Lisa Kleypas’ Rainshadow Road: An Interview and a Giveaway!

Book Cover Lisa Kleypas' Rainshadow Road comes out in February, and her publisher has offered 10 finished copies to give away. Whoo! And not only do we have books to give away, but Lisa Kleypas was kind enough to answer several inane questions from me via email. Hooray – bonus interview!

Rainshadow Road has magical realism while Friday Harbor did not. Why add it to this novel? Did you plan to go this way all along with the series? 

Well,  when I first visited Friday Harbor with Greg and the kids a couple of years ago,  I really felt a sense of “otherness” or magic in the air. It's a misty Brigadoon-type place–but you're probably too young for that reference,  unless you're a show tune queen like me. San Juan Island is unique place–a mixture of steep hills and bluffs, forests, rolling farmland, sandy beaches,  and all of it is protected by the Olympic mountain rainshadow. And I'd read and loved so much magic realism in the past,  including “Like Water For Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel,  and “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen,  that I really saw this as the chance to try something fresh in my career. 

The one glitch was that “Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor” was conceived as a Christmas novella,  to sort of gently introduce a few of the characters,  and it didn't seem right to launch into magic realism with that shorter format.  So I tried to leave possibilities open with that story,  and figuratively blow some kisses in the direction of magic,  and then I really went for it with Rainshadow Road.

How many times have you been to Friday Harbor at this point – or is that where you live now?

I think I've been about four times so far,  and I would love to have a place there!  It would be incredible to slow down and relax,  and live on island time.  But Greg and I still have school-age kids,  and they want to stay where we are,  and we all have too many friends and interests to even think about moving.  And also . . . at this point in my life I'm not very good at relaxing.

How many books do you envision setting in Friday Harbor? 

What I've got on the schedule right now is Dream Lake (about the bitter and hard-living Alex Nolan,  being haunted by the ghost of a WWII fighter pilot who wants to be reunited with the woman he once loves) . . . and Crystal Cove (about Justine Hoffman,  a free-spirited young woman who casts a spell to fight a dangerous attraction to the mysterious Jason Black).  Beyond that,  I'm not sure yet–I've been getting a lot of nudges from readers who might like to read a book featuring Joe Travis from my Texas trilogy. 

Your character, Lucy, has a number of challenging and almost unavoidable relationships with people. Which do you think was hardest for her – or for you?

I think the most difficult relationship for Lucy to deal with–and for me to ponder and write about–was the dysfunctional family system she grew up with.  Because Lucy loves her parents and her spoiled younger sister,  but the family structure is hurtful to her. Together the three of them damage her self-esteem,  and they collectively parentify her by loading a lot of responsibility and expectation on her. And that brought me to question of how Lucy might be able to change the dynamic and let her family know that the hurtful patterns have to change. What I've experienced in my own life is the discovery that the people who truly love you will listen and try to respect your needs,  and they will make an effort to change.  Whereas others will basically say, “I love you but this relationship has to be done my way, period.”

What's one thing you are really excited to share with readers in this book? Is there a scene or a character, or something you're just so very proud of, that you can't wait to share?

I had SO much fun developing the character of Sam Nolan!  Although my husband Greg has been the inspiration for many of my heroes,  I think Sam is the most like him.  Sam is cute, sexy,  and all-out geeky, and I sprinkled geekitude in every scene he's in,  including describing his nerdy tee shirts,  his love of space and science,  and his computer skills.  For example, when he and Lucy want to watch a movie,  and she points out that it will take too long to download it,  and Sam replies smugly,  “I've got a download accelerator that maximizes data delivery by initiating several simultaneous connections from multiple servers. Five minutes, tops.” So he's a different type of hero for me,  and I really loved that.

And, while I'm asking, which is your favorite scene? 

By far, the scene I enjoyed writing the most was the one with Sam and Lucy in the shower.  I won't spoil anything by revealing exactly what happened to Lucy,  but after a major turn of events,  Sam has to help Lucy shower.  And since this is still at an early point in their relationship,  he's trying desperately not to become aroused. So he's nervous and breathing heavily,  and he can't help flirting with her in spite of himself. From that point on,  I really had a handle on their relationship,  the way they constantly try to set up barriers but still just can't resist each other. I think there's a metaphor somewhere in the book where he describes their relationship as a binary star,  which is a pair of circling stars caught forever in each other's orbit.  

I really loved Sam, I confess. I think nerd geek heroes are finally getting the audience they deserve. And I think Sam's t-shirts are going to be a reader favorite – where did you find the inspiration? Do you have a favorite? 

Thank you! What's not to love about a geek?  As one of Lucy's friends says in the book,  they're great in bed because they fantasize a lot and love to play with gadgets.  As for the tees,  I was inspired by both my husband and son, who both love nerdy shirts.  My favorite was the Shrödinger's cat shirt,  not because it was funny so much as it forced me to try to understand the classic thought experiment using a hypothetical cat in a box. (The best explanation I found, incidentally, was this one  . . . and among the scientists who describe the experiment, there is a very attractive young dark-haired geek with a Scottish accent who has a nice monologue at 3:44!) I finally sort of got it,  although I discovered that I don't have the right kind of brain for quantum physics. Which was not a big shock, by the way.

