Wednesday, July 3, 2013

[Book Spotlight] Abandon all Hope by M.J. Schiller

It was one of those mornings for newspaper-writer/photographer Hope Creswell.  The alarm clock didn’t go off and she cut her finger on broken glass.  Not one to let such things get her down, Hope headed into her assignment meeting with excitement, only to leave it stunned.  Her new assignment is to trail the sensational rock-star, Chase Hatton, for an article.  Chase Hatton!  No one knows the power that name holds for her.  No one knows of the childhood friendship that blossomed into romance, only to abruptly die on the night of Hope’s senior prom.  No one knows of the ache that still fills her heart. 

What starts out for Chase Hatton as an average publicity trip to Chicago suddenly becomes complicated when his manager tells him that Hope Creswell will be interviewing him in the morning.  He had spent eight years trying to forget Hope, and now she would be in his penthouse in a matter of hours?

When Chase opens the door to his penthouse and finds Hope on the opposite side, his heart begins beating a rhythm the rocker has yet to capture in any of his music.  The smoldering embers of their former romance are fanned by their mere proximity.  Will they both be burned again?  Can Hope ever trust her heart to Chase after what he did?  Can Chase bear to see her walk out on him a second time?  And what about Hope’s boyfriend, Phillip?  Where does he fit into the picture that Hope is developing?

Hope had expected someone else to open the door—a manager, a groupie, a chauffeur, anyone—but not him. She had been in the initial phases of bracing herself for seeing him again, when suddenly he was there in front of her. She was unprepared.
            She eyed him. He hadn’t changed much, except for his hair. When they were younger, it had been about the same shade of brown hers was. Now, someone, a manager or promoter, perhaps, had convinced him to dye his hair blond, and he wore it longer than he had in high school, just to his collar, and long on top. The clothes he wore now were different, too. He seemed to have traded in his t-shirts and shorts for black jeans and an expensive-looking, scarlet-colored, button-down shirt. But when Hope peered into his eyes, she was flooded with memories of past times, and a warm feeling spread over her, both welcome and uncomfortable at the same time.
            She took in her surroundings, resisting the urge to run across the wide, circular room and peer out the windows covering the far wall where the light streamed in across the lush carpeting. Directly in front of them was a sunk-in area with two large, semicircular couches with an ornate, round table between them. To the left was a wet bar with funky v-shaped stools, which looked somehow top-heavy, as if they would tip over at any moment. To the right was a big screen, plasma TV surrounded by comfortable seats, which had attached cup holders like in a movie theater.
            “Wow, Chase! This is great!” She turned back to him. “You really have made something of yourself, haven’t you?”
            He grinned. “I’ve done all right, I guess.”
            “Done all right?” she exclaimed in surprise. “You’ve had six songs in the top ten in the past two years, and your first album went platinum in less than three months. I’d say you’ve done pretty damn good!” She laughed.
            The sound of her voice was intoxicating, like a heady perfume, and he recalled now how she would occasionally insert a curse word into her speech just to catch him off guard and make him laugh.
            “You haven’t changed a bit.”
            “Oh yes, I have,” she said quickly, unable to keep the edge out of her voice. Hope looked down, moving her foot back and forth across the carpeting, watching as the color of the nap changed with each sweep, her hands clasped behind her back. I’m here for a story, that’s it, she reminded herself. She moved over to the window and gazed out over Chicago. Suddenly, she swayed forward and placed her hand on the glass to steady herself.
            “Still afraid of heights, huh?”
            Hope hadn’t realized he had followed her. She nodded mutely, surprised he had remembered something about her she had forgotten herself. Unable to resist the temptation, she turned to gaze at him, the pain engulfing her with a suddenness that was frightening. She didn’t want to remember or be reminded that he knew these things about her.


MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh, can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has an eighteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and sixteen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.

You can find ABANDON ALL HOPE at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

What’s the last movie you watched and loved?

