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Interview with TK Leigh, author of A Beautiful Mess

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A Beautiful Mess is the story of two individuals who have trouble dealing with their past. Olivia lost everyone she was ever close to, first when she was six and then again when she was in her twenties. Because of these losses, she refuses to get close to anyone. Until she meets Alexander Burnham one night. There’s an immediate connection between the two and they both try to fight it at first.

Alexander has suffered loss too, having lost his best friend when he was nine and he never really got over it. He still carries regret for not doing more to save his friend’s life all those years ago. When he meets Olivia, he’s immediately reminded of his childhood best friend and starts to wonder whether it’s her. They have the same name after all.

What happens next?
The book progresses with Alexander trying to balance keeping a rather large secret from Olivia and the need to protect her. It’s  a constant struggle for him. At the same time, Olivia is struggling with her fears of getting close to Alexander and losing him, trying to suppress her urge to do what she normally does when things get scary or complicated… She runs.

What genre is this?
It’s a beautiful love story, but there’s so much more. There are men who are after Olivia because they think she holds the key to the location of rather incriminating documents.  Alexander is trying to protect her from these threats to her very existence, while at the same time keeping her true identity a secret from her. Will he ever tell her what she yearns to know about her past? You’ll just have to read to find out.

A Beautiful Mess has received really glowing reviews. What demographic of readers has it attracted?
It’s really attracted a wide demographic of readers. Most of my readers are female but I have received some glowing reviews from a few men, much to my surprise. The age group ranges from eighteen to sixties. It’s a book that appears to be enjoyed by a very diverse population.

Talk to us about Olivia Adler. What’s she like?
She’s a bit of a lost soul still trying to figure out who she is. She’s a strong character and doesn’t put up with crap from anyone, but at the same time, she has issues with abandonment. She uses sex as a coping mechanism until she meets Alexander. Before he walked into her life, she wouldn’t get close to anyone and instead settled for just the occasional no-strings-attached relationship. But there’s a spark between her and Alexander. She’s a musician who has issues expressing herself, except with music. Throughout the book, music plays a big role in her life and we see her beginning to express herself with music.

Tell us about Alexander Burnham. At the risk of sounding shallow, what does he look like?
Oh, Alexander Burnham. He is tall, dark, handsome, and devastatingly wealthy. He has a bit of a dominant side to him that we see occasionally, but then he has this amazing sweet side that women just swoon over. When I was writing him, it was a bit of a struggle at first. I didn’t have a firm idea of his character yet. He is an ex-Navy SEAL who came home to take over his father’s private security business and at first I didn’t have him as a dominant male. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that his personality demanded that. But I didn’t want him over-the-top domineering, as I find that rather unbelievable. So I wrote a character with a bit of a dominant side, particularly in the bedroom, but also this endearing sweet side. Really, apart from him keeping secrets, he’s every woman’s dream guy.

What can you tell us about A Tragic Wreck? Has the success of A Beautiful Mess made writing this book harder or easier?
“A Tragic Wreck” is the second book in the Beautiful Mess series and picks up right where “A Beautiful Mess” left off.

I actually wrote the entire series together. I had amassed a 325,000 word manuscript before I realized that it would be a series and not a stand-alone novel. And I’m actually glad I did it this way because as I was writing, I was constantly going back and re-working certain scenes in the first part, which is now what is published as “A Beautiful Mess.” I didn’t plot or outline the book at all, so waiting to publish “A Beautiful Mess” until the entire series was written, more or less, I think made this series even better than what it was. There are so many twists and turns that I added when a new thought came to me when I was out for a run or in yoga class and all these ideas make this series rather unpredictable.

How do you calibrate the balance between the romance, the sex and the suspense in your books? Seems to us like it’s a tricky thing to get just right.
It is a tricky thing to do. What I learned about this is that as I writer, I needed to ask myself a question when I hit the end of each chapter. And that was “Does the end of this chapter make me want to continue reading?” And I needed the answer to be yes. If it wasn’t a yes, I knew I needed to up the romance, the steam, or the suspense. “A Beautiful Mess”, like I said, is the first book in the series and it really focuses on the start of a relationship between Olivia and Alexander and chronicles the struggles that both parties face, Olivia dealing with finally letting her walls down and letting Alexander get close to her, and Alexander struggling with wanting to tell Olivia about her past but at the same time needing to protect her. Combine that with a few well-timed scenes of the suspense sub-plot and it becomes a page-turner that no one wants to put down.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an attorney / producer by trade. I grew up in New England and used a lot of New England locations as the setting for my book. I’m a huge animal lover and have four rescue pets – 1 dog and 3 cats. I’m also an avid runner, having run countless half and full marathons to date. Running is great for my creativity. Sometimes you need to step away from the story and get some fresh air. I can’t tell you how many great ideas have come to me while I was out for a run.

What’s the best way to keep up with you online?
I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and my website.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tkleighauthor
Twitter: @TK_Leigh
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/leigh3745/
Website: www.tkleighauthor.com

There’s a little game we play with authors. We give you four random words and challenge you to give us a brief storyline. If you’re up for it, your four words are Man, Woman, Gun, Desert.
Trent Lockhart is a man who knows what he wants out of life and isn’t afraid to go after it. He’s successful, rich, and devastatingly handsome. Everything is perfect. Until he finds a woman’s body in his Beverly Hills home, the murder weapon lying next to her. Seeing his own gun covered in this strange woman’s blood, Trent panics. Not knowing what to do, he disposes of the body and gun in the Mojave Desert.

Michelle Grace was on her yearly camping trip in the desert with a few of her former college friends when she witnesses a man dumping a woman’s body. Her interest piqued, she follows him, surprise washing over her when she realizes it’s Trent Lockhart, successful and famous head of an architecture firm. Getting in her car and abandoning her friends, she trails him to Death Valley, posing as just another tourist, all the while trying to suppress the connection she feels to him. Just when everything seems to be settling down, a shadow of Trent’s past shows up, threatening both their lives. Can Trent get to the bottom of the mystery of the dead woman left in his house? Can Michelle trust him enough to believe he had nothing to do with her death and help him find out who set him up and why? And can he protect both their lives when it seems the entire world is turning against them?

We’d buy that novel!
That was fun…  Now I think I have three works in progress instead of just two. Thanks.

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