*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Author: Lisa April Smith

                     About Lisa April Smith
    Author Lisa April Smith lives with her husband, He-Who-Wishes-to-Remain-Anonymous, in Eternal Playland, Florida, a delightful spot just off I-95. Ms. Smith describes Eternal Playland as "a little piece of level heaven with occasional dampness, where the bugs are plentiful but respectful, and even the smallest strip mall contains at least one pizza place and a nail salon."
    Before discovering a passion for writing, Ms. Smith sold plumbing and heating, antiques, taught ballroom dancing, tutored, modeled, designed software and managed projects for IBM.  She returned to college multiple times to study anthropology, sociology and computer science, in which she holds degrees, as well as psychology, archeology, literature, history and art.
    Combine widely diverse interests with a love of travel and a gift for writing page-turners and it’s easy to understand one reviewer’s unbridled praise for Exceeding Expectations, “She (Ms. Smith) has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail . . . that make it fun to read . . . ” But it takes much more than lush settings, an eye for detail and a love of history to write a page-turner. Read what another reviewer said about Exceeding Expectations: “Lisa April Smith . . . has woven an intriguingly rich tapestry of delightful well-developed characters into a perfectly balanced plot bursting with riveting mystery, crimes of the petty and the horrible sort, suspenseful twists, and romantic tension complete with love scenes that sizzle and pop. . . Clearly, this author has, and wishes to share with her readers, what the French call joie de vivre  – not simply the joy of life – but an all-encompassing appreciation for every facet of life.”

Exceeding Expectations

    It’s 1961 and Palm Beach socialite, irresistible rascal and devoted father Jack Morgan encounters genuine danger while staging his suicide to shield his beloved daughters from disgrace. Next, meet his daughter Charlotte (Charlie), an over-indulged 23 year-old struggling to cope with the traumatizing loss of her beloved father, her sister’s resulting mental breakdown and the discovery that she’s suddenly penniless. Fortunately Raul, an admiring young attorney, appears to offer assistance. As terrified as she is about daily survival, Charlie soon realizes that she has to learn what drove her father to kill himself. With Raul’s much needed ego-bolstering, the drive of necessity and unforeseen determination, Charlie finds a practical use for her annoyingly lean 5’ 11” frame. In time, this career finances her hard-wrought independence, her sister’s costly treatment and an emotional eye-opening journey to Paris.
    Jumping back in time to romantic pre-WWII Paris, readers meet young Alan Fitzpatrick – aka Jack Morgan – lack-luster artist and expert lover and the bewitching girl who will become the mother of his children. Not even Charlie’s relentless detective work will uncover all Jack’s secrets, but in a fireworks of surprise endings, she discovers all that she needs to know and more:  disturbing truths about her father, her own unique talent, crimes great and small and a diabolical villain.  

Thank you for stopping by, Lisa. I understand that you’re going to give the inside story on   Exceeding Expectations.  
A:  Thank you for inviting me, Melanie. Delighted to be here.  A playful title for the story behind the story could be titled “The Man Who Inspired Two Books.” I seem to follow a pattern of being inspired by a person that I find intriguing. With Exceeding Expectations, several years ago, television and newspapers were reporting a story of a Palm Beach socialite (ironically named Fagan) arrested for kidnapping his daughters eighteen years earlier, when they were 2 and 5 years old. The primary reason that it had taken eighteen years to find Fagan was that he had successfully reinvented himself. As William S. Martin, a handsome widower with two young daughters and no apparent means of support, Fagan had met and married a wealthy Palm Beach widow. After their divorce, another affluent woman agreed to wed and maintain his family’s plush lifestyle.
    Friends and neighbors interviewed, reported being shocked to learn that Dr. Martin, the charming handsome member of Mar A Lago Country Club was not the man he claimed to be. He hadn’t been a CIA agent. Nor was he entitled to use the title “Doctor.”
    His neighbors were probably also shocked to learn that his only apparent means of support was his wealthy Palm Beach wife, his 2nd wealthy Palm Beach wife. Now, those of us who live in Florida know that Palm Beach isn’t for folks with a measly million bucks. Think Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Rolexes and Rolls Royces, or in Matin’s case, a Bently and a candy-red Ferrari. And when our little patch of Paradise turns uncomfortably warm, Palm Beachers migrate to their equally-fashionable, equally luxurious residences in cooler climates. Now add the cost of maintaining and educating two privileged young ladies. Nannies. Tutors. Private schools, which they attended. College. First-class travel. Designer clothes, shoes, handbags, sunglasses. Designer everything.
    But the one thing everyone who knew Martin agreed on was that he was an undeniably devoted father, who drove his girls to and from school and attended every swim match and school event in which his daughters participated. Yet throughout, what had to be, humiliating criminal proceedings, Wife No. 3, loyally stood by him, emotionally and financially.
    Saddest of all to me, his daughters steadfastly refused to meet their mother, a research scientist at the University of Virginia, who had for spent 18 years, including hiring private investigators, trying to find them. I asked myself, was Fagan/Martin simply a loving husband and father bent on protecting his daughters from an unstable mother as he insisted, or a handsome conman? I found myself thinking that there was an even juicier story behind this headline-grabber and set out to create one. With my hyper-active imagination in overdrive, I began with a few core facts. A man with an invented name and history, twice married to wealthy widows, living in Palm Beach, playground of the mega-rich and famous, and involved in a crime. Two adoring daughters unaware of their true identities. A townhouse off Fifth Avenue. A sprawling estate in Virginia. Romantic Paris in the years prior to WWII. A riveting past for Jack Morgan. A full-blown range of challenges and hard-wrought triumphs for his traumatized daughter Charlotte (Charlie).      

Q. You’ve convinced me I have to read Exceeding Expectations. But you titled your article “The Man That Inspired Two Books.” Can we expect a sequel?

A. Absolutely! The sequel – Paradise Misplaced – just came out. While it can stand alone, I believe readers will enjoy both books more if they read Exceeding Expectations first.
Buy Exceeding Expectations on Amazon.com
Buy Exceeding Expectations on BarnesandNoble.com

For more about Lisa, her books, and upcoming projects visit her website: http://www.LisaAprilSmith.com.
Lisa April Smith can be contacted at WriteLisa(at)LisaAprilSmith(dot)com   
Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LisaAprilSmith
Friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LisaApril.Smith

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