Hey guys. Thank you for joining us at the Coffee Time Romance & More. Today I bring you the lovely Ms. J.A. Dennam to discuss her books and upcoming release.
So let us begin the interview. Ms. Dennam, thank you so much for taking time out and joining us. Please first help yourself to the yummy sweet and salty goodies in front of you and with your favorite beverage ranging from coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to delicious shakes and smoothies; sit back and make yourself comfortable before I bombard you with questions.
I just finished reading Truth & Humility and I absolutely loved it.
Please tell our readers about this book and how it differs from your award winning Flesh series?
I wrote my two Flesh books so many years ago, I was an inexperienced author with a complex. The stories are highly suspenseful and romantic, and the writing is pretty good (as the awards would suggest) but the sex isn't nearly as graphic as what is in Truth and Humility. Like most writers, I've matured and am no longer hung up on what my neighbors think of me :) T&H has all the suspense and romance WITH the graphic sex. The characters are a bit younger which is reflected in how they deal with their problems. I had the most fun writing Danny because she's so young, but also clever and incredibly brave. She can handle herself in any situation, and of course I test her on almost every page :)
What made you write this particular book rather than continuing with the Flesh series i.e. what was your inspiration behind it or background on this story?
Sometimes a story just haunts me in my sleep. That was the case with T&H. I never really planned on writing a third Flesh book until I published the first one. Then I realized, HELLO! SERIES! By then I'd already written T&H and gotten it out of my system. Sometimes, when I'm doing mundane chores, I drum up a story around it. In this case, I was junking some old factory equipment and decided there should be a great love story in there somewhere. It was hard work, I lost weight, toned up, felt pretty amazing. I created a character based on how I felt, but ten times better. And, of course, Danny needed an incredibly hawt man to test her strengths.
The heroine, Danny, balances her tomboy nature and femininity beautifully. She is comfortable in her own skin and confident about her skills. Is she based on someone you know or a completely imaginary character? Was it difficult to write about her, balancing all aspects of her personality or did the words flow naturally?
Danny is completely imaginary and everything I'd love to be. Her character flowed onto the pages pretty effortlessly. She and I both don't mind hard work, getting dirty, and going without makeup, but we love to be beautiful, too. I'm jealous of her confidence, strength, and skill, but it's much easier to write than practice.
*I hear ya.. Feel pretty jealous myself.. Thank goodness she is imaginary..* ;)
The main cast of characters are involved in demolition and salvage business; not afraid to get their hands dirty whilst working. Why this particular profession? Why not go for the regular white-collar business instead of hands on approach?
I don't remember ever reading a romance set in such a theme. Since I was surrounded by it, I thought I'd be the perfect author to try it. Why not? It's all about the odds and thinking outside the box.
What or who inspired you for the characters of Austin and Derek? Any interesting information you came across in your research which you applied while writing?
There's just something about two virile men who violently loathe each other that really turns me on. One of my favorite cable series has this kind of anger between men and I'd watch it while exercising. The strength radiated out of them and into my workout and I ate it up like the energizer bunny. The most important thing for me was to make my two alpha males as unique as possible. They have different personalities, habits and quirks. I didn't want them to be the two Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots.
*LoL.. Adrenaline rush does that.. Loved their connection and bonding though*
I really did not like Melanie and cannot figure out still why other characters loved her. Any insight about her?
Melanie is Danny's polar opposite. She's the ignorant fun girl who hasn't tackled real life yet. Danny views her as sort of a sister who constantly needs guidance. Of course, Melanie has quite a wake-up call in T&H after which her vulnerability really comes out. That's when she starts to grow up and realize that bad things happen to good people. By the end, her character has matured greatly.
You killed off one of my favorite characters: How dare you! *glaring at you* Why why why did you do such a cruel thing? Was it difficult to write that particular scene?
One of my favorite interview questions so far. Thank you for being the first to ask it!! This is one of those times when an author was led by the story. I didn't want to kill that particular character, but something extremely evil was pulling my strings. I knew it had to happen for the sake of the story so I made said character extra loveable. And, yes, I cried like a baby through the whole thing.
*Sniff* Still don’t forgive you.. Made me cry too.. :(
I found the chemistry between Austin and Danny sizzling. What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your characters?
I love a good mixture of fireworks and C4. Love that manages to grow against impossible odds and in spite of the characters. It's something that can't be helped. My couples don't want it and certainly don't expect it, but the chemistry doesn't care what they want. Lack of control. Yeah... it's extra frustrating and makes for an explosive spontaneous sex scene.
*OoooOooOoo yes.. Sizzling it was no doubt..*
Your writing creates a tangible atmosphere and reveals a depth of the subject; did this require a great deal of research or personal experience?
Thank you, that's a great compliment! Yes, I do love research and I also love writing about what I know. If I don't know what I'm talking about I'll try to at least sound like it. It's funny, I'll sometimes put three hours into research only to write two sentences. To me, it's worth it.
A birdie told me there is going to be a sequel to this book. *squeal* Can you tell us about it? Details details…
Yes! The sequel to T&H is called Between Faith and Fear. I fondly refer to it as BFF. It's by far the most action-packed book I've written. Very fast paced, dark and dangerous. Your favorite character, Melanie, (Lol!) will be the one sorely tested in this one. Someone from her past comes back to haunt her and she must decide if she should trust him or fear him. Considering how T&H ends, she's matured greatly under the weight of her responsibilities. We'll bring back many T&H characters, some we love to love and some we love to hate.
