Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Jennifer and congratulations on the release of ‘The Love Deception’! You write predominantly about strong heroines from wealthy families. What personality traits make a compelling heroine in the world of glitz and glamour?
Charlie from Seducing the Secret Heiress knew how to operate in the world of glitz and glamour, but some of my other heroines enter this world uninitiated. It can be a very intimidating place. They have to be strong and brave and hold their head high when faced with a world where they don’t understand the rules.
What about the heroes – what qualities to they have to possess in order to attract such strong, independent women?
My heroes are all commanders of their domain whether it is a law firm, a hotel empire or a reality TV consortium. They are at the top of their careers and are not used to people challenging their thinking, their ideas or their behaviour. My heroines find their confident nature intensely attractive but equally infuriating. But it is usually when the heroine discovers the hero’s well-buried weakness or flaw that she really falls for him.
You’ve been praised for your ability to provide riveting tension within your novels. Can you share any tips with us? Why is tension so important?
It lovely to know that I can bring riveting tension to my stories. I’ve learnt so many things through RWA and one of the things that’s really stuck is how important it is to have tension on every page. You can’t have characters sitting around thinking as this invites skimming. If a scene doesn’t move the story forward – cut it, rip it out, be ruthless even if the writing is brilliant.
The wonderful Kylie Griffin led me to the fabulous Margie Lawson who really hammered this point home through her deep editing courses. If you haven’t done one, I’d highly recommend them.
While writing, how does the story develop for you? Do you go from start to finish or create scenes as they come to you?
I’ve completely changed my process since I started out. I began as a panser but it just didn’t work. I threw out thousands and thousands of words. I brought a great book which taught me how to plot (I’m such a planner in every-day life, so this worked out well). I usually start with the first scene and ‘the black moment’ fully formed in my mind, then I plot. I’m now a don’t-write-one-word-until-the-book-is-all-planned-out writer. The only downside of this is that I know what happens in the end before I write the story.
What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
That it’s a big shining oasis when you know everything about writing, the perfect prose pours from your pen (or computer) without effort and the gold rains down from the sky. Don’t get my wrong, I’m thrilled to pieces to be published. It’s exciting, validating and a dream come true. Receiving positive feedback from readers is just lovely but the job is still the same on this side of the fence – keep learning, keep reading and write, write, write!
What would we find on your bookshelf?
I read across a lot of genres – obviously lots of romance (mostly category as that’s what I write), but I also love crime (eg recently read Michael Connelly, Stieg Larsson, Gillian Flynn), historical drama/action (eg Bernard Cornwell) and literary authors such as Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Iain Banks (who sadly passed away several days ago). I don’t read too much fantasy, but I am ripping through George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I try to keep up with winners of the major awards such as The Booker and Miles Franklin awards (although I am very behind at the moment!!) and am still working my way through the classics. Only read To Kill a Mockingbird last year (I know, I know!). Unfortunately I’m a slow reader so my TBR pile is huge!
I’ve been seeing a number of discussions on the Yahoo groups about Happily-Ever-After. Do you feel that HEA is necessary to a romance novel?
They certainly are in my novels!
Can you tell us about your works in progress? Do you work on one novel at a time or are you a writer who can have several stories on the go at the same time?
Before I was published I was a one-novel-at-a-time gal. But you can’t really be like that when you’re published as you could be working on a new WIP when copy edits come in, so I’ve had to learn to change focus fast. But I like working on one book at a time and finishing it. I like being immersed in the world of my characters and live the story with them.
My current WIP is what I jokingly call my ‘monkey’ book. The hero is an IT guru working in central London. My heroine runs an Orangutan sanctuary in Brunei. I was inspired to write this book when a charity gave a presentation in Byron Bay (where I live) about the plight of the Orangutans. It had me thinking what a different working life the people in the Sanctuary had to the career I had before writing. They work in the hot humid jungle, often in mud, with large animals and are completely underfunded. All my work environments have been nice clean offices in high-rise buildings, with every technological gadget to hand, in large urban centres, with multi-million dollar firms. Two completely different worlds. Imagine if people from those two worlds were thrown together due to an urgent imperative.
What does the future hold for Jennifer St George?
Hopefully I can write lots more books that readers will love!
Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts, of ‘The Love Deception’ please?
I wrote this book originally about three years ago (it’s been through lots of iterations since then) and entered it in lots of RWA competitions. This is a scene I reworked a number of times and I really love it.
She tiptoed across the cold marble. Reached for the door.
‘Morning.’ One word, delivered without a hint of surprise at discovering a barefoot stranger sneaking through his entry hall. It conveyed the confidence of a man who knew her. Knew a lot about her. