there is much inspiration on my Pinterest page here as well as an avid fan of mine on Jamie Stokes’ Pinterest page. Check them out for inspiration and who you would cast.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with us today.
KO: Thank you for hosting me here and for considering my Truth In Lies series and other books I’ve written. I appreciate that so much.
EXCERPTS from the Truth In Lies series
From This Much Is True, book 1 – Chapter 2 – Linc
“There was this girl. She would have been brought in a few hours ago? She was in a car accident with her sister. Her sister…she didn’t…make it.”
I swallow hard as I’m all too familiar with how to damp down this kind of painful loss for myself, even though empathy attempts to wrestle with me now. I’m still shaken by what transpired on the 101 just three hours ago. It was horrific for everyone there but especially for the girl I swooped up in my arms and ran away with from the inferno. The image of her beautiful devastated face and haunting emerald green eyes stay with me.
The woman behind the information desk has this long mane of silver hair that’s gathered up in this huge gold clip and neatly pulled back from her surprisingly unlined face. I notice the fashionable style because my mom used to wear her hair that way, whenever my mom had a big interview with one of the entertainment shows or a big spread with Harper’s or Vogue. Cara Sanderson Presley said it made her feel young and fresh and put together. This woman looks like the same kind of regal queen as my mother as she sits there behind this huge computer monitor that makes it difficult to fully see her. This lady stares at me with her mouth half-open, as if she’s trying to place me but isn’t quite sure yet.
For my part, I pull my baseball cap forward because the last thing I need is someone to recognize me, although that might help with the situation. Seconds later, I decide to take off my cap and hold it in my hands and give her my best I-need-your-help look, complete with a charming smile. “There’s this girl. She has raven-black hair; well, it’s more the color of dark ground espresso, I guess. It’s long? She was in a car accident about three hours ago. And I was just wondering…”
“We can’t give out information about our patients, young man. And aren’t you that baseball player? The one the major leagues are clamoring to sign? Baseball pitcher. What’s your name? A President’s name. Something Presley. I remember it because I remember it was Elvis’s last name. The singer? Surely you know his songs. Young people these days not remembering Elvis Presley is just a crime. We watch American Idol sometimes, and I keep hoping one year they’ll feature his songs because if you really want to know who could sing and dance—well, it had to be Elvis Presley. Well, it’s a good way to remember your last name in any case. I’m sure you get that all the time.”
“All the time.”
“My husband would be thrilled at meeting you. I am, too, of course, but…well, I’m not much for baseball anymore.” She sighs. “We used to go all the time, but now it’s just so darned expensive. Our son will splurge for tickets every once in a while, and he takes Dickie—that’s my husband Richard, actually; but everyone’s called him Dickie since…well, since we met in the eleventh grade fifty years ago.” Her cheeks are flushed, and even her scalp that peaks through her thinning silver hair is tinged a faint pink.
I swoop in when she gives me a chance to speak. “My name is Lincoln Presley. Yes, I’m actually playing on the Stanford Cardinal baseball team again this year. First game next week. Now it’s practice pretty much all the time.”
“Oh. Well, good luck—although I personally think you should stay in school.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll finish up at Stanford this June. And the sports reporters are covering the stuff with major-league baseball’s interest in me. I can’t really comment about that. My publicist would have my head if I did.” Kimberley would be so proud. I actually try to smile. “My dad’s Davis Presley. He played for the Giants. Maybe your husband remembers him.”
“Oh, my goodness, yes. Your father is Davis Presley? Then your mom was Cara Sanderson? I remember when she up and married Davis Presley. I loved her films. I’m so sorry she died.”
She makes this sympathetic clucking sound while I hold my breath and strive for composure by hanging my head to hide my face before it betrays all these emotions that I don’t usually give into when people mention my mom.
“I don’t…I don’t talk about my mom. I’m sorry.”
There’s this awkward silence. She folds her hands into her lap and mumbles an apology and manages to look disappointed at the same time. In me?
I’m a little taken aback that even this woman demands I talk about my mother. I have to tell myself to forget it, even though I feel bad for a brief moment like I always do. I let the moment pass because, even though it’s been eight years, I still hold on tight to the notion that I don’t talk about my mom or my brother Elliott to anyone, least of all a stranger. My feelings about their loss are mine, and I don’t tell anyone how I feel about that. I sigh deeply and start again. “I’m looking for this girl. There was this girl. She was in a car accident, and I was just wondering if you had any way of looking up her information. I’d like to know if she’s okay. Her sister…” My voice shakes. The woman’s blue eyes alight on mine. She looks sympathetic again. “Her sister didn’t make it. I didn’t get her name.”
