Guest Author Interview–Candace Havens

Today’s guest author interview is with Candace Havens, author of numerous books including Charmed & Dangerous, Charmed & Deadly, The Demon King and I, and her latest, Dragons Prefer Blondes. She’s also the inventor of the Fast Draft writing method and just an all-around real nice gal! Please make her feel welcome.


dragonspreferJackie: Your upcoming release, Dragons Prefer Blondes, is the second installment in a series that began with The Demon King and I (love that title, by the way). Can you tell us a little bit about how the idea for the series came to you, as well as a little about both the books thus far?

The idea for the series came about in kind of a funny way. The very first book I wrote was about these four wealthy sisters who had cool powers. I wrote that book in about two weeks and then stuck it in a drawer. My second book, Charmed & Dangerous sold, and I was busy with that series for a few years. Then one morning I woke up and I figured out how to make that first book work. I laugh because the only thing that is the same in The Demon King and I, from that first draft, are the names of the sisters. Everything else is different.

demonkingThe series is about these four sisters who the rest of the world sees as successful, wealthy heiresses. What they don’t know is that they are also Guardian Keys, who protect our world from other worlds. The Demon King and I was about Gillian, a lawyer and art gallery owner, who ends up falling for the one guy she should hate the most — Arath, the king of the demons. While, she’s trying to deal with the fallout from that relationship, she’s also trying to save the world from some nastiness.

Dragons Prefer Blondes, focuses on the dragon slaying Alex, who is chosen by a dragon warrior, Ginjin, to be his mate. She’s not so cool with this, and begs the head of Caruthers security, Jake, to be her pretend boyfriend. What she doesn’t realize is that she has big time feelings for Jake, which come to the surface as they spend more time together. She’s also kind of busy trying to find out why the dragons are drugging and kidnapping humans.

Jackie: Before I go any further, can I just say how much I love the titles of the Charmed series? So clever, they jump right out at you. And I’m a firm believer that titles do matter when it comes to sales, both to editors and to readers when the book is on the shelves.
 
One of the things I often wonder is how other authors arrive at their titles/book ideas. Often, for me, a book idea starts not with a plot or characters, but with the title. The title then suggests the premise for the book and then I think up the characters and plot.
 
How does it work for you?

charmeddangersYou are going to be very disappointed when I tell you that I have never once come up with a title for one of my books. I mean, I come up with titles but my publisher never uses them. The editor who bought Charmed & Dangerous said, “I love everything about this book and I’m not changing a thing – except the title!” I’d been calling it the Witches’ Diaries before that. I’m supposed to come with a title for my Harlequin release and it’s freaking me out. My editors have always come up with my titles, until now.

Jackie: No, not disappointed at all. I think a lot of authors (if not all) have a hard time coming up with titles for their books.
 
The other thing you mentioned earlier is that you wrote the original draft of
The Demon King and I in two weeks. I have to tell you, the very idea of that makes me breathless and dizzy. I know you’re pretty famous for your “Fast Draft” method of writing books. I tried it once, actually, but it didn’t work for me, primarily I think because I don’t tend to have the scenes in a book thought out quickly enough that I can write that many pages in a day.
 
Anyway, that fact makes me wonder how you write–plot or pants or somewhere in between? I’m definitely in the somewhere in between category, which I think slows me down. I think if I were totally plot or totally pants, I could be faster, lol, so I’m curious where you fall on the spectrum as someone who also writes very fast.

I’m a pantser, though I usually have a brief synopsis to please my editors who have bought the book.

I can almost guarantee you that Fast Draft didn’t work because of that nasty internal editor. When you can let that nasty hell witch go, and let your subconscious take over, magic happens. I’ve worked with thousands of writers through the years, and the process has worked for them. But the key is learning to let go and let the words fall out of your head where they may. (smile) I never know what’s going to happen next, and I’m always surprised when I have the finished product.

Jackie: I do have a pretty nasty internal editor, which I freely admit, although I’m not sure it’s a complete disadvantage since I don’t tend to need to do much revising. My first draft and my final draft are not much different from each other.
 
