Thursday, November 19, 2015

DRAWN APART - Book #3 in Lisette Brodey's Desert series

It’s a pleasure to welcome friend and author, Lisette Brodey, to my blog with the newest addition to her Desert Series – book #3 – DRAWN APART.

Before we get to the particulars of this incredible work of heart, let me introduce you to the woman behind the book.

Lisette was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After high school, she moved to New York City where she attended Pace University and studied drama. After ten years in New York, several of them working in the radio industry, she moved to Los Angeles where she held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA. Back on the East Coast, she worked for many years as a freelance writer, specializing in PR and the entertainment industry. In 2010, she returned permanently to the Los Angeles area.

She’s the author of six novels: Crooked Moon (General/Literary Fiction); Squalor, New Mexico (Coming-of-Age/Literary Fiction); Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! (Women's Fiction/Chick-lit), and The Desert Series (Mystical High; Desert Star; and Drawn Apart).

In addition to her six novels, two of Lisette’s short stories are published in an anthology: Triptychs (Book 3, The Mind’s Eye Series.)

In January 2013, Lisette edited and published a book of her mother's poetry (written 50 years earlier): My Way To Anywhere by Jean Lisette Brodey.

Lisette blogs, hosts guest bloggers, and interviews fellow authors on a weekly basis at her Writer’s Chateau.

Now that we know a little more about Lisette, on with the interview…

Q: Lisette, can you tell us a little bit about the three books in The Desert Series (book #1 - Mystical High, book #2 – Desert Star, book #3 – Drawn Apart)? The theme? Although there are three novels, can they be read as standalone books? Cliffhangers?  

A: Hi, Jan. Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog.

The Desert Series takes place over a span of six years in a town called Mystekal in the Southern California desert. One of the lines I use to describe the series is this: It all began in a dying desert town when the past came back to join the present.

All the books work as standalone novels and there are no cliffhangers. It’s really important to me to give readers a satisfying ending to every book. However, because it is a series, the stories feature the same characters, though new ones take center stage in each book. There is a span of approximately two years’ time between each book, and thus I feature the recurring characters to reflect their maturity and personal growth. For this reason, many of the stories within each novel are more poignant and meaningful to those who have read the previous books.

Q: The series is YA paranormal. Care to share a little of each paranormal element within each book?

A:  Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you that there are new paranormal elements in every book. Everything starts in Mystical High, when sudden paranormal activity begins both at Mystekal High (dubbed “Mystical High”) and around the town. The two main characters in this book, Jessie and Jinxsy, are best friends. Each girl is going through her own family problems when seemingly random and bizarre incidents begin to happen. After a string of shocking events expose explosive secrets, the answers to decades-long mysteries are revealed.

Desert Star features River Dalworth, who makes his debut in Mystical High as Jessie’s younger brother. River is brilliant, funny, and a talented artist. Confession: he was my very favorite character to write. River is now a senior at Mystekal High. As the book opens, he steps in to defend a new student, Larsen Davis, who is being bullied by two other seniors for being gay. Larsen is grateful to River and confides in him that the biggest bully is the one at home—his mother.

Eventually, Larsen goes to work for River’s mother, Arielle, who is in charge of renovating The Desert Theater. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just tell you that a lot begins to happen as Larsen finds his way in the theater that has been abandoned for 40 years. Opening night at the Desert Theater sets the stage for a crime, never-imagined reunions, long-awaited explanations, and otherworldly miracles.

In the final book, Drawn Apart, there is a very different tone. One of the main characters is Avalon Martelli, a student from Jersey City, NJ who was introduced in Desert Star. Avalon’s entire family now lives in Mystekal. A senior, Avalon is only weeks away from graduation when her best friend, Stephanie Lambert, is rendered unconscious and unresponsive after a car accident. Stephanie, a self-proclaimed “hopeless romantic” and “poetry geek” is forever talking about finding her soul mate. As she lies comatose in the hospital, Stephanie’s mom and friends pray for a miracle. Avalon knows her best friend would never die without meeting her soul mate.

Q: I love the title for book #3 – DRAWN APART. It’s unique and stirs curiosity. Would you tell us about the motivation for this book?

A: Thank you, Jan.

For the third book in the series, I wanted to do something very different. I wanted to introduce parallel elements that are not present in the two previous books. I also wanted the last book to be centered on romance. The title, Drawn Apart, actually has two meanings. I’d love to say more but … just can’t give too much away!

Q: We want the readers to feel what’s happening in our stories, but when we’re writing them, they stir lots of emotions in us as our characters develop and the plot thickens. When you were writing DRAWN APART, what kind of emotions did you go through?

A: Oh my goodness, Jan. What a tough question! This book was very emotional to write. The series became more heartfelt and personal to me as it progressed. While I can’t get into detail about it all, throughout the writing of the entire series, so many bizarre events in my own life mirrored the ones I was writing about. Just so many strange things happened.

