Please welcome today’s guest author Julieanne Reeves to the blog. I first met Julieanne on Facebook at the Romance Novel Excerpts Group where she posted an excerpt of her novel RAZING KAYNE. I enjoyed her excerpt and asked her visit the blog for an interview…and here she is. Please make her feel welcome by leaving your questions and comments for her in the comments section.
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself – when did you first know you wanted to write – what was your journey to publication like – do you have a spouse or significant other – kids? Pets? Where in the world do you live? Where did you grow up? What real life events and experiences fuel your writing?
Laurie, I’d like to start by thanking you for having me here. I love having RAZING KAYNE in the spotlight. Me—not so much. * grin *
Hmm… where to begin. Let’s see… I’m the single adoptive mom of 2 beautiful children. My “werewolf” is “almost” 8 and his sister “Puddleduck” is 9. We are currently living in the Phoenix-metro area of Arizona, not far from where I grew up on a small suburban farm. My grandparents—who raised me—had several acres of land and we had horses, cattle and just about every other barnyard animal you can imagine. Currently we are without pets—a first in my life– and not quite sure how it happened. I moved to the real life town of Payson in my early 20′s where I worked for years as a police/fire/911 dispatcher before moving back to the Phoenix area. Needless to say it afforded me a treasure-trove of experience and events to pull from.
Q: To tell or not to tell – do you tell people what you write? Do your close friends and family members read your books? What have some of their reactions been?
That’s a really good question. Most of my family didn’t know I’d written anything until I was published. The reviews from them are mixed. The cool ones are a great cheering squad, the “straight-laced conservative” ones…eh, not so much. A few of the dispatchers I used to work with have read it and loved it. My best friend read it and loved it. I know, you’re thinking, she’s her best friend, of course she’s gonna say she loved it. Ha! You don’t know my best friend. It was a 50/50 chance that I would have gotten it back with red ink all over the pages. * grin*
Q: What really makes you tick as a writer? What drives you? What inspires you?
Usually my writing is inspired by something I’ve seen in the media. Some horrible tragedy that makes my heartache to the point that I have to express those emotions somehow. Often, in those cases, we see the worst that humanity has to offer; families ripped apart and loved ones left behind to pick up the pieces. I find myself wondering what their road is going to be like. How are they going to go on—move forward—when you know they have to be tempted to give up. Having working knowledge of police procedures to help fill in the story gaps definitely helps.
Q: Please tell us a bit about Your Book.
Razing Kayne is the story of a State Trooper—Kayne Dobrescu—who lost his family in a horrible tragedy. His wife killed his children and then herself. He doesn’t understand why she did it, or how he missed the warning sings. All he knows is that his children, who were everything to him, are dead. It’s two years later and he’s still trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of his life. He’s been transferred to the mountain community of Payson, Arizona—yes we really do have mountains, it even snows there—where he meets Jessica Hallstatt. Jessica is raising her children alone after her firefighter husband died rescuing a child from an accident. Neither one is looking for a relationship but as we all know life doesn’t always work out the way we planned. Suddenly they find themselves having to work together to protect a child when fate throws them together in a way they never could have imagined.
Q: Please tell us a bit about the idea behind Your Book. What inspired the story? What part of the story did you get first? How did it build on itself till you had the complete story? What was it about this story versus other ideas that compelled you to write it?
Oops. I partially answered this question. I was watching a news broadcast several years ago. A father had come home, found his children and wife dead. The initial report was that it was a double murder/suicide meaning they suspected she’d killed the kids and then herself. Regrettably that’s not the first time something like this has happened and it wouldn’t be the last. What struck me was the image they captured of the father. It was just a moment in time where the officers were walking him out to the patrol car. He wasn’t a suspect, simply a devastated father who’d been traumatized by what he found. The grief etched on his face was unforgettable. Even with my background, I couldn’t stop wondering how a mother could do that to her children; how she could be so desperate or selfish. The first scene of Razing Kayne was from the point of view of an unnamed woman who would do such a horrific thing. When I finished writing that scene I had answers. Not the ones that would do that father any good, because these were wholly fictional, but they were answers to my story. In fact it was the entire story. Of course I had to break it apart, add the characters and fill in the blanks.