So, as a pantser, how hard is it to write a synopsis for those pesky editors? And how much does your final draft resemble that synopsis?

It’s really tough for me to write a synopsis. I’d almost rather write an entire book. Seriously. It’s one of my least favorite things about writing. I usually have the who, what, where, when and why, correct, but everything else about that synopsis as far as plot lines and characterizations usually changes by the time I finish the book. Though, this last book for Harlequin, I was much closer than I’d ever been before.

Jackie: So, enough “shop” talk. Tell us a little about Alex, the heroine of Dragons Prefer Blondes. She’s a dragon-slayer, but there must be some history to that role.

The rest of the world thinks Alex is this wealthy entrepreneur who has some of the hottest clubs all over the world. They have no idea she’s a Guardian Key who protects us from nasty dragons. She’s an excellent fighter and doesn’t take crap off of anyone, but there’s also a softer side to her. She has a habit of picking up stray people, who need a second chance. She helps them to rebuild their lives. You also get to see a funny side of her as she helps a friend plan a wedding. She’s trying to save our world from the dragons, find out who is attacking the people who work for her, and at the same time plan this crazy woman’s wedding. I love Alex, and I would totally hang out with her.

Jackie: Alex sounds like a kick. I’ll bet it was great fun spending time with her while you were writing the book.
 
What about your hero, Jake? What makes him Alex’s perfect match?

Okay, I’m going to be honest here. Jake is my dream man. From head to toe, he is exactly what I would want in a man, strong but vulnerable, sexy and sweet, kind but tough. He loves Alex, and she’s not exactly easy to love, but he doesn’t take any crap off her. He’s the one guy who can stand up to her, and she doesn’t cut his head off. She might want to at times, but she respects him too. He heads up Caruther’s security, and has the unenviable task of keeping Alex safe. She doesn’t make it easy.


Well, I’m sold. Doesn’t Dragons Prefer Blondes sound great?
 
Candace is doing a 100-blog tour and there are prizes to be had, so please go check out her website for more information! Thanks to Candace for graciously chatting with me about her writing and her books.

 

Guest Author–Leigh Court

secretsToday I’d like to welcome guest author Leigh Court to the blog. Leigh has a Victorian-set novella, THE BET, in the latest Red Sage anthology, Secrets Volume 27. She’s here today to talk about her book and about writing with me. She’ll also be giving away a copy of the anthology to one lucky commenter!

Jackie: So, how did a television news reporter become a romance author?

One particularly bad week at work turned me into a romance author.  A good friend of mine — an ABC World News Tonight reporter — was killed in a helicopter crash on his way to cover a story (the cameraman and helicopter pilot also died). My NBC news director assigned the tragic story to me, since I knew him (and his family). As you can imagine, that was a difficult story to do, but later that same week, I had to cover the particularly gruesome death of a New York State trooper. At the end of that week, I went home thinking, “All I do is bad news.” That’s when I picked up my first romance novel, to try and cheer myself up. It worked! (And it was cheaper than therapy, LOL.) So I thought, “Hey, I write for a living, maybe I could write one of these!”  After all I’ve seen of life and its tragedies, I’m thrilled that now I can *guarantee* readers a happy ending!

Jackie: Wow, that really sounds like a horrible week! I would definitely give up my day job in your shoes.
 
So, you decided to write romance, but why historical romance? What drew you toward the historical sub-genre as opposed to, say, contemporary or paranormal romance? Or, dare I say it, romantic suspense, which you would seem to be eminently qualified to write?

LOL, ironically, I think the reason I write historical romance is exactly because of the harsh realities of my experience as a news reporter. I set my stories in the Victorian era because I think men were more noble and gentlemanlike at that time, although that probably wasn’t true of every man, of course. It also lets me play with the delicious dichotomy of a repressive sexual era into which Richard Francis Burton introduced the Kama Sutra to England!  That books plays a big part in my novella THE BET in Secrets Volume 27 — in fact, it’s crucial to the bet.

