Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Deanna Jewel Interview
7/6/2010 7:45:15 AM
Time-travel/historical fiction author Deanna Jewel talks about her novels and the writing life.
LTS: Twitter has become a regular treasure trove for me in my search of talented writers to feature. Today, Iíd like to introduce you to time travel/historical romance writer, Deanna Jewel.
Iíd like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Deanna. I know you live in northern Idaho, but is there anything else youíd like to share?
DJ: Besides being an author, a few of my previous occupations were spending, uh ohÖIím going to age myself hereÖ.thirty years in the insurance business, including having my securities licenses. At one point I let them both lapse and moved from Michigan to Idaho. Once in Idaho, silly me, I decided I wanted my insurance and securities licenses back and to do that, I had to retake all the exams. Now for someone to put themselves through all that torturous studying should make one stop and think first, but I thought, at the time, that was what I needed to do since that was what I knew. Iím now in the process of letting the licenses lapse again because - Iíve found where my heart is and it isnít in selling investment or insurance contracts anymore but Iím still in sales.
LTS: Youíve been writing for a long time. Was becoming a published author a lifelong dream?
DJ: Deciding to publish my own novels brought about a dream Iíve had for a long time. Getting noticed by one of the big houses is not an easy task and I got tired of waiting for that to happen. I can now share my stories with others who also like to read time travel and historical romance.
LTS: Currently, you have two novels in print and e-book format, ĎNo Turning Backí and ĎNever Surrenderí. ĎNo Turning Backí is set in 1778 England. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Vanessa?
DJ: Iím an Anglophile and have been for quite a few years! I love anything EnglandÖ stories, castles, pirates, ships, and letís not forget the handsome, roguish dukes who save the damsel in distress. This all stems from the romance novels I chose to read when I started as a teen. I also like strong heroines who donít buckle under to what others think they should do just to fit in. I wanted Vanessa to be as strong as any male counterpart she would partner with in her future. I hope my readers will be able to relate and connect with her as they read her adventures with Nathan. Sheís feisty and she doesnít back down.
LTS: ĎNever Surrenderí was inspired by a trip to Dubois, Wyoming set in the beautiful Rockies. Can you tell us about your main characters, Taima and Kate, and without giving away too much, can you reveal whatís in store for the readers when they crack open this book?
DJ: Other readers have told me they fell in love with Taima from the get go. Heís a one-woman man and a protector of all in his tribe. Heís also a loving father to his son so he wants to make the right decisions on his future because ultimately, it will involve his son too. Iíve created Kate to be a strong female and a fighter. She doesnít give up nor does she take no for an answer; she stands up for those who canít stand up for themselves. Iíd like my readers to know they can be as strong as my characters. They just need to change the way they thinkÖ think strong and know you can do what you set out to do, then do it.
I believe the soul is reincarnated as time goes on and it searches each era for that one true love, whether we think weíre a match at first sight or not. I also seem to pull in the reasoning that love CAN happen a second time; it may not be the main theme in the story but we can all relate to that as teenagers with our Ďfirst loveí and then actually finding love a second time after that first heartbreak. For others, it may be losing the love of your life and thinking you canít continue on alone. I hope readers will always be able to relate to the themes of my stories.
LTS: I understand you took the matter of publishing your books into your own hands by self-publishing through Booklocker.com. What made you decide on taking this route rather than going through a traditional publishing house and how did you decide on Booklocker.com?
DJ: I submitted to the traditional houses for years, receiving many rejection letters and decided that I was tired of waiting for someone to say my work was something others would want to read. I want to share the stories and see what happens. I took a chance with self publishing and will continue to market my author platform, books and stories. Iím one who doesnít hear the words Ďyou canít do thatí because if we put our minds and hearts into it, things will work. I might have days that arenít always going well but we must persevere if we want results and one day, I will get there.
I chose BookLocker.com because they offered to help me list at more places than just Amazon.com and the owners are easy to work with. One still has to submit the manuscript to them for approval and I do a lot of editing and scanning through the manuscript. No matter how hard you try, you wonít see your own mistakes so be sure to have several other readers before you go to print.
LTS: Iím curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
DJ: Iím more relaxed and write when the mood strikes but the story lines and characters never stop telling me which direction they want the story to go. Sometimes I write long hand if weíre traveling in the car or Iím not at my laptop. Iím also a night owl rather than a morning person so I stay up late at night writing, marketing, working on book trailers and websites.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
DJ: I write by the seat of my pants! Iíve never been one to use the sticky notes on a time line; I did do an outline for the first novel but the characters change it as they go. For Never Surrender, those characters came to me while I visited Dubois and they wrote the story; they came to me as a movie in my head and I wrote what I saw and heard. It was amazing. Not all books are that easy to write but I can hope another one will come along like that.
LTS: I know exactly what youíre speaking of when you say Ďthey came as a movieí in your head. Itís much like recording what already happened! Now, as a writer of historical romance, how much time do you devote to researching? Do you research your material prior to writing or do you write and research in tandem?
DJ: I write and research in tandem, but then I get stuck a lot and canít go on until I know all the details of the story plot or subject Iím writing about. I do write then go back and fill in as I edit and add to the story. Thatís when the characters stop me and send me in another direction. Sometimes I let them and see where it goes and itís not always a bad thing.
LTS: When I attended a writing workshop hosted by the author of the highly popular ĎOutlanderí series, Diana Gabaldon said that she prefers to research the old-fashioned way: at her local library. Do you research at the library or do you surf the Internet for historical information when youíre striving for accuracy?
