Interview with the heroine of Skin, Mallory:
Hello *finger waves shyly* I’m Mallory and I’m the heroine of Lydia Michaels’ second book in the McCullough Mountain series, SKIN. Boy, it sounds weird saying that. I’m a heroine… I’m really just an ordinary girl, nothing special, but I’m happy to be here.
How did you come to your author’s attention?
*Sighs* I suppose I came to Ms. Michaels’ attention because we have a lot in common. Apparently, I have a lot in common with a lot of women out there. You see, when you’re overweight, you sort of go through life thinking you’re the only one fighting these battles in your head, but I’ve learned that’s not true at all.
I went to the doctors in the spring and received a stern lecture on my health. I’m not a little overweight. Curvy I could deal with. He showed me this horrid chart and my age, height, and weight put me in the red zone. He said I was morbidly obese. That does something to a girl. I don’t like being labeled. I don’t think anyone does. Regardless, he scared the crap out of me. This happened on the tails of my friend’s wedding, another painful experience. As I caught the bouquet, being the only single lady in the crowd, I cringed, much like the man who caught the garter. My life has been full of little humiliating moments like that when people make faces and I pretend not to see them, but I know exactly what they’re thinking. She’s so fat. My mortification was complete when he couldn’t get the garter past my knee.
That’s when I started running. I packed up my apartment, said goodbye to my friends, and moved to the first place I could find work. I ended up in Center County, PA. It’s this little Podunk town in the middle of nowhere. Nothing like the city of Philadelphia where I’m from. That’s where Ms. Michaels’ McCulloughs are from. I didn’t realize when I trespassed on that mountain, coined McCullough Mountain, that my life would never be the same.
Did you give your author a hard time when she was writing your story?
*Contemplates the question and smiles softly* Lydia and I—I can call her Lydia now. We’ve been through a lot together—She and I struggled through many difficult obstacles that I think would be hard for anyone. There were times when we laughed and times when we cried. Since SKIN’s release, I realized she’s not the only one right there with me. I seem to make such a connection with those who read my story, it sometimes feels like I have a thousand friends out there who know what it is to hate the SKIN they’re in. It’s been an emotional journey, but in a good way. I think Lydia really enjoyed writing this story. I certainly enjoyed sharing it with so many readers who needed to find a heroine just like them.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a secretary at Center County High School.
Who is the love of your life?
I love my family, all of them, and there’s a lot! But more than anything…I love Finnegan McCullough. He is absolutely, irrevocably, without a doubt the love of my life.
What was the first thing you noticed about him?
*Sighs dreamily* How pretty he is. *Giggles* He hates when I call him pretty. Finn’s a lumberjack. Really. No joke. A real, live, flannel sportin’ mountain man. But he is pretty. That’s the first thing I noticed about him, but there is so much more. For as beautiful as he is on the outside, nothing can compare the beauty of his soul. He has the most beautiful soul I’ve ever known.
What’s your greatest fear?
*Lowers gaze and smiles sadly* My greatest fear is losing myself again. All of my life I hated who I was, thinking the person on the outside didn’t match the one on the inside. My mind was an ugly place. That happens, when you’re bullied for nearly thirty years of your existence. It took me a long time to realize I deserve love. It took even longer stand up to my demons and let myself be loved. There are a lot of cruel people in this world. My greatest fear is letting them win. They don’t get to win anymore. It takes courage to say, I’m not perfect, but I’m still beautiful. And courage, I’ve realized, is just another form of beauty. I must remain courageous, because I fear what the world would become if we let the cruel people speak over all the beautiful ones.
What’s your motto in life?
True beauty is on the inside.
Amen to that sister! And you are beautiful. How do the other characters in your book view you?
*Laughs* That’s an interesting question. I have no idea. The person they see isn’t whom I always see. I see someone with a stomach, flappy arms, wide thighs, and imperfections galore. Shhh, don’t tell Finn I said that. He’ll get upset and we’re supposed to go to dinner in a few. The McCulloughs *Smiles contemplatively, trying to think of a world spectacular enough to describe this family* I suppose they see me as funny, easy going, and sort of silly. They’ve all told me I’m beautiful. The funny thing is, at first I though they were all full of crap. Now…now I know they mean it. They see me as a friend, the beautiful kind they can count on for a laugh, a hug, and so many other things that make the foundation of family. They’ve helped me see myself for who I really am, someone quite beautiful.
What do you think reader will find interesting about you?
I think readers, no matter what shape, size, or background, will find it interesting how much we have in common. I don’t think any woman out there can claim they’ve never doubted their reflection. We have a habit of picking ourselves apart. We’ve all been told something that made us second-guess ourselves, made us feel ugly. I think it’s interesting how much ugly words can scar us and I think they will find it interesting how much we are all thinking the same things. I’m just the girl who decided to share those dark secret thoughts with the world.
What is the kindest thing you’ve ever done?
Forgiven myself. It took many years to forgive myself for being imperfect, but when I finally did…it became so simple to simply be. That’s probably the kindest thing I’ve ever done. It may sound selfish, but I assure you, I’ve put myself last forever. It was work, deciding to put myself first. And when I did, I finally started to heal. I finally started to live and was finally capable of loving, not just others, but myself as well.
Will we be seeing you in future books?
Yes! I’m not going anywhere. There are many McCulloughs *covers side of mouth and leans close to whisper* They’re like locust. McCullough Mountain is about family. Once a reader meets them, they feel like part of the family. Lydia makes sure every book revisits each McCullough.
What makes you happy?
My life. I definitely found my Happily Ever After, but you’ll have to read my story to find out how.
What makes you mad?
