You guys, I can’t believe how fast the month of July is sailing past. Am I seriously going to have to take my kids back-to-school shopping soon?? Thankfully, the summer still holds a few delights before it ends, and one that I’m insanely excited about is the release of Farewell to Hollywood by Michelle Keener. Which happens…TODAY! *throws confetti*
Even more exciting, I get to host Michelle right here on the blog to get all the deets about the newest book in her Red Carpet Romance series. Michelle is both a wonderful author friend and my brilliant critique partner, so I got to read an early version of Farewell to Hollywood. Let me assure you, you won’t want to miss Kate and Chris’s sweet, swoony romance!
First up, a bit about the book…
Kate Sullivan wants revenge, but how far will she go to get it?
Successful corporate lawyer Kate Sullivan still carries scars from the car accident that killed her little sister. Five years ago, she fled Los Angeles to the East Coast to escape the memories of the man who was driving the other car. But now that she is back in LA, now that she has seen his face, she won’t stop until she finds him, even if that means breaking the heart of the man who has information she needs.
Movie director Chris Johnston wants to do more than make films about explosions and aliens. He puts his career and his reputation on the line to make a documentary about human trafficking. He had planned on making the film alone, until a feisty and stubborn East Coast lawyer offers to help. But he risks more than his career when Kate joins his production company…he risks his heart as well.
From the beaches of Malibu to the studios of Hollywood, Farewell to Hollywood is a story of forgiveness, love, and the power of God’s grace.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Michelle! I’m so excited for the release of this book. What was it like writing Chris and Kate’s story, as the third book in a series? Were there any unique challenges?
Thank you, Kellie! I’m excited too! I was so happy to go back to the Shaw Family again. I just loved seeing familiar faces show up in the story and seeing how all these characters have grown. One of the biggest challenges for me in this book was Kate’s story. She came into Mission Hollywood as the hard as nails best friend and gave Ben so much grief, and then she was so hard on Hannah in Made in Hollywood, that to now show her vulnerable and soft side was a big change.
Of course, seeing that other side of Kate is what makes me love Farewell to Hollywood so much. I felt like I could really understand her. Do you have a favorite character in this book? How about in the Red Carpet Romance series?
I think my favorite character in this book is Kate. I relate to her, and I understand her struggles. Her desperate need for independence and to be in control is something that I recognize in myself, so it was very personal for me at times. As for a favorite character in the whole series…it has to be Noah. He’s funny, kind, a little goofy, and he absolutely adores Hannah. Noah is actually the favorite of everyone in my family, though Pastor Evan runs a close second.
I love Noah too! Now, you’re supporting a cause with this book, right? Can you tell us more about it?
I am! Part of the proceeds from Farewell to Hollywood is going to Stop Traffic Walk San Diego to help raise awareness about human trafficking and fund programs for survivors. There is a subplot in Farewell to Hollywood that involves human trafficking, so partnering with Stop Traffic Walk seemed like a perfect match, and they have been absolutely incredible in including me in their event. In fact, I will be at the walk in September signing books! Readers can also join Team Hollywood virtually and participate from wherever they are in the world.
That’s awesome! Although I wish I could be there to get my book signed, I’ll be joining you virtually from Michigan. What motivated you to raise awareness about this important issue?
I first learned about the extent of human trafficking when I lived on the East Coast, and I was stunned by the statistics. When we moved to San Diego, I was once again shocked to find out I was living in a city that is one of the top sites for human trafficking in the country. I can’t believe we live in a world where slavery still exists, and if I have a chance to do something about it, I have to take it.
It shocked me too when I learned about the extent of human trafficking right here in west Michigan. Thank you for what you’re doing to raise awareness, and the example you’re setting for all of us. What else do you hope readers take away from this story? From the series?
This book focuses on forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of those things that sounds great, but can be so hard to do. When we’ve been hurt its easier to hold on to the pain and the anger. Forgiveness seems like too much sometimes, and it definitely doesn’t seem fair. That’s what Kate has to confront. So, I hope readers see how the love and grace of God makes forgiveness possible. It’s not about us and what we can do, it’s all about God and what He can do. That’s really the point, that’s why I write and why I speak, it’s all about Him.