Jackie: Oh, well I think with that teaser, you’re going to have to tell us a little bit more about this “bet.” Because I’m definitely intrigued!

In my story THE BET, two drunk friends make an outrageous wager. My hero, Damian Hunt, Viscount Atherton, claims that he can, um, er, satisfy a woman using just his words. The contention is so scandalous and implausible that his friend George Beringer wagers his London townhouse that Damian can’t do it, and the woman George chooses for the bet is not only a virgin, she’s also George’s prudish sister Claire! Damian is forced to accept the bet or lose his prized racehorse in forfeit, but he rightly fears that a virgin wouldn’t know what the heck his erotic words mean, so he uses the visual of the Kama Sutra to help introduce Claire to the ways of the flesh. But the end result of THE BET is nothing that Damina or George could ever have imagined!

Jackie: Wow, what a great premise! So, tell us a little bit about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser or a little of both?

I’ve always been a pantser, but whenever I get stuck in the middle of a story, I do dearly wish I was a plotter, LOL!  Seriously — the more stories I write, the more I realize the value of being a plotter. It hasn’t yet made me one, but I do admire them!

Jackie: Do you have any plans for a sequel to THE BET (I’m thinking maybe George needs his own story, but that’s because that’s how I think!)? If not, can you tell us your next project or release? Or anything else you’d like to let readers know?

In my opinion, George is a bit of a cad. I don’t know if he’ll be reformed in a future story, but in the meantime, I’ve sold a story to Samhain Publishing — a contemporary novella that will be included in their Binding Ties anthology. The story comes out on September 29, and yes, there is um, er, a bit of bondage involved!!
 
I also have a Victorian novella in Secrets Volume 15 called The Disciplinarian. And despite the naughty title, the story is not what you might think!
 
Thanks so much for letting me visit with you, Jackie!  If any of your followers would like to read an excerpt from my Victorian romance THE BET, which releases on July 15, please have them to visit my website at www.leighcourt.com. And if they buy the book I’d *love* to hear what they thought of Damian and Claire’s story!  An excerpt from The Disciplinarian is on my website as well :-).


Thanks to Leigh for being my guest today, and for offering up a copy of the book as a prize. I’ll draw and announce the winner, selected from the commenters on this post, on Thursday, the 9th.

On Friday the 10th, Candace Havens will be here to talk about her new book, Dragons Prefer Blondes.

Guest Author–Margaret Mallory

book jacket photo 5/7Happy Friday to you all!

Now that you’re here, pull up a chair and welcome Margaret Mallory today, author of Knight of Desire, which is hitting bookstores this very week!

Jackie: So, tell me a little about your debut novel, A KNIGHT OF DESIRE. What gave you the idea for the story and why did you choose to set it in the medieval period?

Hi Jackie,

Thanks for inviting me today.

knight_of_desire_revised_coverEarly on in KNIGHT OF DESIRE, I have a scene in which my heroine, Lady Catherine Rayburn, steps out alone onto the drawbridge of her castle to meet a group of men-at-arms. This drawbridge scene is what came to me first. The conflict between my hero and heroine grew out of this scene, and I built the rest of the story from there.

At the start of the story, my heroine has been spying on her husband—a violent man who is involved in treachery against the crown–and passing secret messages to her friend, Prince Harry. It is while her husband is off meeting with Welsh rebels that these rough men-at-arms gallop up to her castle gates. Since they carry the king’s banner, she cannot refuse them entry. Still, she is suspicious. After warning the guards to drop the portcullis behind her if she signals, she ducks under the half-raised portcullis and steps out alone onto the drawbridge.

Our hero, William FitzAlan, is among the men waiting on the other side of the moat. The king has granted him the castle and lands belonging to the traitor he defeated today in battle. His second prize is the newly-made widow standing on the drawbridge. Although he has dreamed of the achingly beautiful Lady Catherine for years, he knows better than to trust her. What kind of woman could share her husband’s bed for years and still betray him to his enemies? In what other ways did she betray her first husband?

