SMP: Jamie, Welcome! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
Jamie: I’m a fulltime writer and dedicated Bloodhound mom! While I’ve written several novels and been published in nonfiction, Prince Charming, Inc. was my fist novel to get picked up by Soul Mate Publishing.
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?
Jamie: I’m a late bloomer. Reading has always been a big part of who I am, writing didn’t come until later. The idea of putting words on paper and selling it to a publisher didn’t occur to me until I was in my 20s.
SMP: When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
Jamie: 1999 was a year of firsts for me. First writing conference, first critique group, first manuscript. A year later, I carried my magnum opus to a big, regional conference where I had no luck pitching it at all… but I met my husband. Not bad!
SMP: How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
Jamie: There’s a fantasy image I have of me writing… overwhelmed with passion (with perfect hair and nails, wearing designer clothes) sparks fly from my fingertips as I break the sound barrier with my typing speed. The words gather, build, then flow to a great crescendo. Wait, that’s Meryl Streep playing romance diva Mary Fisher in “She-Devil.” Reality is more like a lot of hours at the keys, that stretch over months; yoga pants and a hoodie. And then there’s another book.
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?
Jamie: What sets my mood and pushes me forward? Thoughts of abject poverty! I’d love soft lights and music, but there is only one way I can get my pages done… and that’s to zone out and put my butt in the chair. Luckily, my dog likes to stretch out behind my balance chair and keeps me trapped at the keys until she decides she needs to go out for break.
SMP: What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Jamie: During my 20s I worked graveyard shifts as well as a second job. In order to “have a life” back then, I’d travel. China, including Tibet and Mongolia, Europe, and Mexico. Traveling gave me the confidence I needed to keep going back to the keys those first few years. Those experiences often found their way to the page.
After immigrating to the United States, I discovered I had a bit of a knack for matchmaking and I married off four of my friends. Eventually that skill found its way into my pages, too!
SMP: Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that….”
Jamie: Like most writers, I’ve got my five. Five life-altering novels. In no particular order: East of Eden, To Kill a Mockingbird, Life of Pi, Confederacy of Dunces, and House of Mirth. Not to spoil the ending, but I remember throwing Edith Wharton’s novel across the room and bawling my head off after reading those final pages. Powerful stuff.
But don’t get me wrong, for every classic I’ve read I’ve got at least 100 mainstream romances under my belt. The late Olivia Goldsmith’s work has influenced my style more than any other author.
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?
Jamie: It’s all about the conflict and harnessing the power of opposites. The hardest thing to do is write two people who are perfect for each other, then keep them apart for hundreds of pages. It’s torture, but in a good way!
SMP: What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
Jamie: Finishing that first novel. Until that moment, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wore my “Lucky Elvis” shirt on the day I wrote that last chapter, and I even took a picture of myself after I finished, figuring I’d want to remember that euphoric moment as long as I was alive. I still have the photo. Not the shirt. Little did I know back then I’d need to endlessly rewrite and revise the damn manuscript.
SMP: Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
Jamie: Coffee (energy), Bloodhound (unconditional love), a Buddha Statue (keep-it-together-the-story-will-work-out), more Coffee (afternoon lag time), and a 5” high globe of the world (travel).
SMP: Writers face many challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Jamie: Perfectionism, self-doubt, and rummage sales. A trifecta of derailment. The first two need no explanation. If there was a rummage sale every day, I’d never get any writing done. There’s a thrill to treasure hunting, and oddly, writing gives me the same sort of thrill because I never know what the muse will turn up next!
SMP: What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Jamie: Getting it out there. Until readers have it in their hands, it’s not a book. I write because I have something to say. I want to communicate. I want to entertain and hopefully improve others situations. I also love hearing from readers.
SMP: What aspects of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Jamie: That’s easy. Promotion! Worrying about social media sometimes keeps me up at night and sometimes it makes me feel like an idiot. I see so many authors who seem to do it effortlessly. The digital age is not coming naturally to me, but my Klout score is like a ray of hope.
SMP: How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
Jamie: Every book is different. Some stories fall into my head, others start with a seed, an idea for a character, and build out from there. It’s always easier to work from a solid outline, but who am I kidding? Even with a chapter by chapter road map of a story, I still careen off cliffs. Luckily, my beginnings and endings never seem to change much from the original story inspiration.
SMP: Who or what sparks the ideas for your stories?
Jamie: Pixie dust. That’s the best I can come up with. It’s pure serendipity. I’ll be driving and an idea hits. Or wake up from a sound sleep with a character in my head.
SMP: Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
Jamie: Ideally, I’m looking to develop a series of matchmaker novels. While polishing my next contemporary romance, I’m working on a bit of a side project. A guilty pleasure of sorts, in a genre I never thought I’d write in. It’s an urban fantasy about a demon-slaying literary agent. My critique partner and I are trading pages weekly and it’s been a lot of fun dashing off first-draft pages.
(Okay, right here is your chance to write anything you like, a paragraph or just a few sentences, about anything in the world you’d like to reveal about yourself. Favorite music, color, pets you adore, family anecdotes, a joke, a recipe… the sky’s the limit. Or, you don’t have to say anything, and we’ll still adore you.)
SMP: We asked Jamie to reveal something about herself, and this is what she told us:
Jamie: I have a reoccurring dream in which Jane Austen is teaching me how to Twitter while Edith Wharton mixes martinis and Emily Bronte is expounding on the virtues of alpha males. It’s very disturbing.
SMP: Jamie, you’re a lot of fun! And it’s easy to see your sense of humor in your writing, too.
Check out PRINCE CHARMING, INC:
From long haul drivers to plumbers, matchmaker Elyse Tobin refurbishes and retrains men, then sells them off as husbands to wealthy San Francisco socialites.
Womanizing lothario Nick Salvatore is a millionaire restaurateur with looks, charm, and wit. He’s the man Elyse models all her fixer-uppers after, the man who seduced her three years ago, and the one man in San Francisco she wants nothing to do with despite his ongoing efforts to woo her.
But, when Elyse’s latest groom goes south, the IRS audits her, and her home is about to be foreclosed, she discovers the one man she can count on is the one she’s spent years avoiding.
SMP: Jamie, Thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Jamie’s wonderful novel, PRINCE CHARMING, INC., can be purchased here: