Q&A with Jana Richards
France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.
I had a great time doing the research and writing for this story. It’s my first historical, and the first story I’ve set outside of North America. I hope to write more stories set in this fascinating time period.
2. Can you tell us a little about your favorite scene in the story?
One of my favorite scenes occurs shortly after Hunter Smith arrives at the Chateau de Maisoneuve, pretending to be a gardener, but really there to steal the rare, and valuable blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu. Madeleine is being accosted by Nazi General Klaus Dietrich. She is certain he is about to rape her, when suddenly Hunter appears, claiming to be her husband! Everything changes after that. For the sake of the mission, they are forced to live together as man and wife, even though Madeleine suspects Hunter of a betrayal that led to the death of her husband.
3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
That goes back quite a long way. I’ve always had an interest in writing and especially in reading. For as long as I can remember I’ve been making up little stories in my head. But I didn’t try putting them down on paper until about 15 years ago. That’s when I read my first romance novel and became totally addicted. In my naivety and supreme ignorance I thought “I could do that!” Turns out publishing is way more complicated then slapping a few words on the page, sending them to a publisher, and then sitting back and waiting for the royalties to roll in. Who knew?
4. Where do you get your information or ideas for your stories?
Ideas are all around us. Sometimes the lyrics to a song speak to me and give me inspiration. Stories in the newspaper often spark ideas. I clip interesting and unusual stories all the time. For instance, I clipped one story about a man who suddenly woke up after being in a coma for many years. What if his world was totally different when he awoke? What if the woman he thought he was in love with was trying to kill him? You get the idea. You can take a simple news story, ask a lot of what if questions, and you may have the beginnings of a novel.
Or sometimes the ideas are inspired by a direct request from a publisher. For instance, “Flawless” was born when The Wild Rose Press put out a call for stories in the Jewels of the Night series. The only requirement given was that the story be a romantic suspense and have something to do with a blue diamond. The rest came out of many ‘what if?’ questions.
For information or research I mostly turn to the Internet. It’s possible to find out almost anything. For “Flawless” I researched everything from the history of the period, and the French Resistance, to the history of the flashlight (did they exist in the 1940s?) and how to pick the lock of a safe. However great the Internet is for research, I still enjoy reading books on my chosen subject.
5. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
You mean aside from writing in organized chaos? You’d know what I mean if you saw my desk! But seriously, I guess my writing quirk is that I’m not a writer who can spend only a few minutes a day writing. I seem to work best when I can devote several days totally concentrating on the writing. To that end, I’m looking forward to my writing group’s Book in a Week in January.
6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The promotion! I thought the hard part was writing the books. But I quickly discovered that writing the book is only the beginning.
7. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
My writing groups have been a source of inspiration and help and cheerleading for many years, first Saskatchewan Romance Writers (http://www.saskromancewriters.4t.com/) and then Lover’s Knot. There have been times when I’ve thought I had enough of this crazy business, and advice or wisdom from one of my writing friends has pulled me through.
8. What does your family think about your career as a published author?
I think they think I’m a little strange! It might have to do with talking to myself on occasion. But they’ve been supportive and helpful, especially my husband, who is my computer guru and tech support. He even cooks for me!
9. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
I enjoy gardening, reading, going to live plays, yoga, walks with my dog (I’m crazy about my dog!), travel, and golf.
10. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise?
I’m waiting to hear if The Wild Rose Press is interested in my novella “The Girl Most Likely” for their Class of ’85 series, which is a series of stories about graduates headed to their 25 year high school reunion. I’m also working on my WIP “Welcome to Paradise” about a woman who returns to her hometown after her marriage and her career both implode. And in January for my Book in a Week project, I plan to work on a piece I call “Always a Bridesmaid”. This story is meant to be part of a three book series that began with my published novel “Her Best Man” available from http://www.uncialpress.com/ Every book in the series begins with someone being left at the altar.
11. How can readers connect with you online?
Readers can find me at my website http://www.janarichards.net/ I’d also love them to drop by blog at http://janarichards.blogspot.com/ or friend me at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jana-Richards/157005711005866
Thank you for having me. It was fun!