Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Blitz: Clarity by Loretta Lost

Interview Loretta Lost

#1. Why did you choose to write about a blind heroine?

Due to the first person narrative, the whole story is colored by the filter of the main character’s point of view. It can make for an excellent reading experience to have a unique personality who is special or charming in some way—maybe they’re just incredibly witty or perceptive. Maybe they’re a hilarious pessimist or self-deprecating downer. I thought it would be challenging and rewarding to allow the reader to experience the story without vision to really put us inside Helen’s world. I feel that since we get to know other characters based on who they are instead of what they look like, there is a greater potential for deep connections.

#2. The first scene of your story is very heartbreaking and difficult to read. Why did you choose to write about the subject matter of rape?

I posted on one of my Facebook fan pages about rape once, and I had several of my readers message me in private and share their experiences. It was quite shocking and disturbing, and I was simply stunned at the frequency of these horrible events. While I do believe there is little I can do to prevent this type of behavior by simply writing, I hope that I can advocate compassion and caring for the victims of abuse by showing the way it has affected Helen.

#3. It was interesting to read about Helen’s retreat deep in the woods. What made you choose this location?

The concept of a reclusive writer living peacefully tucked away in the woods has always been enchanting to me. I often dream of having a similar little writing haven someday. I think being surrounded by nature and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the annoyances of people would be the ideal situation for any writer. The specific location of New Hampshire was inspired by Walt’s cabin in Breaking Bad. The winter scenery was so gorgeous; and just outside the window, the sky has been dumping heaps of magical snow on us for months. I couldn’t resist writing about such a pretty landscape and sanctuary for a girl who likes to call herself Winter.

#4. What about your male lead? Why did you choose to make him a doctor?

I briefly dated an ophthalmologist who shared plenty of interesting surgery stories with me. However, he was boastful and condescending, and simply a horrible person. It was like he used his job and helping people solely as a lure to impress chicks. Sometimes, when people disappoint me in real life, I like to reimagine them as better and more likable people and write them into stories. Liam is a man who wants to help Helen because improving someone’s life will give him joy—not because he gets something in return. (However, I did put some of the negative attributes of my doctor into Owen’s character!)

#5. What’s next for Helen?

You will simply have to read on to see where her story leads. Helen has a difficult struggle ahead of her, coming to terms with her past and trying to move forward into a brighter future. She is a clever and strong girl, and if anyone can do it, I know she can!

Excerpt #1:

“I wish Owen would stop babbling so that I could actually talk to you for five minutes,” Liam muttered. 

“You’re such an interesting person.”

“Me?” I ask in confusion. “I’m just your average hermit writer.”

“Exactly,” he says. I hear a smile in his voice. “I don’t know too many of those. You’re part of a very rare species.”

I look down to hide my embarrassment. I can feel him staring at me; the tension is beginning to grow thick in our small quarters. He is sitting very close to me, even if we are separated by the back of his seat. When Owen was in the car with us, the atmosphere was light and funny. But now, it’s dark and intense; it’s laced with something I don’t understand and don’t want to discover. I try to think of something to say to take his focus away from me and my life. “It’s just a job,” I say dumbly.

He scoffs. “Just a job? Helen, I work with other doctors every day. We heal people, and it should be glamorous; we should feel like heroes. But in truth, it gets... mechanical. At some point, you start to question how important your work really is. I mean, you can heal a person’s body... but that doesn’t really heal the person.  We aren’t just bodies, you know? That’s where your books come into play.” He pauses, and I can feel him giving me an earnest look. “Books are medicine for the soul. They heal the eternal parts of a person.”

“Liam,” I say in surprise.

“You are a doctor of sorts, too,” he tells me, “except for the fact that your work persists. If a person reads a good book—they become permanently changed. They can’t even help it. They can’t unlearn what they’ve learned. It will always be with them. Our bodies all crumble and fade, and we’ll all eventually lose our eyesight near the end, along with many other basic bodily functions. But I like to think that even when we’re gone, the soul retains some of that wisdom—some of that feeling. What I do is simple science, but what you do is... magic.”

“Stop talking,” I whisper. “Seriously, stop talking right now.”

“Why?” he says, somewhat hurt at the interruption.

“Because I’m pretty sure that if you keep talking like this... I’ll have to marry you, or something,” I explain nervously. “So just zip it.”

Excerpt #2:

“Be quiet,” he whispers. “No screaming, or I’ll rip your tongue out. I’m going to release you, but keep your mouth shut, okay?”

I nod. The silence in the room is deafening. My skin is prickled by rising goose bumps, and my heart furiously pumps hot blood through my body. As soon as his hands release me, I swivel and smash my fist into his face. He roars in pain, and I fling my foot outward, letting my heel connect with his knee. Feeling his leg beginning to buckle and crumple, I quickly duck away from him and lunge for the door. Grasping the handle, I pull the door halfway open before I feel it being slammed shut. The boy grabs a fistful of my hair at the back of my head and uses it to smash my face against the door.  I cry out at the sharp pain in my nose, and my lip splits open against my teeth. I taste a bitter, metallic liquid against my tongue. My head spins and I grow dizzy. I feel my body being hauled away from the door and thrown to the ground amid boxes and other debris. I struggle to raise myself onto my elbows to fight against my assailant, but there is suddenly a heavy, crushing weight on top of me.

A large hand clamps around my neck and squeezes. He is suffocating me.

