There are many reasons why dogs are considered manâ€™s best friend. Loyal,
compassionate, and trustworthy come to mind; however, these are not their most
virtuous trait. Without a doubt, itâ€™s their innate ability to judge a personâ€™s
character that reigns supreme. If a dog senses evil, take heed and run in the
This monthâ€™s Jenâ€™s
Jewels Linda Francis
Lee agrees wholeheartedly with the power of a dogâ€™s intuition in her latest
release EMILY AND
EINSTEIN. Itâ€™s the story of Sandy Portman and Emily Barlow who seem to have
it all until an unfortunate accident leaves Sandy dead. When the truth behind
her less-than-perfect marriage comes to light, itâ€™s up to a lovable stray dog
named Einstein to help Emily get right back on her feet.
As part of this interview, St. Martinâ€™s Press has generously donated
five copies for you, my favorite readers, to try to win. So, donâ€™t forget to
look for the trivia question at the end. And as always, thanks for making Jenâ€™s Jewels a part of your
Jen: A born Texan turned New Yorker, you have had the pleasure of living
in two culturally diverse areas of the country. So that my readers may have a
glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please share with us your
educational and professional background.
Linda: I received my undergraduate degree in Advertising from Texas Tech
University. Then I went back to school for Geology and Math. I taught
probability and statistics for a while, but my real love was writing. So I
went back to school again and started taking literature and graduate fiction
writing courses. (My husband and family thought I would never finish school!)
Jen: Describe for us your â€śAha!â€ť moment when you made the decision to
actively pursue a career in the publishing business.
Linda: I was doing a lot of things as a sort of test of myself. Rock
climbing, repelling. I started seriously running, writing, teaching
probability and statistics, playing tennis, taking piano lessonsâ€¦. But out of
everything, the only things I really loved were running and writing. So I let
the others drop away and I focused on what I loved.
Jen: Known for your highly popular novels THE DEVIL IN THE JUNIOR
LEAGUE and THE EX-
DEBUTANTE, your writing prowess centers on female characters finding their
way in life and love. In your latest release EMILY AND EINSTEIN, you
take it a step further in what I believe is your most emotionally charged novel
to date. How did you arrive at the premise?
Linda: First, Thank you!! Second, I had been thinking a lot about our
dog Sophie who had passed away several years ago. For years, just thinking
about her made me sad. But then a shift started to happen and the memories
made me smile or even laugh. Sophie had so much personality. If she was mad
at me, she ignored me. If I was sad about something, she leaned up against me
until I felt better. I know it sounds crazy, but she felt like a little
person, a sometimes crotchety person! She also felt magical. So I started
thinking about a crotchety, magical dog . . . and eventually Einstein was
born! I also wanted to deal with a woman who finds out who her husband truly
was after he dies. So I put the pieces together, and then added a new man to
stir things up even more.
Jen: Emily Barlow is a rising editorial star at Caldecote Press when she
meets businessman extraordinaire Sandy Portman. Her initial attraction to him
is based solely on his charm and good looks; however, when his vast fortune is
revealed, the lady doth protest. Why is she so offended that Sandy had not come
clean about his familyâ€™s money?
Linda: It wasn't the money as much as it was that he intentionally
misled her. To me, it's one thing if someone doesn't mention something, but
something else entirely if say they are someone or something else. Why did
they lie? Can you trust them in the future?
Jen: Fast-forward to a snowy evening in New York City, their marriage
comes to an abrupt end when Sandy is killed in a freak accident. As Emilyâ€™s
life quickly spirals out of control, her solace comes in the form of a smart
dog named Einstein.
Linda: Because of the memories that wouldn't leave me alone regarding
my old dog Sophie, I really wanted to have Emily deal with a dog, but not just
any dog, a dog that wasn't your average, ordinary dog.
Jen: As if things werenâ€™t bad enough, Sandyâ€™s mother asks Emily to
vacate the historic Dakota apartment where the couple lived. Despite Sandyâ€™s
verbal promise to leave it to Emily, his mother claims it is deeded to the
family, Emily not included. Why then does Emily continue to believe in Sandy
despite his failure to follow through with his intentions?
