WELCOME BACK SUSAN MALLERY
With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.
Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.
Connect with Susan at these sites:
Q&A with Susan Mallery
Tell us about your newest novel, Evening Stars.
Essentially, Evening Stars is the story of two sisters who have to learn to let go of others’ expectations in order to claim the life they each want. Nina practically raised Averil because their mom took “flaky” to a whole new level. Nina gave up her dream of going to medical school—breaking up with her first love in the process—so she could put Averil through college. But now Averil’s back home, dissatisfied with her career and her marriage. How can Averil be unhappy, Nina wonders, after everything Nina did for her?
Then Nina’s first love moves home to Blackberry Island, and he wants her back. Suddenly, she has the chance to reclaim the life she thought she wanted all those years ago, but at the same time, she’s being tempted by a much younger fighter pilot who also has his eye on her.
Evening Stars is a sometimes painful, often humorous story of moving past regret and reaching for your dreams. My hope is that readers will finish the book with a happy sigh of satisfaction and a new determination to play an active role in their own lives.
2. What inspired you to begin writing women’s fiction stories, after focusing on your popular contemporary romance novels?
Romances are relationship stories, and so are my women’s fiction novels—they’re simply about different relationships. The relationships between sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives… I consider my women’s fiction novels, such as Evening Stars, to be a natural extension of the books I’ve written for years. And because I think love is essential, romance still plays a big role in each of my women’s fiction books.
3. In Evening Stars, who is your favorite character and why?
The character I identify with most strongly is Nina because I share her sense of responsibility for the people I love. As women, we often put a burden on ourselves to take care of everyone in our lives, whether they want us to or not. We want them to make choices that we think will make them happy, and it’s physically painful to us when they behave in what we perceive as self-destructive ways. The lesson that Nina had to learn—and one with which I still sometimes struggle—is that she can’t make choices for anyone but herself. And ultimately, the choices she makes will determine the life she lives.
4. Tell us a little bit about younger sister Averil.
Averil is a good person who has found herself in the uncomfortable position of living someone else’s dream for her life. She went to school where Nina thought she should go. She lives where Nina thought she should live. She likes her job as a magazine writer but isn’t fulfilled by it. She loves her husband but finds herself lying to him about being ready to try for children. She isn’t happy, but she doesn’t know why, and she doesn’t know what she wants. Averil has to go backward—move home to Blackberry Island—before she can move forward.
5. The bonds of sisterhood and family are strong themes featured in Evening Stars. Do you have any siblings, and in what ways are your own family relationships similar or different to the Wentworth’s?
I’m an only child of only children, so not only do I not have any siblings, I don’t have any cousins. I think this is a big part of the reason why “finding family” is a theme that recurs in many of my books. I’ve created my own family through marriage and by developing close, lifelong friendships. Many of my characters are in similar circumstances, building a family by choice, rather than by birth.
Nina and Averil’s relationship was very interesting to me. They are sisters, yes, but in a very real way, they also have a mother/daughter relationship. They’re only four years apart, but when Nina was twelve and Averil was eight, their mother began to leave them alone for weeks at a time while she traveled. So Nina was the one who was responsible for paying the bills, getting dinner on the table. And Nina is the person against whom Averil feels compelled to rebel. They love each other, but they have to restructure their relationship.
6. Your descriptions of Blackberry Island are beautiful and inviting, both in the book and at www.BlackberryIsland.com. What was your inspiration behind the setting?
I live in Seattle, and there are several picturesque islands in the Puget Sound nearby. Blackberry Island isn’t modeled after any of them specifically, but it certainly was inspired by them. Blackberry Island is within commuting distance of Seattle, but in terms of pace of life, it’s a world away. Most people travel to Blackberry Island via ferry, though there is a bridge to the mainland, as well. The island is dotted with wineries and fields of daisies. Readers who want to learn more about Blackberry Island’s history or see pictures can visit the website.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More “Mom” than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school—and her first love—so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn’t exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina’s life has suddenly become complicated.
Nina unexpectedly finds herself juggling two men—her high school sweetheart and a younger maverick pilot who also wants to claim her heart. But as fun as all this romance is, Nina has real life to deal with. Averil doesn’t seem to want the great guy she’s married to, and doesn’t seem to be making headway writing her first book; their mom is living life just as recklessly as she always has; and Nina’s starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping out of her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever.
But before Nina and Averil can reach for the stars, they have to decide what they want. Will Averil stay? Will Nina leave? And what about the men who claim to love them? Does love heal, or will finding their happy ending mean giving up all they’ve ever wanted?
Read an excerpt
Series: Blackberry Island
Number of Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
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