Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Meet & Greet with Lillie Cullen

Monday Meet and Greet

Today we get to meet Lillie Cullen, author of Redemption, Kiss on the Neck, In the Heat of the Night, NCB, Inc, and...

Photobucket know Lillie Cullen, right? At least...I know if you're a Jasper/Bella shipper, you KNOW her. Her name is synonymous with Jasper-fan-outrage thanks to A Lesson in Fate. I remember reading A Lesson in Release, the first installment in her Lessons trilogy, and swooning with joy. The story was great...and the lemons even greater! So, when I hunkered down to read A Lesson in Fate, I couldn't wait to see what was in-store for Bella and Jasper...

But I wasn't expecting THAT! Lillie caused QUITE the uproar with her sequel, and the incensed whispers of scorned ALIR readers filled the campus of Fan Fiction University.

This was my first reaction to ALIF:


This was my second reaction:


Actually, that second reaction...? Poor Lillie, I actually PM'd her to tell her that that was what really happened to me while reading ALIF and that I couldn't continue any further...

While many people were beyond angry with Bella's decision, what Lillie accomplished as a writer is something that I think most writers hope to achieve - the ability to incite passion...emotion...and dialogue with the reader. It takes a very good author to be able to do this, and Lillie did it with flying colours.

Lillie is quite accomplished, actually. She won the Dorchester Editor's Choice Award and was a Semi-Finalist for the Dorchester "Next Best Celler" Romance Writing Contest for Manhunt. By her sheer number of votes, Lillie's original story held a textnovel record, and was the most popular book on the shortlist. Congratulations, Lillie!

So, Lambchops, let's sit back and get to know her a little better!

Tell us about yourself. Married? Single? Kids, age, ..whatever you'd like to share.

I'm happily married to my college sweetheart, and we have two children, a boy and a girl, two cats, a dog and a guinea pig. They are my reason for existing (the kids, not the dog).


Tell us about Twilight. How did you first get into the Saga, when was the first time you read it, and which book is your favorite?

From my sister. She was reading them and had fallen in love with them. I finished them each in a day or two and we spent hours discussing them. I fell in love with the first three, but I think Eclipse was my favorite. Bella finally got a backbone. I pretend it's a trilogy, though. I HATED Breaking Dawn.


What got you to start reading Twilight Fanfiction? Do you remember the first fic you read?

I used to read and write Highlander fan fiction back when that show was on the air. After I had read the first three books for a second time, it occurred to me that there were so many directions a fan fiction story could go from this universe, and googled it. Voila! The first fan fiction story I read was Peonies. It was so sad and beautiful, it made me cry. It's the only story without a happy ending on my favorites list.

Which are your favorite stories?

This is totally a cop-out answer, I know, but there are far too many to count. Check out my fav's list. Also on my profile there is a list of all the stories I have beta'ed. They are all great stories in different ways.

Who are your favorite characters, from who you like the most to er...who you would like to kill right off the bat?

In the books, I think Carlisle was my favorite character. I would have loved to have read more of his backstory. In fact, I might write a story like that one day. In fan fiction, definitely Jasper. I doubt I'll ever get over my obsession for the part bad-boy, part southern gentleman, all sex-on-legs that is Jasper Whitlock. My least favorite character, in both the books and the movies, is Rosalie. She annoys me to no end. And Bella.

All in all, I thought the casting was very good in Twilight, except for Jasper. Jackson Rathbone is so far removed from my mental Jasper that it's not even funny. My Jazz is much sexier, smoother, and never looks constipated. I was really iffy on the matter when I heard that Cedric Diggory was going to play Edward, but I have to say, Robert Pattinson IS my mental Edward. After you get past the stupid holding his nose scene in Biology, he was the perfect embodiment of Edward, down to the smallest facial expressions and those damn sexy piano fingers. ;)


Which fics are you reading right now, and which ones have your complete attention whenever they pop with an update?

I'm not reading much lately; things have been too hectic and what spare time I have, I've devoted to writing. Off the top of my head, though, I love "The Blizzard" by sheviking, "The Harder They Fall," by Ironic Twist and "This Is Not My Life" by tellingmelies right now.

What made you finally decide to start writing your own?

Although my degree is in wildlife biology, I have always had a love for writing. I tutored English Composition and was a T.A. for English as a Second Language in college. I've been published before, although in a nonfiction category. I decided to write A Lesson in Release, which was originally intended to be a one-shot, just to blow the dust off my writing skills and see if I could still do it.