Once this scene came into my head, I knew my story was a medieval. I love themes of honor and loyalty, so this was perfect. But when? What I wanted was a period mired in rebellion and divided loyalties. I love history, so researching a few centuries was the fun part. What luck for me that Henry Bollingbroke wreaked havoc by usurping the throne from his cousin. Shortly after he took the crown, he faced rebellions on both borders and conspiracies left and right. I’d found the year for my story: 1405.

Jackie: Wow, what a fascinating setup and opening for a story. And I love the way you “found” the time period for your story. One of the things I love most about writing historicals is getting an idea and then being able to find a time period and place when it actually could have happened. Those synergies between reality and imagination are just so much fun.
 
I have to admit, though, that I’d be terrified to write anything set in the medieval period. Can you tell me about the challenges that come with writing a story set in this period? Or was it all just much easier to research than I imagine?

I’d say one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the issue of young teenage girls being married off, often to much older men.  It just doesn’t sit well with the modern reader to see a thirteen-year-old married to an adult man of thirty or fifty.  I worked in the state children’s services agency for several years, so this sure looks like child abuse to me!  How I’ve dealt with it in this series is to have my heroine and hero get together AFTER the heroine’s first marriage.  Multiple marriages were quite common, which isn’t surprising with so many women dying in childbirth, men dying in battle,  and the big age difference you often see between spouses in noble marriages.  If you look at the family trees of historical figures from the time, you often see men and women widowed and remarried several times.  Henry VII’s mother, for example, outlived four or five husbands.   She was married at twelve the first time and was already a widow when she gave birth at thirteen. 

Jackie: Oh, good point! You know, now that you mention it, I remember reading quite a few medievals and or late Renaissance-set stories in which the heroines were in their mid-teens at the beginning of the story in the 80s, but you rarely see any books with very young heroines like that any more. I suppose since I WAS in my mid to late teens when I was reading those stories, it didn’t bother me, but now it almost certainly would. But at the same time, I do think those stories were more historically accurate in some ways.
 
So, tell me, what for you is the best part of writing a book? And what’s the worst?

The worst part is all the sitting!  And then there is not eating all day while I’m sitting, since I’m home alone with no one watching.  The best part is harder to say.  I spent many years at jobs where my days were filled with non-stop meetings.  As an introvert, I do like having a lot of time alone, living in the stories in my head.  Another thing I really enjoy is following characters through a series.  I’m finding that I become so attached to a younger character in my book that I want to give him a story of his own–and a happy ever after.  :) 

Jackie: Hey, what’s wrong with sitting? Okay, well, aside from the secretarial spread, lol.
 
So, can you tell us a little bit about the next book in the series (like title, release date, etc.)? And maybe give us a preview of what you’re working on now?

I am very fortunate to have my second book in the series, KNIGHT OF PLEASURE, coming out just 5 months after the first.  The hero is Sir Stephen Carleton, who is the younger half-brother of William, the hero of KNIGHT OF DESIRE.  You’ll love Stephen.  He was such a charmer and so prone to trouble at twelve that I knew he’d make a great hero.  Much of this second book takes place in Normandy, where Henry V (Prince Harry in book 1) is busy reclaiming lands that once belonged to England.  Check out the cover on the book page of my website, because it is GORGEOUS.  www.MargaretMallory.com   Really, I cried when I saw it.

I’m busy working on the 3rd book in the series, KNIGHT OF PASSION, which is scheduled for release next July.  The hero of this one is Jamie Rayburn, who is a toddler in the first book and a teenager in the second  It’s been so fun to watch him grow up.  The heroine, Linnet, proves quite a challenge to him.  Oh, oh.  I’d better run soon, or I’ll never meet my deadline!

Jackie, thank you so much for having me as a guest.  It was fun!


Thanks to Margaret for guesting on the blog today and also for her generous offer to give a copy of KNIGHT OF DESIRE to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment between now and Monday morning to be entered for a chance to win! I’ll draw a random name from the hat around nine am PST on Monday and notify the winner.

