Today on the blog, I’m interviewing Lena Rehal, an author of “seasoned” contemporary romance. Lina has many books and essays released, and I’ll post links so you can all go follow her after the interview. I hope you enjoy getting to know Lina as much as I have.
Justine: When we first spoke, you described your stories as “seasoned” contemporary romance? Can you explain what that means to you and why you decided to write in that specific category of the genre?
Lina: Seasoned romance is becoming more popular. It’s defined as stories with heroines/heroes being 30 and up. To me, seasoned means a bit older than that. My characters are usually late forties/early fifties with an older couple in some sort of sub-plot. It’s easier for me to relate to this age group. I like stories with second chances at love. It’s what I like to read and what I like to write about.
Justine: On my blog, we’ve been talking a lot about writing what you know, and I see that you stand by this idea as well. You don’t have to get super personal with this, but which of your books feels like it’s steeped the most in your experiences, whether it’s setting, character, careers, etc.
Lina: I’d have to say LOVING DANIEL. Although Grace Madden isn’t really like me, she is a romance writer. The significance of the yellow roses in the story came from my love of yellow roses. Part of the book is set in Ogunquit, Maine where Aidan takes her for a day. Ogunquit is one of my favorite places. I have tons of pictures from various trips there with my husband. In fact, the cover is a photo I took myself of a spot in Perkins Cove that we like, which also had significance in the story.
I sprinkle a little of the places I know and visit often in all my books. In LASTING IMPRESSIONS, Dylan and Valerie spend a weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire, another one of my favorite vacation spots.
Even in my first romance story, OCTOBER IN NEW YORK, Gwendolyn and Thomas watched fireworks over Boston Harbor from a hotel at the airport. I was able to describe it well, because I’ve done it. I guess my settings reflect the most of my experiences in each of my books. I like bringing people to my favorite places with words.
Justine: You discuss your muse on your website—do you have any writing rituals that help to make your muse cooperate?
Lina: I often write big chunks of a story in my head. By letting a storyline percolate for days or even weeks, it gets my muse ready for action when I sit down to put words to paper. This is when the story seems to write itself. I love it. Some good ideas come to me while I’m driving. I’m not crazy about this, as I can forget it before I get home. Other times, when I’m stuck, I switch to another book I’m working on or story. It gets the process in motion again.
Justine: I see you like to write a lot about nostalgia. Current fiction trends, on TV and in movies especially, seem to be leaning toward nostalgia for the 80’s, while yours goes a little further back in time. What is it about nostalgia that you feel makes it so popular?
Lina: Most people love to reminisce. I think they like looking back and remembering a time when life was simpler for them. I’m a baby-boomer. I grew up in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I don’t think there’s been another era like it.
My first book, CAROUSEL KISSES, is a collection of nostalgic stories and personal essays about the days of lemonade stands, amusement parks, penny arcades, the big silver screen, drive-in movies, corner drugstores with soda fountains, five and ten cent stores and penny candy. The book has been popular, not only with baby boomers, but with people of all ages.
Justine: What led you on the path to becoming a writer?
Lina: My first published piece was in a small yearbook in the 5th grade. I still cherish that book with the faded mimeographed pages. That may be what got me started. That and my love of telling stories.
Justine: What inspires you?
Lina: I love this question. Authors are inspired by so many things. Mostly, our surroundings. We observe people. We eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants, coffee shops, elevators and in line at the movies and the supermarket. Sometimes it can be the least little thing that hits me and I’m itching to turn it into a story. I tell people to be careful what they say when they are having a quiet, intimate dinner or talking on their cell phone in public. Something they say could end up in a book.
Justine: It’s so true! We’re always listening. If you could pick the brain of any writer, which would you choose?
Lina: Nora Roberts. She’s my favorite. Love her romance books. I’ve read most of them.
Justine: Tell us about your most recent release.
Lina: Lasting Impressions is book two of my Tucker’s Landing Series. Dylan Granger is the newest resident in this lovely coastal town. He gets more than he bargained for when he buys an old waterfront estate. The handsome architect’s plans for the property put him at odds with the neighbors. Valerie Fitzgerald, a real estate broker he’s never met, has a personal grudge against him and leads the crusade.
Fate throws them together in an unexpected encounter on White Stone Beach. Dylan hides his identity from her when he realizes who she is and leaves abruptly. When they meet again, his identity becomes apparent. So does their mutual attraction for one another. They later become trapped overnight in his home during a terrible storm. A little candlelight and cognac help get them through a power failure.
It took me about a year to write this one. I put it aside for almost another year. I just wasn’t ready to finalize it. Kept putting it off. I wrote JILLIE & SAM in the meantime. Then, finally, I pulled it back out, made the necessary changes and finished the process to self-publication.
Justine: That sounds really great. Oddly, I’ve just picked up a book I started and couldn’t finish. I’m revisiting it now and I’m excited to finish it, but it took a year to get there.
Now for our quick fire question segment:
Q: Favorite writing instrument?
Q: Plotter or Pantser?
Q: Chocolate, Vanilla, or other?
A: Vanilla spice
Q: Sweet or savory?
Q: Favorite book?
Q: Dream vacation?
Q: Dogs or Cats?
Justine: Thank you so much for joining us today, Lina. If you are interested in following Lina on her writing journey, please follow her at the social media links posted below.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008L5FNPS