Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Lisa! Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I was born and raised in Upstate New York, lived in Florida and California for a spell, and ultimately, became a Garden State transplant. From the moment I moved to New Jersey, I knew I wanted to write a story based here, the result being my new novel, Reconstructing Eve.
How long have you been a writer?
Since childhood. As far back as I can remember, I entertained myself by making up stories. Barbie and G.I. Joe (the one with the Kung Fu grip) starred in my early adventures. As a "tween" I wrote Stars Wars fan fic, removing a certain female lead and replacing her with one of my choosing. I wrote my first original novel at age 24. I'd just given birth to my beautiful daughter, Wendy, and I didn't know it at the time, but I was suffering from post-partum depression. At first, I wrote purely for escapism. it took me well into my thirties to develop my author's voice, the reason being that it wasn't until then that I started living authentically. Once I did, and likewise tackled my self-worth issues, I found both my voice and the recurring theme for my novels.
Do you have a "day job," or is being an author your career?
Currently, it's a "both/and." By day, I'm a training professional who teaches leadership development for a large non-profit hospital. Evenings and weekends, I'm an author and the host of
http://reconstructingeve.com/, an online community for women to share and support one another on our journeys of self-discovery.
What inspired you to become a writer?
My imagination. It was either write, or talk to myself - and people look at you funny when you do that!
Please give a brief description/storyline about Reconstructing Eve.
Eve is a 44-year old woman who completely shuts down in the wake of her divorce. The story opens two year later, just as Eve is emerging from her grief. Realizing that being selfless is no guarantee of a happily-ever-after, Eve vows that this time around, she's having her apple and her Eden, too!
What was the inspiration for this story?
The idea came from my own self-discovery journey, which took waaay longer than Eve's and wasn't half as exciting. Although Eve's journey vastly differs from mine, her emotional roller coaster parallels my personal experiences.
How did feel to have your first book published?
Incredible. Especially considering it was almost 25 years to the day from when I started my first original novel to when I held a copy of Reconstructing Eve in my hands. Because my husband was working the night shift when the book arrived, and my family lives in Upstate New York, I filmed the experience on my iPad and shared it on my website. http://reconstructingeve.com/about-lisa-hilleren
Do you write books for a specific genre?
I do. I created my own. it's called Transformational Fiction. the concept isn't new. Think Avatar, Shrek, or Jerry Maguire. These movies did more than entertain us. As the hero transformed, so did we - either by a call to action or else a different perspective that we took with us when we left the theater.
In my books, the protagonists are women who transform by casting off the gender and generational conditioning that inhibit them from leading truly fulfilled lives. Supporting women on their journeys of self-discovery is my passion, and knowing that as readers, we live the heroine's emotional journey with her, what better way to share insights and experiences than through fiction.
What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
My favorites are women's fiction and romance. I recently read (and loved!) Claire Cook's Wallflower in Bloom.
Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?
I do! I converted our spare bedroom into my office, set up shop in there, and treated myself to a plush executive chair that I spin around in like a little kid whenever writer's block strikes.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
The character arc for all of my books is the heroine's self-discovery journey. The theme always revolves around the heroine realizing that she is the ultimate judge of her self-worth and how, by adjusting her belief system, she is then able to cast off the aspects of her gender- and generationally-conditioned persona and evolve into her authentic self.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
It depends on what hat I'm wearing. When I'm writing a first draft, my imagination is in the driver's seat. I'll write for hours on end, sleep a little bit, snack a lot, and then write more. When I'm not writing, I'm furiously scribbling on note cards. Once the first draft is done, and I don my editor hat, I schedule my revision time because otherwise, I'll procrastinate ...
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I love the creative rush that comes with writing a first draft. Revising? Not so much. A lot of chair-spinning and teeth-gnashing happens during that stage.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
Nap. (Do you remember when you were five and threw a tantrum whenever you had to take a nap?) These days a twenty-minute power nap is a huge treat!
Other favorite activities include reading, watching movies, and listening to music.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
Write to express, not to impress.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
I received this amazing note from a reader; it speaks to the very heart of why write: "I cannot tell you how many times while I was reading it I said, WHOA that is me. I love Nigel's mother/martyr thing. That is so me. Loved loved it. Cried. Several Times. Awesome read. I am going to have my book club read it ..."
