Mara Purl is concurrently on Blog Tour and Book Tour for her brand new novel, Where the Heart Lives. This is book two of the Milford-Haven Novels, and book one, What the Heart Knows, became a best-seller last May. The series is based on Purl’s radio drama Milford-Haven U.S.A., which had 4.5 million listeners on BBC radio.
Mara’s new novel has a prequel short story that’s FREE during her blog tour! Romance Junkies readers are invited to click on this special bonus page www.MaraPurl.com/2012blog. Click through to download the short story either to your e-reader or to your computer.
(Please note, since my publisher’s office in New York is completely without power, phone, or e-mail this week, some of the links haven’t been posted properly. So . . . just in case . . . on that same special page there is a free pdf download for your readers. Of course, we hope that by next Monday all the links will be corrected.)
There are two big questions I had to ask myself as I began to create the Milford-Haven Novels. One was a “head” question: how would I structure the 100 episodes of the radio soap opera into novels? The other was a “heart” question: how would I create an episodic romance?
The “head” question took some finagling. Ten major characters . . . one hundred episodes . . . would that be fifty books? No way! But it could be ten books. Yes, I felt I could tell the essential story in ten—but not one character at a time. Instead, all the characters’ stories would intertwine and move forward thematically and synergistically, book by book.
But could readers wait till the end of book ten to discover a) who protagonist Miranda Jones truly loves, and b) who killed journalist Chris Christian and is the killer caught? No, in today’s ever-increasing life-velocity, answers will have to come sooner. How much sooner? What could organically suggest the right story arc? And then it came to me. Chris was a reporter, and in journalism there are five key questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why. These would become the starting words for the book titles. And these first five books would answer the “Five Questions of the Heart.” We’ve all seen how popular trilogies are these days. What do you call a five-book series? A pentalogy! So that’s what I’m writing . . . the Milford-Haven Pentalogy.
And here we are at book two, which is all about the “where.” The cover of the book is a map, and the story is all about mapping your life, re-mapping your emotional trajectory, keeping yourself on the professional map, and plotting the journey of your life. Miranda takes a huge trip across Southern California with multiple locations and adventures, so it’s a really fun “road trip” novel. And then, underneath that, there’s the soul-journey that is resonating with my readers.
The “heart” question took some soul-searching. Traditional romances have a very clear and reassuring structure. However many obstacles may pop up, we know the two romantic partners will prevail and in the end, be together. I love that iconic story structure. But for my story, this wouldn’t work. Why? Because soap opera—the genesis of my novels—is written not to conclude. And this paradox of conclusion/continuation couldn’t be solved intellectually; it had to be solved emotionally, intuitively.
So to find the solution, I looked at inside, rather than outside. I looked at my own experiences, and those of close friends. I saw that we didn’t meet-and-marry the men of our dreams the first time around. For us, life was much more complex. And it was also a journey of self-discovery and development. As my novels began to unfold, they began to populate with characters; and three of these characters began to take center-stage.
Sally O’Mally is a salt-of-the-earth woman who’s moved from her family’s farm to open a restaurant in Milford-Haven; Samantha Hugo is a PhD environmentalist who’s now haunted by the memory of only child, given up for adoption years earlier. And Miranda Jones is the wildlife artist-protagonist who’s overthrown logic to follow her heart to Milford-Haven.
This is proving to be a great decision for her, in that she feels more in touch with what keeps her passion for painting alive. But Miranda’s radar isn’t functioning all that well when it comes to romance. And this was a theme I really wanted to wrestle with. Miranda begins to fall for a handsome, wealthy guy who seems kind, interested in her work, and at least a little bit smitten with her.
But what we know—and Miranda doesn’t yet—is that Zack is also involved with a sexy bombshell social climber whose got quite a pair of claws, and they’re sunk pretty far into his flesh. Cynthia is spectacularly gorgeous, spontaneous, exuberant, and committed to her relationship with “Zackery.” Though we may not like Cynthia as much as we like Miranda, she has her own vulnerabilities and struggles, which we begin to really see in Where the Heart Lives. She thinks she loves Zackery, but every time she tries to connect with him she finds she can only express herself sexually. The sex is steamy, sensuous, irresistible. (See Chapter 8!)
