INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DEANNDRA HALL
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Deanndra Hall: Sure, but you may be sorry. I'm pretty boring. Actually, I live in far western Kentucky with my partner and three silly little dogs. I like to work out at the gym, kayak, hike, and cook healthy food. I love chocolate. I started listening to country music about a year ago and now I'm a die-hard fan. And I'm a shoe freak! And my characters talk out loud to each other in the car. Man, I can't believe I just told you that.
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: Tell us about the Love Under Construction Series.
Deanndra Hall: I'd had Nikki in my head for over 12 years but I didn't have anywhere to put her. When I finally decided it was time to do that, I wanted a story that could really happen with people who could really exist set in a real place. I picked Louisville because I have family there and I like the city. I had intended for it to be just Tony and Nikki, but then all of his friends and big Italian family started showing up. I'd gotten about halfway in before I realized I had a series on my hands, and then when I was finished I pulled the prequel out!
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: What influenced you to write this series? How did you come up with the plot and everything?
Deanndra Hall: You know, I don't really know how to answer that. Like I said before, I had Nikki. When I sat down, I didn't know anything about the rest of the characters, just a general plot. And they kind of took over. My characters and their dialogue really drive my stories. And I love that. But most of my plots come to me fully formed, and the plot and the dialogue play out in my head kind of like a TV show. And it works for me.
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: Tell us about your main characters.
Deanndra Hall: Nikki is pretty much me. I've not had the kind of heartache she experienced, but I did lose my sister when I was 18 and she was 15, so I know what it's like to lose someone you shouldn't have lost. But Nikki's strong and smart and funny and very plain-spoken, and also a little on the shy side with some self-confidence issues. Tony, on the other hand, is very smart and well-educated, very cultured and refined, and still very kind and down-to-earth and approachable. He had self-confidence issues because of Dottie, but Nikki took care of that!
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: How many books will be in this series?
Deanndra Hall: There are four. I just finished combining the prequel and Book 1, Laying a Foundation, into one combo volume. Tearing Down Walls came out November 2013, and Renovating a Heart comes out May 2014. Book 4, Planning an Addition, is due out October or November 2014. After that, there'll be a three-book novella series called the Citadel series (the name of Steve's security firm) that will feature three of the minor characters in the series. I have no idea when those will be out, but I'm sure it'll be sometime in 2015.
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: I love the fact that you're so open with sex in your novels. How do you talk so freely about it? It seems like it's so easy for you to open up and talk about that subject.
Deanndra Hall: I grew up in a community and culture that are very repressed and religiously ultra-conservative. I was taught that sex is dirty. Then I took a human sexuality course in college and figured out that I'd been lied to. Sex is one of the primary human drives. There's nothing wrong with it. It's not just easy for me to talk about in my novels; I speak very easily about it in real life. Once you get to be my age, you forget to be self-conscious with your clothes off. You want to enjoy what's left of your life. As your body changes, you're more willing to experiment. But too many people think sex is supposed to be like a porn movie. That's ridiculous. You try a new position, changing around is awkward, and maybe you fall off the bed. And you need a good sense of humor so you can laugh about it later!
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: What's your favorite thing about writing?
Deanndra Hall: Wow. Nobody's ever asked me that. I'd say it's a toss-up; I love watching the characters come to life, and I actually love the solitude. I need others around, true enough, but nothing's better than an afternoon spent with a bunch of people you love, even if they are imaginary!
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: Other than writing, what do you do with your free time?
Deanndra Hall: Free time? I'm supposed to have free time? Honestly, in the last year and a half I haven't had much free time. Nine books published in less than a year. But I do like to kayak and hike. I like to go to antique stores and consignment stores looking for bargains. I like to hang out with friends. I love to read (of course). I don't watch much TV though. And I work out - a lot. I love weightlifting.
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: What reaction do you hope to get from your readers?
Deanndra Hall: I want them to cry when my characters cry and laugh when they laugh. I want them to really relate to my characters. And at least once in every book, I want every reader to honestly be able to say, "Wow. I didn't see that coming!"
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: What is the best comment you have received from your writing?
Deanndra Hall: I always love it when a reader says, "I was just bawling!" I hear that most about the scene in the green space when Tony makes Nikki talk about her family and it's almost more than she can stand. It scared him to know that sometimes she didn't want to go on living, and he decided it was his job to change that. And readers really relate to that, that hopelessness and loneliness. If it touches them, I've done my job.
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: In one word, how would you explain yourself?
Deanndra Hall: Kind.
Beautifully Broken Book Blog: Any last words?
Deanndra Hall: Yeah. Buy my books! Actually, it would be to enjoy my books. I enjoyed writing them, and I did it for you. So read them, savor them, and tell your friends.
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
20 Fun Facts – Nikki Walters
1. Nikki loves shoes. She has lots and lots of shoes. Tony called her Imelda Marcos one day and made her mad. When she was growing up her mother would only buy her two pair of shoes at a time – a pair for church and a pair for school and play.
2. She really, really wants a car like Vic’s, but she hasn’t told anybody.
3. She’s got a birthmark on the inside of her left arm that’s shaped like a Lego block.
4. Nikki had all kinds of pets growing up, and she had horses too.
5. If she fantasized, it would be about Channing Tatum. But she doesn’t fantasize about anybody except Tony.
6. Her most prized possession. A ring her grandmother gave her that had been her grandmother’s (Nikki’s great-great-grandmother).
7. She loves amethyst. She has an amethyst ring, pendant, earrings, and bracelet. But her all-time favorite piece of jewelry is the sapphire, diamond, and ruby bracelet Tony gave her on their first Fourth of July.
8. Her favorite ice cream flavor is butter pecan.
9. She loves to sing in the shower – loudly. She tries to make sure Tony isn’t around when she does. She’d be embarrassed if he heard her.