For one, while I was writing Desert Star, a friend and I drove from Los Angeles (where I live) to the desert area around Palm Springs. Though it seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack, we were hoping to find an old desert town with an abandoned theater. I wanted to get a photo of one to use on the back of my book.

Well, imagine our surprise when the first thing we saw in the first old town we visited was an abandoned theater, looking exactly like the one I was writing about. Not only was the theater abandoned, but the entire block was, too. Looking at the photo, one might think I found it and wrote a story around it. But no, it was the other way around: I was writing the story and found the theater. But maybe I should say that the theater found me.

Anyway, that’s one of many things that happened. It’s been quite an emotional time.

Q: I’m in awe of authors who write in multiple genres. You’re one of those authors. Could you share a little bit about why you choose to write in more than one genre?

A: For the most part, I never chose to write in different genres per se. I only chose to write stories that happened to fall into different genres. The first novel I wrote was Squalor, New Mexico, a 1970s coming-of-age story shrouded in family secrets. (This novel, by the way, takes place in East Coast suburbia, not New Mexico.) The odd title is explained on page one.

After writing Squalor, New Mexico, I was stunned to learn that I had written a novel that was classified as YA. Technically, I suppose it is, as the main characters are teens, but that never entered my mind when I wrote it. For the purpose of promotion, I classify it as Coming-of-Age/Literary Fiction. Also, while many young readers have enjoyed it, I believe the book’s biggest fans are ones who grew up in the pre-technology age.

Crooked Moon, an emotional story about two childhood friends reuniting, again, was simple a story I wanted to tell. Friendship is a theme that is very important to me, and an integral part of every novel I have ever written. This novel has been classified as literary fiction/women’s fiction. Again, the genre labels bother me because in no way is this a book for women only.

Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! is the only book that I wrote specifically for a particular genre. Every time I’d walk into a bookstore (remember those?), the preponderant number of titles on the New Releases table was always chick lit/women’s fiction. And so, I chose to write a romantic comedy. It was great fun and I love Molly and her friends. However, despite it being a well-received book, it’s doubtful that I’ll write in this genre again.

Additionally, I did something for this book I haven’t done for any others. I blogged as Molly for eight months and, because the character is a newspaper reporter, I interviewed all types of creative people as Molly, too. Readers can get to know Molly via her blogs at:

Q: You’ve given us a bit about all three books in the Desert series. Tell us specifically about DRAWN APART? What would you like us to take away from the story? Can you tell us about the ease or difficulty in wrapping up the series?

A: I think the most profound message in DRAWN APART is that much in life is not always as we perceive it to be. It is like a multi-faceted gemstone, and we don’t always see all sides of it at one glance.

I felt a great deal of sadness wrapping up the series. I’ll really miss the characters, but they’ll live on in my mind where I will create futures for them. But another part of me is excited to go back to the literary fiction genre and move on.

Q: Would you whet our appetite for DRAWN APART with the blurb and an excerpt from the story?

A: Sure, Jan. Thank you.


When Avalon Martelli and Stephanie Lambert meet at the start of their junior year at Mystekal High, they form an instant connection. Stephanie is from South Jersey and Avalon from North Jersey, and they both feel out of place in the Southern California desert. Aside from having a home state in common, they each possess a talent for art and the heartbreak of a broken family. Avalon has the gift of sight, where the future is sometimes revealed in her paintings, while Stephanie’s drawings are all about forever love. As Stephanie, a self-described poetry geek and hopeless romantic, talks about past lives and eternal happiness, Avalon denies she’s in love with her best guy friend, River Dalworth, who is attending art school in Los Angeles. Only weeks before graduation, Stephanie is in a car accident and falls into a coma. Devastated, Avalon believes it is all her fault. The night before, she had painted Stephanie with her head against the steering wheel—and hadn’t told her. She confides this to River, who has come home to be with her, but he can’t convince her she’s not to blame. Avalon loudly proclaims to the universe that she no longer wants her gift, but River warns her she may receive another one in its place. Avalon and her family, along with Stephanie’s mother, pray for a miracle. River tries to console her, but she finds his presence difficult, knowing he has someone else who “just might be the one.” Trying to push her own pain and disappointment aside, Avalon keeps vigil for her best friend, hoping that Stephanie will wake up and have her greatest wish fulfilled— the meeting of her soul mate.


“Freakin’ A!” Avalon winced as she tugged on a strand of her long green-and-blue hair stuck inside the door of her locker.

“Hey, are you okay?” Seeing Avalon’s awkward position, the stranger standing beside her realized what had happened and put her backpack on the floor. “Oh, no; you closed your locker on your hair!”

