Thursday, August 28, 2014

Q & A with Jennifer Hayward!

1.  Tell us about your newest release.

Changing Constantinou’s Game is the story of New York City reporter, Isabel Peters, who is on the verge of her greatest career breakthrough as she auditions for an anchor job. However her first and only one-night-stand with a gorgeous Greek is about to complicate things as he becomes her biggest story and Izzie is forced to choose between her career and love.

2.  What makes your story special to you? 

My heroine, Izzie, really makes this a story that hits me deep down. She embodies so many of the hopes and insecurities we all have as women, yet when fate puts her in the path of the man of her dreams, she doesn’t shy away from the chance encounter like many of us have done – she goes for it! It may get her into hot water after the fact, but she never regrets her decision to seize the moment after her and Alex’s near death experience.

3.  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I wrote my first manuscript for Harlequin when I was nineteen and I knew then that that was what I wanted to do. But I didn’t have enough life experience to write those types of deeply emotional books. So I took my very nice rejection from a senior editor and carried it with me through a career in journalism and PR. But I always came back to the love of writing. When my bosses would ask me in performance reviews, “Where do you want to be in five years?”, I would say, “Writing books…” Not career limiting… really. Then later on in life, I finally cut back on my work schedule so I could write more and was having some success with submissions when I won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition in 2012 and my first book contract.

4. What is a typical writing day like? 

I drop my son off at school, answer a few emails, find out what’s going on in the world, then I sit down and write until I pick my son up from school. Sometimes I will have freelance PR work to do and I slot it in either then or at night. I’m a very disciplined person, working at home has always been about working. If I’m on deadline or working on a scene my head is really deep in I might write again at night, but I’m trying to avoid that as the brain needs a rest to remain creative.

5. Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit?

I’m a planner with my books. I need to know my characters inside out before I begin and at least my key turning points of the story/plot. But I just realized with my last synopsis, I don’t like to commmit on an ending – I’d rather write – “I’ll do something really fun here to tie things up” to my editor. Because I want the book and the characters to tell me the ending. And it often changes. Sometimes twice J Some writers are like this with beginnings – for me it’s endings. They are so crucial to me because they’re a reader’s last impression, what will be in their heads when they see another of my books on the shelf. I want to knock their socks off.

6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned as a published author? 

I’m not sure anything really surprised me. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the need to tune out the noise. You’re trying to sit down and write the best book you can, but there is so much else going on – promoting  your book, reviews, sales, responding to readers. It’s been interesting to me that some of the things some readers love about my books, others don’t like at all. So I’m learning also that I can’t be all things to all people – I have to be true to myself in the books I write. I’m not saying I’ve mastered this J I think it takes time.

7. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?

Oh gosh, so many. I developed so many friendships when I participated in Mills & Boon’s New Voices competition that carried through to So You Think You Can Write. We have supported each other in the most amazing way. I would say authors like Judith McNaught and all those amazing Harlequin Presents authors like Michelle Reid, Sandra Marton, Sarah Morgan and Kelly Hunter – they just wrote such great stories that made me want to write a Presents. And then there’s the great mentors I’ve had to get me here – Sharon Kendrick, Linda Style and Connie Flynn – they've played a big role as teachers in getting me where I am.

8. What does your family think about your career as a published author?

They love it! My dad, who’s a surgeon, chats me up at medical dinners – I just love that. And my brother has helped me with my website. My sister, a big fan of romance, has trooped along to conferences with me. And my mother is my biggest fan – that’s special. And I can’t forget my husband who let me quit my job to write – he’s amazing!

9. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?

I am a huge fan of travelling, pretty much anywhere a plane will take me. I also love to exercise and hike in beautiful places – my trips to Tuscany have been amazing for that. I’m also a member of an eleven-year-strong book club with ten amazing women I adore.

10. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise? 

My next release after Changing Constantinou’s Game is in Dec for Harlequin Presents. It’s called The Magnate’s Manifesto. I’m really excited with this one as I wanted to push the boundaries with this heroine. I saw a TV show about a Las Vegas stripper who had bought herself multiple properties and really set herself up economically for life as a dancer. And I thought what if I create a heroine in Bailey, who comes from a poor background, who puts herself through school as a stripper, becomes a high-powered marketing executive and then one day, her past comes barreling back to haunt her just when she thinks she’s put it all behind her. I actually interviewed a former Las Vegas stripper for the book and it was fascinating. In the Magnate’s Manifesto I paired Bailey with a Silicon Valley billionaire who writes a manifesto about women that creates an incident of international female indignation – he’s her boss. You can imagine what happens when you put these two together! Both of them learn some big lessons about who they thought they were. You can find a teaser here.