An Interview with Evangeline Collins

hlcToday, I’d like to welcome historical romance author Evangeline Collins! I just finished reading her debut release from NAL Signet, Her Ladyship’s Companion, last week, and I loved it. Evangeline has a beautiful voice, and her love scenes are exquisitely crafted and emotionally rich. If you like your romances lush and sensual, you have to give Evangeline’s book a read!

In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul.

Then her cousin comes for a visit and makes an outrageous suggestion: what Bella needs is a lover. A hired lover. Despite her need, Bella says no. But soon Mr. Gideon Rosedale arrives—and he is at her service for two weeks. Indulging in what she intends to be a harmless flirtation, Bella is overcome by Gideon’s intoxicating presence. And when she at last permits him to satisfy her desires, she discovers she’s done the unthinkable—she’s fallen in love.


Jackie: The hero of your debut release, Her Ladyship’s Companion, is a male prostitute (albeit a very high class one!). It’s not unusual to see courtesans as romance heroines, but male escorts are pretty much unheard of, I think. What made you choose to write such an unconventional character?

Evangeline: First and foremost, I like ‘different’ in romance novels. I like to push the boundaries, to challenge myself to try something that’s not usually done and see if I can find a way to make it work. When it comes to deciding on a hero and heroine for a book, I like to go with opposites – two people who appear totally different on the surface but actually go together perfectly. So when I was mulling over a hero for Bella, a woman who looks like an ice princess but has a heart of a tart, I couldn’t resist giving her a man like Gideon. And well…I have a thing for spice in romance novels, and casting a man like Gideon in the role of hero would be sure to guarantee many opportunities to heat things up.

Jackie: Bella, the heroine, is a rose breeder. Although there isn’t a lot of technical detail about rose breeding in the novel itself, I sense you did a lot of research into that aspect of your heroine’s interests. Could you tell us a little about how you went about it and what you learned?

Evangeline: I’m not a gardener at all. Seriously. I have these two little bushes in front of the house, below a window, and this is the third year in a row where I’ve had to dig up dead bushes and plant new ones. I’m hoping I won’t kill them this year. So I had to do a lot of research to figure out what would be in Bella’s garden and how she would care for them. Primary sources for research include the internet (American Rose Society has a wonderful site) and my mother, who is an avid gardener with a particular interest in roses.

The main thing I discovered was that there’s a big difference between the roses we know today and those in the Regency. While Empress Josephine’s love of roses led to an increase in popularity of roses and to rose breeders developing new varieties, the major advances in hybridization didn’t occur until after the Regency, so with the exception of Chinas, roses only bloomed once a year. China Roses continuously bloom, but are not very hardy to cold temperatures, so they could only thrive in Bella’s hothouse.

Jackie: Madame Rubicon, the owner of the brothel in which Gideon was raised, is quite a ruthless woman. I know you’re planning to do more books that feature her employees. Do you think she has any redeeming qualities or is she just a straight-up bitch?

She’s definitely not the most pleasant individual, but she’s not a straight-up bitch. In Seven Nights to Forever, you’ll see that she treats the female employees a bit differently than her male employees. Rubicon used to be a whore herself, so it made sense to me that she’d be a bit more sympathetic/understanding of women, but not so with the men. Still, she’s not what one would call a genuinely nice person.

Jackie: Can you tell us a little more about your next book, Seven Nights to Forever?

Evangeline: It features another employee from Rubicon’s brothel, except this time the employee is a beautiful young woman named Rose (yeah…I’ve realized I seem to have a thing for roses now). She’s the daughter of a respectable country gentleman who’s been forced by circumstances to find a lucrative line of work to support her younger brother. Rose first tried life in the demimondaine, but after her experiences with an unpleasant protector, she relocated to Rubicon’s, where she works one week out of every month. When she returns from her country home to London to start a new week of work, she meets James, a wealthy merchant who was forced into an aristocratic marriage of convenience to gain entry into the ton. And their seven nights together lead to a chance at forever. ….all right, it’s more than a chance. They will get their HEA.

Jackie: You also write Regency-set m/m romance under the pen name, Ava March. Could you tell us a little more about your Ava March books? How did you get started writing m/m romance and how do you think it differs from m/f romance (if at all)?