Linda: She believes because she can't believe that she based her entire
life on a lie. At a gut level she believes that despite evidence to the
contrary he loved her deeply. The question for any of us is do we know how to
read our gut, or is that feeling simply something that we want to believe and
it leads us astray? Reading and trusting your gut is one of the hardest things
to learn â€“ and even harder to act on it.
Jen: On a side note, why did you choose to incorporate the Dakota into
Linda: While I was writing the book I lived next door to the Dakota
which was completed in the late 1880s. The novel Time and Again is set there,
John Lennon was killed there. Many of the famous and influential in the Arts
have lived there and many still do. And when you see those steeply-pitched
Gothic rooftops and even the moat that surrounds the perimeter of the building,
it's hard not to feel the magic of the place. Given that, it seemed the
perfect setting for a magical book.
Jen: Emilyâ€™s office life somewhat mirrors the television show The
Office. For example, her co-worker Victoria is out for blood. What was the
inspiration for your office setting?
Linda: Several years ago publishing went through a major shift with big
conglomerates gobbling up smaller, gentile publishing houses. Not long after
that I read an article by an insider who discussed the changes in the industry,
how it had become a bottom-line business with colleagues who pretend to work
together when in reality it had become a competition as to whose books did
better. I loved the contrast of mahogany desks and library-like offices turned
upside down by new, bottom-line corporate types.
Jen: When her step-sister Jordan shows up, Emily is doubtful that her
intentions are pure. These two women are in different stages of their life;
however, they are connected by the common bond of their famous feminist mother.
Who is the stronger character and why? In what ways are these two women alike?
Linda: I'm not sure one is necessarily stronger than the other, just
strong in different ways. Each has forged her own life, and then lives it.
Jordan couldn't survive in Emily's world, and Emily couldn't survive in
Jordan's. I think that the happiest people are those who are lucky enough to
find what they are good at AND enjoy doing it. Not to say that there aren't
bumps along the way in everyone's life, but doing something that makes you
happy and that is both challenging and also rewarding, makes for the most
Jen: In order to make a romance complete, there has to be a hottie and
without a doubt, youâ€™ve got one... ex- Navy seal Max! What does Max see in
Emily which makes him willing to take a chance on a grieving widow?
Linda: Max is the kind of character who loves so deeply and intensely
that he can change a woman forever. He's been broken and makes it back; giving
him the kind of strength that Emily needs to see as proof that she can make it
Jen: Towards the end of the novel, it appears that Emily has a sixth-
sense that Einstein and Sandy may be connected. Does it scare her or does it
provide her with the peace she needs to move on?
Linda: Many people believe they can look into the eyes of their dogs
and see their souls. In many ways, for Emily, this book is about believing in
herself, believing in her gut. Her faith in herself and everything she
believes in is tested. Ultimately that's what life is about. Enjoying the
good times and surviving the rough spots, coming out of them stronger.
Jen: Letâ€™s switch gears now and talk about your website! Please take us
on tour highlighting your favorite parts.
Linda: Probably my favorite part is the Linda Francis Lee in NYC
videos. It's been fun to try to show viewers the real New York rather than
something you'd see on TV. Whether it's a night out on the town or grocery
shopping, New York is a very different sort of place to live.
Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you
share with us?
Linda: I am definitely working on the next book about a strong and
quirky woman in New York.
Jen: Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with my readers. EMILY &
EINSTEIN is a fabulous read which I am highly recommending it to all of my
readers. I wish you much success in 2011.
Linda: Thank you for having me! There is nothing better than great
conversations about books!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about EMILY AND EINSTEIN. Please stop by your favorite bookstore or
local library branch and pick up a copy today. Better yet, how would you like
to win one instead?
Answer the following question correctly and you could be one of five winners.
What is the name of Emilyâ€™s sister in EMILY AND EINSTEIN?
Later this month, I will be bringing to you my interview with Christian author
Deborah Bedford. You
wonâ€™t want to miss it.
Until next time...
19 comments posted.
Her step sister is JORDAN. I have heard so many great things about this book. Hope I get to win a copy.
Keep writing and always include a dog.
Smith Mt Lake, VA
(Patricia (Pat) Pascale 7:50pm March 25, 2011)