You are currently viewing Interview with Michele Lenard, author of Not So Friendly Intent

Interview with Michele Lenard, author of Not So Friendly Intent

Welcome to another exciting edition of my Author Spotlight series! This is a platform where we celebrate the remarkable talent within the indie romance community, connecting readers with incredible authors and their captivating stories. Today, we have the pleasure of shining the spotlight on the talented Michele Lenard.

Michele is a passionate romance author who fell in love with the genre at a young age. From historical fiction to fantasy, she has devoured a wide range of genres, but her heart always gravitates back to romance. Michele believes in capturing the emotion behind the steam, immersing readers in a world where characters fall in love while capturing their dreams and desires.

As part of our Author Spotlight series, Michele has chosen to feature her recent release, “Not So Friendly Intent.” This steamy friends-to-lovers sports novel takes us on a journey of redefining friendship and exploring the complexities of falling in love with your best friend. With strong characters, witty humour, and a satisfying HEA, this book promises to leave readers longing for more.

So, let’s dive into the interview with Michele Lenard as she shares insights into her writing journey, her passion for romance, and the delightful world she has crafted in “Not So Friendly Intent.”

Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a romance author? How did you transition from being an avid reader to becoming a published author?

I never set out to be a romance author, I actually wanted to write children’s books, but when I joined a neighbourhood writing group to get feedback I met several people who wrote romance, and they suggested I give it a shot because the romance genre was very nurturing to new writers. Initially, I was sceptical, but I immersed myself in books and found that they fit my natural style, which is more character driven. I also found that I like an equal balance of steamy and sweet in romances, and to me, it feels like many books are weighted toward one or the other, so I thought I’d explore whether I could write a character-driven story that was both steamy and sweet. That turned into my first six-book series, Mile High Romance.

“Not So Friendly Intent” explores the friends-to-lovers trope in a sports romance setting. What made you choose this particular trope, and how did you put your own unique spin on it?

When I started reading romance I gravitated toward the sports romance genre. I think that’s partly because I love sports and partly because that trope is relatively low-angst with some humor, some sweet moments and some steam. My unique spin is showing the depth of the friendship in memories instead of starting the book during the MCs’ childhood. I think a lot of friends-to-lovers books either start when the friendship began or tell the reader that the MCs are friends without offering specific details about how the friendship began. I start the book when the MCs are in their mid-twenties, and offer specific memories that show the depth of their friendship.

Friendship plays a significant role in your book, with the characters redefining their relationship. How did you approach writing the emotional journey of Elliot and Shane as they navigate the shift from friends to romantic partners?

For Shane and Elliot to become more than friends they first had to have a previously unrealized pattern that framed their relationship. In their case, it’s Elliot’s habit of turning to Shane to fix things, mostly her own relationship woes. As her best friend, he’s essentially the “true north” who helps her find herself time and again. After this has happened several times she starts to question why her other relationships don’t function as well as the one she has with Shane, which leads her to question why she’s kept him firmly in the friend space. For Shane, he’s never even attempted to have other relationships, because he’s always known they would have to surpass what he has with Elliot, and since he didn’t think he could find that he didn’t try, he just jumped from fling to fling. It’s only when he can sense a subtle shift in Elliot’s perspective that he allows himself to think of her as more than just a friend. As their relationship starts to shift they have to find a new, healthier, pattern, because despite a solid foundation of friendship, Shane always fixing her problems doesn’t allow her to grow as a character, and navigating a new dynamic is intended to deepen the connection they already have.

“Not So Friendly Intent” is part of your Mile High Romance collection. Can you give us some insight into the series and how the books are connected? Are they standalone stories or should they be read in a specific order?

Each book in the Mile High Series is standalone, but they are interconnected in the sense that there is one character who appears in all six books, and this particular character thinks of himself as a “relationship whisperer.” Though he has a reputation as a playboy, his vast experience with the opposite sex has given him insight into how women think, which he shares with his friends to help them navigate their happily ever afters, until he finds his own. To understand his evolution it’s best to read in order, though not required. The recommended order is Not So Friendly Intent, Purely Novel Intent, Totally Inevitable Intent, Willfully Malicious Intent, Thoroughly Innocent Intent and Strictly Forbidden Intent.

Colorado seems to be a prominent setting in your books. What draws you to this location, and how does it enhance the storytelling and atmosphere in your novels?

