Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Janna's Second Most Entertaining Books: Julie Lessman

The 2nd Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are
Julie Lessman's two delightful books:
"A Passion Most Pure" & "A Passion Redeemed"

Readers - let me preface this interview by saying that my personal opinion of this book is that it is an absolute classic and we will be reading about the O'Conner family for many years and these are the kind of books that you will save on your shelf and pass on to your daughters and granddaughters. Legacy books this classic do not come along very often - at all... so don't pass up the opportunity to get to know the O'Conners and of course - Julie Lessman...

Julie blew me away with A Passion Most Pure and I really didn't think she could ever top it. I mean A Passion Most Pure was so fresh and new, it is like Little Women for 2008 - an epic saga that through the next books in the series will allow us to follow and continue to fall in love with the O'Connor family. We follow Faith closely in the first one and in A Passion Redeemed we follow her horrible, awful, dreadful sister Charity. Did I mention that she was basically the villianess in the first book? No, well she was though maybe vixen is a better word for it. At any rate I wasn't sure I really wanted to follow Charity and get inside her head. But I went for it and like I always say, there are 2 sides to every story and that holds true here.

I must
be careful because I don't want to give away anything that would spoil it for you, but let me just say that I told Julie I didn't think she could pull one over on me with this book - but she did it again - the ending was fantastic! So come meet Faith and now Charity and I can't wait to join up with the O'Connors again soon and get to know Beth really well too!

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure was her first novel.

1) When I got to read your first book "A Passion Most Pure," I thought for sure I had discovered a new Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott. I was captivated by the writing style, the setting and most of all the characters. In the O'Connor family, is there one character that you really identify with the most?

Probably Faith, and then Charity, but there’s definitely a part of my personality in each of the three sisters in the series. Faith, the sister heroine of A Passion Most Pure, is my spiritual self. Faith has an intimate relationship with God—she talks and prays to Him as naturally as if He is her best friend, but she gets angry with Him too. You might say she (and I) are emotionally engaged with the God of the Universe—we laugh with Him, tear up at His goodness to us, and worship Him with all of our hearts.

Charity, the sister heroine of Book 2, is my rebellious and “passionate” self, before I came to the Lord. I was a wild child of the seventies who, like Charity, mistakenly thought lust was love. Thank heavens that Jesus got a hold of me (as he does Charity in Book 2), to teach me that real love has HIM at the center!

Lizzie (or Beth), the sister heroine of Book 3 is my dreamer self. Lizzie is a bookworm bent on fairytale romance, just like I used to be as a little girl, sneaking downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed. In her story, Lizzie has to learn (just like I did) that true romance, the kind that really satisfies, comes from following God’s precep
ts, not the world’s.

2) In book #1 we get to fall in love with Faith as she struggles seeing her sister dating the man she has always loved. You have been criticized for having a little too much "passion" when it should be all "pure." I personally think it’s some of the more realistic romance I've ever read. But I'm sure a little criticism is nothing to a self-confident writer like yourself, you just let all that slide right off your back, right???

Grin. Uh, no. In fact, when I got my first 1-star review on Amazon that led off with the line, “This is simply a horrible book …”, I cried all the way out of work. This reviewer thought I had crossed the bounds of passion in a Christian novel, and for one, brief, awful moment, I thought I had missed God. But then He showed me that I was writing these novels for women like me – women with a passion for romance AND a passion for God. Yes, I wanted real romantic tension and passion in the books I read, but I also wanted God in the center of it, something I couldn’t seem to find in either the secular market OR the Christian market. So I decided to write my own, taking the romantic tension I so loved in books like Gone With the Wind and lacing it with God’s precepts. My books are not for everyone, but I am hoping they will reach some women trapped in today’s amoral society with the very real message that God is the true author of romance.

3) I believe that in order to really move you a book has to be something that people will really love or hate, it has to bring forth gut-wrenching emotions. You have accomplished that. I loved Faith and really detested her sister (and rival) Charity. I didn't think I would ever like her – you told me I would when I read book #2, A Passion Redeemed. You were right to a certain extent, Faith is still my favorite but now I do at least like Charity. I think part of the reason I didn't like Charity originally is because she reminded me a lot of myself. For that reason alone I loved seeing the redemption that Charity receives. Did that stem out of your own life at all?

Unfortunately, very much so. My father used to call me an “angle shooter,” which is what Charity was – a manipulator bent on getting what she wanted. I never saw myself that way, but the sting of my father’s rebuke branded me nonetheless. Like Charity, my relationship with my father was not good, so you might say I grew up in a very dysfunctional family where I did not feel loved.

My “redemption” into Christ was not as traumatic as Charity’s, to be sure, but it was similar in that I was seeking love through lust. At the age of 23 I was a brand-new Christian who was still intimately involved with my boyfriend. When my spiritual mentor confronted me with my sin, I remember screaming at her in the work cafeteria, saying that “if God thought I was going to give up the only love I have ever had, He was dead wrong.” I basically told her that if God wanted my boyfriend out of my life, let God do it. And, oh my,
He did! My boyfriend dumped me so fast, that I was totally devastated. So much so that a Christian couple had to keep me for the weekend to prevent me from calling or going to see my boyfriend. It was during this dark time that I finally bent my knee to God and allowed Him to heal my life.

4) The O'Connor family has more children, how many of them will we get to follow in books?

There are six O’Connor children in all – four daughters and two sons – and each one will have their own story. Book 1 of the next series will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, which will be fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean (and guess who … Emma, Charity’s scarred friend from book 2!!), and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness … you know, a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables? I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away!

5) Did you ever imagine that your series would be so well received? How amazing is that for you?

Not in a million years. Keep in mind that after I wrote book 1, “A Passion Most Pure,” I had no earthly idea if it was any good or not. I knew I liked it, of course, but I honestly had no clue that anybody else would. My sisters enjoyed it, but they are blood, so I was never really sure how the public would receive it. It still stuns me today when I receive e-mails that use the words “amazing” writer.” Say what??? It pretty much stuns me, even now, which is good because it just underscores something I already know—God is the source and substance of any talent I may have, and I could NEVER do it without Him.

6) I see a lot of reviews of your books where readers say that you have reinvigorated the historical fiction genre for them. And my personal opinion is that they are books that deserve to sit on the same shelf as "Little Women." With that being said, where can readers find you online?

Thank you SO much for your kind words, Janna, and YES, I absolutely LOVE hearing from people who have read my books. I feel as if they are more like friends than readers. Let’s face it, we’re all women (at least mostly … I do have some male readers, which is a hoot!) who love a stirring romance heavily laced with God’s precepts, so for me, hearing from my “friends” seems more like a big, wonderful club of like-minded Christians. That said, I encourage anyone who wants to get in touch with me to do so by sending an e-mail through my Web site at I would LOVE to hear from you!

Thank you again, Janna, for the honor of being on your “list.” I pray a blessed 2009 for you and your family and all the readers of your blog.

Julie has agreed to give away a copy of whichever of the first 2 books the winner requests. So if you don't have the first one you can start there, but if you have that one then you can get the second one. So you know the rules...
1) Leave a comment telling me if a book cover (like the amazing covers Julie has) makes a difference in whether you purchase them or not, along with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Julie and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry


Linda said...

Ooohhh, the 'angle shooter' sounds too familiar. Ouch! Now I need to read the book! Please put my name in the contest.


Linda said...

I left my address, but it is wrong.
It's desertrose5173[at]gmail[dot]com.


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