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
Visiting my website is the easiest way to find me. Other ways to connect are Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Goodreads. I don't have a preferred manner of communication; it's the connection that counts! I enjoy hearing from readers through any means that's most convenient and comfortable for them.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
My characters always have something of me in them: my humor, my perspective, my strengths, and definitely my learning opportunities! It's hysterical, because as much as I think I know myself, my characters will suddenly say or do something that gives me pause to reflect. This often times becomes an "A ha!" moment for me. (Yes, I receive teachable moments from my own fictional characters, LOL!)
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
There are so many generous and talented authors who have inspired and influenced me. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the phenomenal women of the Central New York Romance Writers for mentoring and encouraging me.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
Hearing a reader say that my book inspired her to begin (or continue) her self-discovery journey.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I'd love to! My next book is tentatively titled By Mallory's Count. The heroine, Mallory, is a former trophy wife who suffers from dyscalculia, and struggles with self-worth issues because, hey, it's a bean-counting world! Her self-discovery journey revolves around learning (and truly believing) that our creative contributions to the world are every bit as valuable as metric-driven ones.
Author Guest Post
Write what you know.
It sounded like sage advice when I first began writing. Eager to get started, I sat down and wrote a list of everything I knew. When I was done, I reviewed it and contemplated what to write about.
Novel Idea #1: Violin-playing military wife stages protest against cat-hating neighbors. Okay, we've got conflict. And motivation - the heroine loves cats. That's good. But what's her violin-playing have to do with it? Wait! She can host a benefit concert to raise money for the homeless cats! That will tug a lot of heartstrings, right?
Maybe. But the story, as a whole, didn't seem to have much of a point.
I scrapped the idea and tried again.
Novel Idea #2: Housewife and mother of two opens a bakery in Florida, and soon, there's a hurricane, and she and her kids have to evacuate, and her ancient car has a hole in the gas tank, and --
Wait. That idea didn't work either. There was action, yes. And people's lives were in peril. But who cared? I didn't. And if I as the author didn't care, there was no chance my readers would.
I tried again. And again. And again.
Same results. I had plenty of "stuff" to put into a story. But no story!
For a long time, I couldn't understand why. I was following the rules - I was trying my best to write what I knew.
Finally, I got so frustrated that I ripped up my list, stopped writing, and instead, spent hours reading. The more I read, the more it began to dawn on me that the stories that spoke to me weren't plot-driven; they were character-driven.
It was a major "A ha!" moment for me as a writer. Rather than write about "stuff" that I knew, I decided to write about the "emotions" that I knew.
Armed with that insight, I sat down and wrote The Healing Heart, about a girl who dresses as a boy and fights in the Civil War. I knew nothing about the experience of war. I didn't know about life in the Old South. But what I did know were the feelings of duty and loss and grief and overwhelm that my character Tillie experienced, because I'd experienced them at various points in my life.
The 775-page book didn't sell; however, I received numerous "good" rejections from editors and agents. I honed my writing with my next two books - both paranormals. Both received several writing awards ... but I still didn't sell.
After countless rejections, I stopped writing again. This time for four years. I wasn't idle, though; I was in the midst of major personal transformation. When the desire to write resurfaced, the much wiser and now self-aware me asked myself, "Why? What's fulfilling to you about writing?"
What I discovered, by rereading my original manuscripts was that they all carried a message of hope. And that was something I wanted to continue. But more was needed. In the past, I'd poured my heart into my writing, but not my soul. I imbued my characters with my emotions, but not my beliefs.
Reconstructing Eve is the result of me writing not what I know, but what I stand for. It's about sharing (in a fictionalized format) the knowledge gained from my personal transformation, the story's purpose being to support other women on their self-discovery journeys.
Looking back, I am grateful that I undertook the painstaking process of trying to create stories out of what I "knew." What started out as a desire to be a better storyteller became a life-lesson about discovering my true purpose, with writing being one of the many ways I advocate for authentic living.
I hope you enjoy Eve's story and welcome you to join our growing community of like-minded women at http://reconstructingeve.com/.
About The Author:
Either way, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Like her fictional character Eve, Lisa Hilleren lives in the Garden State and drives a red convertible. Her personal journey of self-discovery began 15 years ago, when she learned the power of emotional intelligence, which she has since taught to countless others in her role as a professional trainer.