*Cannot wait to read it..* :D
On a personal note…
What does J.A stand for? Any particular reason for using first name initials instead of full name or is it a secret? *winks*
Julie Ann. Those are my real initials, though Dennam is a pseudonym. I chose initials because I don't write romance, I write kick-ass fire-in-your-shorts HEA's with tons of mystery and suspense. My stories are just as appealing to men as they are women and it sometimes helps if my name doesn't look flowery.
*True.. Name does create an impression on what type of book it may be..*
I have a similar habit of dreaming up stories especially when I have trouble sleeping at night like you mentioned in your biography. How was the transition from dreaming the stories up to actually putting them on paper? Easy, difficult, confusing etc. and how did you separate the story ideas from each other?
It was easier than expected to write my first story down. I loved it enough to want to get good at it, even when I wrote myself into a corner :) If I'm pantsing a story (writing by the seat of my pants) it's harder to keep things straight. I like to lightly outline and leave plenty of room for pantsing, which keeps the door open for more ideas. As far as keeping my story concepts separate, I have folders for future projects. All of them contain notes or even twenty thousand words of dialogue. That means they've haunted me and I purged them in some way until I can find the time to write them.
You also mentioned being a painter. Have you ever incorporated your stories into paintings or thought of using them as a book cover?
Yes on all counts! My first Flesh of Angels cover was one of my paintings, but it was a bit confusing so I changed it. I also painted a favorite couple.
Looking after four kids and hubby is not an easy feat. How do balance work life with family life? Are any other of your family members artistic?
I don't balance well. When I'm involved in a story, it's hard for me to break away from it and nurture my family. Now that I've made writing into a career, I'm learning how to prioritize a little better. Slowly but surely. All of us are artistic. My husband is very musical and can draw better than he admits. Our kids are all extremely talented either in fine art, music or literature. Once they find that focus, they'll be scary successful.
*They all sound great.. :)
What sort of environment do you require for writing? Music, quiet, chaos, dim lights etc or does not matter?
I prefer silence. Sometimes the scene demands it and that's when the earmuffs come out or I shut myself in the bedroom. I have too much going on in my cranium, which leaves no room for music or chaos. Though, I'm usually writing in the thick of it with four kids :)
How difficult is it to incorporate suspense & action into romance? Does it require outlining the story beforehand, go with the flow or both? Any misconceptions you faced while writing romantic suspense?
Action comes naturally to me. I find that things move along very quickly when I'm writing an action or sex scene (same thing!) It's the casual conversations or quiet moments I struggle with. As far as outlining, I know I'm going to write a car chase, but that one roadblock is a complete shocker!
Any other writing projects you are currently working on? Any plans on trying out other genres?
I'm in the process of outlining my third and final book in the Captive series. Once that is completed, I'll wrap up my Flesh series with Flesh of Innocents. That particular book has already been heavily outlined and I can't wait to take it up again (I've written two complete chapters) but my Captive series is what the fans are screaming for. Since T&H recently won an award of merit in the HOLT Medallion contest, that, too, is an award winning series!! Yay!
Other genres... maybe mystery, paranormal or erotica. Heck, it'll probably be all three wrapped into one since I'm such a rebel.
*I am sure you will excel in them as well..*
Is there a question you wish to answer but has never been asked by interviewers and readers?
*Snicker* Need I ask.. ;)
What do you feel is the most important aspect for all new authors to remember when writing or creating their own stories? Any personal experience you want to share with them about your journey?
When writing your first book, I wouldn't conform to any rules. Write it for yourself, not anyone else. Make it as long, complex, passionate, brutal or scandalous as you want. Do it to find your niche, then bang out a rule-following award winner for your readers. When you reach that point, word count is important (85K max), POV should be kept to a minimum and make sure it's professionally edited. My Flesh series doesn't follow any of those rules, yet it still managed to win awards. That's because I was so passionate about what I was writing the story counterweighed the shortcomings.
*I believe this is one of the best advice I have come across yet.. Thank you.. :)
What is the zaniest response you have had from a reader? And, if any, what is the most profound or memorable?
A Goodreads reviewer managed to put in words a screaming fan-rant worthy of an Elvis groupie. **Oooooh, Derek, you are the love of my life** kind of thing. It was hidden for spoilers, but I still like to read it on occasion. I guess the most profound and deeply appreciated would be when a reviewer said, "If anything, a story that evokes an emotional response deserves a higher rating in my opinion. May not be true for everyone, obviously." That was in reference to the reviewers who admittedly lowered their rating for the death of a beloved character. I read that one a dozen times when it was posted :)
*Hahaha.. I agree whole-heartedly with both the reviewers..*
Any last comments or message for all your readers out there and us, here at Coffee Time Romance and More?
Yes! If you haven't read Truth and Humility, I highly suggest getting your copy before August 31st in preparation for the sequel. Between Faith and Fear starts with a bang, rolls right into the shocker, and doesn't slow down until the very last page. But it comes with a warning label. If you're easily shocked, it's not the book for you.
Also, I'd like to thank Coffee Time Romance and especially you, Jeriha, for an interview that kept ME entertained for literally hours.
It was a pleasure having you here. I enjoyed a lot too and hope to have you join us again when your new book comes out. Thank you so much for taking time out to spend time with us here at Coffee Time Romance & More and giving us more insight to your books and writing. Best of luck and success to you. Readers I hope you also enjoyed as much as I did. I cannot wait for the next book. Thank you for your time. We would love to hear your feedback. See you next time with another great author.