Evangeline: The main differences between Ava and Evangeline are that my Ava books are significantly hotter, they are all novellas, and the books feature two heroes instead of a hero and a heroine. Other than that, I think the writing feels the same – same time period, both character driven, and heavy on the sex and angst. Well, Ava’s a lot heavier on the sex. *g*

The heroes are always my favorite characters in romance novels. I’m a woman and I know how a woman thinks – no great mystery there – but men are a different beast all together. I find them very fascinating. I also am quite the fan of m/m romances. So one day I decided to try to write my own. Well, it actually was a bit of a dare between a friend and I – we each started writing m/m books at the same time (there is definitely courage in numbers. LOL). I think the main differences between m/f and m/m are in the character and power dynamics, and that’s why m/m romances appeal to me. In them, men can be more…vulnerable, I guess is the right word. You can see a different side of a man in a m/m relationship than in a m/f relationship. It’s hard to explain, but once you’ve read a couple m/m books, you’ll see the differences and they are not just physical differences (…get your mind out of the gutter!*g*) – it’s in the way the men relate to each other. I love the challenge of keeping my Ava heroes strong men who fall in love with each other, in the Regency era when such love was punishable by death.

But my first love was m/f historical romances, and I love to write m/f romances which aren’t quite as heavy on the sex. Hence why I have both Ava and Evangeline.

Jackie: What draws you to the Regency period? Are there any other historical time periods that interest you as settings for future books?

Evangeline: It’s hard to define exactly what draws me to the Regency period. Maybe it’s because the first batch of historical romances I ever read were regencies. I do adore the adherence to proper behavior coupled with the element of indulgence. I also enjoy reading medieval and Victorian romances, but I don’t think I’d ever write outside the Regency. For some reason, all my ideas for books and characters take place during the Regency.

Jackie: How and when did you start writing “for real”? I think all authors can divide their careers into “before I got serious” and “after.” When and how did you cross that divide?

Evangeline: When I joined my local RWA chapter. I had been writing in complete and utter ignorance for about a year, just scribbling in my notebook with the vague idea that I’d try to write a book, and then I discovered there was a local romance author group in my area, and from there discovered RWA. Talking with other writers about writing really gave me the drive to get serious about it.

Jackie: As an author who’s both epublished and NY print published, can you tell us what you see as the advantages (and/or disadvantages) of both? Do you recommend starting in epublishing as a step on the way to a print career, or do you see it as a goal in its own right?

Evangeline: I actually sold to Berkley before selling to Samhain and Loose Id – it was when I was submitting HLC to agents that I decided to try to write the Ava books. I truly see e-publishing as a goal in its own right. In fact, I see them both as very worthy avenues for an author’s career. It all depends on the particular author and where they want their career to go, and what fits best for them. Some authors use e-pubs as a step to a print career, some use them as their end goal, and others, like myself, would like their career to include both.

Jackie: Our readers may or may not know this, but it just so happens that we share an agent, Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. I’d love to hear how you landed her as an agent and also a little about your sale of Her Ladyship’s Companion to Berkley.

Evangeline: Quite honestly, I’m still amazed that as a newbie, unpublished author, I was able to land her as an agent. I sent her the first 50 pages and a query for HLC, and she replied back with a request for a full. Six weeks later I got a request for some revisions. We talked on the phone about the book, about the agency, about her and how she works – pretty much the conversation gave me a good feel that we’d work very well together. I revised a couple chapters and sent them to her, to make sure I was on the right track. And that evening I got an offer for representation. It was March 17th – yes, it was a very good St. Patrick’s Day! I, of course, accepted her offer and went back to work to finish the revisions.

Once those were done, Kevan gave the book another read and then she sent it off to editors. And on May 15th, I accepted an offer from Berkley. I know I’ve been very lucky to have landed an agent with the first book I ever queried, and to have made a sale with that same book. That’s why when asked to sum up my path to publication with one word, I always say ‘lucky’.

