Today we continue a celebration of romance authors here in My Writing Corner. My guest this week is Debra St. John, whose latest book is This Feels Like Home. Welcome, Debra. Tell me about your writing journey. How did you get started?
In high school I wrote several really bad romances. The ideas actually had merit, but I knew nothing about writing itself. No GMC, plenty of head hopping, and enough intruders to make me wince. I still have those early manuscripts. Maybe someday I'll revisit them long enough to turn them into something readable.
Even after those first sad attempts, the desire to write a romance always stayed with me. After I graduated from college, I happened to meet a gal who was a member of a local writing organization. She invited me to a chapter meeting, and the rest is history. I joined my local RWA chapter, learned all I could about writing a romance, and had my fist book published in 2008.
I just contracted my eighth title with The Wild Rose Press, and I continue to learn new things about my writing every day.
You mention on your website that you fell in love with romance when you started reading it in high school. Who were your early favorites?
I had a subscription to Harlequin American Romance. Every month four shiny new silver novels arrived on my doorstep. It usually took me all of four days to read through them, which left me impatiently waiting for next month to arrive.
Who are some of your favorite authors in your genre now?
Fellow chapter-mate Julie Ann Walker is a must read for me. Her Black Knights Inc. series is to die for. But since I've been writing romance, I tend to read other things. Reading a book and trying to write a book in the same genre tends to muddle my mind. I really enjoy cozy mysteries now. Denise Swanson, Kate Collins, and Joelle Charbonneau are some of my go-to authors.
Please tell us more about your new book, This Feels Like Home. How you got the idea for it?
Cowboys are one of my favorite kinds of heroes. I knew I wanted to write about one someday. I'd already introduced Jake in the first book in the series as a bull rider, knowing I'd be giving him his own story at some point. I did a lot of (really fun) research - attending rodeos, watching the PBR on tv - to make him as authentic as possible. It took me a bit longer to come up with my heroine, but eventually I paired him with someone who was afraid of the dangers of extreme sports...and thus my external conflict took shape.
This book is the third part of a series. As someone who is presently working on a series, I know they can be challenging. What made you want to do a series?
I love being able to stay in a place I've created and learn more about it. A series also lets me (and my readers) peek into the lives of other characters besides the hero and heroine. It's fun to be able to see what happens to a particular couple after their happily ever after.
For other writers considering writing a series, what was the most difficult part of doing a series?
By the time I got to the third book, there were some things I wished I could go back and change about the first two. Maybe just a small detail inserted here or there to better tie in later books. Or characters I wish I'd mentioned so it made more sense when they appeared in the third book.
What do you like best about your hero and heroine?
Since Jake's been around for a long time as a secondary character in two other books, it was so fun to finally give him his own story. Finding the perfect heroine for him was a challenge...who could ever be good enough?...but after many revisions, Amber took shape and became the one he'd share his heart with.
What are you working on now?
I just received the first round of edits on a new book I contracted last month. Those will keep me busy for a bit. I also have another manuscript I'm working on...when I have 'spare' time, which isn't often lately. I've also found that although Jake's story is technically the last in my series, I'm not willing to let the characters and place I've grown to love go. So, I have some spin-off ideas for several novellas percolating in my head.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
A great big thanks to Rebecca for having me here today.
How can readers reach you?
Thank you so much for being a guest here in my Writing Corner.