Today we are happy to welcome to Book Lovers Inc. Lee Adams, who is celebrating the release of her fictional debut novel, Strawberry Wine! Join us as I sit down with Lee to sip some delicious strawberry wine and talk country music, books and dogs, among other things You could also win a copy of Strawberry Wine, so make sure to leave a comment at the end.
Stella: Hi Lee, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Lee: Hi Stella! Thank you! I was born and raised in Baltimore MD before leaving at 18 to go to college in PA. From the age of 7 on up, I studied the Korean martial arts and find it a great way to release stress, learn discipline, and learn to protect oneself. I also grew up playing music in the school bands, woodwind instruments, as well as guitar and banjo. I fell in love with country music when I heard Willie Nelson and pursued a degree in Radio/TV/Journalism. I have been married for nearly 24 years to a wonderful man who owns a photography business. I have two amazing parents, a sister who is my best friend, and a niece and nephew that are like my own. I also have two dogs and a cat.
Stella: I have seen on your website that you work in country music, what exactly do you do and how did you choose this career, or was it something that found you?
Lee: I chose this career due to a love of music, especially country music. I have a B.A. in Communications and spent 10 years on the radio at country stations. Radio works very closely with the Nashville record community to play music and ’break’ acts. In 1995, I was offered a job at an MCA Record Label out of Nashville and that started my career in record promotion. Basically, my job is to work with a team of people who work with radio stations across the country to get our songs played. The song that is played the most goes to #1! We were just blessed to have the #1 and #2 country charted songs in the same week. Jason Aldean with ’Take A Little Ride’ and Dustin Lynch with ’Cowboys and Angels.’
Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Lee: I think about what I’m going to write, a lot, before actually writing. I don’t have a typical day as I work a full time job and travel a lot with the music industry. But I plan chapters in my head so when I do have a chance to write, I already know how things will unfold. Although the characters sometimes take the lead without my permission and go to places I wasn’t expecting. That is always fascinating to me and exciting!
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Lee: For a book lover, reading is an event…an experience. We like to feel the book, hold the book, and embrace the book. It is a passion that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I think a reader reads out of interest of the topic. A book lover reads out of a desire to read. I actually get nervous if I don’t have at least three un-read books in the house. I always joke that I’m such a bibliophile that if nothing else is around, I’ll read the back of a cereal box.
Stella: I have read in your bio that your debut book was a memoir inspired by your own true story. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Lee: “Donor Girl” was written following my experience as a living organ donor in 2007. I was looking for a book to read that would help me understand the process from beginning to end and couldn’t find one. All the books focused on the recipient. So my medical team suggested I write one. Due to the use of the internet for communication, without realizing it, I pretty much had a journal of the entire donation. It was very cathartic to write it and I’ve received many comments that it has helped other donors, but has also helped recipients understand exactly what a donor is experiencing on an emotional level.
Stella: Your first fictional novel Strawberry Wine was released in October, congratulations! Can you tell our readers what they can expect of it?
Lee: It’s Chick Lit! It’s a love story but not a romance novel. It’s a coming of age story about a group of young teens on the verge of adulthood, enjoying the time of their lives, when one turn of events takes their world upside down. It deals with the fallout and aftermath of such an event and how they came to heal from it and be better people because of it.
Stella: Tanya Smith, the heroine of Strawberry Wine is a successful music promoter, how much of you is in her characterization or in the novel?
Lee: The part about her job is very minimal. She is forced to give that up shortly into the book. But I do believe I drew on myself, my friends and my family for the characters. It’s hard not to put some of yourself in your writing. I believe this quote by Goethe to be true: “Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.” However her experiences do not mirror mine. I did not ever go through the devastating event that she did. The setting and the relationship to her parents and sister however is very similar to mine. And her faith is very similar to mine.
Stella: I have to tell you the title caught my attention and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. So could you shed some light on its meaning/significance?
Lee: There’s a popular country song by the same title that deals with teenage love and heartbreak. Every time I heard that song, I related because as teens, we were always sneaking Boones Farm Strawberry Wine. That drink reminds me of carefree times. So when I was writing the book, it made sense to use that title and work in the sneaking of strawberry wine throughout the story.
Stella: Do you still remember what inspired Strawberry Wine? Was there a specific moment/event that sparked the idea for the story?
Lee: Honestly I don’t! I have started to write so many books since I was a child and this one started and actually kept going. As far as what inspired it, I can’t really say. I wish I could! I had probably just heard the song “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter and it most likely got my mind going in that direction. But the book is not similar to the song, other than the basic theme of teenage love.
