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Friday, March 11, 2011

Welcome Author Jana Richards

YGR:  Where do you hail from? What do you love most about your hometown?

JR:  I come from a very small town in Saskatchewan, my home province in Western Canada. Actually, I grew up on a farm fourteen miles from that small town, way out in the boonies! The best thing about growing up on the farm was having plenty of space and lots of room to explore.

YGRR: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?

JR:  I wanted to do a lot of things when I was a kid, including being a teacher, a lawyer, and in high school, I thought about being a journalist. I suppose those old career aspirations help to make me curious about a lot of different subjects and I enjoy telling people about what I’ve learned.

YGRR:  What do you do for fun?

JR:  Like any good writer, I love to read! I only wish I had more time for it. I love going to movies and I probably watch way too much TV. I also enjoy yoga and Pilates, and walking my dog. I’ve recently taken up golf, though I have to admit that when I’m playing really badly, it’s not a lot of fun!
  
YGRR:  How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?

JR:  I think everything a writer experiences eventually finds its way into her writing in some fashion. The things I care about also enter my books, things like family and trust and friendship. In my contemporary romance “Till September”, I wrote about the problems facing farm families in Saskatchewan, a subject close to my heart.

YGRR:  Tell us about your latest book.  Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

JR:  My latest book, released in January 2011, is called “Flawless” and it’s a romantic suspense set during World War Two. Here’s a blurb:

France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.

Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.


My contribution to The Wild Rose Press’s Class of ’85 series is my next production in the works. I call it “The Girl Most Likely”:

Back in high school Cara McLeod was voted “the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage.” Now divorced, and in her words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty”, the high school golden girl feels like a failure. The thought of facing her old classmates and the ex-husband who dumped her, at the Summerville High School reunion is daunting. So when cajoled into attending by her daughters and her best friend, Cara vows to lose weight in the six weeks leading up to the reunion. She enlists the help of personal trainer Finn Cooper, who thinks Cara is beautiful just the way she is. She’s everything he wants, but Cara can’t get over the fact that Finn is eight years younger. Finn must convince her that age, and weight, are just numbers, or Cara may never realize how wonderful she truly is, and how right they are for each other.
 
YGRR:  How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

JR:  I try to find titles that mean something to the book. For example, “Flawless” refers to the priceless blue diamond the French Resistance is trying to steal from the Nazis. “The Girl Most Likely” is so named because in high school Cara was named “the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage”. In “Her Best Man”, when Sarah’s groom leaves her at the altar, she falls for the best man.

YGRR:  Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?

JR:  At the time I was writing “Till September”, farmers in Saskatchewan were holding big rallies to bring their financial problems to the attention of governments. Those stories inspired me to write about Hannah, a farmer struggling to survive financially. She falls in love with a man who threatens the continued existence of her small rural community and her way of life.  
  
YGRR:  How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?

JR:  I have a mix of both. In “Flawless” I carefully researched the facts surrounding World War Two and the French Resistance, although my story and characters are completely fictitious. But in “Burning Love” I leaned more towards fantasy. The story is about two unlikely lovers brought together by a couple of matchmaking angels in Heaven’s relationship division.

YGRR:  Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

JR:  Revision is definitely challenging. While it can be intimidating to stare at a blank screen when trying to write a first draft, I find bringing out the true story during the revision stage even more intimidating. Revisions are tough but I’ve learned to embrace them because it’s only in this stage that I learn what the story is really about.

YGRR:  What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

JR:  Take the time to learn your craft. Go to workshops, read books on writing, and then write, write, write. Realize that perseverance is your best friend. And while you’re at it, start developing a tough hide because this is tough business.

YGRR:  Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

JR:  I don’t generally suffer from writer’s block, but I do sometimes get stuck for a time on a project, not knowing which way to go with it. If I have a problem with my full-length novel, I’ll work on a short story for while, or maybe write a blog. Or maybe I’ll do some brainstorming and try to figure out my problem with my novel.
 
YGRR:  Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

JR:  I have several favorite authors that I love for different reasons. I’ve always loved Nora Roberts’ books for the exciting plots, great characters and put-you-there settings. Mary Balogh is my favorite historical author. She writes with such emotion and I love her strong characters. Suzanne Brockman is my favorite romantic suspense author. Who doesn’t like Navy Seal heroes, kick-ass heroines and edge of your seat plots?

YGRR:  How did you deal with rejection letters?

JR:  I’m not gonna lie; I didn’t deal well with rejection letters. They really bummed me out, and at one point they nearly stopped me from writing. But I persevered and pushed on. It was only when I started selling my work that I truly got over the rejection blues.

YGRR:  What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

JR:  A laptop with wireless Internet capability is great. You can take it outside on the deck, to coffee shops, and on vacation. A good dictionary and thesaurus, either print or online versions, are essential. And as far as emotional must-haves, how about a good work ethic, a thick skin to weather rejection, and a stubborn streak that won’t let you quit?  

YGRR:  Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

JR:  “Flawless” was set in World War Two, and some of the characters meet a violent end.

YGRR:  Which is your favorite of the books you have written?

JR:  I love each of my books for different reasons. “Her Best Man” was my first published book. I received an EPPIE nomination for “Seeing Things” and it was my first romantic suspense. I love “A Long Way from Eden” because of the emotion and conflict, and because the idea for it came from a friend. “Till September” is important to me because it’s set in my home province. “Burning Love” is my first fantasy novel. “Flawless” is my first historical. And I’m thrilled that “The Girl Most Likely” will be part of a series.

YGRR:  Where can we find you on the net?
JR:  You can find me at my website at http://www.janarichards.net

YGRR:  Where can we find out more about your books?

JR:  Check out my website or visit my blog at http://janarichards.blogspot.net



Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to paranormal suspense and romantic comedy.  She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side.  She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.

When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby. 
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, along with two university aged daughters and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou.

5 comments:

Regan said...

Hi Jana!

Great interview -- it seems I'm always finding out some new interesting tidbit about you!

Talk about ripped from the headlines - you said:

<<<< At the time I was writing “Till September”, farmers in Saskatchewan were holding big rallies to bring their financial problems to the attention of governments. Those stories inspired me to write about Hannah, a farmer struggling to survive financially. She falls in love with a man who threatens the continued existence of her small rural community and her way of life<<<

Is life imitating your art in Wiconsin? It sounds almost like what has happened there. There's definitely a book there!

Have a great weekend

Jana Richards said...

Hi Regan,
Thanks for stopping by. I had a couple of technical glitches (thanks for your help, Brynna!) so I'm glad you made it.

When people's backs are against the wall, we really see what they're made. I don't know if my art is imitating life in Wisconsin right now, but I know that I like to give my characters lots of obstacles to overcome, and a financial obstacle is definitely a biggie!

Cheers,
Jana

Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Jana,

I enjoyed your interview. I have family living in Canada and would love to visit there someday.

Flawless sounds intriguing with a jewel thief helping the French resistence. Congratulations!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Gail,
Speaking for all Canadians, we'd love to have you visit!

Take care,
Jana

Author Brynna Curry said...

Welcome, Jana.