People who talk without thinking. In the span of a heartbeat, a person can say something nasty that sticks with a person for the rest of their life. In SKIN, I share many of these horrid experiences. It’s amazing. Being hurt can have such a lasting effect, it makes it almost impossible to hear the compliments that come later. There is no reason to say hurtful things, when kind words are just as simple.
When Finnegan McCullough gets a flat tire he bumps into a woman he’s never seen before. After a stern lecture on trespassing, he offers her a ride and a friendship takes shape. Mallory Fenton is unlike any girl he’s ever met. She’s funny, sexy as hell, and sweet as pie, but she doesn’t see herself that way.
After literally crashing into Finnegan McCullough, Mallory is a hot, tongue-tied, mess. A true lumberjack, he wears his flannel well and possesses the sexiest smile she’s ever had thrown her way. Unfortunately, men like that don’t look at girls like her. When Finn confesses his desire to be more than friends, Mallory is shocked. After years of being the ‘fat girl’ she knows better than to believe a man like Finn could ever find her attractive. But she’s gotten under his skin and Finn is determined to show Mallory how beautiful she truly is.
A realistic and heartwarming romance that proves love and beauty come in all shapes and sizes.
Secret Cravings Publishing
All Romance E-books
Barnes and Noble
Lydia Michaels is an award winning author of paranormal and contemporary erotic romance. She lives in Pennsylvania with her wonderfully supportive husband, beautiful daughter, and her two ridiculously spoiled dogs. After graduating college, Lydia married her childhood sweetheart and best friend then became a mother and quickly discovered her love for literature. The only hobby she enjoys more than reading exciting romance novels is writing them! If she is not off spending time with her family you can usually find Lydia at her computer working on her next story or hiding somewhere quiet with a great book. She loves taking a romantic plot with steamy chemistry and pushing the characters through an evolution of emotion by creating real life challenges any hero or heroine worth their salt could overcome. She presses the bounds of love and surprises readers just when they think they have her stories figured out. Her books are intellectual, erotic, haunting, always centered on love.
Shaky fingers unzipped her boots and she stepped out of them, shrinking three inches. She undid her jeans and slid them off her legs. Taking a deep breath, she removed her shirt and folded it on the corner of the sink.
It wasn’t easy to face her reflection, but with a slow turn she pivoted. Opening her eyes she tried to see herself, truly see her, the way Finn would see her. Her breasts were displayed in a satin, black bra, supported in a way they didn’t naturally sit. Her stomach curved in wrong places and her belly button was a crease rather than the petite hole that a super model might show off.
The black lace of her boy shorts scalloped the pouch of her stomach, making her, again, appear more feminine than she actually was. She would not start berating herself, not now when this was going to happen.
Her fingers unclasped her bra and away went the support and down fell her breasts. Her nipples darkened and tightened in the cool air. She had nice nipples, not to big and not too small. Not too dark and not too pink.
Her gaze landed on the jagged white scars stretching over her breast. She’d started getting stretch marks when she was a teenager. No amount of lotion or magic cream took them away and she, for the most part, tried to ignore them. Maybe he would ignore them too.
Her head bowed as she slid off her panties. There she was, as naked as the day she was born. Wide hips creased by gravity made it difficult to notice the small patch of soft, brown curls at her apex.
Her gaze flowed over her reflection and took note of her better qualities. Her nails were painted and filed neatly. Her makeup was subtle, but nice. Her hair was long and natural in color. For some reason, it became important for her to show him exactly who she was. There would be no veils or facades, not tricks of beauty or accessories to distract the eye. It was all or nothing. If he wanted her, that was exactly who he was going to get.
She emerged from the bathroom wearing only her robe. Her breath caught when she saw him sitting on the bed in only his jeans, his bare chest showing in the soft lamplight from the nightstand. He was stunning.
A fine trail of golden, brown hair ran over his abs, disappearing behind the unbuttoned snap of his jeans. On the nightstand she spotted the infamous box of condoms. Funny, not until that moment did it actually register that she was going to have sex. The physical act was second hand to all the emotional repercussions.
She hadn’t had sex in years. She almost forgot what it felt like. Chills skated up her spine as she drew the slow epiphany that whatever he was hiding in those jeans was going to be inside of her very soon.
She smiled and he reciprocated the gesture. With slow steps she walked into the bedroom. Taking one last look at the beautiful man sitting on her bed, her fingers went to the switch on the wall and extinguished the light.
Darkness settled on the room for only a second and then a soft click came from the bed as Finn leaned over and turned on the nightstand lamp. He slowly shook his head, telling her there would be no hiding.
Having her body displayed in light where unfavorable shadows could be cast was not a comforting thought. But the look in his eyes told her the idea of seeing her without shields was very favorable to him. She nodded in acceptance and he whispered, “Thank you.”
Her feet carried her slowly to the bed. Standing at the foot, she struggled with the tie of her robe. He stood and met her at the foot of the bed, touching her hands softly, stilling her motions.
She let out a shaky breath as he took over the knot and whispered, “Let me.”
Shutting her eyes, she nodded as the terrycloth lapels were drawn apart. He sucked in an audible breath and said, “Gorgeous.”
She bit her tongue so as to not object to the compliment and gentle fingers tipped up her chin. Soft lips pressed into hers and she shivered. The heat of his body covered her front as he stepped even closer. Tender lips coaxed her mouth open as he kissed her softly. Their heads tilted and her body warmed.
Strong hands cupped her breasts as his thumb dragged over her nipples. Her body tightened as he deepened the kiss.
The backs of his knuckles caressed her stomach causing her to slightly suck in a breath. He teased at the soft curls at her apex and she whimpered.
“I love your body,” he said against her lips.