One thing that struck me: Sam and Lucy meet at the worst possible moment for her, literally right after she's been dumped. And there are a lot of things lining up against them. Did you think one obstacle was the most difficult for them to overcome? 

I thought that although they were both struggling with trust issues,  for Lucy it was more a problem of trusting other people whereas for Sam it was a problem of trusting himself.  Because many children of alcoholics,  as Sam is,  grow up with this feeling that the seeds of destruction are sown at the beginning of every relationship. And if you believe that,  then the more you love someone,  the worse it's going to hurt when they inevitably abandon you or let you down.  So I felt that Sam's issue was the most challenging obstacle–and I loved it that magic eventually reflected the realization that his heart was pulling him toward. 

That's the neat part of magic realism–the magic doesn't necessarily solve the problem,  it's just part of the world the same way sunlight or flowers are.  In that sense,  ordinary things like babies and rainbows and love itself are just as magical as transforming glass. And that's very easy for a romance writer to believe!

If there's a reader of yours who loves your historicals, for example, why would they also like this book? Which of your strengths do you think most shines in this book?

I think no matter what genre or setting a romance features,  as long as it has a strong relationship and emotional appeal (and of course some spicy love scenes!) it will work for most romance readers. But here's something interesting that happened as I was writing Rainshadow Road:  As I was going through my usual process,  which is to start each day by rewriting what I did the previous day,  and then periodically revising the entire manuscript,  I found myself adding more lyrical and elaborate phrasing because it seemed to suit the story more.  Usually in my contemporary writing,  I try to keep the prose really simple and stripped-down,  but for some reason the magical elements worked better with “prettier” prose. (Wow,  look at how alliterative that sentence was,  and I wasn't even trying!*g*) So that more lyrical style is usually what I do with historical romances,  and I think it lends the book some of that “fairy-tale” feeling of a historical.

About strengths . . . I think the best thing I do is to be passionate about every book I write . . . if a writer doesn't feel that way,  it shows. There are always going to be flaws,  or scenes I would still like to revise . . . but I spend a lot of time pondering whether to use one word or another,  or trying to think of how to make a particular scene better.  Undoubtedly this makes me sound weird,  but I really love playing with words!


Want to read Rainshadow Road? I have ten to give away. Woo hoo! 

Standard disclaimers apply: I'm not being compensated for this giveaway. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Must be over 18 and driving a golf cart to win. Open to international entries. Close cover before striking. 

Just leave a comment with your favorite t-shirt slogan or saying, or your favorite goofy piece of apparel, and you're entered to win. Comments close in 48 hours. 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kelsey Lim says:

    I love my old tennis shirt. It says “Don’t let the skirt fool you” on the back.  We wanted to get something about balls and skirts, but the school wouldn’t let us.

  2. 2
    Frauke says:

    “Instant human. Just add coffee” Perfect description of my geeky husband. ;)

  3. 3
    Lorelle Bakker says:

    My favourite gym singlet says ‘I run like a girl’ on the front and ‘try and catch me’ on the back

  4. 4
    Alexandra says:

    I have a T-shirt with the quote from River Tam from Firefly/Serenity: “Also, I can kill you with my brain.”

  5. 5
    Ashley Leann says:

    My favorite t-shirt slogan of the moment comes from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, one of Lisbeth Salander’s t-shirts reads : “Fuck you, you fucking fuck.” I really want to find that shirt now.

  6. 6
    Kaetrin says:

    My favourite t-shirt is one my husband wears – it has a series of photos of Darth Vader and a pair of storm troopers mugging for the camera in a photo booth.

    Please count me in!  Also I happen to be driving a golf cart right now! Honest!!

    Lisa, if you’re listening, count me as another who’d love to read Joe Travis’s book.

  7. 7
    Dani807 says:

    I have no favorite t-shirt slogan—but I did buy my husband one that said The Original Wise Guys and it was a picture of the Three Stooges.

  8. 8
    Aidaalberto66 says:

    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says “Oh crap she’s up.”  That’s the life that I lead.  I want to make each day and moment count.

  9. 9

    I love Lisa Kleypas’s books AND geeky T-shirts! So I can’t wait to read this book.

    My favorite geeky T-shirt slogan is “Curse Your Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal!” (Firefly ftw!)

  10. 10
    Mikaela Lind says:

    I love Lisa Kleypas, and I must admit that this book sounds intriguing.  For my favourite saying I must say this one: Only a fool never change his mind.  :).

  11. 11
    ms bookjunkie says:

    “…And then Buffy staked Edward. The End.”

