Today I’m welcoming Kristen Morgen on my blog. She published her debut novel Behind the Glass in June 2014. I had the pleasure to read it shortly after the pub date. You want to know how much I loved Behind the Glass? Then read my 4.5 star review here.
Betraying Brett, her loyal, loving boyfriend, is something Rebecca can never bring herself to do. Driven by a strong moral code and molded by divorced parents and a tumultuous childhood, she struggles to stay away from Michael, but fate and circumstance intervene, bringing them back together time and time again. As much as she resists, there is no denying her true feelings for him and the simple fact that Michael understands her in a way Brett never has. Michael proves to be everything she’s ever wanted, but remains just out of her reach.
Behind the Glass tells the story of Michael and Rebecca’s extraordinary love and the many unconventional stages their relationship must go through. Their morals and their faith in true love and in each other will be put to the test as they learn that meeting one’s soul mate does not come without obstacles.
Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog, Isabell! I live in Connecticut with my husband and two daughters, I’m educated and trained as a licensed architect, and I own my architectural firm. Needless to say, life is busy! I’m not happy unless I’m creating something, whether it’s floor plans for a new house or writing a new love story, as long as I’m exercising the creative side of my brain in some way. I have had an unyielding passion for writing for most of my life and recently decided to seriously pursue a second career as an author of romance novels.
In June 2014 you’ve self-published your debut novel “Behind the Glass?” What can you tell us about it that will pique the reader’s interest?
Behind the Glass is basically the culmination of a lot of themes that have always intrigued me as a reader. Like many people, I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of love at first sight. Is it real? Can it happen in real life? And if it does, do people really live happily ever after? It was definitely the main theme for the story, but as a lover of romance novels, that would have been way too easy. So, what if two people met, fell in love, and were without a doubt, meant to be with each other, but had all the odds constantly stacked against them? If it truly is love at first sight, then in the end, it has to be a love worth fighting for. I love stories that torture you a little bit and make you really root for the main characters throughout the course of the story. Characters with depth and complexity have always appealed to me as a reader and I wanted to bring that complexity to this story as a writer. Life is not simple, and neither is love. As Michael and Rebecca’s story evolves, it becomes more about the unbreakable connection between two people and about taking chances together, no matter what the odds.
What does the novel mean to you?
When I began writing Behind the Glass, I did it for me. Plain and simple. With those first taps on the keyboard, I set out to write a love story that I wanted to read. I didn’t worry about what anyone else thought, only that I, as a reader, was satisfied with the end result. I had the general story outlined and knew exactly who my characters were, but it wasn’t until each chapter slowly evolved that I really understood what I wanted to say. Behind the Glass was definitely a labor of love and something I truly looked forward to escaping into day after day. The experience of this novel, and of any novel I write in the future for that matter, can be summed up in my favorite quote by Toni Morrison – “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
The first time I realized how much I loved the act of writing was in high school. I was the kid who got excited when I saw essay questions on a test rather than multiple choice questions and most of my friends thought I was crazy! I absolutely loved and excelled in any English class I took throughout college and I found myself spending large amounts of time on writing assignments. My father is also a writer (more technical than creative) and he has been my writing coach my whole life. He always pushed me to be a better writer and could be quite tough on me at times (something I’m still thankful for). Although I pursued architecture throughout my life, I have always longed to write. So one day, I simply sat down and started writing Behind the Glass. What can I say? Writing is my drug of choice and I love getting my fix whenever I can!
What made you decide writing in Romance? Why not Crime or Thriller?
I love all genres of books and explore crimes, mysteries and thrillers all the time, but I always seem to come back to romance. It’s always been my absolute favorite guilty pleasure and deep down, I’m a true romantic at heart. I also knew that I was more capable of writing romance because I’ve always had such a passion for it. Storylines pop into my head at all times for future novels and so far, they are all romance!
Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
I get inspiration from so many different places, but a lot of my characters are in some way at least, based on elements of different people I’ve known throughout my life. I also will sometimes read a character in a book or connect with one in a movie and it will give me ideas for characters in my own books. Sometimes the story also dictates a type of character that is needed for the story line, so it really depends. I really enjoy getting into the heads of so many characters and perspectives.
Is the storyline/the characters based from something in real life?
I get this question a lot actually (from friends mainly) wondering if it’s semi-autobiographical and the answer is actually no. I may have a scene or two in my book that comes from something in real life, but for the most part, I have a VERY active imagination and I’m always coming up with new ideas. I’m constantly interested in exploring relationships and discovering the little reasons people fall in love with each other while uncovering deeper truths about themselves or life in general.
How did you stay positive and dedicated during the writing process?
Writing Behind the Glass was definitely a long journey for me as a writer. Over the years that it took to write it (writing little bits at a time), I found that my writing got better as I went along, and that was probably one of the main reasons I kept going. I felt like I was constantly learning. At this point, I am completely addicted to writing. It’s my little “escape from reality” time and it’s something I can control completely and have so much freedom with. And it’s so much fun and ridiculously gratifying each and every step of the way. For me, there is nothing better in this world than finishing a scene or a chapter and surprising myself at what I can do.
While writing a romantic scene, which is your favorite part? The first meeting? First kiss?
I’m definitely more interested in the connection between two people and how that connection builds and builds throughout the story. I have always felt that the pure desire between two people is the most intriguing part of any love story. It’s that “I want you, but I can’t have you” feeling that gets me every time, don’t ask me why. So writing that first meeting, that first kiss (or almost kiss even), is such an exciting part of writing for me. And Behind the Glass had a lot of that for sure.
How about if your book was made into a movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?
It’s funny, now that my book is published and people are reading it, I get that question all the time. When I first came up with the characters in my head I really didn’t have actors in mind, but there have been several moments over the years where I’ll see an actor or actress in a movie or on TV and I’ll say, “That’s Michael!” or “That’s Rebecca!” So, for me, Rebecca could be played by an actress named Bridget Regan and Michael could be played by someone like Joe Manganiello (tall, dark and handsome!), but that’s just me. I’m sure everyone’s vision is different.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a very active person usually and never sit still for very long (unless I’m working or writing), so I enjoy spending time with my daughters and doing family activities together. I also have an amazing circle of friends and I’m a lover of shopping, spa days, and girls’ nights out as well. I also always have a book going, so if I do sit still for a bit, reading is a constant pastime in my life. I’m a believer of living life to the fullest and never being bored, so I fill my time with something as much as I can!
Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?
It has been and will always be Australia. I’ve had a fascination with it since childhood and I’m determined to vacation there one day. I also would love to visit Denmark and England one day as well. My parents are both immigrants from each country and I’d love to see where they and their families came from, as well as meet relatives who still live there.
Are you working on a new novel at the moment? What’s next for you?
Yes, I definitely am! I have the story mostly figured out in my mind and I’ve outlined the first eight chapters so I can at least give you the basics of the next novel on the horizon. The story focuses on Charlotte, an outgoing, confident young woman who owns a gift shop and feels like she’s finally got her life figured out. After switching majors a few times in college and graduating with absolutely no clue what she wanted to do in life, she suddenly inherits the shop from her aunt and puts her heart and soul into it. Life is good. She has a great family, friends, a new boyfriend and her best friend, Addie, whom she’s known since second grade. Addie’s older brother, Logan, who is six years her senior, is home for a rare visit from Chicago. Logan has done his best to stay far away from his family over the years, starting his own construction business and steering clear of his millionaire father’s plans for his life and career. A casual reunion for lunch with his sister and her best friend Charley, who he remembers as a barely noticeable tomboy when they were growing up, completely throws Logan for a loop when he reacquaints himself with the now grown up and stunningly beautiful Charlotte. There’s more, but that at least gives you a taste…
“I’ve tried to stay away from you, Rebecca. Believe me, I’ve tried. But tonight, like I said, I had a moment of weakness.” He locked eyes with her again.
As she slowly thought this through, something occurred to her.
“But, what about the bookstore?”
A look of genuine conflict crossed his face.
“I promised to leave you alone, to let you have your place to escape. It took all of my will power to stay away, knowing you were there.” He looked down after he spoke.
“So, why now? Why here?” she asked, hoping he would look at her again.
“Like you said, Claire’s persistence is … impressive, and I couldn’t seem to stop myself from coming knowing you would be here. I’m sorry,” he said, as his eyes met hers again.
“You’re sorry?” she sighed, realizing the irony of the situation.
As she looked at him, images of her dreams filled her mind, followed by the intense guilt from this morning and for what she felt at this moment. She couldn’t deny the unexplainable completeness she felt when they were together, and she knew it was unlike anything she had experienced with Brett. It wasn’t until she met Michael that she truly understood the difference. She also knew she simply didn’t have it in her to be unfaithful to Brett or to break his heart. Her personal principles forbade it. She would never adequately be able to convey how sorry she was.
She could feel the sudden tears brimming in her eyes, betraying her. “I shouldn’t have come. It was selfish. The last thing I wanted to do was upset you. Please forgive me.” As he spoke, he automatically brushed his hand over her cheek, comforting her.
His very touch sent unexpected shivers down her spine and made her tremble slightly. She lightly caught her breath as she unconsciously leaned upward toward him. It seemed the closer they were to each other the more intensely drawn to him she became. At this moment, her actions were admittedly somewhat out of her control.
In response, his grip became slightly firmer and his hand moved back toward her neck. He leaned in slowly, trying to control himself but she was quickly moving in toward him at the same time. Their faces remained inches apart for what felt like an eternity, neither of them daring to cross the line.
They gazed deeply into each others’ eyes until finally Michael closed his and gently kissed her forehead. She closed her eyes at the gentle touch of his lips to her skin. Slowly their hands naturally found each other as they stood with only their foreheads touching for several minutes until Rebecca finally spoke.
“I can’t,” she whispered with tears streaming down her face.
“I know,” he whispered back, “it’s okay.” His voice was amazingly soothing.
This however, was anything but okay, and Rebecca desperately wished she could stay here with him like this forever. She had never felt conflict like this in her life. She wished she could put her conscience on hold and think with her heart instead of her head for once. She realized all too clearly that her dream had become reality.
As if on cue, a knock at the front door interrupted them.
They both flinched guiltily and took a step back from each other. Rebecca quickly wiped the tears from her face as she tried to compose herself. Michael sighed and gave her a long solemn look before he turned toward the foyer to answer the door.