Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interview with Natalie Hallie, character, from The Road to Austin

Jessica Alyse returns to the blog today with a fun interview featuring Natalie Hallie, the leading lady (character) from her new novel, The Road to Austin!

I found this book to be poignant, multilayered and complete with solid storytelling skills by its author. It's evident that Jessica Alyse has a passion for writing stories that are solid, relatable and don't shy away from tough topics.

But don't take my word for it, go buy a copy of The Road to Austin and read it for yourself! :)

Remember to enter the book giveaway contest toward the end of Natalie's interview, for your chance to WIN an e-book copy of The Road to Austin.


Interview with Natalie Hallie, character, from The Road to Austin:

Alexis: Natalie, your author pegged you as a “woman on a mission.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

Natalie: That’s one way of putting it. Yes, I would have to say I agree. Maybe because I always seem to have somewhere to go, things to do, people to see. You know? Life’s been busy since the wedding and if I can get a chance to add one more thing to my planner, I probably won’t turn it down. I like to accomplish things – Austin can tell you. If there’s anything in the world I love, it’s being able to put a checkmark next to a project. *Makes a checkmark through the air.*

Alexis: Your goal is clear: Get home in time for your sister’s wedding. You try to fly in an airplane but fail. So then you’re resolved to take a road trip with a man (Austin Brooks) whose love for spontaneity gets underneath your skin. Why?

Natalie: If I’m being honest with myself, Austin is really the only man I trust – for reasons I’m sure you know after reading our story. It is absolutely true that he gets under my skin at times, I mean the man lives life by the seat of his paint-stained jeans – whereas I do not. But Austin has a gentleness about him, an assurance, if you will, that he’ll be there for you no matter what. When I realized taking a plane wasn’t going to be an option for me, having Austin show up out of nowhere and offer to drive me home…it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Alexis: Growing up, you and Austin were friends. What made you drift apart? How did you feel about reconnecting with him on this road trip?

Natalie: I wouldn’t say we were really friends – although the younger me would have loved it if we were. If it were up to me, Austin and I would have never drifted apart. Back when we were both eighteen, things happened in our lives that would take a lot of time to overcome – ten years to be exact. It was hard to let him go and let him find his own way in the world. It created a lot of resentment and confusion in me. When God opened the door for us to reconnect, I was hesitant because I thought I was still angry with him for leaving. I didn’t want to hurt again. And I certainly didn’t want to revisit those old feelings. But God had other plans for us, and I’m grateful we were able to travel that road back to Austin, Texas. 

Alexis: Describe The Road to Austin. If you could sum up your journey in just one word, what would you say? Why?

Natalie: One word? I would have to say…beautiful. I think that perfectly sums up our journey because it perfectly sums up who Austin is. That’s really what this journey was about; getting to know Austin’s heart all over again. All this time I thought I was trying to get home to Austin, Texas. But now that I look back on it, there was more to it than that. As it turns out I found my home in him. In Austin Brooks. 

Alexis: What was your most memorable moment on the road to Austin? Why?

Natalie: I remember it vividly, it was the first time Austin held me right after we heard about the plane crash…I still get chills thinking about that day. I was a mess, shaking and crying, I couldn’t get a grip on reality. And he was there, holding onto me, keeping me strong and helping me stand. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t been there. If he hadn’t been who he is and randomly offered to drive me home…I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Austin. He saved my life without realizing it.

Alexis: What were your first thoughts when you found out that Austin is an artist—a very talented one?

Natalie: I was blown away. I had no idea he was capable of that kind of emotion. The thing is, Austin comes over as this man who doesn’t care or who doesn’t take life seriously – but the truth is, he sees the world differently than the rest of us. He sees people differently, with a love that I think can only come from Christ. That’s what you see in his art. It’s not just pictures and paintings. Austin pours his soul into everything he does and to witness that firsthand in his art, you can feel the passion. It’s inspiring – that’s probably an understatement. Austin makes you want to be a better person. That’s what makes him Austin.

Alexis: Austin wants you to lighten up and not take life so seriously. Why?

Natalie: Austin is aware of how rigid I can be at times. I like to adhere to a schedule and stick with a routine. I’m very much a perfectionist and when things are out of order, I tend to stress out and take the fun out of life. He hates that. Austin is all about fun and finding something to laugh at and admiring the simple things in life. I don’t always remember to slow down and appreciate it. We make an amazing team because his colorful outlook on life reminds me to breathe and my knack for details reminds him to stay on track. He keeps my head in the clouds and I keep his feet on the ground. 

Alexis: Three days was enough to go full circle in your relationship with Austin. How did he go from annoying you to melting your heart? 

Natalie: It was all in my perspective. The first time I set foot in Austin’s truck, I was a hard, cold person. Everything in my life had led me to think there was no hope in life. That’s why I found Austin so annoying. Because his sense of adventure is built on a foundation of hope. He sees only the good – whereas I could only see the bad. This road trip really wore us both down emotionally, the broken deadlines and never-ending problems and all of the life-and-death situations, we were tired and drained, so we dropped our guards and really got to see the other for who we were. We saw the worst and best of each other and those are the parts we fell in love with. Once I could see his strengths and weaknesses side-by-side, I knew no other man could compare to Austin. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Alexis: Would you say that you love Austin? If so, describe how he won your heart.

Natalie: Yes, most definitely. Truth be told, I’ve always loved Austin. Since we were eight. I would say he won my heart by just being himself, but that’s so cliché. He won my heart when I realized I’d found someone who wanted to hold me gently. Someone who was appalled at the idea of seeing me hurt, after all I’d been through, and who wanted to show me what love really felt like. His touch goes through my skin and runs into my soul. He’s healing parts of me that had been destroyed. I can feel it every day. 

Alexis: What is it about your past and Austin’s past that used to bother you?

Natalie: His leaving ten years ago. I think that’s where my resentment started to grow from. All of my life – my young life – I thought I’d found someone I could lean on, someone who could protect me if given the chance. But when Austin left home, he took that hope with him and left me reeling for security. I had to find my footing after this foundation of my childhood dreams had been ripped out from under me. Truth is, it wasn’t healthy for me to live in that world. It took tearing our lives apart to build us both from the ground up. Seven years after Austin left, I was tired of falling apart so, as a last ditch effort, I decided to mimic the faith I always saw in Austin. I quickly found out that faith can’t be mimicked, but it can be inspired. When I gave myself to Jesus Christ, faith became my own, something to cherish and nurture. Austin’s faith may have led me to that point in my life, but it couldn’t save me. It took knowing Jesus for myself to realize there were greater things waiting for me.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in The Road to Austin and beyond?

Natalie: Our faith in God is most definitely the foundation of our story, of our future. But I would say, more specifically, it’s our hope in God that keeps us living, breathing. I had no problem trusting in Him when I was still a hard and bitter person. But it’s the warmth of His hope that melted my cold walls. He used Austin to set my focus on better plans and sweeter dreams. Every day I get to wake up knowing He has a plan and purpose for me. That’s hope.

Alexis: If you could do one thing differently in your life, what would it be and why?

Natalie: This might sound crazy, but I would have to change my career. If given the chance, I would have pursued photography from a very young age. But it was because of my father’s desire to have a family of lawyers that I chose his course and went to law school. Some might think I would change being born into a loveless family, but not meeting Austin isn’t something I would risk. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to learn from your life story?

Natalie: Hope exists. Keep your chin up and eyes on Jesus Christ. Never give up on hope, I don’t care what happens in the world. True love also exists. Austin is proof of that. If that kind of loyalty and passion lives in the heart of one person, then it exists in the world and is worth waiting for. Nobody is perfect, but the love that God puts in your heart for that one special person is enough to carry you through a lifetime of tests and trials. Just hold onto each other.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Natalie! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Natalie: Only that this was fun and I hope to do it again soon.

Author Bio: 

Jessica Alyse is a Louisiana girl with a heart for Texas. 

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she has a passion for storytelling, romance, and Jesus Christ.  

When she’s not writing, you can find her bookbinding, daydreaming about the day her stories are adapted into movies, or in the event of a football game, cheering for the Green Bay Packers.

Blurb for The Road to Austin:  Natalie Hallie is a woman on a mission.

She needs to get home in time for her sister’s wedding.

Austin Brooks is a man of spontaneity. And he needs coffee.

To get to Austin, Texas, Natalie refuses to step foot on a plane. She'd rather accept a ride from the reckless and wild boy from her childhood who, in her opinion, hasn't changed all that much. If she can just get through three days of his witty commentary and cheesy jokes, then life will return to normal. That is, if bad eggs, thieving monkeys, a tornado, a dilapidated motel, and a stolen truck don't do her in first.

The world looks better in watercolor. Or so Austin believes. He finds it easier not to take life so seriously, unlike Natalie. Things change when they spend three days together and her long-buried feelings start to surface. That’s when Austin finds himself getting serious…about praying for Natalie’s heart.

On a journey where the skies aren’t always blue, graffiti isn't always illegal, and bathroom breaks aren't always a good idea, the past starts to catch up with them. When secrets of her brother's death, Austin's past, and Natalie's family begin to come to light, they'll learn there's more to life and love on the road to Austin.

Connect with Jessica:
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Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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  1. Sounds intriguing, especially the missed opportunity for a photography career. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I just loved hearing things from her point of view. a_stonecipher(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Kim: Should you win the giveaway, I hope you enjoy Natalie and Austin's story. I know I've enjoyed writing it. <3

    Anonymous: I'm so glad you appreciate Natalie's personality. I pray that I've captured her sweet yet sassy attitude in the book. Hang around and you'll get to hear Austin's side of things in the upcoming interview next week. ;)

  4. I enjoyed getting to know Natalie's heart for Austin and her checklist! I'm a checklist girl also, and it's good to know that I'm not alone :-) Sounds like a great story of learning how to let go without totally losing yourself in the process!

    1. That's a great way to sum up Austin and Natalie's story, letting go without losing yourself. Natalie gets a taste of what that's like in The Road to Austin. And I agree, checklists are great. You and Natalie have that in common.

  5. Enjoyed the interview. I have a copy of her new book and looking forward to reading it.

    1. Thanks so much, Ann. I think you'll appreciate Natalie's character arc in The Road to Austin. She's got such a distinct personality that I can sometimes hear her in my head even when I'm not writing. ;)

  6. I LOVED this interview!! I love that her "faith in God is most definitely the foundation" of her story! I love that you said you found this book to be "poignant, multilayered and complete with solid storytelling skills". I can't wait to read this book!

  7. Thanks so much, Becky. I hope you enjoy it. Writing Natalie's voice and attitude were so much fun, especially after I got to know her backstory better. She's an amazing character and perfect for The Road to Austin. Enjoy!


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