11. How can readers connect with you online?

You can find me at my website where you can sign up for my quarterly newsletter. Or you can find me on twitter and facebook. I love to hear from readers!

Changing Constantinou’s Game - Book Blurb

One kiss couldn't hurt, could it? 

Alexios Constantinou is notorious for his lethal charm, so when the exquisite Isabel Peters is—literally—dropped into his lap during a hellish elevator ride, he doesn't waste the opportunity! With tensions sky-high after their near-death experience, an insatiable desire ignites between them, and all bets are off. 

But when Alex discovers that reporter Isabel's next story is him, he's furious…yet determined to use it to his advantage. He's calling the shots, but the closer Isabel gets, the closer she comes to discovering his carefully concealed secret. Now, with everything at stake, he'll need a whole new game plan….

Changing Constantinou’s Game - Excerpt

Izzie focused on forking the small amount of food she thought she could consume into her mouth at the small candlelit table Alex had set on the terrace. The herbed pasta was delicious, but it was hard to eat when her heart was still pounding and her hands trembling so much negotiating a fork seemed like a new and highly complex activity. And why wouldn't it when she had literally jumped into the deep end and invited the most spectacularly good looking man she'd ever met to kiss her--and he had!  Not to mention the fact that the kiss had been the most incredible of her life and all she could think about was experiencing more of the bone-meltingly delicious heat that had coursed through her veins. It was like every nerve ending in her body had been switched on for the first time and she wasn't sure whether to revel in it or be completely terrified of what she was feeling.

She swallowed hard, forced down the food. The fact that she'd been right--that Alex was attracted to her--made her head feel like it was going to blow off.  Maybe Jo was right. Maybe it had been her defensive attitude that had turned men off in the past and not the fifteen extra pounds she'd been carrying. Which had always been her excuse.

She took another sip of the rich, full Cabernet that was going a long way to mellowing her out. But the wine didn't seem to be having the same effect on Alex who'd glowered at her throughout the entire meal-as if she'd committed a crime rather than simply kissed him.

She risked a quick glance at him.  He was still watching her with that same, implacable frown on his face, that penetrating blue gaze of his impossible to read. And it occurred to her she hadn't fully thought through her plan. She had the mind numbing confirmation he was attracted to her...the question now was what was she going to do about it?

Her heart pounding in her chest, she set her fork down with an abrupt movement, and the sound of metal clattering against fine china echoed in the still night air.

He gave her half-empty plate a narrowed glance. "That's all you're going to eat?"

"It was delicious, thank you. I think that's about all I can handle.'
"All right." He laid his fork down with a deliberate movement and pushed his plate away.  "Let's talk about what happened."

Gladly.  She took another sip of her wine to fortify herself and set the glass down.

"That kiss shouldn't have happened."

She was ready for that one.  "Why not?

"I'm much more experienced than you, Isabel. I'm not interested in relationships, in fact mine never last longer than a few months, and the women I date are well aware of that."


He did a double take at the belligerent note in her voice. "You're also probably still in shock from what happened today."

"I'm absolutely fine," she countered.  "In fact I feel like I have more clarity right now than I've ever had in my life."

He sat back in his chair, his gaze on her face.  "What kind of clarity?"

She twisted the stem of her wine glass on the table, watching the blood red liquid shimmer in the candlelight. "That was my worst fear today. Facing it-getting through it-" she paused, looking up at him, "--it's made me realize how much of my life I've lived in many times I've not gone after what I wanted because I was afraid I wouldn't get it or it would explode in my face."

He gave a wary nod.  "That's a good realization."

She shook her head.  "I'm not looking for a relationship, Alex." A husky laugh escaped her.  "In fact, that's the last thing I need right now."

His eyes narrowed. "Then what are you looking for?"

"I don't want to live with any more regrets."

He shook his head, a wry smile curving his lips. "You're twenty-five, Isabel. How many regrets can you have?"

She took a deep breath, meeting his gaze head-on. "I will regret it if I walk away from tonight without exploring the attraction that's between us."

A muscle jumped in his jaw.  He sat there completely silent, staring at her.  "I'm not sure you know what you're doing."

She shook her head.  "I know exactly what I'm doing."

A long moment passed, it might have been four, five seconds, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she was holding her breath, sure at one point he was going to reject her. The warm night air pressed so heavily against her lungs she thought they would burst.  And then something shifted, morphed on the air between them. And she got her answer in the darkening of his eyes.



JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst.
Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books and sign up for her newsletter at her website. Or you can find her on twitter and facebook.

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