Hi and welcome to my blog, Jenna Jaxon. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake. So tell us a little about yourself.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Thank you, Raine, for having me here today. And thank you, Jake, I’ll have an iced tea.
I think a fair amount of my personality comes through in my writing, especially my sense of humor. It’s hard for my characters to not have snappy comebacks or a dry sense of humor. I have to pull back on that sometimes. As for life experiences, well of course they say “Write what you know,” so I’d say in some respects I do find ways to get some of my life experiences into my books. I used to fence in high school and my heroine in Only Scandal Will Do does as well (and much better than I ever did!)
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Wow, that varies so much these days. The first draft of my first book took 6 months; the second one (Scandal) took 2 months; I just finished one in May that took me 9 months. It all depends on how much time I can devote to writing vs promoting, job, family. If I can sit uninterrupted, I could probably turn out a first draft of a novel in a month.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
I start usually with the inciting incident, the spark of idea that will drive the whole book. I think about that incident, about the plot points, what needs to happen. Then, once I’ve got it all figured out in my head, I make a detailed outline. From there I sit down, start at Chapter 1, and barrel my way through. In summer I write from early morning until I have to make dinner. During the school year, I write whenever I can–early, late, in-between classes. Once the 1st draft is done, I go back and self-edit. The I put it up on my crit loop, then revise and send to my betas.
My upcoming release, Only Scandal Will Do, is an historical romance set in Georgian England about a woman who is kidnapped, sold in a brothel auction, and subsequently forced to marry her purchaser or be ruined. The story was inspired by several historical romances with the auction trope: Tempting Fortune by Jo Beverley, Say You Love Me by Johanna Lindsey, and A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss. And the forced prostitution incident from The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh. And then Duncan and Katarina started yelling at me to start their story NOW. (I was actually writing a different story at the time.)
What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
I actually don’t find them difficult to write and I do like writing them. I enjoy reading them in my favorite authors, like Lisa Kleypas. So I try to give mine an intensity that will leave the reader, as well as the characters, satisfied. J
What kind of research do you do for your books?
Since I write historical romance, I do a lot of research for my novels. For Only Scandal Will Do I had to research things like what type of homes were prevalent for the upper classes, what were the fashionable neighborhoods? What would an 18th century brothel look like? All manner of clothing had to be researched. How long it takes to sail from England to Italy. What kind of ships would be used for such a voyage. And the language! You have to research words to make sure they would have been in use during that time period. And you need to find out what kind of slang would have been used. It seems overwhelming, but it’s equivalent to world building for other sub-genres, so it is a painstaking process. But fascinating! I’ve always loved both history and research. So I’m in my elements!
What are some of your favorite things or hobbies to do?
My favorite thing other than writing or reading is working in the theatre. That’s my day job, so I’m usually always doing something that I love. I also like to travel and go to amusement parks.
Who are some of your other favorite authors and genres to read?
In romance it’s Jo Beverley, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Mary Jo Putney. In horror it’s Stephen King and Dean Koontz. In historical fiction Phillipa Gregory. In crime fiction Patricia Cornwell and John Grisham.
Among your own books, have you a favorite? A favorite hero or heroine?
That’s so hard to say. But I think, in all honesty, I have to say it’s my first novel, Time Enough to Love and its hero and heroine, Geoffrey and Alyse. Only Scandal Will Do is close on its heels, though.
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Oh, the story always comes first. Aristotle says that plot is the first element of drama and I have taken him at his word for fiction as well. I can forgive flaws in characterization if the plot keeps me turning pages.
What part of a book has been the easiest to write? The hardest?
The beginning, with the inciting incident, is always easiest to write. I know this from the beginning. The hardest is probably the middle. I usually have a clear idea of the ending, but the middle sometimes changes on me and makes it more difficult to keep a smoothly flowing plot.
What are the elements of a great romance for you?
A hero who is strong and selfless, who will do anything for his heroine. A heroine who has inner strength, a sharp mind, and passion for her hero.
What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?
The hardest part of writing is description. I hate reading it, hate writing it. I imagine everything differently when I read anyway. The easiest part of writing is plotting. Have plot, will travel. I love making everything click.
Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
It’s an uneasy balance. I know what I want them to do, but sometimes they come up with more interesting actions, so I sort of let them run with it. I figure if I end up not liking where they’re going, I can always edit it out. LOL
What are some of your current projects?