Q: Which comes first for you? Characters? Plot? Setting? Conflict?
The plot came first with RAZING KAYNE. I then had to create characters and learn about them. The setting was easy, I chose the town I loved and made it fictional. The secondary characters created themselves, some out of necessity and others because they wanted in on the series. Nick, Trace, Rafe, Mark, and Joe are the ones that hopped in and made sure they were going to get their own books. In fact that’s the order we’ll be seeing them in. Nick’s book is next. NICK OF TIME in April, followed by Trace’s book, WITHOUT A TRACE in October. Nick’s book is about surviving and moving past spousal/intimate partner rape. It’s served with a side of corruption to keep you on your toes. Trace’s book is about pediatric leukemia and baby trafficking.
Q: Was there one particular scene that was your favorite in Your Book? Please tell us about that scene. What happens in the scene? Why is it an important scene in the book?
There is. It’s toward the end of the book so I can’t say much about it without HUGE spoilers, but I will say that it inspired the cover of RAZING KAYNE. When you get there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. * grin*
Q: What are your boundaries as an author? Are there certain things you won’t write about? Are there certain situations that you will never put your characters in? Are there certain sexual practices that your characters will never indulge in? Why have you adopted these particular boundaries?
I’m not sure if I have boundaries as far as what my characters will or have gone through. I know I won’t tackle a hard subject matter and make my hero or heroine the exception to the rule. Sarah in NICK OF TIME, my upcoming book, is an example of that. She was a victim of domestic violence and spousal rape in her previous marriage. I’m walking a fine line with telling the story in a way that honors the victims and survivors by telling their story, without being too graphic. Intimate partner rape is one of the least reported sexual assaults, and as such one of the most emotionally damaging to the victim/survivor. As far as sexual practices, I’d say “anal play” and serious “BDSM” are probably hard-lines for me. They’re just not my cuppa, and I think that would show in my writing.
Q: Are there any subgenres you absolutely cannot envision writing? Why?
I don’t see myself ever writing menage or same-sex partner relationships. I don’t feel I could do the characters or the relationship justice. I believe as a writer you have to put your heart and soul into your writing and I don’t think I could do that.
Q: Please tell us about the characters in Your Book. What strengths do the characters have? What weaknesses?
Kayne is seriously lost at the beginning of Razing Kayne. He’s been putting one foot in front of the other because he hasn’t worked up the courage to eat his service weapon and join his family. He sees it as cowardice, but I thin it speaks of a courage and will to live that he doesn’t recognize. At least not until Jess and her kids come speeding into his life. Jess’s weakness is that she bought into her ex-husbands hype. He treated her like crap and she believes she deserved it. Her strength is her maternal instincts. Though her children are adopted she’d do anything for them, and is put to the test a time or two.
Q: Most writers know a lot of things about their characters that never make it into the book. What can you tell us about your characters that didn’t make it into the book?
Oh, my gosh. I don’t even know where to begin. I have pages upon pages of stuff that didn’t make it into this book. I’ll answer about Jessica on this one. Jessica is afraid of the dark and storms still make her nervous. When she was young her step-siblings locked her in a shed overnight and a violent thunderstorm rolled through and she’s never quite gotten over that.
Q: What internal conflicts or character weaknesses did your characters have to overcome in order to reach their happily ever after ending?
Jessica had to realize her self-worth and find confidence in her own sexuality. Kayne had to lay his past to rest. He had a horrible mother, and his first marriage was a disaster, so he has some serious trust issues that he has to set aside for Jess.
Q: What do you envy about the characters in your book(s)?
Their HEA. Real life is a lot more complicated than that, and our own HEA’s aren’t always so clean cut.
Q: Angst or humor? Which is your favorite in the books you write? The books you read?
I like to read both, but I don’t write humor well. Sarcasm, yes, humor no, so I try and stick with angst.
Q: Please describe your book in five words that are not in your blurb.
I guess it would be a line out of the Rascal Flatt’s song Bless the Broken Road: “God bless the broken road” that lead me straight to you. Yes, I cheated!
Q: What aspect of writing do you find the most difficult?
Editing, as you’ve probably noticed from my interview. I stink at self-editing.
