Today, we’re doing something a little different. I know it’s been a while since we did one of these. If you remember, we interviewed Molly V. Lovell’s character back on August 29th, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Diane Wattley, the author of Unfathomable Love, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Leona Tillard, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Linda in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Leona!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Leona. Please have a seat.
Character Leona Tillard: Thank you for having me, Marie.
Marie: Of course! It’s my pleasure!
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Leona: I am a soldier in the U.S. Army.
Am I any good at it? Yes, in less than two years my rank went from Private to Specialist Four as a Finance Specialist.
Do I like it? Yes, the main responsibility I had was making sure everyone got paid and the workload was very fair and purposeful.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Leona: In the beginning, my family consisted of two brothers and myself. Mark was the oldest, then me, and Dennis was the baby, along with both my mother and father. One day we became a merger family. My parents divorced, and my dad remarried, which put us in a position of now having a stepmother, two stepsisters and a stepbrother.
Marie: Sounds complicated.
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Leona: It was a beautiful white two-story house with a beautiful backyard with lots of flowers and trees.
Do you have any hobbies, Leona? What do you enjoy doing?
Leona: I enjoy reading books and going for long walks, especially at the park.
I like reading and writing, listening to music and dancing. I like being alone also.
Marie: (Chuckles.) Well, who doesn’t have those moments, right? 😉
So, what is your greatest dream?
Leona: My greatest dream is finding out who I am and understanding what is normal.
Marie: (Nods.) I think we all should understand ourselves better…
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Leona: I wish I could be a person who is happy and fearless.
What’s stopping me? My past is stopping me because I do not understand why I shy away from people who care about me, and I do not trust myself.
Marie: It’s tough when we have personal demons to work through.
Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Leona: Andrew. We met in Kindergarten and were the best of friends. He was my secret crush until one day he told me we will eventually be more than friends.
Marie: Aww…so sweet. I remember those young crushes. ♥
So…not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Leona: Learning that my father took my virginity. That was a devastating reality because I wanted to be nun when I grew up. That made it impossible.
Marie: Oh no! 😦 I’m so sorry. That must’ve been difficult. I have some personal experience with sexual abuse. I recently published a book dedicated to survivors of it. I can only imagine how hard that experience was for you, especially when you were so young and it happened with someone you should’ve been able to trust. I hope you’ve managed to find some peace over the years…
[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Leona: At first it was to be a nun and belong to God. Once I realized I couldn’t be a nun, I didn’t know what else I wanted to be.
I am still looking for a dream. I am still looking for me.
Never will I know if it was what I expected.
I never achieved the dream because I felt you had to be a virgin to be a nun. A nun is all I ever wanted to be when I was a kid.
Marie: All right.
Again, I’m so sorry. 😦
So, who is your role model, Leona?
Leona: My grandmother is my role model. She always protected me and talked to me about God. And, she always told me I was special and one day I will understand why.
Marie: That’s wonderful, and she’s so right. She sounds like a wise woman!
Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Leona: Myself. I don’t like myself because I feel so unworthy to be anything good or loved because I feel so dirty.
Marie: It’s really hard to deal with shame. I’m still working through it.
Let’s try another question.
What is your deepest desire?
Leona: To begin again and put my past behind me.
Marie: Can’t blame you there! I think we’ve all felt that at one time or another…
So, tell me something, Leona. What is your greatest fear?
Leona: Dying is my greatest fear because I don’t know where I will be. I just know it won’t be with my family and friends.
Marie: A lot of people fear death. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The unknown is often scary. My take? I don’t think we’re supposed to look that far ahead. Maybe it’s better to just live your life the best way you can, because you never know when your time will be up. 😉
But, I’m so glad you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Leona. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Linda Diane Wattley on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Linda!
Author Linda Diane Wattley: Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀
So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Leona Tillard. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Linda: She is a troubled soul who is trying to find out who she is. In many ways she is an angel. Leona has a big heart to share with others along with a strong need to be loved.
Marie: Well, I think we all need love in our lives.
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Linda: She is gentle, a good listener, and she has many gifts to share with the world. And, Leona is very smart and spiritual.
And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?
Linda: Low self-esteem, a strong need to be loved and understood, and some self-anger.
Marie: All right. Many of us have certain insecurities, so I’m sure a lot of people can relate.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are some of Leona’s favorite foods?
Linda: Barbecue, french fries, chicken, mashed potatoes and she loves homemade cookies.
Marie: (Laughs.) Sounds yummy!
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Linda: She has a pure heart and the gift of healing.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Linda: They will love Leona Tillard because she is damaged merchandise, but she lives life to the fullest and is as real as they come. The reader will understand her choices, even though they are not always the best choices, especially when it comes to love.
Now that we have a real taste of Leona, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Unfathomable Love?
Linda: The love experiences that come into Leona’s life are overwhelming to comprehend. The love is so deep and intimate, and it happens more than one time for her. Who would you choose for her and why? You too could be making a huge mistake.
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Linda: It is so surreal for me to write. I feel like a vessel receiving data to write as the words are revealed to me. There is not a book I have written that does not amaze me. There are underlined messages throughout all my books that I believe God wants people to know in a unique way.
