Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Interview with Kelly Rimmer, Author of Before I Let You Go + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Kelly Rimmer to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Before I Let You Go from Graydon House, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Robyn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels. Her latest novel, Before I Let You Go, will be released in April 2018.

Kelly lives in rural Australia with her family and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which will hit shelves next week:

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As the weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhoods, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.

The opioid crisis in the United States was recently declared a national public health emergency, and yet you started work on this book nearly two years ago. What inspired you to write about an addicted mother and the struggles she faces within the relentlessly harsh legal system? What kind of research did you conduct to write so accurately about the current politics of addiction and recovery for this often unmentioned population of women?

Addiction is an issue close to my heart, so I have been watching the crisis evolve for some time. The situation has been at “crisis levels for almost a decade, and I’m relieved that it’s at least beginning to get some national attention—although there’s a very long way to go yet before it’s effectively addressed.

I spent almost a year interviewing, reading, and researching to gain an understanding of the science around addiction and the legal issues involved in the book. I also, of course, spent time researching the complex issues for those who leave fundamentalist religious sects like the one the sisters are trapped within as children.


The novel really showcases how blurry the line between right and wrong is when dealing with addiction, and yet so often, women who are pregnant and addicted are dealt with harshly and in ways that negatively impact them, their babies, their families, and their communities for generations. The legal impact feels especially drastic in the book’s scenes when Annie delivers the baby and almost immediately loses all legal rights as a parent. Is this situation a common reality for women like Annie?

Laws around drug use in pregnancy are set at the state level, and each state handles the matter differently—but there are countless real-life cases like Annie’s across the nation, where women have lost their children or served prison time. It’s actually impossible to know how many women have had their parental rights removed like this because cases like Annie’s are often handled in the juvenile courts—which means case records aren’t publicly available.

At its core, Before I Let You Go is a powerful story of two sisters—Lexie and Annie—and the bond between them and the bond they both have with Annie’s baby, Daisy. How did you write about this relationship in such a real, moving way?

There are few relationships in life as profound as those between siblings—it’s a uniquely enduring relationship. Who else sees into the corners of our lives, right from early childhood? I wanted to try to capture the way those sibling relationships can stretch and bend under great tension…but it’s just so hard to break them, despite the fact that these are also the people we might fight with sometimes! In the case of Lexie’s special relationship with Daisy, I actually thought of her easy willingness to care for Daisy as an extension of her endless love for her sister, in a roundabout way. Of course, Lexie cares deeply for her niece, but her bond with Annie is so deep and so wide that she’d do anything for her and her child—even going so far as to step into her role as “mom” when the circumstances demand it.

You write in your author’s note about a favorite uncle who suffered from addiction and how that has influenced you. Even though this book is a work of fiction and not autobiographical, was your uncle an inspiration for this book?

It was the loss of my uncle that sparked my interest in issues around addiction in the first place. He was one of the voices of my childhood, always cheering me on and encouraging me to believe I could do anything. When it comes to my writing career, sometimes I can’t quite believe the things I’ve managed to achieve, but I’m also fairly confident that if my uncle were still alive he’d be quite smug about it—I can easily imagine telling me, “Well, I knew you could do it!”

But there’s also no sugar-coating it: my uncle’s behavior could also be immensely destructive, and this deeply affected both his own life and the lives of those who loved him, and the damage lives on long after his death for some of our family members. This is the nature of addiction—it is ugly and brutal, and there are no simple solutions because real lives are changed forever. Once beautiful, vibrant people get caught in its grip. That’s why I dedicated the book to my uncle, and although the story in no way reflects his story, that’s how he inspired it.

You’ve written several bestselling, acclaimed novels. Was the process and experience of writing Before I Let You Go different than your experience with past books?

The nature of the stories I write is that my writing process becomes deeply personal—but that was certainly true in a more intense way with this book. I think I lived and breathed Annie and Lexie’s story for six months and then “woke up” and realized my real life was actually still happening outside of my office!

What’s next for you?

I’ve finished the first draft of my 2019 novel—I’m so excited for the next one! I can’t say too much just yet, as it’s still in the very early stages of development, but I think readers who enjoy Before I Let You Go will love it, too.

Very exciting! Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Kelly! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Before I Let You Go—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Are you addicted to anything, or do you know anyone who is?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kelly and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Me, no (other than internet or shopping addiction LOL). Sadly I think sugar addiction and alcohol/nicotine addiction are very rampant in my social circle. They may not seem as fatal as hard drugs, but can have health risks associated with them that society doesn't take as seriously.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends April 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!