Saturday, November 19, 2011

Featured Author: LAUREN HUNTER

"THE COFFEE SHOP" - by Lauren Hunter

About the Book
Author Interview
Links to Lauren's Pages


From the moment Derrick Sloane and Annie Maddock met there was an instant connection. They date for five months, growing closer every day.

Only Derrick wakes up to discover the entire five month relationship was nothing more than a dream. Or was it? For when he goes to the coffee shop who should be there but Annie, just as in his dream. Derrick soon realizes he was seeing a relationship with Annie five months into the future. That night the dream continues right where it left off, five months in the future, but his meeting with Annie that day has altered the timeline. Every day he spends with Annie, he continues to alter the timeline of his future. Although Derrick tries desperately to put everything back to the way it was in his dream, every attempt just makes it worse.

And when he is shown two alternate timelines, he must now make the most difficult decision of his life. 

by Ellen Fritz

The story alternates between what seems to be reality, dreams and dreams within dreams.  After experiencing a romantic relationship of five months in a dream one evening, with Annie Maddock - a girl he has never met before, Derrick Sloane is cruelly awakened by the ringing phone. But imagine his surprise when he really meets Annie at The Coffee Shop: just as he had in the dream.

The events leading up to the meeting is frighteningly similar. A truck had lost its load in the street causing a traffic pile-up, which in turn caused Derrick not to be able to get to his usual morning haunt for his usual morning coffee - hence the detour to The Coffee Shop.

Derrick (a very likeable character), is a successful businessman who is out of his depth when it comes to dealing with personal relationships and his feelings for his loved ones. Despite his wealthy status, he is a remarkably unselfish person capable of making life-altering personal sacrifices to protect others from harm. He cares deeply for his friend dr. Brian Taylor who had been his friend since childhood and with whom he regularly enjoyed a game of racquetball. But then his own life changes, when along comes Annie.

Annie, an uncomplicated girl who enjoys the simple things in life, provides a welcome contrast to Derrick's life in the competitive corporate world; just the kind of woman he wants to come home to. As their relationship progresses, he discovers that Annie has the intelligence and potential to be more than the health store clerk that she is. He mentions this to her. That night in his dream of the future, Annie is a business woman and no longer the home maker he loved in the first dream. He soon realises that trying to change Annie to what he thinks she should be, is unwise, as the result might not be to his liking or her benefit.

I couldn’t help but grin from time to time. As Derrick is the only one experiencing the dreams and alternations between present and future, he comes up with some ideas, statements and suggestions which seem ludicrous to Annie. Thinking Derrick slightly crazy or ill, she then summons his friend, the good doctor, who most of the time, displays remarkable faith in Derrick and tries to help him figure things out.

There are some truly heart-stopping moments when the lives of both Brian and Annie hang in the balance. Derrick has to do some fast thinking to prevent disaster. All these dreams and shifting timelines present him with choices which will determine the ultimate fate of Annie, Brian and himself. When he does something in the present, it changes things in the future.

The dialogue is highly stimulating; full of banter, humour and wit; and the rapid shifts between dream and reality, future and present, keeps the reader intrigued. The somewhat poignant romance may even make your eyes mist over. I absolutely recommend this book to anybody who wants to read a romance with an unforgettable twist and a healthy dose of suspense. “The Coffee Shop” will pleasantly surprise you!

Ellen's star rating  4/5

"The Coffee Shop" by Lauren Hunter is available for purchase from; Barnes & Noble and SmashWords.

If you had to ask Lauren to summarise her life in a few sentences, she’ll tell you that, in her opinion, she has led a fairly boring life.  But reading the list of things she has accomplished in her life, it leaves the reader in awe. Besides being a very talented and promising author, Lauren has studied voice for two years, and in her own words “can now sing like those opera singers”. She also figure skated for almost 8 years, did a little modelling and acting; and took piano lessons for another few years. Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy are only a few of many composers whose compositions she had mastered on the piano. She has also taught English in Japan for a year; and loves maths and science. Besides poetry, this multi-talented author also writes short stories – some of which are being published.
Sadly, Lauren’s mom passed away a few months ago; and she now finds her strength in her father, who is her inspiration and pillar of support. 



Q: Is “The Coffee Shop” your first book?

A: The Coffee Shop was my first book published, but it is the last book I wrote. As mentioned in the previous question, the first one was a paranormal saga, followed by a sci-fi, that is about a girl with very strange abilities, I can’t tell you why or I’ll give it away, but she is in hiding when taken by a government agency. Only after her abilities vanish do they release her, but when those abilities mysteriously reappear, she runs, all the while trying to discover her true origins, never considering just how unbelievable they really are, or her destiny because of them. That book has e. s. p. and psychokinesis, among other things. I then wrote a Regency trilogy, regencies take place in England during the Regency period (1811-1820) although some consider it to extend for some time before and after that, the true regency period falls within those dates. Those tend to be based on humour, wit, and misunderstanding, although there can be smuggling and aspects of the war that come into it, I put a ghost in each of mine. It was then that I wrote, The Coffee Shop.

Q: How long did it take you to write “The Coffee Shop”?

A:  19 days.

Q: Where did you get the idea for “The Coffee Shop”?

A: The morning I got up and started working on The Coffee Shop, was the day I was going to start my horror novel. But the second I woke up this idea popped into my head. I recalled something I had read years ago, something bizarre, based on a true story. I thought that would make a great novel. I then took that idea and tweaked it, and then tweaked it again, and again, and very quickly in a matter of minutes I had mapped out the storyline for The Coffee Shop. I then sat down and started working on it immediately. I don’t want to give that original idea as I am considering using it as is for another novel.

Q: Which of your characters in “The Coffee Shop” are your favorite and why?

