A Character Interview with Lily and Brian from TILL HEAVEN THEN FOREVER plus a conversation with author Linda Heavner Gerald!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview.  These character interviews, now and in the future, should prove to be very enlightening for all of us. 

We have the pleasure of meeting Lily and Brian, two characters from Till Heaven Then Forever. We'll get a chance to talk to the author, Linda Heavner Gerald, in a bit, but now we have on the stage...Lily and Brian!


Marie Lavender:  Hello, Lily and Brian.  Please have a seat.

Character Lily:  Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here.

Character Brian:  Yes, thank you.

Marie:  We're going to start out with some simple questions, okay?


Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?    

Lily:  We love our life!  Who wouldn’t enjoy living in the Bahamas?  I love the fact that Brian is forced to do something other than work.  Our days are spent in our boat or on the beach.  Don’t get me wrong, we also give back to our community.  There are several fund raisers.  Our support is always freely given.

Brian:  I have worked since I was a young boy.  I didn’t graduate high school which was not unusual at that point in history.  Now, I am a ‘Renaissance Man.”  I have had so many different careers but I always succeed.  It is about succeeding.  So many condos and marinas back home are there because of me.  So, yes, I was good at what I did.  I love to work.  I love to make money.  

Marie:  What is your family like?

Lily:  I have one son.  Brian has two sons.  We look forward to seeing grandchildren eventually.  Right, honey?  (They smile as Brian nods to her reply.)   

Marie:  What did your childhood home look like?

  Lily:   Both of us came from hard-working, middle-class families.  Our childhood homes were simple. Brian, say something.  (Brian shirks.  He has nothing to add to this.)

 Marie:  Do you have any hobbies?  What do you enjoy doing?  

 Lily:  Almost each day, we take our boat to a different island for lunch.  That takes a large portion of our day. Home for a nap and then a walk on the beach.  Dinner may be at home or at the Spinnaker Restaurant right here in Treasure Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. Brian, I am not answering another question if you don’t stop fidgeting and get involved here.  (Brian frowns but does not answer.)

Marie:  What is your greatest dream?

  Lily:  We both feel that our greatest dream is fulfilled.  The love of another person adds so much to each day, each moment.  Brian and I truly love each other.  

Brian:  My greatest dream is realized, Lily.  Of course plenty of money never hurts, you know?

Marie:  What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?

 Lily:  Brian says that he is the person that he dreamed of being.  After all, who could ask for more than plenty of money?  We have a great life due to his hard work.  I hate to alarm Brian but something is missing from my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my island life. Who wouldn’t?  Yet, there is a chasm deep inside of me.  Why am I not happy?  I have everything that anyone could want but something is just not right.  (Lily frowns but quickly smiles.)  Not to worry.  We have everything. 

Brian:   Lily, what are you talking about?  You never mentioned any of this before.  What more can you want?  (They look at each other.  Both appear uncomfortable.)

Marie:  (Clears throat as Lily is looking a little rattled.)  Let's try something else.

Who was your first love?

 Lily:  If you mean romantic love, it was a young man in college.  The timing was not there which was sad at the time.  Now I am grateful that he was not meant to be the ‘one.’ Maybe I would never have met Brian.  (They appear more relaxed now.)

 Brian:   There have been so many women in my life that I can’t recall the first.  Who cares?  I have Lily.  Life began when she entered my life.  (He kisses her.)


 Marie:  What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? 
Lily:  I was deeply hurt by a man whom I thought loved me.  He betrayed me, I have fought to get over that feeling of betrayal.

Brian:    Nothing ‘terrible’ has ever happened to me.  I just make the best of each day, you know?
Marie:  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?

Lily:  My dream was to meet a man with great success and settle down to a life of excitement.  I always dreamed of travel.  Yes, I have achieved my dream. My life is everything that I dreamed except for a feeling that something is not right but I’m not worried.  (Lily smiles at Brian.)

  Brian:  You are looking at my vision of success, me!  Really, I don’t mean to sound like a braggart but when you have accomplished all of this, well, come on.  What more is there?  Right, Lily?  

 Marie:  Who is your role model?

 Lily:  Brian.  (She smiles lovingly at him.)

 Brian:  I never had a role model.  Since I have never known anyone to obtain the level of success which I have, I guess I would have to say that I am my own role model.  (Lily and Brian laugh.)

 Marie:  Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?

 Lily:  I try not to do that.  I mean, I don’t have to do that.  Do I, Brian?  I did act like that once but not anymore.

 Brian:  No, if I don’t like someone, they will know it.  I refuse to be around anyone whom I don’t enjoy.

 Marie:  What is your deepest desire?

  Lily:  My deepest desire is to please Brian.  I desire to be the best wife in the world.” (She kisses Brian on the cheek and he smiles. )

 Brian:  My deepest desire is to make plenty of money.  After the military, I worked endless hours to achieve all that I could financially.  I am glad that I did.  Lily and I have a great life due to ingenuity.  Right, sweetheart?

 Marie:  What is your greatest fear? 

 Lily:  My greatest fear is losing our money.  What would we do?  I mean, Brian is too old to start over and I just hate working.

 Brian:  Losing Lily would be the end for me.  I couldn’t go on without her.

Well, thank you for visiting us today, Lily and Brian.  It's been a pleasure to have you here.  

Now, let's shift over and get the author's perspective.  We have Linda Heavner Gerald on the stage today!  Hi, Linda!
 Author Linda Heavner Gerald:  Hello.

Marie:  We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Lily, and the hero, Brian.  Quite an interesting couple.  Can you tell us a little about them?

