Happy Monday! We’re back this week with our third Author Spotlight from the 4Writers4Love crew — authors of the Because My Heart Said So: Friends-to-Lovers Collection. MRN shines the spotlight on Author Lily Java today. Let’s jump right in to get to know Lily and her work…
Hey Lily, welcome to My Reading Nook! To begin, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in New York City. I work as an Event Planner there for an arts and culture organization. As a kid I spent a lot of time living through my imagination. I read ALL the time. After a long hiatus from the genre I started reading romance novels again in 2012 I think, read like 200+ in one year and discovered the diversity of the indie industry. Somehow reading all those books gave me some cajones. I decided that I wanted to finally write a book and joined a writers group. Published my first book, a romantic suspense novel eighteen months later. I think I’m still finding my voice as a writer so, I write a little bit of everything — multiple genres — even poetry. And lately through blogging I’ve been able to get occasional work writing lifestyle pieces freelance, which was a completely unexpected venture for me.
What do you read when you’re not writing?
Everything. The better the writing is the more likely I am to go back for more. I read so much and so fast that my retention of what I read is limited based on how good the writing is usually. So I may only read it once and then forget about it but I’m open to almost anything that isn’t gratuitously vile, nasty, evil, or violent.
Who is your favorite author, alive or dead? Why should we read their books?
Don’t have one. Favorites just don’t exist for me when it comes to writers. So I’ll name a few I like and why: I love Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker because they are all poetic and earthy, they also all occasionally take my breath away when they talk about a black woman’s pain, Stephen King because he can be riveting even when he’s scaring the heck out of me. I also love the way he telegraphs things to the reader. Alice Hoffman because she incorporates the surreal, mystical, and fanciful in her work better than most and without making it campy. Truman Capote is just so relentlessly talented and fucked up that he moves me. Jacinta mentioned Baldwin so I’ll say Richard Wright because he’s so compelling as a writer. Loved reading him as a kid.
What’s your superpower?
Just one huh? That’s tough. My ability to empathize I guess.
If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?
Subjects In Her Mirror Are More Sensitive Than They Appear.
You overhear a friend describing your personality to someone who doesn’t know you, what are they saying?
Scary, funny, cool.
Love at first sight or slow burn?
Slow burn. But I totally believe in the first sight thing, it’s just never happened to me.
Find Lily on the interwebs:
♦♦♦ SYOPSIS ♦♦♦
Once upon a time Sydney Tarr and Elliott Vance were friends: fast friends, ride or die, pledge of allegiance, take it to the mat, “friends”. And the fact that Sydney loved her friend more than she should didn’t matter until finally… one unusual and spectacular night, it did. It mattered very much. Still, not every story is a fairy tale is it? Friends do part — sometimes forever — but, not always.
Read an excerpt from Blackbirds from the Because My Heart Said So Friends-to-Lovers Collection
BOSS Lounge was the single set’s hunting ground of nightclubs in Santa Barbara. A tight space, it seemed to be filled to all possible proportions by the time Elliott got there at about twenty minutes after midnight. The outdoor patio was the place for dancing, and the DJ was clearly settling in for a long string of seriously accessible dance hits. The crowd was feeling him and seemed to be in a bit of frenzy as they swayed, jumped, and pumped their hands in the air.
It wasn’t long before Elliott spotted Brian and Sydney. They were at the bar. Brian sitting on a stool with his arm casually strung around Sydney’s waist. They both were laughing and holding tall fruity looking drinks with straws appropriate to the beachside ambiance. Sydney had changed after dinner. She was wearing low-waist black pants with a simple grey midriff. She had on a lightweight black leather jacket but it was open and did nothing to hide the smoothness of her skin around her flat stomach and picture perfect navel. Elliott stood frozen, watching them from about twenty feet away. People were bumping into him, but he didn’t notice or care particularly. He was more interested in figuring out how he’d get Sydney out of there without causing a scene.
Then Brian whispered something in her ear. She nodded vigorously, and they were moving into the crowd and dancing. Elliott thought he’d had enough just seeing Brian’s hand so casually placed on Sydney’s waist, but he’d never seen her dance. He found he was both fascinated and incensed at the sight of her. It was like he was looking at someone else — some part of her he hadn’t met yet, like some pod creature had taken over Sydney and suddenly she was moving with a sensuality she’d never even hinted at before. Brian danced to her back, his long muscled arms out on either side of her, and Sydney was swaying in front of him. Her waist and hips seem to separate from each other and move independently from other still very noticeable parts of her body.
Fuck it. Maybe a scene was called for.
It was during that thought that Brian finally spotted him. Spotted him or felt his presence might be a more accurate description. Slowing his pace, Brian stood there for a moment watching Elliott watch them. Finally, he nodded and bent low to whisper in Sydney’s ear again. When he’d finished, her head whipped around, and when she spotted him standing across the patio, her smile was so huge Elliott almost forgot how pissed off he was.
Fighting the packed house, Sydney made her way towards him with a measured and unhappy Brian close behind.
“Elliott!!” Sydney grabbed both his arms and shook him jumping up and down slightly. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
He suspected she was pretty sloshed, but she did a good job of hiding it with youthful exuberance. Something she’d no doubt learned from watching Cyrus drink himself silly over the years.
“You have to dance with us. You must! But first,” Sydney pointed one finger in the air, “first I must go to the bathroom before I embarrass myself.”
Brandishing the finger back and forth at both of them, Sydney made one final command, “Don’t either of you move from this spot. I’ll be right back.”
They both watched her go.
Brian spoke first.
“Hey Elliott, glad you made it out man.”
Elliott had never known what it felt like to have ice running through his veins until that moment.
“I thought we were all hitting the sack early, Brian.”
Brian shrugged, “Hey man, the plan changed. We did try to call you.”
“Yeah,” was all Elliott could manage.
“Can I ask you something, Ell?”
“Are you ever planning to tell her?”
“Tell who? Tell what?”
“Tell Sydney, man. Tell her you’re into her.”
“Shut the fuck up, Brian.”
“Oh, I see.”
“You’re irritating the fuck out of me right now.”
“Yeah, I can see that too. The question is how exactly am I doing that? Are you really trying to tell me you came all the way down here with your balls twisted because you’re on the ‘we should all be asleep by now patrol’? Man, if that’s the case then you are more fucked up than I ever imagined.”
Elliott took a step closer to him, “What did you just say to me?”
Brian raised both hands and backed away.
“I like my job way too much to fight you for her, Ell.”
“Maybe you ought to leave then.”
“I will,” Brian said, starting to turn away but not without a parting shot, “but Ell, you should stop playing at being Mr. Unattainable with her. I’d bet half my paycheck Sydney is into you too, but she thinks you’re friends,” Brian said the word ‘friends’ using air quotes and a half smile. “I guaran-dam-tee you she doesn’t think she could possibly have someone like you. Can you believe that shit? As special as that girl is, she has no fucking clue you’re ready to stab me in the heart for her right now on the damn dance floor.”
“Go if you’re going, Brian. Be in the hotel lobby at seven a.m.”
“Yes sir, boss man.”
And with that goodbye and a little salute, Brian took his leave.
I’ve known of Lily on social media for a while now, having connected in a Facebook group and over Sons of Anarchy. Prior to the BMHSS anthology, I’d not yet taken the opportunity to read Lily’s work. Well, that was a major faux pas on my part, let me tell you! I will be getting acquainted with her back list and I can’t wait to read the full-length version of Blackbirds for more from Elliot and Sydney in the future. Thanks to Lily for stopping by and sharing with us.
Find Lily’s book list below:
I hope you’ve found your next favorite book!