Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Jesi Lea Ryan Interview
12/13/2010 6:27:51 PM
LTS: If you love love stories, then youíll enjoy reading about todayís guest blogger, romance author Jesi Lea Ryan. Iíd like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers. Where do you call home and what do you enjoy doing when youíre not writing?
JLR: I grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, but have lived in Madison, Wisconsin since graduating college. Almost my entire life revolves around books. I read more than anyone I know. I document the books that I read on my book review blog. Aside from that, Iím in graduate school working on my Masters of Business Administration.
LTS: Reading has been a constant passion in your life, when did writing professionally enter?
JLR: I majored in Literature and Creative Writing in college because I loved to read and write; however, I didnít see writing as a career for myself. I can be very practical in my thinking and that sometimes holds me back. I didnít feel confident enough in myself to write professionally. Instead, I followed the pay check into insurance.
I had been working in insurance for twelve years when the down-turn in the economy took its toll on the industry and my position was eliminated. This time, I was a different person than the scared young college graduate. I wanted to be a writer, and I saw losing my job as a sign that I was meant to do it.
LTS: Your debut novel is called ĎFour Thousand Milesí. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Natalie Spencer?
JLR: I was originally inspired by the setting in rural Kent in southeast England. I was staying at this bed & breakfast outside of the small town of Pluckley. It has originally been a medieval farm, but the old buildings had been modernized and converted. It kicked off a series of daydreams of me not going back to the States and living there permanently. Again, my practical side would never let that happen, so I began to think about what kind of woman would spontaneously uproot her life and move to this beautiful corner of the world. In that way, Natalie was born.
Natalie Spencer is actually a very responsible, normal career woman, but when she loses both her career and her marriage in one morning, she lets her emotions rule her thinking and finds herself alone on the floor of a Tube station in London with nowhere to go.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal whatís in store for the reader when they crack open ĎFour Thousand Milesí?
JLR: Four Thousand Miles is the ultimate in escapist fiction. I mean, who hasnít daydreamed about running away from their problems and start over fresh?
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice youíd like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
JLR: I actually donít have an agent. I tried for about two months to get one, without much luck. Then, while at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, I decided to pitch my novel directly to a few publishers. Two out of the three asked me to send them the first three chapters of my manuscript. Within two weeks, DCL Publications made me an offer. I feel incredibly fortunate that I sold my novel so quickly.
LTS: What a great success story! Now, can you share that moment when you sold your story to DCL Publications?
JLR: Honestly, when I had that contract sitting in front of me, I kept telling myself there had to be a catch. I must have read it through a dozen times! Then, I did as much research on DCL as I could, even checking to see if they had any complaints with the better Business Bureau. I was bracing myself for some horrible discovery, but in the end, I only learned about what a great company they were to work with. Iím very happy that I signed with them.
LTS: Iím curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
JLR: Iím not that organized! Rather than setting a daily word count goal, I give myself deadlines. Iíll tell myself that I want so many chapters completed by the end of the month, or I want to have a full working manuscript by a certain date.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
JLR: Iím more of a pantser. When I begin with an idea, I might make a few notes or write up a character sketch. I prefer to give my characters room to grow and develop naturally along with the plot.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
JLR: I drink a lot of coffee! I find it hard to listen to music when I write, because I like to sing along with it and it distracts me. Sometimes I do listen to instrumental music as I write. I especially like movie scores. Iíve been listening to the Inception Soundtrack a lot.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writerís block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
JLR: I refuse to sit in from of a blank screen. Writing should be fun, not torture. If Iím blocked, I walk away and do something else. I am a bit of a compulsive daydreamer, so I find myself thinking about my characters and plot problems constantly. I think of it as writing in my head. By the time I sit down in front of my computer again, I have a very good idea of what I am going to write and where the story is going.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
JLR: Itís hard for me to pinpoint one author who influenced me. Honestly, I didnít really read Romance prior to writing this book. I guess the only Romance author I had read prior to writing this was Jane Austen. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when Elizabeth Bennett finally falls in love with Mr. Darcy? That is the feeling I tried to emulate with Natalie and Gavin. Iím not saying that my book is like Pride & Prejudice! Not at all. It was just a feeling that was inspiring me.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery youíve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
JLR: Iím shocked by how much my Business education and experience has helped me in the marketing and promotion of my book. In fact, I think aspiring authors would do well to invest in a marketing course or a course on social media promotion if they are serious about writing professionally.
LTS: What is the most important lesson youíve learned on the road to publication?
JLR: I have to be better organized! Ask anyone I know and they will tell you that my brain operates twelve steps ahead of my hands. The result is that Iím constantly forgetting things and getting mixed up. In both the querying process and my blog tour, Iíve had to be very organized in order to keep things from falling through the cracks.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
JLR: Iíve been reading a lot of Young Adult literature lately, because the novel that Iím working on now is YA. Iím trying to keep my mind focused on my audience. I just finished a new release called I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson. Now, Iím itching to get my hands on Richelle Meadís Last Sacrifice.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from romance into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to ĎFour Thousand Milesí in the near future?
JLR: I have two works in progress that are both paranormal YA, but I think I would like to continue writing in the Romance genre as well. I have been reading a lot of Romance also and have discovered that I really like it. I actually do have an idea for a sequel to Four Thousand Miles, but there are some major character issues that I would have to wrap my head around before I commit to writing it. I guess you will all just have to wait and see!
LTS: Thank you for taking the time to share in your novel as well as your writing experiences, Jesi Lea! Iíll catch you on Twitter!
For more information about Jesi Lea Ryan and her novel, check out:
Follow on Twitter: .Jesilea
Where to buy the book: AllRomance.com & DarkCastleLords.com
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