Jackie: What’s the best thing about being a writer? And what’s the worst?

Evangeline: The best part is coming up with new book ideas. I love mulling over concepts, fleshing out characters, plotting out books. I was one of those kids who could play with my Barbies by myself all day and be happy as a clam, so I love to just think up new books. I also love having written those books I was excited to write. But actually writing them…not always the height of fun. Weird, I know. I love writing, but I hate writing the first draft. Sometimes it can be painful to get the words to go onto the page the way I want them to. But once the words are there, it’s back to being fun again and I can edit and tweak and mold the thing into the book I envision it to be.


So, if you didn’t want to read Evangeline’s book before, I’m betting you do now! Lucky for you, she’s generously agreed to give away a copy to a random commenter. You have until next Monday (when I want the blog back because it’s release day…whee!) to post your comment and be entered into the drawing.

Also, if you have any questions of your own for Evangeline, rumor has it she’ll be around to answer periodically.

An Interview with Jennifer Haymore

hintofwickedToday, I’d like to welcome Jennifer Haymore, author of A Hint of Wicked, to the blog. When I first heard about this book a few months ago, I was instantly intrigued. The premise was just too unusual not to spark my interest.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE . . .

Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul. . . until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife.

TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS . . .

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love . . . but life and death.

As soon as I read that hook, I was hooked. I just received my copy in the mail a few days ago and am itching to sit down and dive into it. In the meantime, I asked Jennifer a few questions about her book and writing in general. So, without further ado, here are my questions and her answers.


Jackie: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming release, A Hint of Wicked. What sparked the idea for the story of a woman who has remarried only to discover her first husband is still alive?

Jennifer: Way back in 2007, my husband and I were discussing plotlines for a new story. I told him how I love getting my characters into horrendous, impossible-to-solve problems and then helping them to figure out a solution, no matter how impossible it might sound. The upshot: The bigger the conflict, the more fun I have as a writer.

My husband thought about it a while and finally said, “What about a man returning from the grave to return to the woman he’s loved forever, only to find her with another guy?”

Hmmm…(I actually think my first verbal reaction was, “Hmmm…”) what an idea! I took it and ran with it, and haven’t looked back since. 

highlandobsessionJackie:  You’ve been writing under the pen name, Dawn Halliday, for some time, and have quite a few books out with Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, and NAL will be releasing a Dawn title soon. Could you tell us how your “Dawn” books differ from your “Jennifer” books?

Jennifer: The Dawn books, while being romances first and foremost, have a stronger erotic element than the Jennifer books do. My first New York title as Dawn, Highland Obsession, will release from NAL/Signet Eclipse in August.

[Editorial comment: Ooooh, hot cover. I’d like one to go, please :).]

Jackie: How do you write a book? Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between? Do you start at the beginning and write straight through to the end, or jump around and write scenes that are clear to you regardless of where they appear in the book?
 
Jennifer: I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. Now that I’m contracting books on proposal, my editors want to see a complete synopsis before I finish a story. So I write synopses now, and I do find them to be a beneficial loose guide when I’m on deadline and working hard to finish a book. However, if the characters decide to take a radical turn, I usually hand them the reins and let them take the story where it needs to go. Characters often surprise me! So I still very much follow my characters’ leads as opposed to shoehorning them into a plot I’ve laid out in advance.
 
Jackie: What’s your favorite scene in A Hint of Wicked and why?
 
Jennifer: That’s a really difficult question to answer, since I like different scenes for different reasons! I’d have to say one of my favorites is when Garrett walks in on Sophie and Tristan in bed. It’s a painful scene for all of them for a variety of reasons—I think I’m a little bit of a sadist when it comes to torturing my poor characters! <grin>

Jackie: You know I have to ask this. Tristan or Garrett?
 
Jennifer: Um…both?


So, want to find out who the heroine of A Hint of Wicked actually chooses (since Jennifer is clearly too wishy-washy to choose for herself)? Well, you can! Jennifer has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter to be chosen at random. To enter, just post a comment below. Winner will be announced on Thursday at noon PST!