“Mr. Presley, I’d like to help you—I really would—but I can’t give out information about the patients.”
“What’s the information desk for, then?” I ask gently and flash her one of my most charming smiles as a last-ditch effort to disarm her enough to help me anyway.
“Oh, you know.” She gets this little smile. “We tell people how to find their way around. And when people know the patient’s name, we look up the room number for them and direct them from there. That kind of thing. I’m just a volunteer three days a week. It helps pass the time.”
“I’m sure it does.” I sigh again and fidget with the baseball cap in my hand.
The woman eyes me closer. “Were you there at the accident? It sounds like it was awful. It’s all over the news, and that girl—the other twin—she was too young to die such a horrible death. How sad. I just feel so sorry for the family. He’s one of the best…here.” Her eyes get teary. “But there was just nothing he could do. It was too late for his daughter.” She studies me for a few long seconds, clearly aware of the small tidbit of information she’s just given to me. “You really need to get the blood of out your clothes before it completely dries; otherwise, it will never come out. She’s not going to want to see you like this. You’ll scare her and remind her of the terrible tragedy she’s just been through. Poor girl.”
“I don’t think I’ll be wearing these again.”
“Why don’t you sign for a nice bouquet of flowers with the gift shop? I can make sure they get delivered. I can’t give you the room number, but I can deliver it after you leave.”
This seems the best I’ll be able to do. Charm isn’t working today, and my inexplicable quest for pursuing this whole thing begins to weigh upon me. There’s nothing I could have done. I did all I could, and clearly it wasn’t nearly enough. I push off the counter and head toward the gift shop. Within minutes, I pick out white roses and baby’s breath, and a nice little blue and white vase that I think my mother would have liked. I add a small teddy bear to my purchase as an afterthought once I reach the counter. I manage to spend a little over $120 on a girl whose name I don’t know and probably never will in less than ten minutes. And it still feels like it’s not nearly enough. But I have to do something. I lay out my Visa card, and the cashier runs it through with a slightly dazed smile.
Ten minutes later, I’m placing a nice little cardboard box containing the vase of flowers complete with a white ribbon tied around it—because pink seemed inappropriate, and red seemed too morbid—and the little teddy bear tucked in next to it back on Mrs. Trinity’s desk. Times ahead were going to be rough for this girl, and giving her some flowers is the least I can do.
Mrs. Trinity beams at me. Women really do like it when you do exactly what they’ve told you to do. It never ceases to amaze me even under these surreal circumstances.
I can’t even explain why I’m here. Why I felt compelled to check three hospitals in the general vicinity of San Francisco and basically got the same answers from the same kind of helpful women at each information desk I went to. This is the first one who suggested the flowers, so I know I am, at least, in the right place this time.
I flash her a little smile and give her a slight wave, and she nods with approval at my gifts. “She’ll be better tomorrow. Tonight, she’s just resting. Tomorrow, she’ll wake up and wonder where her sister is for a few minutes before she remembers.” The woman’s lips tremble as she says this. “It’s very kind of you to do this. I must say, I’m impressed. Now, if you just stay in school, Mr. Presley, and finish up at Stanford before you chase the money and that huge contract for baseball, you’ll really make me and your wonderful mother in Heaven both proud.”
Audacious. My smile falters a little because she’s mentioned my mom again and Heaven in the same sentence.
She waves her index finger at me. “Get those clothes washed. I’ll be here again tomorrow. Look for me then, and maybe she’ll be well enough to ask me about the flowers and who sent them, and I’ll tell her. Oh, you need to sign the card.”
She slides the little white card that the cashier placed in with the flowers over to me. Thinking of You is printed in black script across the top of the card. I’m not sure it’s the best thing to say, but it’s better than the other card choice that said With Sympathy.
I hate those cards.
Thinking of you. This much is true,
For some reason, the anonymity with the name Elvis seems appropriate. She probably won’t even remember that she called me by that name at the accident. I can’t be here tomorrow. I won’t be here tomorrow. I’ll be on my way to L.A. to see my dad. I don’t volunteer this bit of news to Mrs. Trinity because, for some reason, providing her with that easy excuse and garnering her general disapproval is too much. Truthfully, the idea of seeing the girl from the accident again scares the hell out of me because there was something about her that captivated me at a soul level. Somehow, I think this woman would pick up on that. The truth is this: I can’t afford any kind of distraction, not even for the beautiful broken girl with the amazing green eyes and long dark hair lying in a bed somewhere in this hospital.