With her head cocked awkwardly to the left, Avalon looked at the girl she had never seen before. “Am I a dummy or what? Yeah, this is what I get for having long hair and not paying attention. Not exactly the coolest thing to do. I just don’t want anyone to see me like this. It doesn’t take much to give some people a reason to mess with you, you know?”

The girl smiled and moved closer, holding the ends of her own long hair in her hands. “See this hair? I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been traumatized a few times. One time, about three years ago, it got stuck in the car door, and I didn’t realize it until we were at an intersection, and some guy started honking and pointing to my hair while he and his friends were cracking up. That was fun—not. My mom was driving and even she was in stitches. Nice, huh?”

Avalon laughed. “That’s a funny story. At least you could drive away and never see them again, right? These kids will just stay put and torture you.”

The girl glanced down the hall at the other students. “No worries. I’m going to stand right here and block their view. Just open the locker and pull your hair out. I promise, it’ll be our secret forever.”

Avalon quickly turned her combination lock, successfully getting her hair released from the locker’s grip. “You’re okay. Thanks. Are you new here? Are you a junior, too?”

“Yes and yes. I’m Stephanie Lambert, and you are so not from California with that accent.”

“Nope. I’m Avalon Martelli, and you’re so right. And you’re not from California, either.”

Stephanie giggled and scratched her head with a smile. “Hmm. I’m guessing New York.”

“Pretty much so. Jersey City. Right across the Hudson. And you?”

“South Jersey. Cherry Hill.”

Avalon leaned against her locker. “Nice to meet you, South. So, what brings you to Mystekal? This is a weird place to move to. You’ve got to have a story, right?”

“Sure do, North. Wish it were a nicer one.”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”

“You’re not. I don’t mind telling you. Maybe it’s because I feel like I know you. Anyway, the short and not-so-sweet story goes like this: my dad went to Paris on a business trip and never came home. Met some young French chick who loved on his … well, you get my drift, turned into a prick, and with one big kick … left my mom and me at the curb. Then he put up a sign, ‘Do not disturb.’”

“That sucks, but you’re funny. Do you always talk so poetically?”

“Only when I feel comfortable with the person I’m talking to. I really love poetry, but I don’t tell many people that. And just for the record, I don’t consider what I just spit out to be poetry; it was plain old rhyming. I have better taste than that and way more respect for poets.” She paused and looked curiously at Avalon. “I gotta tell you, it’s just weird, but I really do feel like I know you.”

Q: Now that you’ve completed the series, where will your muse take you next?

A: My next novel will be a story that is very dear to my heart. It began as an unfinished short story that I starting writing at age 17. Over the years, it became a one-act play and then a two-act play. I know the characters very well and it’s about time that they find their way into a novel. It’s a very character-driven story and is in the literary fiction genre. I’m 27K words into the book and can’t wait to get back to it.

Also, I’m slowly working on a book of short stories which all take place in the same location.  

If you’d like to follow Lisette and her writing career, you can find her here:

Blog: Lisette's Writer's Chateau -

*Hit the ‘follow’ button on her Amazon page while you’re there*

You can also hit the ‘follow’ button on Lisette’s website, too.


  1. Great interview, Jan! As usual, visiting your blog always adds a dash of fresh air to my day.
    I do love your series, Lisette. It's not just for young adult readers. The different aspects of otherworldly influences in each story added an intriguing dimension to my read. Before the end of book 1, I stopped trying to figure out the mysteries, how everything tied together, It was more enlightening to let your characters take me into their situations until finally, the answers fell into place. Although each story does stand on its own merits, I'm so glad I read the series in order, gained initial insight into characters that showed up in the next book. DRAWN APART, however, is the one that will sit with me for a long time to come. Thank you so much for writing these!

    1. Thanks for popping in to read Lisette's interview, Dody!. The Desert series sounds incredible. Can't wait to immerse myself in the stories.

  2. Thank you SO much for having me as your guest today, Jan. I'm honored to be here.

    Dody, thank you so very much for your very kind words and tremendous support for The Desert Series. Having one's work appreciated so much makes it all worth it.

    1. Lisette, it's a joy to have you here. Your series sounds incredible. Can't wait to read the books.

  3. Wonderful interview! Lisette is one of my favorite authors. Once I've finished one of her books I want to dig right into the next one and I deliberately stop myself from doing that. I read something else in between. Rather like cleansing one's palate with sorbet between courses. I've been eagerly awaiting the third book in her Trilogy. Frankly, I hate slotting books into genres. I'm hardly a young adult and I love her YA novels. I'm not a big chick lit fan but Molly Hacker Is Too Picky is one of my favorite books. I love each of her books and feel as if I've left old friends once I've finished the book. I'm always left wondering what happened to the characters and wanting more.

    1. Thank you so much, Darlene! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by!

      I appreciate your support SO much! I do hope you'll enjoy Drawn Apart!