Thank you for stopping by, Lisa. I know readers are looking forward to learn a little about you. We are curious. Did you always want to be a writer?
A. Growing up, my father refused to have a television in the house so it’s not surprising that my family all read voraciously. But reading alone doesn’t make a good writer. In my case, I always knew that I could write. I remember, when I was in elementary school, daydreaming about characters and inventing elaborate plots, but at twelve grownup responsibilities forced me to focus on the practical. Fortunately, I still found time to read – non-fiction to feed my hungry curiosity and fiction for escape and solace. But it wasn’t until my children were grown that the need to write novels resurfaced, abruptly and with the impact of a tsunami.
Q. Where do you get ideas for your books?
A. My books are generally inspired by someone covered by the media who I find intriguing. Given a few days to a month, my imagination invents the physical description, character strengths, weaknesses, quirks and a past that is both interesting and logical. To that I add problems for my protagonist, which in turn produces supporting characters, who each receive a physical description, character strengths, etc. In no time, I have the basic outline of a plot.
Q: What inspired Exceeding Expectations?
A. Several years ago Florida television and newspapers were reporting a story of a local Palm Beach socialite (ironically named Fagan) arrested for kidnapping his daughters eighteen years earlier, when they were 2 and 5 years old. The primary reason that it had taken eighteen years to find Fagan was that he had successfully reinvented himself. As William S. Martin, a handsome widower with two young daughters and no apparent means of support, Fagan had met and married a wealthy Palm Beach widow. After their divorce, another affluent woman agreed to wed and maintain his family’s plush lifestyle.
Neighbors, friends and the teachers at the girls’ tony private school all described him as “likeable,” “charming” and “devoted father.” Throughout his arrest and subsequent proceedings, his loyal third wife steadfastly stood by him, as did both daughters. Perhaps what most surprised people who followed the case was that the girls’ mother, a research scientist teaching at the University of Virginia, through the media and her attorney, repeatedly begged her daughters to meet with her and they refused. To my knowledge, that continues to this day.
As I was following the case I found myself thinking that there was an even juicier story behind this headline-grabber and set out to create one. I began with a few core facts. A man with an invented name and history, twice married to wealthy widows, living in Palm Beach, playground of the mega-rich and famous, and involved in a crime. Two adoring daughters unaware of their true identities. In no time my imagination happily supplied the rest. Jack Morgan: skilled lover, lack-luster artist and irresistible rascal. A townhouse off Fifth Avenue. A sprawling estate in Virginia. Romantic Paris in the years prior to WWII. And a full range of challenges and hard-wrought triumphs for his traumatized daughter Charlotte (Charlie).
Q. How do you decide on your book titles?
A. My goal is to have a title that is both memorable and unique. As an author I love playing with words. I chose Exceeding Expectations as a fun homage to Charles Dicken’s immortal Great Expectations. Its sequel, Paradise Misplaced, is obviously a play on John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Q. Do your books require much research?
A. Absolutely! Some far more than others. I’m a stickler for accuracy. When I find the 2nd or 3rd critical error in a movie or someone else’s book, I’m done. Fortunately, I love history and find research fun. I estimate that for every researched detail I use, thirty are waiting to be plucked from my Word files or taking up needed space in my brain. Is it any wonder I have a problem with remembering the names of people I meet?
About Exceeding Expectations
It’s 1961 and Palm Beach socialite, irresistible rascal and devoted father Jack Morgan encounters genuine danger while staging his suicide to shield his beloved daughters from disgrace. Next, meet his daughter Charlotte (Charlie), an over-indulged 23 year-old struggling to cope with the traumatizing loss of her beloved father, her sister’s resulting mental breakdown and the discovery that she’s suddenly penniless. Fortunately Raul, an admiring young attorney, appears to offer assistance. As terrified as she is about daily survival, Charlie soon realizes that she has to learn what drove her father to kill himself. With Raul’s much needed ego-bolstering, the drive of necessity and unforeseen determination, Charlie finds a practical use for her annoyingly lean 5’ 11” frame. In time, this career finances her hard-wrought independence, her sister’s costly treatment and an emotional eye-opening journey to Paris.
Jumping back in time to romantic pre-WWII Paris, readers meet young Alan Fitzpatrick – aka Jack Morgan – lack-luster artist and expert lover and the bewitching Jewish girl who will become the mother of his children. Not even Charlie’s relentless detective work will uncover all Jack’s secrets, but in a fireworks of surprise endings, she discovers all that she needs to know and more: disturbing truths about her father, her own unique talent, crimes great and small and a diabolical villain.
Exceeding Expectations is available for e-readers and in print.
Or visit her website http://www.LisaAprilSmith.com