Q: What kind of writing do you find the most fun?
Definitely fiction. As a dispatcher we did lots of transcribing of reports and writing reports and it was all about being clear and concise. Oh, and brevity. With fiction I get to stretch my legs so to speak.
Q: What do you know now after writing and publishing a book that you wish you’d known at the outset?
I think it’s more of a case of what I’m glad I didn’t know. I had no idea how much WORK my hobby was going to turn into. I’m not sure I would have ever had the courage to start. So, I guess this is a case of ignorance is bliss.
Q: What advice, resources, or useful information can you offer aspiring authors who might be reading this interview?
Write what you know and do it from the heart.
Q: Which drives your novels more – the plot or the characters?
That’s tough. I really have to say it’s an even match. With RK it was plot based. With NICK OF TIME it seems to be more character based. I have an outline of Trace St. Moritz’s book and Rafe Chatham’s is character driven.
Q: What are your favorite television shows and do any of them impact what you write?
We don’t have TV in the house. We live too far out of the city to get local channels. I do like Criminal Minds and Law and Order SVU. I’m sure there are a few others, I can’t think of them at the moment. I think the national headlines are the driving force behind my story. I get email or facebook messages from people who’ve read RK and compare it to an incident that happened near them.
Q: How far is too far in erotic romance? What are your limits for your books? Do you like to color inside the lines or push the boundaries when it comes to the love scenes in your books?
My love scenes are pretty graphic, but don’t cross in to erotic. Kayne and Jessica have a house full of kids to work around, and I think those with kids will relate to the fact that they have to be spontaneous and creative to get nookie time in.
Q: What makes an the hero of Your Book the ideal hero?
His protective instincts. His willingness to push the boundaries of his comfort zone and find a way to love children that aren’t biological his after losing his own.
Q: What has been the hardest scene you’ve ever written and why?
The hardest scene to date? It’s not in Razing Kayne so let’s see how vague I can be and still answer this. It’s the Hero and Heroines first sexual encounter and it doesn’t exactly go as planned. The heroine has a flashback and it’s a bit of a disaster.
Q: Authors have to develop thick skins to deal with reviews. Most books receive some mixture of good reviews and bad ones, simply because tastes are different and people like and dislike different things. Please tell us about one of your most memorable reviews and how it impacted your writing.
I’m a lemonade kind of girl. I received a controversial review by a popular reviewer and while I was disappointed that she didn’t enjoy it I recognized it for what it was; one opinion in a sea of many. It garnered quite a bit of attention because there were so many high-rated reviews and so it made people curious. She actually helped drive sales and put me on Amazon’s Bestselling Romantic Suspense list for a while.
Please Answer These Questions As A Reader:
As a reader I am always curious about the reading habits of the authors I enjoy, so I have a few questions about your reading habits.
Q: As an author, where do you learn about books you might want to read? Do you research the books in depth before you buy them, read an excerpt or do you buy without a great deal of research?
Honestly, I take recommendations from my readers. I also have some auto-buy authors. Pamela Clare, Kaylea Cross, Cindy Gerard, Debra Webb, Catherine Mann, Roxanne St. Claire, Joyce Lamb, Jessica Scott, Jill Sorenson, Jo Davis, Cathy Perkins, Bella Andre, Cherry Adair…. need I go on?
Q: When you are learning about a book what five words are most likely to get you to buy the book?
I’m not sure I could define it. It’s more of a feeling, depending on what mood I’m in. With few exceptions I prefer Romantic Suspense or Military Romance as I’m sure you can tell by my auto buy list.
Q: When you are learning about a book what five words will make you decide against the book?
BDSM (are we counting that as one word?) Manege, M/M, F/F. Can’t think of a 5th one off hand.
Q: What can you tell us about your book that isn’t in the blurb?
It’s really difficult to talk about Razing Kayne because it’s quite honestly one big spoiler. And it’s not the type of book you can go to the last chapter or the epilogue to understand what happened.
Q: As a reader are you finding the advent of self-publishing to be a positive or a negative within the industry? Are you finding more good books or are you having to search harder for good books? Please explain your answer.