A: Oh, that’s like asking a mother who is her favourite child, and in a way our characters are a lot like our children. They become very real to us. We know they are only figments of our imagination but the moment we start writing about them they immediately feel very real. We know exactly what they look like, and we know every aspect of their person and personality. And the more we write about them the more real them become to us. I have had stories where I have killed off a character and I was so upset that I had to stop and cry for a while. I know that sounds REALLY stupid, but it was so real that I was actually mourning their death. I guess it’s a lot like when a reader is moved by a story and it makes them cry, or laugh. To them the characters become very real, just as with the author.

So, as to who is my favourite...I love each of them in a different way, Brian, because he’s loyal, although very annoying, and childish, Derrick because he has such a big heart, and tries so hard, and Annie because she just wants to be loved, and will give her heart and soul to the one that does.

Q: If “The Coffee Shop” could be made into a major motion picture, who would you choose for the main roles?

A: Oh...hmm...let’s see, Hugh Jackman for Derrick, Paul Bettany for Brian, and January Jones for Annie.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing “The Coffee Shop”?

A: Any time you are dealing with alternate timelines and paradox you can be guaranteed some degree of confusion will enter into the story. Trying to keep all the facts straight, have them all match up, covering every story line, and keeping them all separate with no loose ends, isn’t the easiest task. You have to keep all your notes very detailed, and very clear. In any paradox story you are going to have, well, paradox, things that won’t seem to make sense, or will lead to some level of confusion as the story is flowing, because the timelines become contradictive. It’s that contradiction that leads to confusion, but that is all part of the story.

Say a man built a time machine, he then travels back in time, meets a woman, gets her pregnant, comes back to his present only to discover he was his own grandfather. This is what you would call paradox. You would say, that’s impossible, he would have to be alive before he was alive, but he can’t be alive before he is alive, but he travelled back in time so he met his own grandmother before he was born. You say that can’t happen, that doesn’t make sense. Or the grandfather paradox, you travel back in time and kill your own grandfather so you are never born. So none of it could have happened, but it did happen, within the story. You say, that’s crazy, that can’t happen

So, as the story unfolds the alternate timelines offer paradox into the storyline, but as the story continues it all starts to fall into place, it starts to make sense, and in the end you understand what has happened, and what is going on. I try to help the reader keep a handle on what is happening by italicizing those parts of the story when he is dreaming in the future.

Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

A: I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that all writers use personal experiences, or observations, from their own lives and incorporate them into their stories, to one degree or another. I have done just that, some stories are largely based on personal experiences and the rest have moments or portions that I have taken from things I have witnessed, learned, or experienced first hand. As for this story, I have indeed used personal observations, or experiences, directly in the storyline. That those anecdotes are based on actual events gives my story realness. That you are basing incidents on true events makes them easy to write without questioning yourself, and adds a layer of realism.


Q: Who are your favourite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A: Stephen King, for one, I admire the way his mind works. Horror is an area I definitely want to write more in. There are others, but we’ll be here all day if I start listing them all.

Q: What is your most favourite childhood memory?

A: Can’t think of one. I know how completely pathetic that sounds, but I am sitting here and I can’t think of a single thing, maybe I’m just tired.

Q: What was the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you?

A: What, you only want me to pick one? But there are so many!

Q: What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

A: My bridges are burned, so it’s this or...nothing.

Q: If you can have dinner with one person, who would it be and why?

A: I am going to extend this to any point in history and say I’d like the opportunity to spend an evening with my mom again.

Q: Do you have a favourite quote you want to share with your readers?

A: I assume you mean something to do with writing, but the first thing that comes to mind is something silly like, “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes.”


Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

A: There wasn’t any one defining moment, if that’s what you mean. I always enjoyed it, and throughout elementary school the teacher chose my stories to read to the class. I assumed if the teacher liked them they must be okay. I had considered the idea in my early teens but never seriously. I did write poetry, and have had a number of poems published in anthologies, but it wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that I decided to write a book. I started on it, worked on it on and off over the years and eventually finished it. It takes place starting around 1900 and goes for a lifetime, and is about reincarnation, with past life flashbacks, and visions, and ghosts, and stepping momentarily through a doorway in time. That was my first book. I still need to type it up as I wrote it out long hand. It was after that I wrote my sci-fi in four weeks, then some time after that I wrote my first Regency. It was then that I decided to start looking for a publisher.

Q: What motivates you to sit down behind your pc and start writing?

A: I don’t think of it that way. These ideas are floating around in my head and I want to get them down, I want to tell their story. Once those ideas start to flow I can write all day every day, that’s when you do 50K in 12 days, or 85K in 19 days. When you’re on a roll it gushes out of you, and it’s all you can do to keep up with yourself. But you are either in a writing mood, or you are not. Creativity is something I have never forced.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about your next book?

A: The book I am working on now, I’m about 30K in, is a horror story. It’s about an affair gone wrong where the girl winds up dead. A writer comes to stay at the cabin to work on his next novel, unaware her ghost is lingering there. The ghost comes to realize she can impose her thoughts into the writer’s mind. He thinks they are his own thoughts and starts to use them for his next novel, unaware he is writing the story of her murder. Over time the ghost starts to realize she can impose more and more control over him, and at some point takes him over to seek revenge.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A: Something that has been said time and again, never give up. There is always the obvious advice, take courses at school or college, weekend workshops, join writer’s groups, read novels on writing and editing, all that stuff. But what really matters is that you don’t stop, that you don’t give up. And if when you get those rejections they give you any suggestions, take that and incorporate it into your writing.


Amaleen Ison said...

Fantastic review and interview :-) Really enjoyed finding out about Lauren, her writing, and The Coffee Shop.

Melissa Ringsted said...

Great review and interview! Sounds like a very interesting book :))