|Author Jessica Lauryn|
Today I'm thrilled to interview author Jessica Lauryn for "Open Mic Monday." She's a romantic suspense author with two novels currently available, Dangerous Ally and Dangerous Proposal, both published via Siren-Bookstrand. Sit back and enjoy her words of wisdom.
When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
I was just out of college and in the midst of trying to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I had taken several writing classes in school, though, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to write, or whether I could possibly make a living doing it. A group of my peers formed a critique group, and I decided to join, figuring that was a great place to start. Having always loved romance, I decided on something of a whim that I would attempt to “write a romance novel.” (Minor technicality: I’d never actually read one!) I wrote up a short piece that stemmed from an old teenage crush, afterward deciding I needed to get my hands on a “real” romance novel, and “see how it was done.” From that day forward I was totally hooked ;)
Who were the biggest influences on you as a writer?
As I hadn’t really done any hard-core romance novel reading before plunging into a career writing it, I drew a lot of my initial inspiration from TV and movies. Smallville, a 10-year drama that showcased the teenage years of Superman, was a huge influence on me both as a person, and a writer. Not only was each episode unique and interesting, but each season seemed to stand on its own, as though it was a story in and of itself. I love the idea of connecting stories, building a word that is based almost exclusively on one small group of characters. Consequently, I found myself attempting to master the art of series writing very early in the game.
On average, how long does it take you to write a novel?
About one year. I know if I didn’t work during the day I could kick out more, but for the time being, that is my pace. And of course, this gives me room to grow as I improve and pick up speed ;)
Where do you find writing inspiration?
When I meet an especially unusual person, someone who seems a bit out of the ordinary, that tends to be the starting ground for a side character, or even a villain. As a single woman who has never been married before, (or found Mr. Right!) I tend to draw a lot of my hero-inspiration straight from my own desires. I’m most intrigued by heroes who are strong, yet flawed, in need of the help of an equally strong heroine to help them battle their inner demons.
What do you think makes a good story?
Great characters make a good story! I feel I’ve written a winner when my readers can slip into the shoes of my heroine, be terrified of my villain, and fall head-over-heels in love with my hero. A good plot carries a good story. But great characters make a piece that will be remembered long after reading the final page.
Is there a main genre besides romance that you'd like to write for?
Though my niche appears to be romantic suspense at the moment, I have recently considered the possibility of branching out into other sub genres such as historical romance and even erotica. I’m definitely swept away by the romance of romance and I have a feeling I will stay within the bounds of this genre for some time, perhaps branching off into one of these, or another spin off genre at some point.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jessica Trapp, Nicola Cornick and Catherine Coulter. Each of these class-A authors crafts stories about dynamic, memorable characters, which seem to be the books I can’t get enough of. I’m also a big fan of Kathryn Smith and Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz.
How important is reader feedback, good or bad, to you?
Reader feedback is very important to me! As a reader, I know how great I feel when I’m reading a story that’s so good, I can’t bring myself to put it down between chapters. (For me, this generally occurrs when the hero is taking a seductive lead, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next!) I want my readers to experience that same feeling when they read my stories. If there’s something they’d like to see that isn’t there, I want to know about it. If they love the story, I want to know that too!
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m big into antiquing, and I love searching for perfume bottles, furniture and jewelry that are from or remind me of the Victorian Era. I’m also a big fan of the soaps; I’ve been following Days of Our Lives for most of my life, and just recently started watching the Young and the Restless. (They also serve as dramatic inspiration for my writing, which is definitely a plus!)
What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
Write what you love! The best stories, the ones readers (and agents, and editors!) remember are the ones that come from your heart. Write what you love and, with practice, patience, and persistence, you WILL write your way to publication!
An excerpt of Dangerous Ally:
“Lilah, you’re a guest in this room, as well as this house,” Lucas said. “You don’t have to turn down my bed. That’s not why you’re here.”
“No.” She looked at the floor, avoiding his tender gaze. “I’m here because of the nightmare, which, I’ve basically put out of my mind. So, I think it’s time I started sleeping in my own room again.”
He came toward her, taking her hands in his. He lowered his voice. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Of course it wasn’t what she wanted. Dear God, she wanted him to rip the nightgown from her body and kiss every last inch of her skin! But if she stayed with him another night, that was exactly what was going to happen. She was beginning to forget why it was a bad thing.
“Have I done something to upset you?” Lucas asked, brushing her face with the tips of his fingers.
She shook her head, doing her best to ignore how warm he was making her feel. “Not at all. You’ve been wonderful to me, Lucas. Nicer than any guy’s ever been. I just can’t stay in this room another night. I’m afraid if I do, that I’ll…”
“If you do, that you’ll what?” He tipped her chin, forcing it upward. It was the first time he’d ever been rough with her. Or anything less than gentle for that matter. “You’re afraid I’ll take advantage of you?”
“Of course not. I—”
“Force you to be with me? Coerce you into a marriage and lock you away, like Lena believed I was going to? Maybe I haven’t changed, Lilah, and you saw what you wanted to in me to justify your own feelings. Go ahead. I won’t keep you when it’s obvious you’re no longer comfortable here.”
Her cheeks flamed with anger as she deliberately thought up the meanest thing she could say back. “Maybe you really are the monster everyone says.”
“If that’s true,” Lucas demanded, “then why didn’t it bother you last night? You’ve slept in my bed for two nights, not showing the slightest indication of fear. So why don’t you tell me the real reason you’re reluctant to stay here tonight?”
Lilah was dumbfounded. What could she say? That she couldn’t sleep in the same bed with him because she wanted him so badly it kept her up in the middle of the night? That she thought constantly of touching him, of inching her way against his body, of making the mistake she’d sworn she wouldn’t since the day they’d met?
“Do you think it was easy for me,” Lucas asked, his voice falling to a whisper, “lying next to you the last two nights, knowing you were right there and I could just reach out and touch your soft skin? No other man in his right mind would have undergone that amount of torture. Yet, I behaved like a gentleman. I did that because I care about you.”
His tone grew angered as he released her. “I can’t do it another night. If you stay with me, I won’t hold back. I’m giving you a choice. You can leave right now, and I’ll never pressure you about this again. It’ll be like it never happened.”
Lilah eyed the door, her last chance for escape. The sensible thing to do—the only thing to do—was leave, and never look back. But her legs remained in place. Her body ached with heat at the wicked thought of Lucas touching her, of him kissing her neck and throat, the sensitive spots behind her ears. She was dying for him to hold her against his body, to admire his broad chest. She’d never even seen him without a shirt.
“What are you waiting for?” he asked impatiently.
She took a deep breath. “I’m not leaving,” she said firmly.
“Then you leave me no choice,” he said and pressed his warm, open mouth against hers.
DANGEROUS ALLY, now available in both ebook and paperback from Bookstrand, Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com.
And don't forget Jessica's new release, Dangerous Proposal, now available via ebook direct from the publisher at BOOKSTRAND.COM.
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