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Strawberry Wine?
Lee: The story could be any teenager anywhere. We have all been hurt in our past and it’s a story of healing. Of letting the past remain in the past and moving on for the better. It’s also a story of forgiveness which I think everyone finds difficult but it is so rewarding when you finally, truly forgive. And I have to say I adore the characters and it’s worth reading the book to get to know them.
Stella: Can you summarize Strawberry Wine for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Lee: Set in central Pennsylvania, Strawberry Wine, is a coming of age story about young friends who grow up together, spending summers at Laurel Lake. As they are nearing their senior year, a tragic event threatens everything they’ve ever known and catapults them out of their naïve childhood and into the unknown. The events of one night will forever change their lives, their friendships, and their future. Strawberry Wine is a story of friendship, faith, forgiveness, and courage.
Stella: Lol, that would require several tweets! According to your bio you have travelled a lot, what was your favourite place to visit? And any dream destination of yours that you’d like to see/return to?
Lee: That’s a tough one because so many places have been so amazing. But if it’s possible to fall in love with a city, I fell in love with Rome. Everything from the architecture, the Christian heritage, the gelato, the pasta, to the wonderful people just moved me. I would love to go back and live there for at least three months to truly embrace the city, the people, and the culture. My dream destination is pretty much anywhere I haven’t been!
Stella: Any fun/weird story about your globetrotting travels you’d like to share with us?
Lee: I have managed to have my luggage lost in Australia, Italy and France! That has to be some sort of record! I have so many photos where I’m in some awful outfit that I bought cheap while waiting for my clothes to arrive. I seem to travel fine within the states and do it weekly. But send me out of the country and my clothes forget who they belong to!
Stella: OOoh, I’ve read that you are the proud owners of two dogs, one of them being a Puli, a Hungarian breed! Being a Hungarian myself I’m curious to know, how did you come to know this breed and what made you choose it as your pet?
Lee: Did I use the word “proud?” Kidding. Eddie, my current Puli, is extremely neurotic and likes one person…me. Lucky me! He doesn’t like any of the neighborhood dogs who all play together, including our Border Collie, although they tolerate each other like siblings who accept their fate to share a house. Oddly, we just got a kitten and the kitten is fascinated with Eddie and Eddie actually plays with him. It’s really been cracking us up after all these years to see Eddie playful. My former Puli was Smoke and she was a dear sweet dog, although also somewhat neurotic. Of course, they have the dreadlocks which get a lot of attention!
Why did I choose this breed? I grew up with a Puli! I didn’t realize they were rare until I tried, as an adult, to find one. My dad’s uncle won a Puli in a poker game back in Baltimore when I was just a baby. He couldn’t keep the dog as he lived in an apartment so he gave it to my parents. Because “Rags” arrived at the house at the same time I did, he seemed to think he brought me and he was always protective. I learned to walk by holding onto his fur.
Here’s a photo! It doesn’t show his face, but you can really see the dreadlocks.
Stella: What is next on your schedule? Any future plans you’d like to share with us?
Lee: I’m going on a mission to Haiti in November. I’ve never been on a mission trip much less to a country like Haiti. I’m both excited and nervous. Then in December, it’s a real vacation on a sailboat! And hopefully, I will spend the holiday break finishing the final draft of my next book titled “Unlikely Family.”
Thank you Stella!
Ten years have passed since Taynya Smith’s last summer at Laurel Lake – the summer of Marie. Today Tanya is a confident, successful music promoter – a far cry from the naive seventeen-year-old who showed up at the lake full of rosy notions of first love, lifelong friendships, and evenings spent sipping strawberry wine on the shore. That September changed everything, and as far as Tanya is concerned, there’s no going back. That is, until a mysterious phone call from Marie’s lawyer brings Tanya face to face with the past. Suddenly she finds herself returning to Laurel Lake and to everything she left behind there. Will the dark secret that haunts the lake break her heart all over again? Or will Marie’s legacy be the key that unlocks the future Tanya gave up on ten long years ago?
Lilli “Lee” Adams grew up in Baltimore MD and graduated with a BA in Communications/Journalism from Shippensburg University of PA. She currently works full time as a record promoter in the country music industry and is working on her second fiction novel. Lee is a living organ donor, having donated her kidney to her brother-in-law in 2007. She resides in West Virginia with her husband, Randy.
Lee has generously offered 5, yes FIVE copies of Strawberry Wine!
All you have to do is answer Lee’s question and tell us: What makes a book a real ‘page turner’ for you?
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, 3 November 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.