It's always a pleasant surprise when writers whose craft you like and respect are cool in person as well. I can tell you, with absolutely no reservations, that Lily Java is one of those writers. She's mellow, patient, thoughtful, a great listener and always willing to indulge existential, political or personal diatribes. And those personality traits are not inconsequential. First of all, the ability to entertain diatribes means she's probably always going to have good material to write about. And if a writer is a great listener, she's likely a great observer. If she's patient, she's likely to notice and pay attention to details. If she's thoughtful, she'll likely write characters that are full, and three-dimensional and realistic. All of these things are true of my friend, and (one of my) partner(s) in this Wine with Writers venture, Lily Java. When you meet her, you'll love her, but as a bonus, you're also sure to love her work. By all means, check out her backlist, but the one most relevant right now is 'Blackbirds', the novel that grew out of a compilation Lily, Jacinta Howard, Rae Lamar and I did together called 'Because My Heart Said So.'
'Blackbirds' introduced us to a few intriguing characters who Lily will be revisiting with two new releases this month. Yes, TWO, and yes, THIS month. Both of them. But to be ready, you've gotta read 'Blackbirds'. It's only a ridiculous 99 cents on Amazon and if you can't spare that, it's FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Read. It.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek while this month's releases were in progress, and I can tell you, they are both exceptional and immersive reading experiences. 'Ethan's Choice: Blank Pages I' is a follow-up to 'Blackbirds' and 'Serena's Vow: Blank Pages II' is a follow-up to that. At Wine with Writers 2019, she'll be signing copies of these brand new releases. Look out for them on October 18th and October 25th respectively. But in the meantime, I asked Lily 5 Quickfire Questions, so you can get to know her a little bit better. Here goes:
Lily, if you could only choose one vacation destination where would you pick and why?
The where, is optional as long as it meets certain specific requirements. I’m a born city girl but the natural world is a beacon for me. Choosing ONE ideal vacation would include close proximity to water: beach, lake, river, brook or stream – any or all would do. I’d need to see all kinds of plant and animal life. For personal reasons, I wouldn’t even mind seeing a bear or a tiger as long as I could watch them from a safe distance. The one life form I would not need to see a lot of is people. Some remoteness on that score would be nice. I’d need some roomy shelter to live in preferably with a sizable kitchen, a good bed, a fireplace, and Wi-Fi. I may be into nature, but I hate camping, prefer toilets to ditches, and I’m not a Luddite. Yeah, I’m a contradiction on my best day.
Are you spring, summer, fall, or winter?
My favorite season is fall, but I’m probably a winter. I was born in the middle of one of the worst winters NYC ever saw. Every year on my birthday the weather is usually inclement, and whether it’s become learned behavior or not, I never seem to care. I got married in the winter. It was 36 degrees and rained – a couple of Irish coffees and we were golden. Give me a winter wardrobe: boots, coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, and GLOVES. I love gloves. I’d rather be too cold than too hot any day. Some of my favorite things usually only show up in winter months: hot chocolate, Christmas trees, pristine snowfalls, roaring fires, homemade beef stew, soft blankets, and men in Henley shirts or hoodies. The best combination of drinks I’ve ever had only works well on an extremely cold day (a glass of Armagnac, immediately followed by a very cold glass of champagne). One of the main reasons I’ve never moved south is I’d have to give up having all four seasons, and I’m not ready…yet.
Why is it so hard for people to make real connections when almost everyone wants to make real connections?
Compatibility doesn’t come easily. Even the most trivial relationships require some work. Also, the person or persons that would, under most circumstances, make the ideal connection, aren’t always going to be in sync with you. They may be the wrong age, gender, or have a seriously different marital, financial, or social status than you. Fear and insecurity also makes things super difficult. I heard somewhere recently that taking a chance on love is an act of bravery. That’s probably true of any “real connection”. You have to be courageous enough to find people to connect with and then be willing to take a chance that they might disappoint you someday. It ain’t easy. So why do it? The possibility of joy once that connection is found is enormous, even despite the challenge it took to seek it out in the first place.
What are the most common road blocks that stop people from achieving their dreams?
A lack of confidence that they’re able to, I suspect. Though I think there are layers to that. For example, the endless and impossible pursuit of perfection is like never ending roadkill on the path to dreams. Dreams, I think are meant to be wild, vivid, seemingly impossible to follow roadmaps to what makes our hearts beat faster, what wakes us up every morning, what calls to us even when we try to ignore it. Not everyone can be strong and relentless enough to achieve their dreams or accepting enough to realize when they’ve already found the dream they weren’t really looking for and didn’t even know they wanted. I think the biggest roadblock to achieving dreams is often the simple naysayer who for good or bad reasons tells a person they can’t or shouldn’t and we believe them. I’ve always been a risk taker and driven. I balked loudly and often when anyone tried to tell me I couldn’t do something and yet, there are still times I have to fight that inner voice that insists on telling me I can’t. It’s an exhausting and endless fight but it gets easier when you know to expect it.
If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why?
Forty-two. My grandmother, who was my favorite person in the world, lived to be eighty-nine, but she gave birth to my mother, the baby of five children when she was forty-two years old. Forty-two is old enough to know a great deal. At that age you’re literally betwixt and between. You’re likely to be just about halfway through this life but not too old to enjoy it. If you’re a woman, sex is better and you’ve still got three years or more before you have to see yet another great physical shake up in your life begin. If you’re a man, someone eighteen to twenty-four could easily be deluded into thinking they’re in love with you for your maturity. HA! By forty-two, you know your own mind fairly well. There’s not a whole lot of indecisiveness that goes along with being in your forties. By that time, you’re convinced about your favorite music, color, food, parent and/or offspring. Basically, forty-two is not too old for you to be able to do anything you’d like to do but forty-two is definitely old enough to decide you’re only going to do what you want to do.
If these answers made you curious enough to want to meet Lily (and how could they not?) register for Wine with Writers 2019. She'll be there, with a bunch of other folks. ;-)