“I can make you feel better, Helen,” he says in a tender voice. “Shhh. Just relax. Relax and let me take care of you.” I feel his hand reaching down to slip under my skirt. “Relax and spread your legs.”

“Are you insane?” I hiss, clawing at the hand he’s holding over my throat. He’s too strong. Tears flood my eyes once again. “I thought you were nice.”

“I guess you missed one too many psychology classes, huh?” he says with a laugh. He leans down and puts his lips very close to my ear. “Just don’t worry, sweet thing. You can’t see me, so I’m not even really here. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“You monster!” I scream hoarsely, struggling against him. “How could you...”

He removes his hand from my neck and hits me across the face. My already bloody lip is swollen and pulsating. I am afraid for my life. Maybe I should stop fighting and let him do whatever he intends to do? My sister and father need me, and I can’t die. It would destroy them. They’ve lost too much already. I can’t seem to stop sobbing. I think of my mother. Maybe I should fight with the two-hundred-pound football player, and hope that he kills me so that I can be with her? My mind is a mess. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know if I’m going to survive this.

“Think about calm ocean breezes,” the man on top of me says in a soothing voice. “Shhh. My sweet Helen. Think about soft waves of the ocean. Shhh. That’s all we are. Soft waves of the ocean.”

His sadistic banter chills me to the bone. Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to me now? Why, at my lowest moment, has the universe found a way to drag me down even further—into an even deeper pit of despair? Is this some kind of sick joke? I must be dreaming. This can’t really be happening.
But his thumb and forefinger continue to press down painfully on either side of my windpipe. I gasp for breath as he steals the life away from me. This is very real.

“Helen,” he coos in a singsong voice as he moves on top of my body. “Helen, Helen, Helen. Such a pretty name, for such a pretty girl. My sweet, sweet Helen. The things I’m going to do to you.”
I am not sure what this man looks like, but I imagine that if I could see him, I would be staring up into the face of pure evil. Perhaps I should be thankful that I will never have to behold something so hideous. If I survive this, I inwardly promise myself, I will have to get stronger, somehow. I can never let something like this happen to me again.

Excerpt #3:

Without any warning, a divine scent assails my nostrils. Releasing my suitcase, I walk into the foyer in wonder. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, turning my body around slowly in a 360 degree spin.

I can imagine the softness of the petals and the glorious colors, in tender pastels or vibrant, rich reds. I have no idea what these words mean, but if the flowers look anything close to the way they smell, they must be unbelievably enchanting. I breathe in again, sifting through all the different aromas in the room; I feel like I am pulling apart a piece of fabric and examining each thread. I can just make out the delicate, intoxicating fragrance of jasmine, along with the spicy sweetness of gardenia. Finally, an unmistakable musky aroma; the dizzying and deeply refreshing aroma of roses.

The perfumed air invades my sinuses and lungs, filling me with memories. I recall springtime picnics in the grass, and my mother holding my hand as we walk barefoot through a gurgling brook. I remember my sister laughing and dumping dozens of fresh, velvety blossoms into my arms. I remember pressing my face into the cool softness of the petals, and feeling happy to be alive.

When I was younger, I would rub my fingers over the dresses in my closet, trying to feel the difference in their color. I hoped that there was some kind of special energy in each color that I could grow to sense, if I tried hard enough. But flowers are different—they are alive! They are exuberant to the touch, and they sing loudly to boast of their beauty; you can’t not see the flowers in your mind when you smell them. 

I hungrily inhale the fragrant air, trying to drink in the memories and squeeze every last drop of beauty out of this aroma. It’s completely overpowering, and I stand there in the middle of the foyer, looking around in a daze. Have I really stepped into my old house, or did that doorway lead into a different dimension? It has been years since I have encountered a remotely nice smell. I have been content with merely agreeable aromas. But to be immersed in such hypnotic and mesmerizing natural perfumes, all mingling together in the perfect combination for my palate! It’s almost unbearable. I almost want to cry at the loveliness of this moment.

I wish I had invited Liam and Owen in to see—but at the same time, I’m glad I did not. The fragrance is so uplifting that it’s almost spiritual, and I would not want them to make fun of me; not in this moment. I wouldn’t want anything to taint my enjoyment of the lush blossoms. I am almost trembling with gratitude for this moment alone with the posies. I feel like it was designed as a special gift, just for me. I stand in meditative silence for a few seconds, just breathing. I savor every breath.

Clarity by Loretta Lost 
(Clarity #1)
Publication date: February 23rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Fiercely independent Helen Winters was born completely blind, but she vowed never to let her disability keep her down. She did not expect a traumatic event to devastate her life and force her to drop out of college. Disillusioned by the cruelty of people, Helen retreated from society to live by herself as a reclusive writer in the woods—where no one could ever hurt her again.

When a brilliant young doctor shows up on her doorstep, promising her that his new research can give her the ability to see for the first time, Helen stubbornly refuses. She has learned not to trust anyone, and to rely only on herself. But Dr. Liam Larson will not take no for an answer. He makes it his personal mission to rescue Helen from her loneliness, and bring joy into her world once more—the joy she has denied herself for so long.

When Helen’s demons come racing back into her life, threatening to rip her apart and destroy the strength she has carefully rebuilt, Liam is the only one who might be able to save her.

Can he reach the broken girl in time, helping her to heal and see the world in a different light? Or will Helen’s grief send her spiraling out of control, lost to him forever?

Loretta Lost knows how dark the world can be, but chooses to believe in happily-ever-afters despite all evidence to the contrary.

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