Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to author MJ Schiller. She lives in the heart of central Illinois where she is a lunch lady My gosh, can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has an eighteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and sixteen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.
Welcome, MJ! What do you do when you're not writing?
Welcome, MJ! What do you do when you're not writing?
I have this whole day job thing that won’t seem to go away. Actually, I love my job as a lunch lady. I get to work with friends, talk to kids, and take a nap when I’m done for the day. What’s not to like? When I’m not doing that, I daily attempt to make our little corner of the earth less chaotic by doing laundry, and dishes and settling arguments between my four teens. (I have an eighteen-year-old and sixteen-year-old triplets!) My husband and I play a few games of Text Twist every night, and when I sneak away from home I like to see live music and sing karaoke.
Four kids within two years! I can't imagine how busy you were sixteen years ago. What would your fans be surprised to know about you?
I once was a synchronized swimmer at the Junior Olympic level, which was the highest level at the time. I’ve got medals and everything to prove it!
Fascinating! I suppose that helped to prepare you for the busy lifestyle you have now! What life experiences helped you become an author?
All of them. But I think I had two big influences on my writing. One, my dad was a fantastic storyteller. My favorite part of his story telling was when he’d start laughing so hard you couldn’t understand what he was saying. He could tell you the same story a hundred times and it wouldn’t matter. It would be as wonderful as the first time. The second thing that I think influenced my writing was being a social outcast. No, really! We moved to Iowa when I was in fifth grade and the kids weren’t very welcoming. They all had their friends already and didn’t need me. So I used to read like CRAZY! I loved Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins (does anyone even know who they are anymore?), and more. I read all of the classics and loved them.
How sad for you. But yes, I remember Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins! In An Uncommon Love, what was your favorite chapter (or scene) to write and why?
I really liked writing the opening scene in An Uncommon Love. Adriana sees Seth for the first time when he is brought before the king to be punished. When their eyes meet, there is that instant attraction. I love describing that initial magic between couples. In general I enjoy writing scenes about family, cutesy scenes, and the emotional scenes.
Those kinds of scenes are the best. How did you come up with the title?
It just seemed to work. Seth was considered a commoner and it would be unusual for someone like him to mingle with a royal, let alone have a relationship with one. Oddly, he has more of a problem with this than Adriana does. There love truly is uncommon, as is Seth, in Adi’s eyes.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Usually I don’t like readers taking messages away from my writing. I just want them to lose themselves, leave their everyday world for a while, with all of its trials and turmoils and tedium, and escape to a place where love rules the day and happily ever afters are guaranteed! This story, though, has a lot to say about self-sacrifice and looking beyond one’s prejudices.
That's a powerful theme. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Oh, you want me to tell you?! Okay. I have a problem staying in one head. I like to view scenes from every angle but have been working to achieve a deeper point of view so that readers can really connect with my characters.
Thanks for having me today! I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about AN UNCOMMON LOVE.
~ Blurb ~
Princess Adriana had her life all figured out. Or, to be more precise, she had her life all figured out for her. Before she was even born she was betrothed to Garin, and that was perfectly acceptable as he became her childhood friend, and then, eventually, the person she would swap kisses with inside the palace gardens. She never questioned it, never had a reason to, until the day a commoner was brought before her father, the King, to be punished.
As soon as Adriana’s eyes connect with Seth’s across the stone courtyard, she begins to question everything in her life. For his part, Seth Hobbes is confused about his feelings for the beautiful princess who refuses to match any of his preconceived notions of what a princess should be like, starting when Adriana begs her father to release him. When Seth creeps into the castle at night to thank her, they begin to build a relationship with one another that is often as explosive as it is endearing. When fate ends up separating the two, they must undertake a long and arduous journey to be reunited and then overcome the objections Adriana’s father has to their relationship. Will Adriana be able to make Seth see her for herself and not as the princess that he imagines? And if she does, will she ever be able to convince her father that, despite his objections, there is nothing “common” about Seth at all?
Note from MJ: I decided to do something a little different on this tour. The excerpts have been taken in order. So if you read each day you should have the whole scene at the end of the week.
Adriana lifted her head, straining to see through the thorny bramble of the bush she lay behind with Garin. Her father’s Royal Commander plucked a leaf from her golden hair.
“What is it, love?” Garin asked, still wearing the silly grin she put on his face. He plucked a leaf from her golden hair.
She could barely make out the sounds of jeers and cries coming from the outer courtyard of her father’s palace, the Castle Ramport. “What is that? What is happening?”
“Oh. It must have something to do with the commoner who struck Derrick.”
She gasped. “Somebody struck Derrick?” Even though he worked for her father, she was terrified of the hulking beast of a man.
“Aye,” he answered with a chuckle. He looked over to where the crowd was entering the grounds, too. “But he is probably sorry for it now, the poor fool.”
She frowned, noting there was little pity in his voice. In fact, his words sounded mocking. The princess tugged at the gold laces which held her bodice together, trying to thread them hastily through their looped cording. When she attempted to struggle to her feet, he sought to press her back down to the ground.
“Adi, honey.” He pressed his lips to the skin still accessible above the low cut of her neckline, but she was no longer in the mood.
The noise of the crowd surged and she again tried to make out what was happening, but saw only snatches of color and movement through the branches surrounding her. Her heart was racing.
“What will they do to him?”
“Oh, I do not know,” he said, shrugging. “Whip him or beat him or …”
“What?” Incensed, she succeeded in scrambling to her feet.
MJ is giving away two copies of each of her four ebooks. That's eight chances to win! Enter using the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
You can find MJ Schiller at www.mjschillerauthor.blogspot.com, MJ on FB, twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.