Man of Steel! It had some old favorites (Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, and Russell Crowe. I would love any movie they were in singularly, let alone together!) and a new hottie, Henry Cavill. I didn’t think he was as good-looking as everyone says, but pictures don’t do the man justice. You need to see the expressions in motion on his face, his movements, his voice, the whole package!

Most _____________ in high school. (popular, nerdy, sporty…) Why?

In high school I did pretty good. I had just moved to Kirkwood, MO from Cedar Rapids, IA and lost some of my junior high awkward looks (got contacts, learned how to put on makeup, got my hair done). I was the new girl in town and no one knew I was a bookworm who sang a dramatic duet in the eighth grade Christmas pageant. (I could have never lived that down had we stayed in Iowa!)

Top three things on your bucket list.

Go back to visit Ireland. Sing with a band. Make the bestseller’s list.

How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
Well, Beth from TRAPPED UNDER ICE is a romance novelist/lunch lady and I came up with ABANDON ALL HOPE as a title for one of her books. I loved it, and decided to create a story around it, the story of Hope, who felt like she was abandoned on the night of her senior prom.

What is your favorite scene in your new release?
Oh, easy! The skinny-dipping scene, of course!

Flirting Questions 
What’s your favorite body part of the opposite sex?
I’ve always been a huge fan of a broad chest, but recently I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty of well-toned abs and that wonderful v thing that starts at the hips and, you know, goes down. I don’t, however, want a guy whose abs are so well-defined you feel like you could reach out and grip them like handlebars. That is a turn-off. Keep your insides inside and just hint at those muscles.

What does love feel like?
For me, my husband was the first guy I felt at ease with. I wasn’t nervous, or worried about his intentions, it just felt right.

Hey, baby! What’s your sign?
Well it ain’t a stop sign, baby!

If you could take a romantic trip, where would it be?
I think Venice, Italy and Paris, France would be wonderful. But I’d be happy to just return to the place we last stayed, Hermann, MO. We stayed at a bed & breakfast but had our own little cottage. I could have stayed there forever! It was in wine country, so the views were spectacular as well, right along the Missouri River.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely! It happened to me! When I met my husband, you’re going to laugh, but this is the honest to goodness truth, it was like that scene from West Side Story when Tony and Maria meet. We were at a bar, with a group of friends, and everything else faded into the background for a few seconds when we were introduced. I said, “I wonder why I’ve never met you before?” Then reality quickly followed and everything came back into focus. I answered myself. “Because he probably has a girlfriend back home and is gone every weekend.” I was a little sour on the subject because a guy I was seeing first semester had asked me to make myself scarce one weekend because his girlfriend from back home was coming for a visit and she “probably wouldn’t understand our relationship.” No, I’m guessing not. Loser!

Flirting Quickies:

I’m hoping this isn’t some sort of psychiatric evaluation that’s telling you something about my inner psyche!

Boxers or Briefs? Briefs!

Facial hair or clean shaven? I loves me some stubble!

Alpha or Beta? Beta, baby!

White wine or red? Until recently, I would have said white. But since our trip to Missouri wine country I’ve discovered I like both.

Coffee or tea? Hot chocolate!

Vanilla or chocolate? Really? CHOCOLATE! J

Sweet or salty? See above.

Cat or dog? I love all animals. But I really LOVE my kitty!
Backpacking or luxury hotel? There’s a time and place for both. But given the opportunity to choose, I would choose luxury hotel because you can always backpack, but luxury hotels aren’t always in the budget, and I love to be spoiled.
Optimist or pessimist? Uhh…happily ever after? OPTIMIST ALL THE WAY! J


  1. Thanks for having me on this morning! I had fun with the questions!

  2. I love your books, M.J. Thank you for the fun post!
    -R.T. Wolfe

    1. Thanks for stopping in my faithful friend, now back to your writing at Starbuck's, or is it Panera's today? :) I am working on my next one for you, about halfway finished with edits. Have a great Hump Day!

  3. Glad you had fun here, MJ! I enjoyed the interview!

  4. Great questions and wonderful answers. Really enjoyed learning a bit more about M.J.

  5. WHat a great interview. You're too funny, Mary!

    Congrats again on the new release!