I like self-publishing. I think there are some really great books out there. As long as it’s being done right—professionally edited—the only difference between self-published and traditionally published is that we’re seeing a wider variety of stories. There’s a little more out there for everyone. You’ve got to have some really great resources or plan on spending some money to put out a great product.
Q: Has the way that you shop for books changed since the rise in the popularity of ebooks? Has how you shop for books been influenced by the rise in self-publishing?
I read a lot more since e-books came out. I love the portability of them. I was forever forgetting paperbacks at home, so having a smart phone and an ebook loaded is awesome.
Q: What are your favorite sub-genres to read? To write?
I enjoy romantic suspense and military romance for the most part. I’m not a huge fan of paranormal, but I do like a paranormal element. Maya Banks has a couple in her KGI (another auto-by author/series) and Cherry Adair’s Lodestone series to name a couple.
Q: What are your least favorite sub-genres to read? To write?
I like writing about vampires and werewolves (have some MS’s that I wrote and never did anything with) but I don’t like reading about them.
Now for some just for fun:
Q: On Pinterest are you a A.) Hoarder in disguise (you collect images of everything you like) B.) Minimalist (you only collect images that fit in with some project – my next book – a home remodeling project – etc) C.) you’re not on Pinterest.
I’m new to Pinterest and have no clue what I’m doing there. I think I maybe have 1 or 2 photos on there.
Q: On Twitter are you A.) The life of the party engaging with my friends and followers B.) Mostly a promoter – I use Twitter primarily to promote my books C.) Mostly a lurker. I follow a lot of people looking for useful information – some of which finds its way into my books.
Um, twitter. Hey, that reminds me I haven’t checked in on twitter in a week or two. Oops. Sorry if you’ve tried to contact me. I’m a facebook girl.
Q: What’s your favorite social network? Why is it your favorite?
Facebook. I like the notification. You have that little list that pops up and tells you that in the 9 hours you were away you have 100 messages and you can systematically go through them.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday and why?
Halloween. My older sister always made it a big deal and I got to spend time trick or treating with my cousins.
Q: Did you read 50 Shades of Grey? Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between?
* Grin * I’m gonna refrain from answering this one.
Q: What was the last book you read that you really loved – enough that you’d recommend it to someone else?
I really liked Jill Sorenson’s Aftershock. I’m reading V.R. Marks The Hostage and really, really liking that. The first two in the series were awesome.
Q: What’s your favorite place to read? Do you have a favorite food or beverage you like to eat or drink while reading?
I love being curled up somewhere under a blanket while I read. Beverage: Dr Pepper/Mr Pibb food: Red licorice.
Q: If you could go backwards or forwards in time and have dinner with anyone in history who would it be and why?
Wow. Hannibal comes to mind, but so does Alaric I (Visigoth King) and Vseslav of Polotsk (The Werewolf King).
Q: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Q: Describe your ideal romantic getaway?
A well stocked, secluded, cabin in the snow covered mountains with a hot sexy guy who happens to be the love of my life. Clothing totally optional and highly discouraged.
Q: You have three magic wishes – what would they be?
That spontaneous peace would break out across the world, that crimes against children would cease, and that senseless death of children due to lack of medical care would end.
Q: If you were to be stranded on a desert island with one of your characters which character and why?
Would have to be Dr. Mark Oberly. He’s a doctor and he’s ex SpecWar. He might be able to keep us alive.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about yourself, your books, your characters?
Wow, I think we’ve covered it all. Well maybe one. You’ll absolutely fall in love with Gracie, the toddler in RAZING KAYNE.
Q: Please share with us your five favorite hang outs on the web – these do not have to be book related. Please share sites other than your own website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Hangouts. Facebook, Gmail, Wikipedia, Google and Twitter when I can remember it.
Q: When you’re not writing what other hobbies or interests do you engage in?
Spending time with my kids is my priority and one of my greatest joys. I’m thankful every day that they are with me. My writing only happens when they’re at school or engaged in other activities.
Q: Have you ever done anything in real life that you read about in a romance novel?
Please tell us about that. Ha, ha, ha! Um… I think that falls under the too much information banner. Sorry,
Q: Is there anything you’ve read about in a romance novel that you’re dying to try?
Again, TMI. Guess I have a dirty mind. * grin *
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