DJ: I started out researching at the library. I also bought books that I know Iíll use for research on other novels but the internet also has so much information. The bad thing about the net is that one link leads to another and the next thing you know, hours have passed that you could have used to write. I have to be careful how far I allow myself to go with those links when researching. Is it better to go to the library? Sometimes yes.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
DJ: When I wrote Never Surrender, I listened to many Native American CDs which helped to take me directly to that tribal gathering or village or ceremony. I also surround myself with pictures of the era Iím writing in. No Turning Back brought out my pictures of ships, London wharfs, as well as books on castles and pirates. I also use iStock.com for photos and pictures for my book trailers and find pictures of my character-look-alikes as close as I can get. That helps my writing tooÖ doesnít make sense but it works for me.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writerís block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
DJ: Iím sure all authors have files loaded with articles so when they get blocked, they can refer to these. At least that is what I do. I might pull out articles on keeping my mind positive while working alone as a writer or maybe brush up on dialogue articles and then there is the file for writerís block and how to get by that. I just start a blank page and write about the people at the mall, what they look like, or flowers in a garden, just write and things come to you. I find if I dwell on that subject, I canít write but with my vivid imagination, I can say Iíve not had to deal with that yet so Iím sure my turn is ahead of me yet.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
DJ: I started out reading Virginia Henley and Johanna Lindsey Ė both of those authors use history to lace through their stories. They both use characters from past history in England, Scotland and Ireland and they used real settings from history which is what made me fall in love with those places. I felt as though I was right there in the story with those characters and I hope I create that for my readers.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery youíve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
DJ: When I first started writing, a critique partner said something that made me completely rewrite my book or at least thatís how it seemed but it totally made sense - stay in one characterís point of view for at least an entire scene if not the entire chapter. I had started out head hopping with my characters and having characters Ďseeí things that they actually couldnít see. Let me restate thatÖ consider a character describing themselves. That doesnít actually happen unless they are standing in front of a mirror, such as Ďher brown eyes brightened when she saw Tom come into the roomí. If youíre in that characters head, they donít see their own eyes brighten when they see another character. When I read that now in other books it totally pulls me out of the story. That stops my reading, I have to go back and re-read and if you make a reader do that too many times, theyíll just put the book down.
Something thatís touched me from readers? Iíve had a few people tell me they werenít readers but they bought my books because we were friends. Later I received a visit or phone call from them telling me how they couldnít put the book down until they were finished. That alone keeps me writing. To know that I can reach a non-reader and they have that type of an experience while reading my work makes me keep writing.
LTS: What is the most important lesson youíve learned on the road to publication?
DJ: Iíve learned that you canít ever stop marketing yourself and your stories. Marketing and sales were part of my other occupations so Iím glad I knew a little about it to start doing what needed to be done when the time came.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-be-read list?
DJ: Iím currently reading a book by another new author titled ĎStarting Overí by Charmaine Gordon who lives in New York. We met online, on one of so many sites out there, and I like to think weíve become friends. There are so many talented people who write and many of them are going into self publishing because itís so hard to get into the big houses. They want you to have an agent and the agents want you to already be published. I do think that everyone does need to submit to an agent and traditional publisher to see what happens. After receiving so many rejection letters, I made my own decision. I just got tired of waiting so many years to receive Ďthe callí. Does that mean my work isnít good? I like to think it is and I just didnít have the right person read my work when it hit the publishing desk; who knows.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from historical romance into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to ĎNever Surrenderí or ĎNo Turning Backí in the near future?
DJ: Again, from what Iíve read, the publishers would like you to stick to one genre. Iíve already broken that rule by writing a time travel and a historical romance. My current project is a contemporary so again, Iíve broken the Ďruleí, but what I hear is Ďyou can do thatí and Iíve done it.
Iíve not started the sequel to Never Surrender but when I do, that will also be a contemporary. For my current project, I didnít originally plan on the story going in the direction it is, but then again, the characters popped in and took over. The story is about an abandoned lighthouse with a ghost. The ghost is none other than my hero from No Turning Back. That wasnít planned, it just happened and has grown from there. His ship went down in a storm off the coast of America and Vanessa was with him at the time so they both perished. Only Nathanís ghost is in the lighthouse and his job is to bring together his reincarnated counterparts, who are the hero and heroine of the new story. Thatís all Iím saying about it but Iíve had many questions from the readers as well as those who are glad Iím doing a contemporary. I canít say exactly what genre I write in since now Iíve done all three! Iíll keep writing and staying in contact with readers. My website has several links to place I can be found online and I also have sample chapters out there, check my BookBuzzr link!
LTS: Thank you for telling us about your novels and for sharing in your writing experiences and wisdom, Deanna! It looks like I have two more books to add to my to-be-read-list. Check below for details of Deanna's book giveaway contest. For more information about Deanna Jewel and her novels, check out:
Blog site: http://deannajewel.blogspot.com
Follow Deanna on Twitter: .DeannaJewel
Where to buy the books: my website, Amazon, B & N, BookLocker.com, goHastings.com and local book stores in Lewiston Idaho
EXCELLENT BOOK GIVEAWAY:
Want a chance to win one of Deannaís fab novels? All you have to do is contact Deanna through her website before July 12th, 2010. On the subject line enter: Book Giveaway. Check back with her in a week and Deanna will announce the winner of this giveaway! Good luck!
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