Linda:  The protagonist of Till Heaven Then Forever is Brian.  Brian starts by giving us a great introduction into his life.  He has achieved great success.  As he faces retirement, he looks forward to the island life in a beautiful home which he has completed.  However, he does not want to live alone.  This sophisticated man has gone through many relationships.  Lately, he has his eye on a younger woman.  She makes him feel young again.  His desire is that she will be the woman whom he dreams of marrying. Lily is head-over-heels in love with Brian and their storied life.  This young woman has everything or does she?  You soon detect that something is missing.  
Marie:  What are your characters' greatest strengths? 
Linda:  Brian’s greatest strength is the ability to make money.  Lots of money has been the driving force behind his life.  Now, he desires to spend all that he has obtained with the ‘woman of his dreams.’ Lily’s greatest strength is loving Brian and always being there for him.
Marie:  What are their greatest weaknesses? 
Linda:  The same thing which is his greatest strength is also his greatest weakness.  Money and ambition are the driving forces for Brian.  Lily’s greatest weakness is falling into the world’s shallow description for happiness.  If you have plenty of wealth and success, you will be happy, according to the world’s description.  Lily is just beginning to feel that there may be more. 
Marie:  What are some of their favorite foods?

Linda:  This successful man enjoys the best accompanied by a fine glass of Burgundy or Cabernet.  He enjoys pate, quality seafood and of course, a great steak! Frequently, he prepares Veal Marsala as well as Chicken Piccata.  Brian is a better “chef” than Lily. Lily loves anything that Brian likes to eat.  She is not as selective as he. 

Marie:  What are some positive qualities that your characters may be unaware that they have?
Linda:  A positive quality that Brian is unaware of possessing is his ability to understand other people so easily.  He seems to have an edge like a “sixth sense.”  He quickly sizes up others and is effective in his ability to correctly surmise most.  Lily’s greatest quality is her honesty.  She does not play games.  Lily also really cares about others.
Marie:  Will readers like or dislike these characters, and why?
Linda:  They will fall in love with Brian and Lily. They are so real that you instantly connect with them.  Their frailties and flaws are broken open in front of you but you also come to respect the fierceness with which they “attack” life. As they age, you watch them finally understand what life is all about.  Lily is the first to feel that something is missing.  Her honesty and love for Brian help her demonstrate to him that there is much more.  Together, they become beautiful people.  I don’t refer to their aging bodies but the qualities that truly matter in Till Heaven Then Forever. 

Marie:  Well, now that we have a real taste of Lily and Brian, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.   

What first gave you the idea for Till Heaven Then Forever?

Linda:   My husband and I engraved “Till Heaven Then Forever” in our wedding bands long ago.  I’m not really sure what inspired that.  This book which is the story of a young couple struggling to understand the real meaning of life seemed destined for those words.
Marie:  How inspiring!
What is your writing style like?  Are you a pantster or a plotter? 
Linda:   I’m not sure what a pantster is.
Marie:  Oh!  I was just trying to find out if you write off-the-cuff or if you plan it all out first.  I do a bit of both.  We'll just move on to the next question, all right?
So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers.  Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Till Heaven Then Forever or getting it published?  What would you do differently next time?       
Linda:    I didn’t really have a problem with getting it published.  I am considering self-publication next time.  Indie writers seem to be doing well.  After six published novels, you may think that I have an understanding of the process but any understanding is of the most rudimentary type.  I dream of the “great publisher” contacting me.  All writers know to whom I refer but I have about given up that will ever occur.  Months of hard work and disappointment have never daunted me at all.  I enjoy the process.  The most rewarding is seeing the cover for the first time.  My publisher is very good at editing and creating.  It feels like Christmas when the notice comes that the cover is waiting for inspection.  I love it. It would be impossible for me to do anything differently except I would have chosen a different publisher for a few of my books.  I do not refer to my current choice of whom I must say is not perfect but does a fair job for me.
I know what you mean when you refer to the excitement of working with the cover artist.  It's so much fun!
Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on Writing in the Modern Age.  Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book!  
Here is the blurb for Till Heaven Then Forever.

Till Heaven Then Forever is a story about an older man and a younger woman. Deeply entrenched in the world, surrounded by wealth, they “had it all.” Or did they? Their desire was

to remain together until death, but that was becoming increasingly harder in their world. They found the way, the only way, for a couple to remain together here on earth and then forever. This is a compelling story that will draw the reader into island life in the Bahamas. Yet, even living in paradise cannot prevent the pain that every couple encounters—pain so strong that it often tears apart even the most loving. Lily and Brian find the key to Till Heaven Then Forever.

Purchase Links: 

Amazon Universal Link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00IZLR75M

About Linda Heavner Gerald:

Linda Heavner Gerald is retired with her husband on “The Forgotten Coast of Florida.” There she finds inspiration in each sunrise and sunset or just walking the beach. Currently, she has three mystery/thrillers and one children’s book. Only writing now for two years, Linda feels that she has been blessed. She desires to convey in each book a promise of hope and love from God. “If I can help just one person, then my writing is not in vain.”

Author Links:   

Linda's Books:






  1. Thanks for this interview - I love this idea and it's inspired me to brainstorm about possibly interviewing my own two main characters from my own novel! The banter back and forth is interesting because it's apparent that Lily is trying to suggest that she and Brian need to talk about something that's really bothering her, but Brian seems WAY too oblivious to pick up on her hints. (isn't that always the way!)
    I can imagine a similar bit of banter between Jim and Eve from my book.
    Would love to hear if you have more of these types of character interviews planned, Marie!

    1. Yes, Carrie! Thank you. We are doing a lot of character interviews now. :)


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