But does it actually draw them closer? Or does it leave them feeling they’re spinning their wheels? No matter how exciting the “spin,” sooner or later each of them will need something more. And it’s this craving for something authentic and wholesome that has Zack off for a weekend on his own. He meets Miranda. He feels a pull in a different direction that has him puzzled and intrigued. Is Zack now lost, having driven off the map of his own life? Has Cynthia lost her compass, so she keeps driving in circles? And will Miranda figure out the key to her own map by looking for deeply into her issues?
Join me in Milford-Haven for a rich adventure in discovering . . . where your heart lives.
Miranda Jones, 29-year-old female protagonist wildlife artist, escapes a life of privilege to create her own identity as an artist, and as a woman, in the small coastal town of Milford-Haven. Just as she’s settling into a new life, she meets with the very unsettling Zack Calvin. He seems to be starting a relationship with her, then doesn’t call for weeks. When he calls again it’s to invite Miranda to join him backstage at the Doobie Brothers concert, but he also seems to have someone else backstage with whom he has some involvement.
Chris Christian, a local television journalist, followed a lead to the unfinished Clarke mansion where she was killed by an unknown man, then buried under the house (all in book one). In book two, she’s missing . . . but at this point was expected to be overseas for several weeks, so it’s unclear to those who know her that anything’s amiss, until Deputy Delmar Johnson follows a hunch and discovers two clues that indicate something may have happened to her. If so . . . a killer’s on the loose.
Sally O’Mally has moved to Milford-Haven from Arkansas and created a successful restaurant on Main Street. But her secret affair with Jack Sawyer is shredding as she learns about the secrets he’s been keeping from her. Just as their relationship is hitting the skids, Sally’s long-lost high school love shows up unexpectedly; but so does an unplanned pregnancy with Jack.
Samantha Hugo, accomplished middle-aged woman is a leader in the environmental field, but wrestles with having given up her son for adoption years earlier, as revealed in her personal journal entries.
Susan Winslow, Native American part-time student, wrestles with her heritage, her own identity, her relationship with a father just released from prison.
Well-known builder Jack Sawyer tries to ignore his true calling as an architect, cuts corners as a builder, and does his best to undermine Samantha Hugo, his former wife.
Zack Calvin, heir to an oil fortune, takes a brief vacation north from his Santa Barbara home, and finds a painting he must own. When he meets the artist Miranda Jones he begins to pursue her, despite another romantic entangle back home.
About the Series:
Milford-Haven began as an original radio drama Purl created. It was a hit on BBC Radio with 4.5 million listeners in the U.K. and won the Finalist Award for Best Radio Drama, the New York Festivals.
Listeners began requesting books based on the radio drama, which led to the adaptation and development of the novel series. Ten books are planned for the novel series, with additional short story collections. The series starts with a Pentalogy, in which the mystery and the key romance will be solved, known as the “Five Questions of the Heart”: What, Where, Why, Who and When. Where the Heart Lives is book two if the pentalogy.
The Novels are also being published as audio books performed by the author. The first won the Silver Ben Franklin Award for audio. The second won the Gold USA BookNews Award for audio.
Mara Purl was a performer on-camera and on-stage, with her regular character on Days Of Our Lives having been her starting point for soap opera.
Purl began her writing career as a journalist for the Associated Press, Rolling Stone, The Financial Times of London, Working Woman Magazine, and The Christian Science Monitor. A prolific fiction author, she also has written a play and several non-fiction books including Act Right: A Manual for the On-Camera Actor with actress Erin Gray.
Other Awards include: for radio, the New York Festivals Award; for her play Mary Shelley: In Her Own Words, the Peak Award; and for public service, Woman of the Year 2002 by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.
Mara Purl is also an accomplished musician. Her instrument is the koto and she recorded and has played on the international stage with many noteworthy musicians including the works Sumahama recorded with Mike Love and the Beach Boys, Pathless Path recorded with Charles Lloyd, Koto Keys with Marilyn Harris, and Teiji Ito’s Watermill recorded with Grammy-winning musician Steve Gorn.