SMP: Janna, welcome! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
Janna: I have a huge family which I refer to as my tribe. It consists of 1 husband, 7 children plus 7 significant others or spouses, and 23 grandchildren, for a grand total of 39 including me. When we all get together we have a great time.
Besides being my family, they are my 38 cheerleaders who stand beside me and encourage me in my writing career. I consider myself extremely blessed to have them in my life.
SMP: Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
Janna: I’m never without pen and paper. Whether it is to write ideas down or make a list, they are my constant companion. I’m one of those people who makes lists for everything. Besides, I never know when ideas are going to pop into my head.
My children think I’m neurotic. I like to think of myself as being prepared.
SMP: When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
Janna: As far back as I can remember I’ve always wanted to write, but I never really thought I’d actually be able to write something worthy of print. I took a serious look at writing as a career after my father died. I wrote a journal for my family that chronicled my ancestors’ lives so my descendants would have some understanding of their heritage. What started out as a small journal, within two weeks, turned into a full manuscript. That’s when I seriously thought of writing a romance novel. I figured if I had that many thoughts and words floating around in my head, I should be able to harness some of them into a book.
SMP: How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
Janna: It took me about three months to complete the first rough draft of my manuscript. Once I sat down to write, the words flew from my fingertips onto the computer screen faster than I could type. Of course it took a lot longer to fine tune it.
SMP: Tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
Janna: Soft lights and music usually steers my mind in a totally different direction than writing. I like to write in my kitchen with my miniature schnauzer lounging on the floor next to my chair. My husband is the next room, which is connected to my kitchen, so I can write and still spend time with him.
As far as what pushes me forward so I can write, it’s waking up in the morning. The first thought that comes into my mind upon waking is I can’t wait to start writing. (Let me rephrase – the second thing – the first being of a more amorous nature. Hence, I write romance novels.)
SMP: What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Janna: I have to keep a few secrets, but I will reveal there is a little bit of my life in each of my books.
SMP: Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that….”
Janna: I couldn’t name specific novels that have lifted me, because I love to read everything. I read one or more books a day as a daily regime.
There are many authors however, that have influenced me. Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss, plus a multitude of others have all had an impact on my decision to write romance novels. But I have always loved the classic writers also such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Edgar Allan Poe. Playwrights like Sophocles and William Shakespeare as well as Philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato have also influenced me.
SMP: Let’s talk about romance. How do you set the mood for your characters, what do you draw from that helps your H/H achieve oneness with each other? And how much conflict do you give them, along the way?
Janna: I draw from life. Being married to a romantic man helps me, as well as experiencing a deep love. I also draw from my parents’ marriage. They were married for 65 years and always had a deep, complete love for each other. Up until the age of 90, when they passed away, it was not unusual to see them holding hands, or to see my father’s arm around my mother’s shoulders, or even frequently catch them smooching. They had a true love, and I might add, it was love at first sight. I’ve also drawn from my children’s relationships and have seen the love manifested in their lives.
SMP: What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
Janna: Everything about writing is a shining moment for me. But if I had to pick one thing, then I would have to say when I signed my contract with Soul Mate Publishing. Up until that time I harbored many doubts as to my ability to write something people would want to read.
SMP: Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
- 1. My laptop – an indispensable tool. I love modern technology.
- 2. My husband – who reminds me he’s around at least once every hour, either with a touch or with laughter – another indispensable tool.
- 3. My dog – he stays by my side the whole time I’m writing. He won’t go to bed until I do.
- 4. Coffee – my blood is almost 100% pure caffeine.
- 5. My iPod – have to have my music.
SMP: Writers face many challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Janna: Self-doubt is a big one. I lose perspective every so often but my cheer team (family) throws me right back into the fire.
SMP: What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Janna: Writing a story that gives readers hopes and dreams. I know a lot of people don’t consider romance novels as books that inspire people, but I’m proof that they do. My first marriage was an extremely abusive relationship. During that dark period of my life there were few things that made me happy. Reading my romance novels was one of them. Not only did they bring some sunshine into my life, but they also gave me hope and eventually helped me find the courage to leave my first husband and find the love and happiness I’ve found with my second husband.
I hope my books entertain readers and bring enjoyment into their lives. I also hope they give women who are trapped in abusive relationships the courage to reach for a better life and hopefully find someone who truly loves them.
SMP: What aspects of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Janna: Plotting. Even though I have an almost obsessive compulsion when it comes to organization in most aspects of my life, I’m a pantser in my writing. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I can’t plot a book to save my life. When I write, I sit down with an inkling of how I want my story to go, but the characters invade my brain and take over. It’s like being attacked by brain eaters. My characters take over the story right from the beginning and I just go with the flow. By the time I’m done, my manuscript doesn’t resemble my original story in any way, shape, or form.
SMP: Who or what sparks the ideas for your stories?
Janna: Life sparks my ideas. There are millions of things around me that catch my attention and make my imagination go wild. But I think my family has the most influence on my writing. I’m an observer. I like to look at everything around me and then file it in my memory. Like I said earlier, there is some aspect of my life in each book I write.
SMP: Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
Janna: I just finished a book about a woman who, because of prior experiences, believes she’s incapable of love and doesn’t want a man in her life. And a playboy who’s convinced that women are just objects to be enjoyed lightly but never seriously. Enter fate, the catalyst that throws both of their lives in turmoil.
I’ve just begun the sequel to Fair Play but it’s anyone’s guess where that story will go. I’m leaving it up to the characters and fate.
Forced to live a clandestine life, Danielle “Dani” Jordon believes she has found a safe haven in Las Vegas until she meets devastatingly handsome casino owner Jace Diamond. With his compelling sexual magnetism and mind-numbing kisses, Dani finds her world turned upside-down.
Inexplicably drawn to her, Jace embarks on a relentless pursuit to make Dani his. It isn’t long before he finds himself totally in love, but can he convince Dani that she belongs with him?
Resisting the most compelling man she has ever met proves to be a task Dani doesn’t have the strength to fight. Trapped in her life of deceit, Dani is afraid to admit her growing love for Jace. Can Dani take the chance and trust Jace to provide the sanctuary she so desperately needs or will that trust lead to exposure of her secrets and destroy her life?
SMP: Janna, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Janna Shay’s debut novel, FAIR PLAY, has a release date of May 2, and will be available at Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
One lucky commenter will win an ebook copy of FAIR PLAY! Please include your email address in your comment.