Susan Lute stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fourth book in the Angel Point series, The Valentine Project!
Where did you get the inspiration for The Valentine Project?
The thing about story inspiration is that it can come from anywhere. And it doesn’t happen the same way for every story. In the case of The Valentine Project, the inspiration came from my own imagination and one sentence . . . a teenager saying to his dad, “Dibs.” I love a strong woman on a mission (Deputy Mayor Gwen Olsen) and a man who is not afraid to step into the middle of things and lend a hand (Fire Chief Carson Loman). When it became clear that best friends Gwen and Carson went to school together and at their senior prom kissed and made a pledge to get married if they were still single at thirty-five, I didn’t know and neither did Gwen that it would be sixteen years before she saw Carson again. Setting the story in Angel Point was a given. Flynn, Carson’s adopted son, and Grandma Adele and her friends, the Wild Card Ladies showed up unexpectedly, and well . . . from there, the story wrote itself.
What song would be in the soundtrack to Gwen and Carson’s love story? Why?
The song that would be the soundtrack to Gwen and Carson’s love story is My Valentine by Martina McBride and Jim Brickman. This song is about what love means and how the dream of love can last forever . . . “I will give you my heart until the end of time. You’re all I need, my love, my valentine.”
Did you need to do any kind of research for this book?
As it turns out, I do research as the story unfolds, which is to say I research all kinds of things for every book. Even after four books (I’m just finishing the fifth book in the Angel Point series), I’m still researching Angel Point. There’s always something new to learn about this sweet town. I sometimes wish I could live there, walk on the beach, hike in Ecola Park (but I digress). For The Valentine Project, I researched small town government, fire stations and the men and women who dedicate their lives to keeping their communities safe, and fun things to do in Chicago. Those were just a few trips I made to the internet library.
What was your favorite scene to write and why?
When I write a story, every scene moves into the next like a movie that plays across the screen of my mind. It really is hard to pick a favorite, but the scene I like the most in The Valentine Project is when Gwen and Carson run into each other for the first time in sixteen years at Gabe and Taylor’s wedding (from Book One). Gwen is looking for her grandmother and I knew exactly what Flynn would say to his dad from the moment I sat down to write this book.
Gwen went looking for her grandmother. She found the older woman talking to the same man, a tall guy, who knocked it out of the park in his dark suit. His black hair was neatly combed; hands stuffed in his pants pockets as he chatted with Grandma Adele. A young, teenage boy loitered close, mimicking the man’s stance.
Gwen’s breath caught as she almost tripped over the sudden excitement sprinting alongside her pulse. The man (that was his son, she was guessing) was like a dream she didn’t know she had, come true. She stared at his back. He was . . . taller than average . . . strong . . . comfortable in his skin as he laughed at something the boy said. A man, it seemed by his interaction with the teen, who could be relied on to stay the course.
Grandma Adele waved her over. Mesmerizing dude turned at the same time. And Gwen’s heart crashed.
Shaking her head, she had to force herself not to run in the opposite direction. Stopping short of making a spectacle of herself, she straightened her shoulders and pasted on a smile. Hopefully it wasn’t too fake.
As if she greeted a MIA ex-best friend everyday, she walked over to her grandmother and kissed the older lady on the cheek before facing Carson. She held out her hand. “Hello, Carson.”
“Carson and Flynn are my plus one and two,” Grandma Adele said, just a little too smug.
For a long moment, he stared at her, memories filling bright blue eyes she had tried so hard to forget but couldn’t. He took her hand, his grip firm and warm. “Hi, Gwen. You look lovely.”
This was not the boy she used to know. Life had etched lines on his face, broadened his shoulders, and—
“Gwen—” he pulled the teenager forward. “This is my son, Flynn.”
He had a son.
“Dibs!” Flynn said in a stage whisper as he leaned into his dad’s shoulder,
“Ignore this crazy kid.” Carson dragged Flynn close with an arm around the boy’s neck, scrubbing knuckles across his head. Flynn squirmed, but his father watched her . . . expecting to find . . . what? The girl he’d left behind? That wasn’t likely to happen.
What are you currently reading?
Currently I’m reading The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev, Sunrise With the Silver Surfers by Maddie Please, and I’m waiting for The Gentleman’s Gambit by Evie Dunmore to release. This will be Book 4 in her League of Extraordinary Women series, set in the 1800s, about four women and their fight for women’s suffrage. I can’t say enough good things about this series.
About the Author
Susan is an award winning author of contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and dystopian romance. Like all children of military families, she spent her childhood moving from one duty station to the next. She likes to say she is first and foremost a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer, and novelist. These days, when not working as a Registered Nurse, she remodels her house and writes whenever she can.