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By Alicia K. Leppert

It's always darkest before the dawn...
How is it possible to be alone in a city of 600,000 people? But it is possible in the sprawling cement jungle of Seattle, Washington. Sleep was impossible as the nightmarish memories came, especially just before the dawn. Daylight brought numbness which was a relief.
Olivia Tate's life has taken her down this path since the day her father left when she was five years old. In the years that followed she had managed to reject humanity until humanity had managed to ignore her as much as she ignored herself. The pain was too much and the thought of ending the nightmares was just too tempting.
But when Olivia is given a second chance by a complete stranger will she embrace this opportunity or will she allow the darkness that had enveloped her life to pull her back down. But who is Jude West and why would he care about someone like her?
As Olivia and Jude become friends, Jude helps Olivia to come out of the shell she has created around her life. Olivia starts reaching out to her co-workers at the Coffee House where she works. Olivia realizes that she is not alone and she actually has a life she wants to live.
Emerald City is a story of second chances. It is Olivia's story as well as Jude's. It is a story of hope.
I have reviewed other books that have dealt with suicide and I'll be honest all the others have left me feeling depressed. Emerald City did not leave me feeling depressed. The fact that Olivia was saved from herself and the fact that she managed to turn her life around made Emerald City a very positive reading experience.
I received a Digital ARC loan from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
First off Alicia, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your upcoming book Emerald City. I can honestly say Emerald City was not what I was expecting from the description.

1) Where did the idea for Emerald City come from?
I always knew I wanted to write a romance, but I had the hardest time deciding on a setting and storyline outside of that. I started a dozen different stories but never got past a few pages. Nothing felt right. Then one night I locked myself in my bedroom, turned on some OneRepublic, and started brainstorming. Suddenly the idea for Emerald City popped into my head. I had never, ever dreamed of writing anything paranormal in any way, but there it was. And as soon as I thought of it, I knew. I had my story.

2) From reading Emerald City I would describe it as a book of second chances? Is this what you were hoping readers would get from your book or was there something else that stood out more prominently as the focus of Emerald City for you as the writer?

Absolutely, you got it right. My first goal was to tell an amazing love story. My second goal was to tell a story about a girl who was at her absolute lowest, who finds something worth living for and overcomes her personal demons. This part of the story is very personal and dear to my heart. I truly believe in second chances at happiness, and that there is always, always something worth living and fighting for.

3) Where did the title Emerald City come from? Does this refer only to Seattle or does it refer to something deeper?
I wish I could say it had some deep, profound hidden meaning, but really, it just refers to Seattle. It has personal meaning to me, but that's as far as it goes! I was born in Seattle, and my birthstone is the emerald. I loved the idea of naming my book after the city it takes place in, and "Seattle" just didn't have the same ring to it.  "Emerald City" brings to mind the beautiful, lush, green city that I love. Once I'd decided on it as my title, I tried to incorporate it throughout the story in subtle ways, like Jude's eyes.
4) Without giving too much away, what do you think of Jude's sacrifice? For someone like Olivia who has no feeling of worth this must be an unfathomable gift.

Jude's sacrifice, to me, is about as big as it gets. I'm a sucker for romance, and a guy giving up everything, everything for a girl is my definition of romance. Jude's sacrifice certainly cemented Olivia's knowledge of how he felt about her, and you're right, for someone with no self-worth, that was huge for her. However, she was already beginning to gain a new sense of self-worth before his sacrifice. So, even though Jude plays a significant part in her recovery, much of it was a personal decision on her own to change her life around.

5) It's always darkest before the dawn... which is on the front cover of the book is a feeling many people have experienced during periods of trouble. What helps you through these periods? Family, friends, faith?

All of the above. I have experienced my fair share of dark times, having struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life. My friends and family have always gotten me through it, fortunately, so that I never had to sink as low as Olivia. And always, always, my faith. If it weren't for that, I can honestly say there are times when I felt I wouldn't pull through.

6) As a writer is there a question you would like to be asked about your writing? If so how would you answer the unasked question?

Hmmm...One thing I haven't been asked yet, that I would like to be, is what drove me to want to be a writer? What is the draw to it? And I'd answer: I'm a dreamer, although most people wouldn't know that about me because I keep that part of me hidden. This is how I show it. This is how I let the dreamer inside of me out. It's my creative outlet, the only way I get these fantastical ideas out of my head. I watch movies and read books and my brain starts swimming with different scenarios and stories that I want to create. Having that power to create a story, a new world, an alternative reality is unbelievably empowering. To be able to have the story go exactly as I want it and not be at the mercy of someone else--another writer--that's what made me want to be a writer.

7) Are Olivia or Jude based on anyone, even loosely, on anyone? How about Jen and Bryan?

None of my characters are really based on anyone, except for maybe myself, in regards to Olivia. She is the closest to an existing person of any of my characters. It's funny that you ask about Jen and Bryan, though, because they were both named after people I know in real life, along with Marilyn. A friend of mine, Bryan, and my cousin Marilyn both won a contest on my blog helping me come up with my title, and the prize was to be written into my book--their names and physical descriptions. Marilyn has a fairly small part, so I wrote her exactly as she is in real life. Bryan, however, ended up playing a bigger role than I originally intended, and his character took on a life outside of the Bryan that I know. And Jen was named after another of my cousins, the person I co-dedicated my book to. I wanted to use her name because if it weren't for her, this book would still not be finished, let alone published. However, although she and the character Jen share many similar personality traits, I didn't base the character on the real-life Jen. Just the name.

8) Are you planning a follow-up to Emerald City? If not do you have anything else in the works?

Definitely. I am in the beginning stages of the sequel to Emerald City, and, although I don't know how many books will be in the series, I'm pretty sure there will be at least a few. And as soon as I'm done with this endeavor, I have about a million and one other books that I want to write. So you haven't seen the last of this girl!
 Again thank you for your time Alicia and good luck with Emerald City!
Be sure to follow Alicia on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or on her website.
You can pre-Order Emerald City before its release in April from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Visit Cedar Fort, Inc to find more great titles and author news. You can also follow Cedar Fort on FacebookTwitter, or Goodreads
Thanks to Cedar Fort we are able to offer a digital copy of Emerald City to one lucky poster.
Giveaway Guidelines:  
Just be sure to follow Alicia or Cedar Fort to be eligible. When you comment be sure to include if you are following Cedar Fort or Alicia and how you are following them FB, Twitter, Goodreads or blog subscription. 
To be elegible comments must be posted between March 16 - 22, 2012