Forever Red by Carina Adams
Not afraid to speak his mind or make a scene, Nathaniel Kelly has made a name for himself as country music’s ultimate bad boy.
Covered in tattoos, singing songs about drugs, drinking and heartache, Nate acts more like an out of control rock star than the grandson of one of the genres most influential and legendary stars. Every man wants to be him. Every woman wants just one night with the hard-rocking country rebel.
Except me. I just want to know that the boy I used to love is happy and that I didn’t break his heart in vain. That’s why I buy every magazine that even mentions his name; at least, that’s the story I tell myself.
When my friends gave me a birthday present any fan would die for, I was suddenly face-to-face with the man I never thought I’d see again. My body wasn’t supposed to react to him the way it did. And, Nate sure as hell wasn’t supposed to look at me the way he used to.
Can someone you loved as a teenager really have a hold on your heart twelve years later? Is it ever too late to say you’re sorry and make up for past wrongs? I’m about to find out.
I am a member of an amazing author’s group on Facebook called A Secret Affair – Seven amazing writers joining together to share their love of books with readers. Come find us – we’d love to have you!
After joining, I made a vow to read a book by each author. When I read Forever Red by Carina Adams I was blown away! Lia and Neil’s teenage love story is filled with twists and turns that make this book unputdownable. But, like most great love stories, something happens and the two part ways. (I’m not spoiling anything – you learn this on page 1! Years later, the two meet again and – let me tell you – they’re not teenagers anymore. Holy hotness! Needless to say I adored this book and now adore this author on a completely personal level.
So, shall we . . .
ME: In Forever Red, we first meet Lia and Neil in high school and later as adults. Did you always expect their love story to have so many twists and turns?
Carina: Yes and no.
I was at a concert when Nate Kelly came swaggering into my life. He wouldn’t leave until his story was told. There was heartache – I could feel it in every sad song I listened to.
Lia was his ‘one’. The old flame that he had never gotten over and was sure he never would – that kind of love isn’t simple. As the story came out, though, I was surprised by how much these two had to go through to be together.
ME: As teenagers, Lia is a wild child, seeking a way out. Neil is the good boy who found himself in-love with the outsider. Where did the inspiration come for these characters?
Carina: Teenage Lia would have been my best friend. Her teen years mirrored mine. The things she did? I really did them. I’m not sure how I would have survived if I didn’t have friends like my Mike, Nate and Julie. Writing Lia was therapeutic. I never saw it at the time, but I was as lost as Lia.
Nate, well, there is no one quite like Nate. However, there were two boys who heavily influenced both Mike and Nate. I stole traits from each of them to give to Nate and stole others to give to Mike.
Every teenager in Red is inspired by someone I knew when I was their age.
ME: Why does Lia seek out male attention the way she does in the book? What is she coping from?
Carina: I love this question!
Many people read the book and hated Lia without realizing how broken she was. Everything she did, from the decisions she made to reactions after September 11, had a reason behind it.
Every little girl needs a positive father figure. A man to tell her that she is smart, funny, capable, and pretty. A man who can offer support and show her how she should be treated with respect and kindness.
Lia had that. Then one day, it was gone. She and her mother were cast aside.
That doesn’t send a message of worthiness to an impressionable girl.
Her mother abandoned her not long after. Suddenly, Lia was all alone. She lived for the emails from her dad, yet that was the only interaction they ever really had. Did he know she was all alone? Did he care?
Lia was beautiful. Men paid attention to her. She realized very quickly that there was one thing she could control, that when she plays the game, she isn’t helpless. And, for a little bit, while that man is paying attention to her, she is not alone.
ME: What is it about Lia that draws Neil to her?
Carina: Lia was different. Not just from the southern girls Neil was used to, but from the normal teenager. She was a mystery to him – the girl who loved classic country and rebelled against against everything normal teenaged girls did.
Lia was also a lifeline. Neil was lost, trying to find himself in a strange place, dealing with the loss of his grandfather while struggling to be the son his parents expected him to be. Lia didn’t want anything from him.
Nate is a truly good guy. He has a protective side that rivals his stubbornness. Lia needs someone to put her first and protect her. The first time he talks to her, as they’re walking to class, he takes on that role. And, Lia lets him.
