Tell us more about Lilies in Moonlight and what you love about this book and its characters.
I love Lilly. She reminds me a little of Gloria, from Ten Thousand Charms—an innocent soul walking around in a sinful body. So much light, and such a sweet spirit. Her voice and mannerisms are lifted directly from one of my favorite students from my teaching days, so that made writing a joy. Betty Ruth was a hoot, too. I felt total freedom with her, making her sweet and silly, letting her get away with saying things that nobody fully in their right mind would say.
Lilies in Moonlight explores two mother-child relationships—how do these relationships define each of the characters?
Lilly has spent a lifetime trying to earn her mother’s love and approval; it’s a losing battle. She’ll never be good enough to please her mother, and she’ll never be bad enough to please the world, so she’s kind of stuck in this place where she only has herself to worry about. Cullen, on the other hand, can do no wrong in his mother’s eyes—he’s the only son, the only child, and heir to the fortune. He’s never had to prove himself at all, and when he tries on both the baseball field and the battlefield, the results are not good…
How do you research for your books?
I do a lot of reading—as many primary source documents as I can (journals, newspapers, etc.). For this book, I watched a lot of silent movies, so I could get into my head what Lilly would have considered glamorous. I also read a lot of F. Scott Fitzgerald – not only the iconic Great Gatsby, but several of his short stories, too. These were published in magazines, so they really gave a contemporary image of the time. I tried to get a feel for how people spoke by studying his dialogue.
Tell us a little about your family—what’s it like to be the mom of three boys?
It’s hectic these days! My oldest (twins!) just turned 16, so they’re driving and working and dating. We have to schedule family dinners. My youngest is in Middle School, so we’re in that weird space where he’s not a little boy, but not a teen-ager yet. Just a lot of awkwardness, but fun. I’m a much better mother with tweens and teens than I ever was with toddlers.