Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Interview with author J. Rose Allister
Today my guest is fantasy romance author, J. Rose Allister, who is talking about her latest release, Suite Seduction.
1) Tell me a little about your book.
SUITE SEDUCTION is the first in a series of contemporary fantasy/romance tales all set at the same unique Bahamas resort. Think of it as Fantasy Island meets a romance novel. The setting possesses unique paranormal energies that not only have a palpable effect on guests, but draws a variety of supernatural beings to the island. In this tale, demigods Love and Lust play a game of matchmaker in a contest to see which of their powers are greater. The humans they involve in this scheme have to deal with the consequences, and they are completely unaware that anything supernatural is stirring their drama from behind the scenes.
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
It started off as a response to a call for submissions I’d seen somewhere for “two strangers meet” stories. I wrote a purely contemporary romance was involving a hotel room mix-up gone awry. As soon as it was finished my muse whispered, “The room mix-up was no accident.” I was immediately intrigued and chewed on that for a while, and the result was the discovery of supernatural meddling and secrets on the island. Once I had that aspect to play with, I went back and revised SUITE SEDUCTION and spent much of the next year and a half writing more books in that setting—and the IMMORTAL PARADISE series was born. TROPICAL HEAT, SEDUCED BY AN ANGEL, and IMMORTAL MENAGE are coming in 2011, and more ideas are in the works!
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a full-time writer part of the time, if that makes any sense! What I mean by that is that I don’t write year-round, but when I’m in the midst of a writing spurt I typically put in a hefty amount of hours doing it. I take breaks between writing marathons to recharge my creative batteries and to prevent burnout, usually anywhere between one and three months long (though I find I start to get squirrely after about two months of downtime). Since I have a full-time outside job and home school a first grader, writing time is hard won. I don’t have an organized schedule. I tend to do much of my writing very late at night, after I come home from the “other job.” This means writing after midnight, often until as late as four or five a.m. When I’m on a real roll, I’ll also write in the morning before work. When I’m in “the mode” and not actively writing, I set my brain on autopilot to start running through the next scene(s) to keep momentum going. So it’s rather an immersive experience while I’m doing it.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve heard many writers answer that they started writing as a child, and that’s true of me as well. Though I can’t really say I knew then and there that I was destined to do this when I grew up. I liked crafting tales (including some tall ones on the spur!), but I forgot all about that once teen angst gave way to the work-marriage-kids deal. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties, after I’d fallen into writing newsletter articles and a couple of nonfiction books, that I realized what I really wanted to do was write fiction. That to me is when I truly knew—when I was willing to drop a lot of “free” time into reading whatever I could get my hands on about crafting fiction and do writing exercises every day in order to learn.
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
My writing is purely for the entertainment of it. As an avid reader and movie-watcher, I love that sense of enjoyment that comes from taking a break to immerse myself in a different world for a bit. There’s this certain satisfied smile I get after finishing a book or film that does that for me—I’m wearing that smile right now as I think about that feeling. If my readers finish one of my tales and have that satisfied feeling and smile, then I’ve done my job and I’m thrilled for it.
6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
When I first started off, I thought I was all over the map genre-wise. It took a few years to realize that most of my work had some kind of romantic element to it—even my most serious murder mystery stuff had a love interest or romance subplot. I started to focus on the romance angle and found I truly enjoyed it. I like the challenge of taking something as formulaic as romance and capturing something within that structure that makes it unique. That’s probably why I also write a lot of paranormal romance, as that supernatural element offers me the chance to craft twists and turns along the road to Happily Ever After that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I also happen to love fantasy and paranormal in my own reading and movie/TV habits, so I’m sure that’s part of it as well. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, True Blood, Twilight, Vampire Diaries…yep, I’m an otherworldly gal at heart.
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
That answer fluctuates for me over the years. Right now I’d have to say the toughest part is the time factor. I’d had that fairly well ironed out until this past year. Now things have gotten quite busy in my “other” life and that makes the juggling act difficult. I’ve learned to cope by just writing what I can, when I can—and that trick of “auto-piloting” my brain to plot and write in the background while I’m sleeping or doing other things. Still, there are plenty of days again this year where I don’t go to bed until five a.m. and yet still feel I didn’t accomplish as much as I needed to.
8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Julietta is not much like me at all. She is much more indecisive, for one thing, especially on the subject of romance. I’m more the grab-it-and-run type. She also has better wardrobe. On the other hand, we both have a love of the water and a rather smart-aleck sense of humor.
9 What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I did some research on the Atlantic ocean, coral reefs, and the Bahamas in general. I also looked at loads of luxury resorts worldwide while crafting the setting’s amenities, dining solutions, and pricing.
10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Not as a general rule. I learned to overcome the initial weirdness of writing mature scenes by taking a couple workshops and just doing it. In terms of violence, I started off doing horror and murder mystery, and since the stories are merely fiction I don’t typically have issues with writing it. There was one night, though, when I was writing a tense chase sequence between my protagonist and a serial killer. It was very late and pitch black in the house, save for my computer screen. I was so into the scene that I didn’t hear my then-toddler get out of bed and come up to my desk. When she leaned against me I about hit the ceiling!
11) What about your book makes it special?
Not only does the exclusive Bahamas resort feature a lush and exotic setting, but the fact that gods Love and Lust reside there make this not your ordinary romantic getaway destination. And in this first book, the gods’ meddling winds up causing drama with the main character’s other partners that makes this atypical from the average romance.
12) What is your marketing plan?
Since I am a big devotee of digital publishing, my marketing plan revolves around online venues such as social networks, blogs, and Yahoo groups. I try to sign up for blog hops. I’m also all about fun stuff. I do video trailers, offer hidden “Easter Eggs” on my site that lead to sneak peeks and such, and run contests for the sheer fun of it even though I hear very mixed impressions of whether these things are viable marketing ideas. Mostly I hope to impart that sense of fun I mentioned wanting to leave readers with. If I do, everyone gets “happy points” out of the deal. Maybe one out of a hundred buys a book, who knows? I like to find hidden treasures and win stuff, so I figure other folks do, too. I’ve also run a birthday club in the past that I plan to start up again, where readers sign up to receive a greeting and exclusive free read on their special day.
13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a website at http://jroseallister.com. My blog, The Power of Passion, is at http://jroseallister.blogspot.com. And I’m on Facebook and Twitter: http://facebook.com/jroseallister and http://twitter.com/jroseallister.
14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
It can be easier to break in with a romance publisher if you research the type of stories hit their bestseller list and submit to the ones that do well with the type of story you have. Also, keep that research current, because popular trends in romantic subgenre can change rapidly—and may differ between publishing houses. One might be all about vampires, while others have moved onto hot cowboys. A lot of ebook authors publish with multiple houses for this and other reasons, so it’s worth the time to investigate what to submit where.