    Want that t-shirt sooo bad!
    http://buffyfest.blogspot.com/

  12. 12
    Karen says:

    “Team Neville” is my favorite!

    I discovered Lisa Kleypas’s contemporary books last fall (I don’t like historicals) and have been waiting anxiously for Rainshadow Road.

  13. 13
    Caitlin says:

    I actually think that the Lowood Lacrosse shirt you featured here is one of my favorite t-shirt slogans!

  14. 14
    Erin T. says:

    I’ve got quite the collection of Latin Club t-shirts from both my years in school and teaching.  I think my favorite is the one that has the face of Elvis superimposed on the Augusta Prima Porta, with the caption REX (“the king”).  Simple, nerdy, classic!

  15. 15
    Eileen says:

    Mental Floss magazine sells some funny t-shirts.  My favorite is the one that says “The Constitution – I read it for the articles.”  That makes me laugh every time.

  16. 16
    Tabs says:

    My favorite t-shirt has a dog on it and says “Don’t Forget To Take Backup.”  Veronica Mars nerdery! 

    As a former physicist, I’ve got lots of t-shirts with nerdy physics jokes on them but my favorite joke on any of them is “Approximated a cow as a sphere to make the math easier.”  Not funny to anyone normal. Absolutely hilarious to physicists.

    Also, in reference to Shrodinger’s Cat, the most commonly used introductory quantum mechanics textbook used in undergraduate studies has an alive cat on the front and a dead cat on the back (it’s actually pretty discreet and most people don’t notice it).  I called it “the dead cat book” and used it many a time to horrify my friends.

  17. 17
    Holly says:

    Pilot humour that I’ve seen on both a t-shirt and a nightgown: “Remove before flight.”

  18. 18
    Jocelynnesimone says:

    My favorite t-shirt has the slogan: Come to the darkside, we have cookies.

  19. 19
    JenniferH says:

    I so want that t-shirt too

    my husbank has a collection of geeky t-shirts, one of his favourites has a picture of an old fashioned bomb, and the caption ‘System Failure’

  20. 20
    Sophydc says:

    My favorite is a t-shirt I bought my husband at the Boston Museum of Science. It says “May the F=mxa be with you”. I can’t figure out how to get the x in the right place : ) I smile every time I see it.

  21. 21
    Sabbyc72 says:

    When I was part of the Psychology society at uni our t-shirts ahd the logo – “It’s all about the head!”. I thought it was terribly clever and funny, oh how young i was!

  22. 22
    sonata917 says:

    My favorite t-shirt says “I love my shih tzu”.  We have two little shih tzus and they are our little babies!

  23. 23
    Diatryma says:

    I had and lost an xkcd “Stand back, I’m going to try SCIENCE!” shirt.  I got another for Christmas this year.  I heart it.

  24. 24
    CMD says:

    I own a T-shirt with a bunny holding a PS3 controller and looking very focussed, with the words “Can’t talk now… BOSS FIGHT!” It’s absolutely me when I’m gaming; a fire alarm went off in my building when I was engaged in an epic boss fight in FFXIII and I seriously considered staying in my room even if they had to evacuate our floor because I’d been fighting that particular foe for ~20 mins.

  25. 25
    ReneeP says:

    Love the geeky heroes. My geekiest shirt came from my AP Calculus class in high school (yep, we were so into calculus that we made class t-shirts. we even had calculus camp, it was sad) and it says “Do not drink and derive. It may become difficult to differentiate and you might not know when you’ve reached your limit.”

  26. 26
    Princessrw says:

    My fave is a t-shirt my son wears that has a monkey eating soap with bubbles coming out his butt.  It reads “don’t eat soap”.  No kidding, huh?

  27. 27
    Tam says:

    I have a Shakespeare shirt with ‘Prose Before Hos’ on it.

  28. 28
    Arloa says:

    I’m so excited about this book—I love geeks and magical realism. The T-shirt thing is funny. I’m married to a geek, raising a geek-in-training who just last year discovered the Think Geek catalog with all its great T-shirts, even have a brother in law who is an actual physicist, but none of them wear geeky T-shirts, and I don’t wear words, but I might consider “The book was better” or “Team Neville.” In fact, given that I can barely talk about Neville’s story arc without tearing up (yes, even now), I think I’ll get “Team Neville” and at least wear it to the gym.

  29. 29
    leeleerc says:

    I’m a third year PhD student, and my favorite shirt right now is from ThinkGeek.  It says “Stand back, I’m going to try SCIENCE,” with a crazy little stick figure on it with a beaker and a test tube.  Pretty much how I feel every morning when I start my day in the lab.

    P.S.  I would LOVE it if Lisa wrote a story about Joe Travis.  Blue-Eyed Devil is one of my favorite books on the face of this earth.  Mmmm…Hardy Cates.

  30. 30

    My favorite says: “Careful, or you may end up in my novel.”  The friends who gave it to me ended up in my last novel.

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