**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**
Thrice Read Books participated in the original blog tour for Beyond Circumstances, by Gloria Joynt-Lang. In March 2020, Gloria re-rereleased Beyond Circumstances and we are so happy that Jenn sat down with Gloria to update our interview!
Interview March 6, 2020
Jenn: Alrighty! Let’s talk about your new contemporary romance novel, Beyond Circumstances. Is this your first novel?
Gloria: Yes, Beyond Circumstances was the first full-length novel I wrote. It was initially published in 2018. A few months after its release, the publisher went out of business. I received my rights back and took some time to decide if I wanted to republish Beyond Circumstances myself or try another publisher. While contemplating this, I queried another contemporary romance novel and I was lucky enough to sign a contract with a publisher for Braking Hard which hit the shelves a few weeks ago, (February 12, 2020). Inspired by other authors, I decided to take the plunge and self-publish Beyond Circumstances. I like the idea of doing both the traditional and self-publishing route simultaneously. Both have their advantages.
Jenn: How long was Beyond Circumstances in the making?
Gloria: I started writing it in 2016 and I believe the storyline is even more relevant today as it was then.
Jenn: Beyond Circumstances is a romance with some serious twists and I imagine there was considerable research? Maybe “twists” isn’t the right word… You’ve tackled some big topics in the novel, and done so with exquisite finesse. How did you approach the research?
Gloria: Each time I went over it, I saw something I wanted to change. Numerous revisions are part of the creative process, but there was a point where I needed to take a break, so I started on another project before I finished Beyond Circumstances. It helped me to recharge my batteries. In regards to research, I love digging into various subject matters. For Beyond Circumstances, I listened to Opera music and absolutely fell in love with it. Other parts of the research dealt with talking to people who went through traumatic experiences. That was a bit more difficult, especially on an emotional level.
Jenn: As a PTSD survivor, I appreciated the honesty in Zak’s experience. I’ve read so many stereotyped “wounded warrior” romances, where love just fixed the problems. It doesn’t work that way for most of us, much as we might want it to.
Gloria: Yes, I agree. Love doesn’t cure mental health any more than it does cancer. My husband is a PTSD survivor and I can’t just hug the nightmares out of him. He’s doing better than when he was first diagnosed, but there will always be triggers. He avoids movies with a lot of violence, but sometimes graphic scenes pop up.
Jenn: Right. Managing the triggers is a chore sometimes. What inspired Zak and Lexie’s story?
Gloria: Zak and Lexie’s story was inspired by both PTSD and policies that are centered on stereotypes. One of my taglines for the novel is: Heroes walk among us all the time. We think we know who they are, but sometimes we have no idea. Unfortunately, we live in a society that judges people without even knowing them.
Jenn: Could you tell our readers a little about the book?
Gloria: Beyond Circumstances takes place within a setting of a small rural town in Illinois. The type of place where everyone knows each other and there’s a lot of shared history. It centers around Zak, a man of Middle Eastern descent, and Lexie, the town’s new doctor. Although Zak’s been residing in the community for a couple of years, he’s still an outsider in many respects. When a relationship emerges between the two, a local businesswoman along with her son, the town’s Sheriff, caution Lexie to stay away from Zak. Initially, Lexie ignores their ambiguous warnings, but when Zak vanishes for several months, she begins to reconsider how she sees him—torn between her own experiences with the man and the rumors surrounding his disappearance.
Beyond Circumstances explores bigotry, and the underlying issues of fear, grief, and isolation. It’s about healing from one’s past and the power of communities who band together to help their neighbors. It addresses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its impact on not only the person afflicted but those around them. I don’t mean to be vague, but I also don’t want to give away too much.
Jenn: Right! I am trying to phrase my questions so we don’t get inadvertent spoilers!
Living in a small town myself, I can vouch for the quirkiness you’ve created, but those characters have to be experienced. I can’t imagine trying to explain them (well, I can, but it was explaining them to Brian, and giving him parallel personalities that we deal with in our little town!).
Gloria: I spent my childhood in small communities and, after a couple of decades in the city, I returned to rural living. I love the friendliness of the people in small towns. I don’t think the people are any quirkier than city folk, but you get to know your neighbors better. On some level we all have idiosyncrasies. For example, I’m the opposite of Willow in Beyond Circumstances as I actually fear birds…except for Penguins. Penguins will never swoop down on you.
Jenn: Lol. I can understand that! Did you always know you wanted to write professionally or was this more of a later-in-life decision?
Gloria: I’ve always loved writing and in a way, I did get paid for writing when I wrote reports at work. As a parole officer, you spend a lot of time assessing risk and formulating reports to justify your assessments. When I retired, I missed the writing, so I started doing it again. But this time I wanted to write stories that ended with a happily-ever-after.
Jenn: What an awesome transition!
Gloria: It wasn’t planned, it just evolved this way.
Jenn: Sometimes, the best things happen that way.
Gloria: True. I’m not big on planning.
Jenn: I take it then, that you are a pantser when it comes to your writing style?
Gloria: Yes, for the most part. I do jot down ideas as they come to me and then try and organize them into a scene. But there are plenty of times where it just flows as I type. Every time I start a new novel, I vow to be more organized. Well…I guess there’s next year.
Jenn: That’s always a wonderful experience when it becomes more channeling the story than trying to “write” it.
Gloria: Yes, but I end up doing months of self-editing and revisions as I have a tendency to write too much. For example, Beyond Circumstances started off at 120,000 words and by the time I finished I shaved off more than 20,000 words. As I learned from various editors, less is often better.
Jenn: Haha! I know how that goes.
Jenn: So, Beyond Circumstances is now available on Amazon and with Kindle Unlimited, but you mentioned that you have another one in the works. Are you far enough along with the second book (I’m guessing it’s the sequel to Beyond), that you can give us an idea of when we might be able to anticipate that one?
Gloria: Yes, the second novel in the Out of the Darkness Series is Escaping Circumstances. I’m aiming for a release later this year. Like Beyond Circumstances, it’s a stand-alone novel. It tells the story of Scorp, who appears in Beyond Circumstances. He’s a lot rougher around the edges than Zak, but his background is just as interesting.
Jenn: I have to admit, I’d love to get his story. Scorp reminds me of a number of soldiers I met and interacted with during Brian’s enlistment and my own time as a military-civilian.
Gloria: Yes, I’ve worked with a few Scorps myself.
Jenn: So, we have Beyond Circumstances that readers can (and should!!) grab and we won’t have a long wait until book 2 comes out. It sounds like an awesome deal to me.
As we wrap up, is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
Gloria: I’ve done the third novel for this series. This time I’m focusing on a Beta man as opposed to an Alpha man.
Jenn: Oh my! Suddenly I have ideas of who that might be about, but I’m keeping my mouth shut.
Gloria: Thanks, I appreciate that.
Jenn: You bet! On behalf of Thrice Read Books, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk today, and for this wonderful romance novel!