I love that, and I think the Red Carpet series has pointed us readers to so many important truths about God’s love and grace. Is this really goodbye to Hollywood, or will there be any more books in the series? I heard a rumor about a prequel… (*ahem* Okay, I might have read an early version of the prequel…)
The book is titled Farewell to Hollywood, but it’s not really goodbye. There just might be a surprise prequel in the works. I mean, wouldn’t we all like to know a little more about Pastor Evan? Oh no, I’ve said too much.
Why yes, we do want to learn more about Pastor Evan! Now we have something else to look forward to. 🙂 I want to shift gears a bit and ask about writing. What are some of your strengths as a writer? Weaknesses? How do you overcome them?
Hmmm…I think my greatest strength as a writer is finishing a book. Seriously, I know it sounds strange, but it takes work (a lot of work) to finish a book and get it all the way into my publisher’s hands. You know how much time and effort finishing a book takes, Kellie.
I most definitely do!
Actually typing The End on a book that you’ve written is a huge thing, and I think any writer who does that should celebrate! My greatest weakness…I underwrite every first draft. Every. Single. One. I am a hard core pantser when I write fiction so my first drafts are very lean and always have to be built up in the second draft. I am trying to take my nonfiction research and outlining skills and apply them to my novels, but I just get so excited to tell the story that I jump in and don’t realize I’m stuck until it’s too late.
And that’s why we need to revise, right? My first drafts are usually the opposite, overwritten and full of saggy scenes. Writing can be a difficult profession, full of ups and downs. Michelle, do you have any advice to share with other writers, published or unpublished, based on your experience?
My best advice is to keep writing. Write what you love. Write the story you want to tell. Write it the best way you can. Embrace the creativity and the joy of telling a story. Published or not, the story you create is important and it matters. As for dealing with the ups and downs of the business, I recommend finding supportive writing friends who can celebrate or sulk with you. Writing is usually a solitary endeavor, but you don’t have to be alone. Build a writer support system and encourage each other. Oh, and chocolate…lots and lots of chocolate.
Aww, I love that advice! The relationships I’ve built over the last few years have been one of the best parts of my writing career. And you can’t go wrong with chocolate. Let me pass the virtual cookies.
Too bad we can’t have real tea and treats together! I know you’re busy right now with your PhD program (see, I told you all she was brilliant!), but what’s next for you as an author?
Next up is the super-secret prequel. If all goes well, it should be out in the world next year. After that, I have some nonfiction book ideas that I will be working on.
I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! Where can we find you on social media?
You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all @MKeenerWrites, and you can stop by my website www.MichelleKeener.com where you can also snag a free ebook of my devotional You Are…30 Names God Has Given You and What They Mean.
Ooh, noted! And last up, some quick Q&A’s:
- Mountains or beach? Mountains
- Tea or coffee? Coffee…all the coffee.
- Spring or fall? Fall.
- Movie theater or streaming at home? Movie theatre…with Junior Mints and Coke. I knew we were friends for a reason.
- Early bird or night owl? Night owl.
- Massage or pedicure? Ok, don’t laugh…neither.
- DC or Marvel? Marvel.
- Ebook or paper copy? Paper copy.
- Gymnastics or figure skating? Figure skating!!! Fun fact, I was a competitive figure skater and so is my daughter. We are both ice obsessed.
- Favorite movie? The Man Who Invented Christmas.
- Ideal vacation spot? Ireland. Just for you, Michelle, here are the Cliffs of Moher from my 2017 trip.
- Ideal home décor? The library from Beauty and the Beast.
- Favorite gift you’ve received? A coffee mug that says “Keep Calm, It’s Only A First Draft.”
I love that! Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today, Michelle, and congratulations on your new release! Readers, be sure to snag your copy of Farewell to Hollywood. You won’t want to miss it!