Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Interview With Claudia Pemberton

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Claudia Pemberton, author of 'Love Leaves No One Behind'. The title of the book is based on one of the vows of the U.S. Army Ranger Creed, which is that a Ranger will never leave a fallen comrade behind to fall into the hands of the enemy.

Tell me about your book:

“Love Leaves No One Behind” is my first published work. Technically, it is a suspense novel with a strong element of romance. At its core is a compelling love story, complete with unexpected elements that will test that love in every possible way, emotionally and physically.

The hero of my story is an amazingly authentic U.S. Army Ranger. His name is Jesse Daulton. He’s 38 years old and recently retired from twenty years of dedicated service to his country. His post-retirement mission is to re-acclimate himself to civilian life and to make up for lost time with family and friends.

The heroine of my story is Mikayla Mitchell. Mikayla is heartbroken at the loss of the only real family she has ever known … her beloved grandmother. With Granny Mae’s memory as her compass for life, Mikayla sets out on a journey to find happiness again. Since she has been unlucky in love, she decides that finding fulfillment by way of her career is her best course of action.

When Jesse and Mikayla meet, sparks fly immediately. Throw into the mix a ruthless, diabolical killer, and you’ve got my story of how Love Leaves No One Behind.

Who did you write this book for?

As far back as I can remember I have loved to read, so initially I wrote this book for me … just for the creativity of it … just to see if I could write something worth reading. As I went through the process of creating it, I realized that it was not just for me. It was about me. It was about what I had experienced in my life, what I had lost, and what I had always wanted. Writing this book freed me in many ways. Not only did it provide a way for me to express myself, it made me a much stronger person in the process. I was amazed to discover that Granny Mae’s wisdoms and unique outlook on life was a part of my own belief system. I had just never dug deep enough to find it.

I was always a very shy, timid country girl, so marketing and promoting my book forced me further out on a limb than I had ever dare venture before. But I did it! I swam with the big fish and I survived. When you’re on your own as far as being without an agent, or editor, or publicist, or without the backing, support, and connections of a traditional publisher, trying to compete on a scale as enormous as the publishing industry, it can make you feel awfully small sometimes. I liken it to feeling like a goldfish swimming around in the ocean. It’s a big place, but if you swim hard and smart, you can survive and even thrive.

Is there a central message in your book?

The central message in my book is that there is both good and evil in this world. That is fact. But it is my belief that good is much more powerful because love itself is more powerful. Love strengthens. For example, love is what gives a Soldier the courage to lay down his life for that of another. Sometimes he does it for a friend, and sometimes for a complete stranger. Evil can’t claim that kind of power. Evil takes, whereas love gives, and still yet, love overpowers.

What are you sharing in your book that will add to the reader’s life?

By way of my U.S. Army Ranger Jesse, I hope to enhance the reader’s perception of America’s mighty military troops. I tried to make my Jesse as close to the real thing as possible. At first, I feared that I was making him too much “larger than life”, but after I met a few real life Army Rangers, my Jesse paled in comparison. Rangers are incredible.

How realistic are the characters, location, and events that are depicted in your work of fiction, and how far did you go to research them?

My characters and locations are as real as I could possibly make them. I went to ridiculous lengths to authenticate my story. I spent hours and hours doing research, talking with experts in every field from psychology to taxidermy and everything in between. I authenticated every tiny detail that had any relevance whatsoever to my book. I used Triple A maps to plan Mikayla’s road trip from AL to CA. I researched what kinds of flowers would be growing around Granny Mae’s home at a particular month of the year. I researched what kinds of wild and/or poisonous animals live in specific parts of the Arizona desert. I researched what time the sun would be going down or coming up as Mikayla made her way west. I visited Army bases and cornered every Soldier I could find and drilled him for information until he told me to “go away”. I’m just kidding. None of them ever told me to go away. They were as polite and chivalrous as my fictional Soldier, maybe even more so.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The title of my book “Love Leaves No One Behind” is based on one of the vows of the U.S. Army Ranger Creed, which is that a Ranger will never leave a fallen comrade behind to fall into the hands of the enemy. The Ranger Creed spells that vow out specifically, but all branches of the military honor that code. They truly are all brothers in arms with a deep respect and affection, and a feeling of responsibility for one another.

How integral was the Granny Mae character to the vision for your story?

Granny Mae was important because her unconditional love and guidance is what made Mikayla into the woman she is. I felt that for the reader to better understand and develop a fondness for Mikayla, they needed to know her heart. They needed to know that Granny Mae had given Mikayla unconditional parental love when she needed it the most. That foundation of deep, abiding affection is at the core of who Mikayla is. When she loves someone, she does so with her whole heart. Friends and family are EVERYTHING to her. I wanted the reader to know that when Mikayla pinky promises her best friend that she will come back home in a year, I wanted the reader to know that Mikayla fully intends to honor that vow.

At first, I didn’t envision Granny Mae being such a large part of the book, but she kept popping up in Mikayla’s memories and thoughts, so I kept letting her speak. I’m glad that I did because she ended up being one of the most beloved characters in my book. It was that way with the character of Jesse too. At first, Jesse was only going to be a male friend for Mikayla … strictly a platonic friend. But as I researched him and created him, I fell in love with Jesse myself, long before Mikayla did. At that particular point in my storyline, Mikayla was in love with a different character. I knew that Jesse was the man for her, so I had to rewrite a large portion of the book in order to get them together romantically.

Do you have a specific writing style? And are you a character driven or a plot driven writer?

As a writer, I fancy myself as an escape artist for the reader. Through my storytelling, I hope to transport the reader from their own shoes into those of my characters. I want them to see what my character sees, and feel what my character feels. If I am able to paint a captivating scene with words, then I have achieved my goal. I hope that reading my work is like watching a movie in the mind.

I’m more of a character driven writer because I figure if the reader doesn’t care about my characters, then the reader isn’t going to care what happens to them. Of course, a good plot is imperative, but I think the characters have to draw the reader in. Then a good plot will keep them turning the pages.

Other than selling your book, what do you hope to accomplish with it?

I hope to entertain the reader. I hope to take their minds off their worries and totally enmesh them in my fictional world for a few hours. I want to make them scared. I want to make them laugh. And I want to make them wring their hands and their hankies. My goal is to make them feel.

What life-altering changes came about from authoring this book?

Authoring this book literally transformed my life. It truly did. It changed my personal life in very dramatic ways, but most importantly, it clobbered me with a dose of patriotism that I won’t soon forget. After researching Soldiers … after seeing the lengths they go to protect their brothers, their country, and me … I was awestruck. It was an incredibly profound realization for me. I won’t ever be the same again, nor do I want to be.

Who should buy this book, and where can they purchase it?

A reader who loves a suspense novel with a hefty dose of romance should buy my book. A reader who loves a Soldier, or who wants to fall in love with a Soldier will enjoy my story.

My book can be purchased in softcover and hardcover at:
Barnes and

in ebook at:, and now in Kindle form at:

All the links to where it can be purchased can be found on my website at: