Luke P. Narlee - Inspired by Writer's Block
Luke P. Narlee is an American author from Baltimore, Maryland whose stories tend to focus on love, relationships, and the human condition. His latest, This Can't Wait, is his third novel. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what This Can't Wait is about.
This Can’t Wait is an anthology that centers around Adam Arthur, a man who is feeling bitter and disconnected as he prepares for a life-threatening brain surgery. However, that changes when a kind nurse comes to his aid and rekindles his belief in love and humanity which inspires him to reflect on his life and the important people in it. The majority of the book is a series of character-driven stories that are intertwined in one way or another: each focused on a different character who is struggling with a dilemma, has to make a difficult decision, and decide whether or not to seize the moment. The thoughtful tales, many filled with old-fashioned romance, are realistic with a motif of love, friendship, and kindness to others. I like to think that, because of its unique structure, the book works as both a novel and a collection of short stories.
What inspired you to write this book?
A frustrating bout of writer’s block last year prompted me to write quick, flash-fiction stories focused on love, relationships, and the discovery of optimism and hope in this world. Many of them were as short as one paragraph. Eventually, I broke free of my writer’s block, but I enjoyed the stories and the characters so much that I decided to expand and develop them into short stories. I still consider each of them to be a quick snap shot of a character’s life, but that’s what I love about them.
Tell us more about the title of this book. Why "This Can't Wait"?
It is the central theme of the stories. The characters come to the realization that there are things in life that can’t and shouldn’t wait: helping others, being kind, and choosing love or potential happiness for yourself even when it seems scary or challenging.
Instead of sugarcoating everything, you also describe love and relationships as messy and full of doubt. Why did you take this approach?
There are already so many feel-good romance books out there that are fun, a great escape from reality. I’m more concerned with writing stories about love and relationships that are relatable to the readers and inspire them to think and reflect on their own lives. In my opinion, when someone relates to a character, not only does it make that character more memorable, but it also helps readers learn more about themselves in the process. I like to make my stories both realistic and enjoyable. My first novel Guest Bed has an argument between the central married couple; readers have thanked me for writing it because they said it was like being a fly on the wall of their own house, and it helped them realize they are not the only ones who go through those struggles in marriage. Reading that scene made them feel less alone in the world. That is everything―all the validation I need as an author. If just one person learns something new from reading one of my books and benefits from it, then I consider that a success.
Who is Adam Arthur? What makes him tick?
Adam is a kind soul, an old-fashioned romantic, who believes in love above all. Love drives him. He was an author for many years because it was his way of expressing his strong belief in love and romance. He firmly believes in one’s true soulmate and found his because he believed so strongly.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Yes, definitely. My quote at the beginning of the book sums it up: Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. I believe that wholeheartedly. Most of the time, we have no idea what others are going through. What kind of hardships are they dealing with in their life that is making them behave that way…or treat people the way they do? For me, it all comes back to my #1 rule that I’ve always lived by: Treat others how you want to be treated, even (especially) when they’re treating you poorly. I think that’s when people need kindness the most. Just a little bit of kindness, patience, and understanding goes a long way. I firmly believe in the power of kindness, regardless of someone’s age, gender, ethnicity, race, job, religion, wealth, etc.
I think we all have a basic human need to connect with others on some level―to love and feel loved and appreciated in return. Everyone deserves that, but sadly, not everyone experiences it. Too many people don’t experience love because they don’t believe they deserve it. In most of my stories, the characters initially feel quite lonely but eventually see a glimmer of hope and optimism because someone else took the time to reach out to offer help or advice when they needed it the most. I think we could all use more of this in our lives. My hope is that when people read this book and see the positive effects from how the characters relate and encourage each other, it will inspire the readers to do the same in real life.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
Really, I really have no writing routine. I just write whenever I can squeeze in the time. I commute long hours for work (about four a day), and my weekends tend to be pretty busy. I don’t even have a designated writing space; this proves that one does not need a lot of extra time or a particular quiet writing space to complete and publish a novel.
How is this book different from others that you’ve written?
Despite having the same emphasis on relationships, it’s actually quite a bit different from my first two novels. I wrote both Guest Bed and The Appointment in the present tense from a first-person male perspective. This Can’t Wait is in third person past tense with the majority of stories told from a woman’s point of view, which is new for me. It also has a lighter tone with more emphasis on sweet, old-fashioned romance. But, like my other books, I throw in little bit of everything: romance, drama, comedy, suspense. I like to keep readers on their toes.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
There are many reasons I loved writing this book. One of the stories is pure fun comedy: my first real attempt at comedy, but it worked out well. Many of my readers mention it as their favorite. Also, creating and writing the strong female characters who are featured in the book was challenging and rewarding. I really enjoyed writing from their perspective. When the book was finished, I felt like they were real women with real feelings, and I am quite fond of and proud them. I’m also particularly satisfied by the fact that they were not based on anyone at all. No one influenced their characters; they are completely original creations, which is a great feeling! I love it when readers tell me they love them or could relate to them in some way. It was also really fun trying to figure out how all the characters connected to the overall story.
What are you working on right now?
I’m trying something completely new right now. I’m working on a detective/murder mystery novel. It’s in the very early stages, but I’m already having a lot of fun with it―working out all the details of the main detective, as far as her work ethic and personal life go.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a website https://lukenarlee.wixsite.com/lukepnarlee, though it is currently under construction. I generally love to converse with my fans via email ([email protected]) or social media, specifically my author page on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter. I am a huge fan of feedback, good or bad, so if you want to make my day, just email or message me online your thoughts on any of my books after you’ve read them.
What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working on a new book?
I enjoy reading and watching new movies or shows with my family. I love playing basketball in the driveway with my kids and going on fun adventures with my wife to find new places to hike, explore, shop. Spending quality time with friends and family is always a priority, you never know what tomorrow may bring.