I live in Colorado, and the lifestyle here is a huge part of who I am. Specifically, the outdoors and the many activity options. Denver boasts a professional sports team in every major sport, and the mountains are a huge source of recreation for everything from snowboarding to mountain biking to hiking. This has allowed me to stay in the sports genre but in a non-traditional sense, because I don’t only focus on team sports but those that you can do as an individual, professionally or just for fun, that people may not be familiar with. My love of the outdoors has made me passionate about the environment and taking care of it, so I usually sprinkle in some references about the importance of valuing nature in my books, and even though I don’t usually focus on scenery as much as character development, I will reference the beauty of the mountains from time to time.

As an author, how do you balance the steamy and intimate scenes in your romance novels with the emotional depth of the characters and their relationships? What is your approach to creating a satisfying balance between sensuality and emotional connection?

I love steamy scenes, but I’ve never been able to write a book that is exclusively or primarily steam. I’ve tried, but somehow an emotional component always works its way in, and I think that’s because even though I enjoy steamy scenes as a reader, I also want to see the emotional connection of a true romance. I want to know why a specific girl catches the playboy’s eye, or why the enemies’ anger turns to love. And since I want to see that as a reader, I’ve found that I can’t write steamy scenes myself without explaining why the steam turns into love.

Kindle Unlimited has been instrumental in connecting authors with a wide range of readers. How has this platform impacted your writing career, and what benefits have you experienced from having your books available on Kindle Unlimited?
As a newer author, it’s hard to get readers to take a chance on you. KU makes it easy for readers to sample new authors at little to no additional expense (outside the yearly subscription), so my hope is that if a reader is intrigued by a cover or a blurb, the “read for free on KU” sticker will make it easier for them to put my books in their library.

You mentioned that you’re an avid reader of romance across various genres and tropes. How has your extensive reading background influenced your writing style and the stories you choose to tell?
I have always (and still do) consider my books a palate cleanser. However, I didn’t realize that’s what they were until I read dark romance. In other words, I’m better able to describe what my books are (or aren’t) by reading other authors. This has also helped inspire what I write in several ways. First, I frequently reference some of my favorite books to refresh the feeling I got from reading them, so I can strive for that same effect in my own writing. And by paying attention to what other readers want, I’ve pushed my own boundaries. As an example, there’s a big market for MM Hockey romance right now, and I’m already a sports romance author, so I’m now working on my own MM Hockey book.

Can you give us a glimpse into your writing process? Do you meticulously outline your stories or allow the characters to guide you as you write? How do you maintain creativity and motivation throughout the writing process?

Though I really want to be a plotter, mainly because I write interconnected series and they flow better if you can map them out in advance, I can’t do it. My second series (The Elevation Series) was plotted, and while I think the writing in that series was solid and the six books flowed together well, sticking to a predetermined outline made it harder to let the story evolve. I think my stories are more robust when I let the characters dictate what happens. As an example, my current WIP was born of a silly conversation I had with my kids about fantasy football. I had nothing else in mind when I wrote a version of that conversation between the two main characters, but when that scene was done I had the framework for their personalities and their backstory because how they spoke told me where their opinions were coming from. As far as maintaining creativity, whenever I’m not sure where a story should go I read, immersing myself in another story, and when I come out from that I usually have a better sense of where my own story is going.

What advice would you offer to aspiring indie romance authors who are looking to self-publish their work? What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned on your writing and publishing journey?

Covers are critical. If you can’t make your own, spend the money on getting one done because they can make all the difference. Be prepared to spend as much or more time on marketing than writing. I still haven’t mastered this, and I’m not sure how to because there are so many options out there and it’s both overwhelming and not financially possible for an indie author to do them all. Organization helps so you can track what works, but be prepared for a lot of trial and error to find the best way to reach your readers.

If you’re craving more of Michele Lenard’s captivating stories, you can find her books, including “Not So Friendly Intent,” on Amazon, available for free on Kindle Unlimited. For updates on her upcoming releases and to connect with Michele, be sure to visit her website and follow her on social media platforms such as Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, and Facebook.

If you’re an indie romance author and would like to be featured in our Author Spotlight series, we invite you to fill out the form found on our website’s Author Spotlight page. Let’s continue celebrating the diverse and captivating world of indie romance together!