My one and only focus is baseball. That’s the way it’s been for almost ten years, and every call from my dad about the upcoming season and major league baseball’s June draft serve as constant reminders of that singular focus and commitment to this one and only thing allowed in my life—baseball.
From The Truth About Air & Water, book 2 – Chapter 2 – Tally
“She’s got the story,” I say to Linc hours later as we lie next to each other taking up only half of the king-sized bed because our bodies remain intertwined at an all but intimate level. The money shot photograph session took twice as long as the interview. After another three hours, we finally told Candy we had to go. I had to pick up Cara from preschool and Linc had a late practice.
We left Candy and her photographer while they were still packing up their gear. By this time, the reporter had given up on asking us any more questions. She had the money shot. She had the story. We weren’t going to like it. The unsettled feeling nagged at me, but Linc didn’t seem to care. “She’s got the story.” Apparently, my fears need repeating.
“So?” He asks with a laugh. “Come here.” He pulls me closer and trails his hands down between my legs knowing full well this is my ultimate weakness for him. I cannot not respond. His touch right there gets me to do just about anything for him. I moan. He laughs again as he starts to make his move.
We put Cara to bed fifteen minutes ago and left the bedroom door slightly ajar so we can hear her but closed enough so she doesn’t hear us. Usually, we wait the agreed-upon half-hour before commencing with doing the deed as I still like to call it, but she was extra tired because I let her stay up late to watch Entangled. I’m not sure she understands the story line completely. I’m not sure I do either but she loves Rapunzel’s long hair. We watched it together while we waited for Linc’s return from practice. Cara played with my hair for most of the movie and kept running her little fingers through it over and over, while I filled out endless wedding invitations, imploring the ninety-five percent of strangers I do not know to come witness our nuptials in the middle of October.
“The article won’t run for weeks. Don’t worry about it. By the time it does, the season will probably be over. We’ll be married. Settled. Nobody is going to care about how we met or what happened in Moscow. They’ll be staring at your photograph, the Dirty Dancing one, and be thinking how did that guy get so lucky and get a girl like her? All those Sports Illustrated fans wishing they were me and holding you up in the air just like Baby.”
“Even the girls?”
He laughs. “Even the girls. When are you going to start believing we’re the two luckiest people in the world?” I turn into him then and stroke his face and search his eyes for solace and truth but I don’t answer. “When are you going to let go and let this happen and believe in it? In me? In us?” Linc asks again.
I trace his lips and kiss him. Lightly. Just a trace.
In the next, he smothers my face with kisses of his own and eventually pulls me up beneath him. “Come on, Tally. Let it go. Let it all go. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Don’t put a time clock on this. Don’t walk down the aisle toward me, less than a month from now, still not believing that this isn’t real or this won’t last because it will. I’m here. You’re here. So. Believe it. In me. In us. Now.” He pulls away from me and studies my face. Guilt arrives right on time. I wince along with it.“What is it? What aren’t you telling me? Because with that face? It is definitely something.”
“Dr. Eldon scheduled an ultrasound. I just…she’s optimistic and I just hope that we can find a way to have another child. I want to give you a son because you’ve given so much to me. And I want you to be happy. With me.”
“I am happy with you. I love you because you’re my life. You’re my water. Don’t forget that. I couldn’t survive without you.” He plays with a strand of my hair and lets it slip through his fingers. “And I’m your air.” He sighs a little. “I love you just as you are whether we have more kids or not. That’s why we’re going to make it. But you have to stop believing that something bad is going to happen. You have to believe in us as much as I do. We’re going to have this great life together. We already do. I love you. You love me. And believe me; love is enough. Our love is enough.”
I hold my breath and gaze at him for a long while. The commitment and compassion I see in the depths of his eyes begins to steady me. All the doubt, and even the guilt, begin to fade away. Like a protective shield, his love encircles me from all around.
Then when he pulls me into his arm and looks at me as if I’m the only one that counts, just before he kisses me, it is reassuring in the only way that matters.
Lincoln Presley, baseball star, is one of a kind.
And, he’s mine.
It’s a miracle really.
What an unbelievable stroke of luck at having him in my life and loving me back. I kiss him and let go of all my deep-rooted fears: falling, failing, even losing. I actually feel them disappear as if a strange wind has come by and blown them away.
I take in air—his air—that allows me to live and breathe.
“Okay,” I eventually say.
Then, I grab his hand and lightly kiss the inside of his wrist, and then trail my lips along his broad chest. He leans back against the pillows with a knowing look pulling me along with him, but cedes all control to me. I start to smile, but then another errant thought crashes in on me and threatens to undo all of these joyous declarations.