My next guest is award-winning historical fiction author Jessica James. I read the description of her book and it sounds like my kind of story! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s Jessica’s official bio and then I’ll get right to the good stuff…
Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and everlasting love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day.
She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.
To combat the sedentary career of writing, Jessica works as a part-time stagehand at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pa., the “grandest small town theater in the nation.”
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
I began my career writing historical fiction (Civil War), and thought that’s what I would always write. However, a book called Meant To Be begged to be written and started me on a new path of romantic suspense and thrillers. Lacewood will be my first novel in the women’s fiction/mainstream romance genre, but it combines all of my favorite things…history, mystery, and a deeply poignant love story that spans the ages.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
I’ve always been fascinated by history and I’m drawn to old houses. Lacewood incorporates both of these and melds together some of my other favorite things, like small towns, country life, and majestic old trees. Our military is also very important to me so my heroes are usually soldiers or veterans. Lacewood focuses on a modern-day veteran and a soldier from the Civil War, so readers get two love stories for the price of one.
Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…
Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.
A powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with the present—and the present with eternity.
Note: Lacewood is on sale for $3.99 through 6/22/19!
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Jessica: I do all of my writing, editing, and reading on a very comfortable chair that I bought with money won through the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction. It was a big splurge, but well worth it!
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Jessica: I’m a morning writer and need complete silence (except for birds chirping).
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Jessica: Determination and a stubborn refusal to quit.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Jessica: For Lacewood, the thing that came first was sycamore trees. Strange, I know, but all of a sudden I began noticing them during my travels. (They are the trees with snowy white limbs). Most people would probably disregard this sudden fascination, but being a writer, I knew there must be a reason. I began to do research, and found that they were once called lacewood, due to the lacy pattern of bark on their trunks. Hmmm. Lacewood sounded like a good name for an old house…Imagine the stories it could tell… And thus, Lacewood was born.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Jessica: First thing in the morning is definitely my writing time. I try to avoid morning obligations as much as possible because that is definitely when my creative juices are flowing. Afternoon time is for mundane activities like marketing or catching up on emails.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Jessica: I read a lot of non-fiction for research. Reading fiction is a rare treat. I do make time to read whenever a new Vince Flynn novel is released.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Jessica: My bookshelves are mostly full of 19th century or early 20th century books. I did tons of research in the early days of writing historical fiction in order to get a feel for the flow of words and use of vocabulary in the Victorian era. Those books are now impossible to part with.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Jessica: I took a part-time job when I began writing seriously because I found that I was spending 12 hours a day (or more) sitting in a chair. The job was as a stagehand at a performing arts center, which can be very physical on show days. That was about 14 years ago, and I’m still there, working everything from orchestra concerts to operas, Broadway shows, comedy acts, and top touring bands. It’s a perfect fit for me.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Jessica: I wish readers knew how much authors value their feedback, and how important reviews are to us. If you like a book, take the time to write a short review or spread the news through social media. It is much appreciated!
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Jessica: A-B-C. Attach Butt to Chair.
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Jessica: Readers have been begging me to continue my Phantom Force Tactical series, so I think that’s where I’m heading next.
Thanks for sharing about your writing and your stories, Jessica! It must be fun to be involved with the theater, too. I’m off to buy Lacewood… Happy reading, all!
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