It is with great pleasure that Jessica Lauryn agreed to visit with us today. I was absolutely enthralled with her book Dangerous Proposal and would like to quickly share with you the official blurb of the book and then we’ll get to the interview.
For ten agonizing years, Alec Westwood has been keeping a secret from the world. At nineteen, he nearly committed the most horrific of crimes—murder in cold blood—and narrowly escaped the assigned task with his life. When a stunning young woman crosses his path wearing the insignia for the underground organization that recruited him, he vows not to let fate get a second chance. But when the enchantress gives him a kiss that leaves him spellbound, Alec realizes the power she holds is greater than all his strength and fortitude combined…
On the run from her psychotic fiancé, Lena Benson vows to forge a new life, even if that means befriending a witch, and practicing the craft of the devil. But when her new friend Jack tells her to stay away from Alec Westwood, the man she believes her fiancé hired to track her down, and the handsome stranger she kissed in a tavern, Lena vows to take matters into her own hands. Alec may have the charm, but she’s calling the shots this time, even if that means resisting the man responsible for giving her the most intimate kiss of her life, a man who’s eyes and touch rob her, literally, of sense…
Thanks for coming today. I must congratulate you on this wonderful series. I’m eager to read more of the stories with your delightful characters. And now my first question.
Every author has a creative process in developing a story. What’s yours?
Great question, Eileen. I think one of the most interesting things about writing is that every author’s process is a little bit different, but when we cross the finish line, we all wind up in virtually the same place.
I like to write a story the way an architect would build a tower—one piece at a time. Something will strike me, excite me, turn me on, and I’ll say, “I think I’d like to write a story about x.” From there, I’ll make notes about the plot and characters, until I feel I’m ready to outline. Then I’ll outline the story, getting as specific as I possibly can about what each scene will entail. If I can get actual dialogue going, I’ll include it, because that will help me later on. Though, narrative is what tends to come into my mind first. (Outlining is a very key part of the process for me because as a “plotter” by nature, I’m much less intimidated by a notebook than I am the keyboard.) After outlining, I’ll complete the dreaded rough draft and finally I will edit the manuscript until I can’t read it anymore, send it to my critique partner for a second pair of eyes and finally, submit.
What is your favorite genre to read? Is it the one you also write in?
I enjoy reading all kinds of romance but my favorite is usually historical. What I love best about these stories is their very strong emphasis on romance. Historical heroes tend to have the best dialogue going and as a reader I find that very enjoyable. That said, I work hard to create the same feeling in my own romantic suspense stories. My goal is to have the best of both worlds—a story that bursts to life with vivid characters and dialogue, and a plot jazzed up with danger and suspense. Danger is a powerful element which has the ability to draw characters’ inner-most vulnerabilities to the surface. For me, that’s when the excitement begins—when a reluctant hero and heroine must turn to each other because they have no choice. Truth be told, I enjoy reading a mix of historical, suspenseful and contemporary romance because it keeps these ideas going fresh in my mind. I love reading multiple stories at once, and I feel that variety and escapism has the added benefit of helping me with my own writing.
At what point in your life did you decide to write a novel? What factors played into that decision?
I had just graduated from college, and I was in the process of trying to figure out what I wanted to make my career. I knew for quite some time that I wanted to write, but wasn’t sure what, or where to begin. I joined a critique group with some peers and on a whim, told the group I was going to “write a romance novel.” (I’d never actually read one!) Well, that first attempt will never quite see the light of day, however, I thoroughly enjoyed writing a novel and was determined to get it right. I started reading romance, and quickly realized what I already knew to be true—I’m a true romantic at heart. I honed my craft, drafted my first actual romance novel, joined Romance Writers of America and finally, New Jersey Romance Writers, where I made the biggest strides of my career and received my first offer of publication, which would become my debut novel, Dangerous Ally.
Are you a full-time author? Do you write anywhere and anytime or do you have a time and place set aside for writing?
I have played around with the idea of being a full-time author (twice) but each time I’ve done it I’ve found myself returning to work in a day job. As much as I enjoy writing, it can get lonely working on your own for hours and hours every day, cut off from the rest of the world. Having a day job breaks up that time. It also helps inspire me, because when I’m meeting new people, I’m also getting ideas for new storylines and characters.
I have taught myself to write anywhere, anytime, however on a day-to-day basis I usually write at night, in the living room. I have my laptop and my notebooks around me and of course music, which helps me to zone out whatever else might be going on.
Was there one particular person/persons who personally influenced you to write?
From the time I was six years old, my mother and I have watched Days of Our Lives together. As a little girl, I was entranced by the suspenseful scenarios and dramatic situations the characters would face in their daily lives. I believe my drive to write is inborn but my Mom introducing me to the world of characters at a young age definitely drove my creativity and jumpstarted my fascination with fiction. We still watch the soaps together to this day.
What about other authors that you read, did they influence the way you write or the genre you write in?
There have definitely been authors who have inspired me—too many to count. Jayne Ann Krentz, Robyn Carr, Nicola Cornick and Jessica Trapp are among my top favorites. At the end of the day I’m striving to create the best story I can, but to me, that means creating the greatest romance. As I immerse in the role of the heroine I’m reading about, I want to be swept off my feet and I want to be seduced—body, mind and soul. These are a few of the great authors out there who I feel can do this really well.
When you started this series, did you have in mind that it would be a series?
I never intended for The Pinnacles of Power to become a series. Though Dangerous Ally was the first story to be published, I wrote Dangerous Proposal first and it was supposed to be the one and only book of its kind. I realized that I had a great set of characters, and 4 other potential couples whose stories I needed to explore. There was Lilah Benson, hard-edged journalist and sister of heroine Lena Benson in Dangerous Proposal. And then there was Lucas Ramone, the handsome, lonely, misunderstood villain. I also wanted to know more about hero Alec Westwood’s mysterious older brother Colin, and Lena’s nosy roommate Julia Dyson. Jack Madera, the dangerously sexy Wiccan Lena meets while she’s on-the-run from her fiancé, had a story that needed to be told as well. I’m sure I won’t make every book I ever write be part of a series, but this one was screaming to be 5 books instead of 1.
What writing projects are you presently working on?
I’m writing the next edition to the Pinnacles of Power Series, which I hope to call Dangerous Secret. Like many of the other installments, the story will be set in the mountainous small town of North Conway, New Hampshire, but unlike the other stories it jumpstarts during the aftermath of a shocking murder. After that, I plan to write one more installment to the series, which will be Jack Madera’s story.
How do readers get in touch with you?
I’m very active on all of my social media and I can be found at the following links:
Siren BookStrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/jessica-lauryn
The Romance Reviews: http://www.theromancereviews.com/mypageprofile.php?location=JessicaLauryn
And now readers I have a question for you. Dangerous Proposal happens to be set in the spring/summer. Do you have a favorite season for romance? What is it and why? Comments for the book giveaway will remain open from January 28 through February 4, 2014. You will be contacted if you win.