Last week, I took a break from my "Conversations with Characters" series and shared why Joey was such a special character to me and my reason for writing his story. This week feels like the perfect time to get to know Ally a bit in anticipation of the January 15 release of "I Never Stopped Loving You."
This interview is a little different because we don't want to give away any spoilers from the book. We know from the first two books in the series that Ally and Joey dated for years long distance and that something happened and they ended up apart. During that time, Ally dated someone else, accepted an engagement ring, and gave it back. By the end of Joey's summer trip home, we see them back together and in the holiday collection, we get a sneak peek into their life together once Joey's home for good.
That really catches us up on what we know about Ally so far and brings us to today's conversation.
What else do you want people to know about you before they read your book?
I think they know everything they need to. Honestly, our story is mostly everything that happens before Joey's summer trip home that we see in the first two books. That's our true love story. It's the story of a girl who grew up in a house where she didn't hear 'I love you' and was raised to have really strict ideas about what relationships were. She spent her last year of high school and college living with her Grandma who was her best friend. Grandma encouraged me to take chances and played a role in introducing me to Joey.
The first week I met Joey, my life completely changed. I was 19, in college, and scared of everything. I didn't even know how to make a friend outside of my very small social circle. The idea of going out to coffee or pizza with girls from church on Sunday terrified me, but for some reason, I was able to spend an entire week with Joey on his trip home. Why do you think you were able to so easily open up to Joey?
That's all him. I think we see in the first two books that he's special. He always puts others above himself. He's a fixer. He sees a problem and he does everything he can to fix it. He was easy to talk to from the first day and took everything at my pace. He knew that I was shy and that my past was hard, so he encouraged me to write it in letters. We dated for three-and-a-half years and we wrote letters the entire time. You get to see some of those in the book. We know that you and Joey break up before his trip home that we see in the first two books. I don't want to give away too much about why it happens or when, but I did find it interesting that as your author, I don't know a lot about your time during the breakup.
That's not our story. We end up referring to that time as our five-month detour that we realize in the end makes us stronger. There's not a lot more to tell about that than what you get in my conversation with Lucy and Jesse the night we are all at my apartment and what I tell Joey the night I find him at Rocky's. You see us reading the letters we each wrote while we were apart, but we don't share any of them in the book, because that time is really something only we need to know about. Joey knows that I was never able to fully commit to that relationship and that I didn't hide anything about Joey or my heartbreak in that relationship and that's all that matters.
I went to type the words 'The End' at the end of your book and you got very loud and stopped me. Why?
Our story doesn't end in our book. You still see us in Shauna and Micah's and in Book 6, plus we will be in Tony and Lucy's book. Joey's definitely in the last book of the series. I have a feeling all of us will be because that love story shocks everyone. Someone's Epilogue gives a really important update about our future, so I didn't want 'The End.'
So far, no one has wanted those words at the end of their books. Why not?
Because each book in Woods Lake tells primarily one couple's story, but overall the books tell all of our stories and no matter what order you read them in, until you've read them all, you aren't done. No one's story will be done until you type 'The End' at the end of the last book because we get updates on people through recurring character appearances in future books.
Let's end today's conversation with a quick getting to know you game. We learn in your book that you're a reader. Let's get to know Joey's favorite bookworm.
Romance or mystery
Friend's brother or brother's best friend. I like friends to lovers too.
Least favorite trope?
Bully. I'm not a huge fan of any of the dark stuff. MC is my exception, but only a handful of authors.
Too hard of a question. I read a lot of romance authors so I refuse to answer that. I'm a huge John Grishman fan. I'll give you that one.
Music, TV, or silence while reading?
silence or music
Favorite snack while reading?
Favorite Joey memory?
The day he convinced me to jump off the dock at the lake. That was terrifying.
Is that why you insisted on the cover of your book being a dock and lake when I had something completely different planned and made?
Yes. That day solidified for me that I could always trust Joey and he'd always catch me no matter how hard I fell. Our cover needed to be that day at the lake.
Final question. No one will be surprised that your book has music references because Joey is our music guy. Which song has your favorite memory?
'Home' by Blue October. It was perfect.