Marie: (Smiles.) I hear you…sometimes I think the characters are directing the story more than I am.
How about another question?
So, now I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Unfathomable Love or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Linda: No, not really because Charge of Angel was the first book of the series, which made a way for Unfathomable Love to flow through the process very easily.
I might self-publish because it would have been something worth learning, though I am thankful to have a publisher at this time.
Marie: Right! In some ways, writing a sequel is easier because you already know a lot about the characters.
And sure, it doesn’t hurt to have a publisher, though indie publishing is also an option.
Thanks for the additional tips aimed toward our aspiring writers out there!
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Unfathomable Love appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this inspirational romance by Linda Diane Wattley, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Unfathomable Love:
Charge of an Angel, the first of the “Love and Redemption Series”, continues as Leona Tillard, the survivor of an uncensored childhood love, begins her journey into the heart of Unfathomable Love.
When Leona graduated from high school, she joined the United States Army. It was then she learned there was plenty of love to go around; after all, the Army is one place where men outnumbered the women. Her only dilemma was figuring out which love was the best love for her to embrace.
Hearing the words ‘I love you’ heals our souls. The ironic thing about it, very seldom do two people share the same meaning for love. This is usually fine until someone else’s meaning of love changes our lives forever.
In Charge of an Angel, Leona Tillard asked for your help as she survived her daily childhood nightmare. Today, she is asking you to help her to choose the right man to love forever. Do I love the soldiers or do I love my big brother’s best friend?
Sounds like an easy task, doesn’t it? Trust me, you too just might choose the wrong one. Let’s see if we can save Leona once again.
“Lord God, so much love, help me choose!”
Linda is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
Doug sat down, breathing hard and sweating. He had danced himself out. He put on a slow song, grabbed me by my arm and walked me down to the dance floor. Apparently, another girl had planned to dance with him and met us along the way. He kissed her on the cheek and kept walking while she gave me the evil eye. I smiled and kept on stepping.
He embraced me and our bodies melted together as we swayed to “Breathless” by Corrine Bailey Rae. He put my arms around his waist and I wrapped mine around his neck. Though I was a little taller than Doug, it didn’t take away from his ability to get his bump and grind going. I had never experienced this before. Between the high, his scent, and his perfect body, I was in another world. Each motion of his body felt like a request for a deeper caress. As the music played, our bodies became a new and emerging instrument that played a song so deep with emotions to stop would be a great loss.
My body wanted out of my clothes. I wanted the party to turn into a huge waterbed and everybody to disappear. But, the music began to fade. Abruptly, he released his hold and ran back to the platform to play the next song. Looking at me from a distance, his eyes looking through me, he motioned for me to come to him. I finally exhaled. I didn’t rush to him. I just stood there and looked at him. The longer I stared at him, the longer and deeper he stared at me. By now the dance floor was filled with people, again.
The crowd danced around me as if I wasn’t there. I began to realize the feelings I felt with Doug were the same feelings I had experienced with Tony a long time ago. He and I met at my brother’s day camp when I was about sixteen years old. Our closeness had been leading to sex, but he cared enough about me to make sure we didn’t do it.
I didn’t know about Doug. He gave my body a lot in a room filled with people. I could only imagine what would happen if we were alone. Just the thought of it made me feel like a lit candle. If he blew on me, I would probably melt completely and disappear without a trace. I decided I’d better get out of there.
I slipped gracefully through the crowd and found my way outside the room. As I went to the lobby of the hotel, I saw a line of cabs waiting to take soldiers back on post. I floated out the front doors to a cab and sat down in the back seat. As the cab began to pull off, I felt wrong for leaving without telling Doug. Then, I realized it felt great knowing he would miss me. After all, he was too sure I was coming to the party.
Wow! Love the tension. ♥♥♥ Can’t wait to read this book…🙂
Universal Amazon link: https://bookgoodies.com/a/1975939549
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this inspirational romance! ♥
About Linda Diane Wattley
Linda Diane Wattley is a proud veteran of the United States Army. Born in Akron, Ohio, she attended the University of Akron majoring in Psychology.
Over twelve years, a religious/philosophical columnist for the Frost Illustrated Newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2016, she addressed PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by writing Soldier with a Backpack, Living and Dying Simultaneously which made her a nominee for the ‘Best in Nonfiction’ during the African American Literary Awards Show.
Currently, she shares her “Love and Redemption Series”, which is a dramatically written story revealing intimate truths about molestation and the impact it has on a child’s soul. Leona is the child growing up and sharing her soul. Keep her close to your heart.
Available today is the first of the series, Charge of an Angel. Here you witness the early beginnings of the secrets of sexual abuse. And, the second book, Unfathomable Love. Never will you witness a love as unique and beautiful as the love waiting for Leona. God only knows what can become of it. You don’t want to miss it.
Currently she joined TLBTV and the Beacon Project as host of “The Truth Will Set You Free Show”, where you don’t have to be a celebrity to share your truth with the world.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Linda Diane Wattley, here are some author links:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Diane-Wattley/e/B00JNTEYK6/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Leona, a female character from Unfathomable Love, and Linda Diane Wattley, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