Be it through training or fiction-writing, Lisa is passionate about sharing the knowledge and tools that help women to discover and embrace their authentic selves. She welcomes emails and invites readers to join her community of like-minded Eve’s at http://reconstructingeve.com/.
Reconstructing Eve Trailer
Virtual Book Event Contest Giveaway
* Virtual Book Event Contest Giveaway *
Win One (1) of Three (3) Limited Edition Reconstructing Eve Logo Coffee Mugs
Contest Giveaway Dates: August 20-27, 2012
Enter Lisa Hilleren's Reconstructing Eve virtual book event contest giveaway to win one (1) of (3) limited edition Reconstructing Eve logo coffee mugs. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter entry form! Winners will be notified by author Lisa Hilleren on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
Reconstructing Eve by Lisa Hilleren
Published By: CreateSpace Independent Publishers
Release Date: June 17, 2012
Format: Paperback - 306 pages / Kindle - 616 KB / Nook - 1,001 KB
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction / Transformational Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Reconstructing Eve
BARNES & NOBLE
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and for hosting a virtual book event on my book review blog site.
Imagine you’re forty-four, you live in Jersey, your name is Eve—and a shiny red apple (in the form of thirty-one year old Aidan Wharton) has just been dropped into your lap. Do you resist the temptation or go for it?
Eve Merritt used to believe that being the perfect daughter, perfect wife, and perfect mom was her ticket to living happily ever after. When the good girl routine doesn’t pay off as expected, Eve vows that from now on, she’s having her apple and her Eden, too!
My Book Review:
An older woman, a younger man ... a temptation and a transformational journey ... will Eve take a bite of the forbidden apple and live her life in a new garden of Eden?
Eve Merritt is a forty-four year old divorcee with an adult daughter. After living her life pleasing and doing everything for everyone else, it's time for Eve to put herself first. When Eve's daughter and mother try to set Eve up with family friend Aidan Wharton, there are red warning flags flying. First, Aidan is a younger man, thirty-one years old to be exact. Second, Eve used to babysit Aidan when he was a child, and their parents are friends. Third, could she even entertain the thought of dating a younger man ... even if the temptation is enticing?
Follow along with Eve as she goes on a journey of self-discovery and transformation to learn to redefine herself and live her life to the fullest. Buckle up and prepare yourself for a bumpy ride because there is some snags along the way: Eve's ex-husband wants to reconcile, Aidan has a jealous stalker, and a crazy killer is after both of them! Will Eve take a bite of the apple and find happiness in a new garden of Eden?
Reconstructing Eve is a wonderful story about a woman's journey of self-discovery and transformation with a romantic and suspenseful twist added to the mix! Written in the first person narrative, Eve takes the reader along for the ride as she journeys through a transformational period of her life. This sassy lady has been through a lot in her life, but she never put herself first. Now with her divorce behind her, Eve needs to step out of her comfort zone and transform her life into one that will be fulfilling and bring her happiness. This is a feel good and inspirational story that every woman can relate to. I loved how the author weaves a fictional tale full of romance, drama, suspense and quirky twists and turns; yet also shares with the readers some inspiring and encouraging words of validation and empowerment that speak straight to the heart and soul. Who hasn't felt insecure and unsure of themselves, especially as the middle age years approach? This story has a little bit everything that will appeal to all readers, it is an entertaining and powerfully compelling read!
The author has created a cast of characters who are realistic and fun to get to know. I saw so much of myself in Eve, it was like looking in the mirror, I could relate to a lot of what she went through, and it made me ponder about my own mid-40s life and what transformational self-discovering journey I could embark upon in my life. Who wouldn't want a hunky and successful younger man interested in them? *waves hand and wiggles eyebrows* I absolutely loved Aidan, I thought this charming man was just what Eve needed to kick-start her new life! The dialogue and interactions between the characters flowed smoothly, they draw the reader into their lives, you can't help but embrace and feel for them.
Reconstructing Eve is a story that is a testament to the trials and tribulations of womanhood and the ability to transform your life into one that will be fulfilling and happy. This is the type of story that has its entertainment value, but it is also one that will resonate with you long after the last words are read.
RATING: 5 STARS *****