ME: The teenage romance is beautiful and the adult connection is epically hot! Did you ever consider breaking it up into two books?
Carina: Red was never supposed to be as long as it was. The teen years were going to be short flashbacks. It was impossible to do that, though. The teenagers need their stories told so we could understand their actions as adults.
I did think about breaking into two book because it is so long. In the end, though, I decided to give readers the whole story in one because I couldn’t wait to share it with others.
ME: Do you have an old romance; the one that got away?
Carina: I sort of have two. Kevin (my Nate), the boy I was so sure that I was going to marry one day but never felt like I was good enough for him, and Brett (my Mike), the best friend that I loved with all my heart.
Brett passed away before he had a chance to really live. Kevin, though, is happily married with two daughters. And someone I could never see myself with now – we’re polar opposites. Kevin is my unanswered prayer, everything I thought I wanted, but we’d be miserable now.
I’ve been married for thirteen years to the love of my life, my best friend, my rock. I’m probably as relieved Kevin got away as he is not to be stuck with me.
ME: In the book, you elude to Lia having a relationship with her teacher while in high school. Will we ever hear that taboo story?
Carina: Lia and Craig had a very sordid affair – the high school girl and her coach. It was left out because it wasn’t part of Lia and Nate’s story. However, it is very important to Lia’s story.
I belong to an amazing group of writers called A Secret Affair (look us up on Facebook). We are working on publishing our first anthology – the theme is taboo and forbidden romance. Guess what new story of mine will be in there?
ME: Where do you get most of your story ideas from?
Carina: Everywhere. I never know when inspiration is going to hit. I can get it from running into an old friend at the store or from something someone says to me. My mind is an odd and sometimes scary place.
ME: What is the writing process like for you?
Carina: I always get my best writing done while I’m driving alone with the music blaring. Of course, by the time I get home, I have rework through everything I’ve just written in my mind. There is no actual prewriting for me – I go over things a few times in my mind and then put pen to paper.
The constant rewrites are my least favorite part. When something isn’t working and it has to either be reworded or deleted. I spend hours sometimes agonizing over those.
I let my characters have full control. If one isn’t speaking to me, I ignore that story and focus on another one. It’s brutal when I’m trying to make deadlines – but I do my best work under pressure (hopefully).
ME: Neil is a hot country singer who the women go crazy for. Who is your country crush?
Eric Church and Jerrod Niemann. I was at Jerrod Niemann/Keith Urban concert when I met Nate Kelly. Eric is the working man’s country rebel. I listened to their albums on repeat while I wrote the book.
ME: If you could pick two celebrities to come to dinner and ask them anything – who are they?
Carina: Tom Hardy. Because I’m in love with him and just want to spend a few minutes with him. I have no idea what we’d talk about because I’d probably be to shy to actually say anything, but I would stare in awe.
Kurt Sutter. I honestly think we’d be great friends. He’s brilliant and I want to know everything he can teach me.
ME: Favorite book on your kindle?
Carina: I have 93 books in my ‘favorite’ folder on my kindle. There are so many great ones! However, Outlander is my ultimate favorite book. I reread it every year. I have a paperback that is completely stained and dog-eared (it’s from 1994 – I’ve really had it that long), so I downloaded the kindle version. I may have a slight obsession with Jamie.
ME: Last book you read?
Carina: The Paper Princess by Erin Watt. Wow. Just wow. My head is still reeling and I want book number two now. Right now. I have no patience. I’m actually thinking of re-reading it. I loved it that much. It is a must read!
ME: Book you wanted to throw against the wall…and why?
Carina: Every A.E. Woodward book ever written. Ashley has this way with words that make you feel like you’ve known the characters forever. Her books destroy me. I love them!
ME: Favorite book boyfriend?
Carina: I feel like this should be a hard question. My mind automatically goes to Jamie (James Alexander Michael Mackenzie Fraser) because I love him and have since I started reading romance novels.
Yet, there are so many amazing men in books that there should be more of a competition.
There isn’t. It’s Jamie. It will always be Jamie.