Right now I’m like an octopus with a different project in each arm. I’m working on first edits for a contemporary erotic romance, 7 Days of Seduction;I’m also editing a Victorian historical, As Long As You’re Mine, for submission; I’m revising my first historical novel, Time Enough to Love, into a trilogy of novellas–Betrothal, Betrayal, and Beleaguered–for self-publication later this summer; and I’m revising the second book in the Scandal series, Only Marriage Will Do, to submit in early July.
Boxers, briefs, boxerbriefs…. Or commando on a man? Why?
Commando, because you can get right to the point so easily.
What is your strangest habit?
I drink only hot tea in the mornings at home, but only coffee in the morning when I’m at work.
When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
God, I need more sleep.
What is your favorite pizza?
Domino’s pepperoni, mushroom & onion on gluten-free crust.
What is one thing scientists should invent?
A time machine. It would make historical research so much easier and even more fun!
If you could time travel, where would you go?
Elizabethan England and attend an original production of one of Shakespeare’s plays.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Being able (hopefully) to draw a response from the audience. When readers tell me that they cried or laughed at a certain point, that just makes me smile wider! Like I did my job well.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
Of the historicals, probably Only Scandal Will Do. It’s my first full-length novel and the best representation (currently) of my style. If you like it, you’ll like my other works as well.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
I hope they take a sense of having been on an adventure ride, with twists and turns and daring escapes, but that they will always make it back safe with a satisfying HEA.
Anything else you want to mention?
Just that Only Scandal Will Do is set to release on July 23, 2012! Huge release party on Jenna’s Journal at http://jennajaxon.wordpress.com
Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.
Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she’s a lady, but how can she be? No lady of his acquaintance in polite society is anything like her. Then he discovers she is who she says, and that this latest romp has compromised her reputation. He knows how that is. One more scandal and he’ll be cast out of London society, but he needs a wife who’ll provide an heir to carry on his illustrious family’s name. He seeks out Katarina, intending only to scotch the scandal, but instead finds his heart ensnared. He’s betting their future he’ll capture her heart, but does he have what it
takes to win the wager?
WARNING: A blade-wielding heroine who crosses swords with a master of sensuality.
Excerpt from Only Scandal Will Do:
“Lady Katarina,” the marquess said, taking her limp, cold hand. “I have been looking forward to this moment ever since I heard you were in London.”
That voice sent shivers down her spine. She remembered well the arrogance in it when he’d declared himself her master. Soft and silky now, his mouth poised over her hand, and the words sent searing heat that penetrated her long kidskin gloves. Only sheer determination kept her from snatching it out of his grasp, and fear at what might be said if she acted in any way as though she had met this man before. No one must know.
She made herself look at his face, into the dark brown eyes that gleamed with…apprehension? Amusement? Katarina twitched her mouth into what hopefully passed for a smile and said, “I am delighted to make your acquaintance as well, Lord Dalbury. Although I must confess that until just now I had not heard your name.” Although pleased to hear how strong her voice sounded, she feared she might choke on the lies she spouted. Kat slipped her hand from his and a measure of calm returned.
She tried to refrain from looking at the marquess, but he demanded her attention by addressing her again.
“I almost missed the pleasure of making your acquaintance, Lady Katarina. I left the ball just before midnight, but one of my carriage horses came up lame and I returned to ask Braeton for the loan of a replacement. Lady Luck surely smiled on me tonight.” He continued on, disregarding her silence. “I understand from Lord Braeton that you and your brother only arrived from the colonies three months ago, Lady Katarina.”
She found it hard to keep her tone civil. “Yes, my lord. We came to England in early February.” As she had told him before! It helped not to look at his eyes. Instead she fastened her gaze on his cheek. He would likely carry those scars the rest of his life. She hoped it hurt his vanity every time he looked in the mirror.
He apparently saw where her gaze lay, for he ran his finger down the center mark. “Ah, I see you are curious about my wounds.” He shifted his weight slightly, drawing her a little away from the others.
“Is it a war wound, my lord?” she asked, feeling the return of her confidence.
“It is a badge of honor I wear, given to me by a worthy opponent who I underestimated in many ways. I now regret the chance encounter, Lady Katarina.” He lowered his voice. “She did not deserve the treatment she had at my hands. I make my most sincere apology for doubting her words to me.”
Kat stiffened at this offering. How could he stand there and try to apologize so cavalierly in a crowded ballroom? “Whoever she is, then, Lord Dalbury,” she said sweetly, “I hope your opponent is more forgiving than I would be.”
Only Scandal Will Do releases on July 23, 2012.