10. When she was in high school she wanted to be a disc jockey at a radio station.
11. Her all-time favorite band is Aerosmith; she loves Joe Perry. And she’s a huge Brad Paisley fan.
12. Her lifetime dream has been to own an animal sanctuary where abused, neglected, and abandoned animals could find a lifetime home of safety and comfort.
13. She hates liver; Tony does too, so he doesn’t have to worry that she’ll serve it.
14. She has what she calls a brown thumb. She can’t keep plants alive.
15. She’d love it if they could move to the Gatlinburg house full-time.
16. She wants to have the Walters Construction logo tattooed on her lower back. (Tony says no.)
17. Her favorite show on TV is True Blood.
18. If she were an animal, she’d be a bear. She’s fiercely protective.
19. She’s a nail-biter. That’s why she loves her acrylics.
20. She loves Singha Beer; it’s imported from Thailand.
20 Fun Facts – Tony Walters
1. When Tony was little, he couldn’t say cookie. It came out tookie, so that’s been his nickname between the brothers all his life. He hates it.
2. Tony’s holds a masters in construction engineering. His minor? Believe it or not, English. He originally thought he would be a high school English teacher, but as he got older he wanted to work with the family business. (And Nikki’s pressuring him to get his doctoral degree.)
3. When Tony was playing college baseball, he turned down an offer from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Memphis Redbirds because he he wanted to finish college.
4. His favorite movies are the Men in Black and Men in Black II because his favorite actor is Tommy Lee Jones.
5. He hates rice. Says it “gluey.” Doesn’t mind it cooked in things, but he doesn’t want it in Chinese restaurants, even fried. And he despises liver.
6. He’s very proficient with chopsticks – he and Vic both are.
7. He never had a pet. His parents said they had five kids – that was plenty and they didn’t need animals to take care of.
8. He loves peanut butter, especially chocolate and peanut butter.
9. His first car was a blue 1968 Chevy Nova. He bought it in 1974 while he was in college.
10. His first crush was a girl named Allegra. She was a year older than him in high school. He was never bold enough to speak to her.
11. He’s a huge Moody Blues fan.
12. He’s always wanted to learn to skydive. It’ll never happen now; Nikki would completely freak out.
13. The very first building he was solely responsible for building through the company was a restaurant in downtown Louisville.
14. When he was in second grade he won the spelling bee with the word “navigate.”
15. Tony’s never smoked – well, not cigarettes anyway. But he is pretty fond of the evil North American hemp plant.
16. He loves to fish. He’s never been trout fishing. That’s something he wants to do.
17. He doesn’t have a tattoo and he doesn’t want one. And he doesn’t want Nikki to get one either.
18. He’s really, really picky about how his jeans fit. He has most of them custom tailored.
19. When he was six, Mark and Bart pushed him out of their treehouse and he broke his arm. Sometimes when it’s wet and rainy outside it still bothers him.
20. His only pet peeve with Nikki? He says she’s the absolute worst backseat driver he’s ever seen. He’s quick to remind her that he was driving several years before she was!
20 Fun Facts – Vic
1. By all accounts, Vic doesn’t snore – never did.
2. He’s very, very afraid of the dentist. And he’s not sure why.
3. He didn’t learn to drive until he came back from the military. Tony taught him. Then he went straight out and bought a Mustang.
4. His hair was always short, then even shorter while he was in the Army. When he got out, he decided he wasn’t cutting it – ever.
5. When he stayed overnight with his Nonna Annamaria, she would make him crepes in the morning with cream cheese and fresh fruit. He loved them. Laura’s learning to make them.
6. His father required him to take dance lessons from the time he was four.
7. His favorite song is “Breakdown” by Seether. He thinks it pretty much sums him up.
8. He’s always wanted to meet Magic Johnson.
9. During his senior year of American high school, he had a six-month relationship with one of his wrestling teammates, Jeff. Everybody just thought they were best friends. But he doesn’t even really consider himself bisexual. He says he was “experimenting.”
10. He’s a chess master.
11. His favorite movie is Memento.
12. He likes to go places but he doesn’t like to travel. He loves the idea of teleportation.
13. If you asked him, he’d say he’s an ass man.
14. There’s a scar on his scalp from getting hit over the head with a beer bottle in a bar fight in Singapore.
15. Vic doesn’t like green peas – at all. If they’re added to a dish, he picks them out.
16. He always hoped if and when he had a child, it would be a girl. He helped out with Tony’s kids a lot and always adored Annabeth.
17. Vic’s nonna and a lot of his family are strega. He thinks it’s a lot of hooey.
18. He was at a bar in New York once and was approached by an agent who asked if he’d be interested in being a Chippendales dancer. He declined.
19. He got thrown out of a casino in Las Vegas for counting cards at a blackjack table.
20. Vic thought about attending Army Ranger school, but decided he’d rather come back to Louisville and learn the family business.
Love Under Construction Series Dream Cast (Through Book 3)
Tony – Raoul Bova
Nikki – Patricia Clarkson
Vic – Alessandro Etrusco
Laura – Lauren Graham
Dottie – Roseanne Barr
Kelly – Lisa Ann
Katie – Emmy Rossum
Annabeth – Gal Gadot
Brittany – Deborah Ann Woll
Clayton – Alex O’Loughlin
Raffaella – Valerie Harper
José – Ash Armand
Peyton – Scott Caan
Molly – Mary Louise Parker
Steve – Chris Charles
Doug – Chris Hemsworth
Jared – Sean Murray
Wendy – Alyson Hannigan
Kyle – Jason Ritter
Malcolm – Brandon Mychal Smith
Hunter – Ryan Gosling