What was the backlash like for you personally with A Lesson in Fate? Did it teach you anything about the reader?

A Lesson in Fate was a very interesting adventure for me. It created two vastly divided teams of readers, equally passionate on their views of who should 'get the girl' in the end.


On the one hand, I was truly blessed by readers who were so invested in my story. For every Team Jasper who absolutely hated me for sending Bella back to Edward, there was a Team Edward who was singing my praises. I made a joke on Facebook the other day that taking Bella away from Jasper in ALIF had angered the karma gods, and you should have seen the PMs I got -- from both sides -- at that! I had almost forgotten how strongly people felt about that story (and still do, apparently!) On the other hand, it was incredibly hard for me, knowing that I was bound to disappoint and possibly anger half my fans. Which I did. I have vowed to never write another love triangle story ever again.

The riots of 2009 will long be remembered:


For me, however, A Lesson in Fate was less about who 'won' and more about growing up and learning from your mistakes. I wanted to explore both sides of this love triangle in a real way; what they were thinking, how they were feeling. It was important to me that both men were true to who they were and that they were allowed to grow and mature. There's not always a good guy and a bad guy, and sometimes there are no clear cut right and wrong answers in life. There are only the choices you feel you can live with. Would Jasper and Bella's guilt for their infidelity drive a wedge between them? And what would happen if it did, especially if, at the same time Edward was learning from his mistakes and doing some maturing of his own? Knowing there was no way I could please everyone freed me, in a way, to write the story the way I felt it needed to go, and in all honestly, am quite proud of it. I must admit, though, that a driving force behind writing A Lesson in Love is that I feel I owe it to Jazz.

Tell us about your original fiction and what that whole experience has been like.

Writing Manhunt has been another amazing journey. I was overwhelmed and honored beyond all belief at the support I received from the fandom when I undertook this venture. I had never been so nervous in my life as I was when I entered that contest, and coming in first place in the voting round (by a landslide!) was the greatest gift my fans could have ever given me. If nothing else ever came of it, it would have been more than enough. I had some personal issues that have delayed Manhunt's completion, but I only have two, maybe three, chapters left and then it is off to the publishers!

An Original Romantic Suspense Novel

Michael Brennan and Nikki Wright shared a bond created by love, loss, and hardship. Michael's life was finally taking a turn for the better while Nikki's was descending into darkness, until one fateful night changed everything. Just how much is Michael willing to give up for love? How far is he willing to run?

"Have you seen this man? His name is Michael Brennan and he has been identified by Federal authorities as a person of interest in the shooting death of Sebastian Cross and the disappearance of Nicole Wright. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Michael Brennan should call the Federal Crimestoppers Alert line at 888-555-1234. Coming up next on News at 11..."

What's the atmosphere like when you're writing? Music.. screaming and ripping each other apart, or husband bitching in the background? Do you drink and/or smoke?

I usually write while the kids are at school, or late at night after everyone has gone to sleep. I like to listen to music while I'm writing, and will intentionally choose music that matches the mood of what I'm writing. I don't smoke, but I do like to have a drink handy, usually either a glass of wine or a cup of tea. If it's the weekend and I'm writing lemons -- a chocolate martini. Or two. ;)

What else do you like to read besides Twilight?

Everything and anything. Like Bella, I have a love of the classics. I recently read a book called "Twilight and Philosophy" which was a very interesting take on supernatural beings in literature.

What else do you like to do?

I love to play with my kids. Right now we are all really into this video game called Dragon Age. It's a role playing game, kind of like Dungeons and Dragons, but cooler. It is part action, part adventure, part strategy and part romance. It's almost like writing your own book and watching it come to life in real time. There is a growing collection of fan fiction available for it, too. Right now "Find the Way" by PolevaAzhreia owns me.

I am also helping my nine year old daughter start her own jewelry design company, called CaroleAnn's Creations. She started out a year or so ago making gifts for family and friends. She received so many compliments and requests, she decided to start selling them. You can follow her on Twitter at @CaroleAnnCreate or check out her store at CaroleAnn's Creations. She has two pieces that will be offered up for The Fandom Gives Back auction in June. I'm very proud of her.


Attention Lambchop Shoppers: Per CaroleAnn's twitter page, here are the two pieces! Very nice, CaroleAnn!


Tell us a secret.

If I tell you, then it wouldn't be a secret, would it? LOL



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