Interview with Lisa Lickel and Shellie Neumeier.

My guests today are Lisa Lickel and Shellie Neumeier and they are going to talk about their book, A Summer in Oakville.

One Magical Summer in Oakville, Wisconsin,
Love Finds its Way through Four Entwined Lives.
Meet Tessa, Lindsay, Art and Andy.

Tessa Hasmer Murphy has a secret. Estranged from her husband, will she let a past love and a fight to save the family farm destroy her marriage and daughter Lindsay’s happiness?
Lindsay Murphy plans to live on her grandparents’ farm until she can find a job, but developer Brandon Calloway has other plans for the property. As she wages war against him, will she lose her heart and the farm both?
Widower Arthur Hasmer’s life and that of his son, Andy, spiral out of control. Then old friend, Dana London, reenters the picture with the power to help them all back to love, joy and faith.
Andy Hasmer has the ultimate bummer life. No mom, not much of a dad, no future. When he’s sent to the farm and wrecks the truck, nothing could be worse than the lousy job he takes to pay Grampa back—except maybe putting up with the pastor’s daughter, Ella.

Have you ever experience writer’s block?
Shellie: Oh yes. But my husband once said if you can’t think of anything to do with your characters, pull the fire alarm. It forces characters to intermingle as they escape, it creates great opportunities for new conflict to arrive, and it’s just plain fun (great way to stop that first kiss). However, I usually take out the fire alarm scene and focus on the new directions that come from the excitement. I mean how fun would it be if every Neumeier book had a fire alarm scene in it? Then again, it would be fun to see if you could figure out when it would happen.
Lisa: No, but I tell people I get the tantrums fairly often. I just don’t want to write. Once I sit down, though, and get going again, it’s hard to stop. Sometimes I just need to switch locations or get out that pad of paper. Sometimes I go do some mundane thing, like treadmill or mow the lawn and some brilliant thought occurs so I have to go write it down. If that happens when I’m stirring something on the stove, it can get a bit dicey.
 Random Question #1: Light or dark chocolate?
Shellie: Dark. Definitely! Dark chocolate Dove bars, dark chocolate chips in my cookies, and dark Godiva hot chocolate. Considering the budget for a family of six, I usually get the dark chocolate chips in my cookies.
Lisa: Sigh. Milk. Symphony bars. Reeses’. Ghirardelli. I still close my eyes and recall Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco.
 Do you work from an outline, or do the characters dictate the plot (I’m a mix of both)?
Shellie: I’m such a meticulous plotter. I have this multi-layer questionnaire that I fill out first. It sets up the three acts and the resolution of a story. Then I go on to sketch the scenes to make sure they each have a goal, obstacle and a decision that leads to the next goal. Sounds like fun, eh? 😀
Lisa: I’m not quite the plotter Shellie is, but I have an outline and I work on characters first. That was quite the shocker when I got Shellie’s outlines. I tried to fill in my part, but gave up. By then we were pretty much finished with our first drafts anyway.
 Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Shellie: A bit of both. The relationship part, tensions and compassions, are very real. I pulled that from experience, but the financial issues were pulled from research and fiction. I have to say, I loved researching what happens to a home when the taxes aren’t paid. I talked to the sweetest gal at the Washington County tax office. She explained the whole process to me—twice. Even so, Lisa was a great rudder as we navigated the finer details of county and town politics. She’s a fantabulous source of information!
Lisa: Yes, both for me too. We live in a rural community; even then it’s a bit tricky to understand the politics and government structure, which was important to the story line. I’m glad Shellie went to talk to the County people. In the US, our states are divided into counties, which are divided into townships, then differing types of municipalities based mostly on population, but also on the desires of the communities, are within those township boundaries. It can be confusing when you have an incorporated village surrounded by a rural township, which is what happened in our story. You can’t bog the reader down with these details, yet it has to make sense to someone like me and my readers who are my neighbors. I used to cover some of this business for my local newspaper, so I had some experience.
 Do you have any favourite characters?
Shellie: In A Summer in Oakville, there’s one character that I just loved spending time with. Her name is Lindsay and she’s a spitfire. Acts before she thinks; defends before she knows her enemy. So me. She’s also a bit snarky with a wit that can be as sharp as her tongue, so she kept me on my toes. I had to constantly tame her intrusions. Poor Lisa had to help me rein her in more than a couple times. Thanks, Lisa! I think Lindsay gets her spunk from her mom, Tessa. Tessa had her fair share of unequaled outbursts. Those two would be so much fun to watch on a reality TV show. Of course Art and Andy aren’t to be left out of the mix. Art’s soft-hearted compassion brought tears to my eyes and Andy, well Andy is wide-eyed, closed-eared teen. What’s not to love!
Lisa: It was a hoot to play these characters off each other. Sometimes Shellie would throw me a total left hook that made me think a lot more about my character’s motivations and reactions. That was so much fun, even though occasionally we had to back up and take another run at a situation. Those arcs helped define the story in such a unique way. Lindsay’s mom, Tessa, was a lot like me, but I liked her brother, Art. He was often on a different plane and had to keep being reeled in by the people around him. He genuinely cared and loved his family, but often had trouble showing it.
Random Question #3: Tea or coffee?
Shellie: Tea, either peppermint or orange pekoe. Once in a while, I’ll take a coffee, but it has to be so flavored that I can’t tell it contains coffee.
Lisa: Coffee first. Thing. In. the. Morning.

Thanks for letting me interview you both on my blog.

Readers can find A Summer In Oakville here: www.amazon.com

Or here: www.blacklyonpublishing.com

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3 thoughts on “Interview with Lisa Lickel and Shellie Neumeier.

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