EE your fourth book in the Just Life Series "Just the Way You Are" releases April 17th. Tell us a bit about "Just the Way You Are".
Just the Way You Are is the story of Jonathan’s journey from his dark past to his brighter future. Catt Ford understood that at a fundamental level and gave me the cover I desperately needed. Didn’t she do a great job?
I put a lot of humour into the story because I needed to balance the angsty bits. Jonathan’s emotional recovery from abuse was difficult to write because often abuse victims suppress their emotional responses for so long they’re not aware they’re feeling anything. I hope Jonathan’s swings between helplessness and aggressive control read realistically. I know his behaviour’s not unrealistic because I’ve gone through something similar myself, but only the readers can tell me if I’ve written it as well as I hope I have.
I love Jonathan to bits but my favourite character in the book is Neridah. Neridah and Tahlia, Jonathan’s new neighbours, grew out of one of my sisters saying she wanted me to put her in a book. I took a few aspects of her personality, multiplied the severity of those idiosyncrasies by about a thousand and split them across two characters. I think it works. Neridah is coarse and irreverent but with a heart of pure gold. Tahlia is sweet and caring, and pretty much oblivious to things until they hit her in the face (literally in Tahlia’s case). Both of them are totally adorable.
Sequel to Just in Time
Just Life: Book Four
After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.
He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap. For Ben, it's love at first sight, and he doesn't want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.
When you started out with "Just His Type" (Book #1), did you have any idea it would become a series?
When I wrote Just His Type, I wasn’t even sure it was a story on its own. It started out as a bit of fun, combining bits and pieces of people I saw in a cafe I frequent. Then I overheard a snippet of conversation in another shop and the whole thing dropped into place like perfectly placed Tetris. It wasn’t until Just His Type had gone into production that I realised there was more to the story. Rebel and Daron needed a happy ending. It wasn’t their fate to be together, so I had to find out what their fate was. Just Like a Date was their story and, I thought, finished it. But wait, there’s more… We met Mark, Jeremy’s ex, in Just Like a Date, and he intrigued me so much I had to tell his story next. Then of course, Jonathan was in Just in Time. Oddly enough, Jonathan’s story is the only one I knew was coming next at the end of the previous story. It took me a while to be able to write it though.
You've also written two linked books set during/after the first world war. Were you surprised at the interest in this era of Australian history?
I was a bit surprised. It’s not often you see books set in that era, especially when my focus was definitely not the war. In Between Love and Honor, while most of the story is set just before and just after war is declared, we don’t actually see much of the impact of the war, except some brief references to attitudes towards men who didn’t enlist. We don’t see anything of the war in The Courage to Love either as it’s set after the war finishes and explores, to some degree, the very personal cost of war. I’ve loved Carl and David from the beginning, and knew I had to find someone special to join Carl in David’s heart. Bernard is perfect for David: he needs him but he doesn’t take his ‘woe is me’ crap. I was gratified to read some of the reviewers make comments about how fresh they found the different focus—on the everyday lives of people who might or might not have fought.
What are you working on now?
I’ve always been interested in Australian history and have often wondered what the Aboriginal people really thought when Europeans landed and decided their home was a good place for a penal colony. That’s inspired the novel I’m writing at the moment. It has three different timelines over two planets and two dimensions. Only one timeline is told chronologically so, after about 13000 words, I realised I’d have to plot ahead of writing it to make sure I don’t miss any important things. It’s coming along slowly. I’m enjoying writing out of my comfort zone, but struggling to make sure all the different and varied elements are connected strongly enough to hold the readers’ attention.
Once I started getting involved in that story, I realized I needed something a bit simpler to work on as a break for my brain. I picked two characters from the novel and wrote about when they met, up to when they first appear in the novel. It was fun but you can’t tell it’s SF because it’s written entirely in the contemporary timeline. By the time I finished that, I had another idea, and now I’m writing very different SF story that’s inspired by random elements from American slavery, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Animal Farm, and an article I read a while ago on the circumstances under which people turn to cannibalism. It’s sort of a dystopian throwback society. Of course with all that swimming around inside my head, what was once a simple 5000 word short story target might end up something else entirely.
Thanks for dropping by EE - and good luck with "Just the Way You Are"
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own “better place” is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Web, blog and free short stories: www.eemontgomery.com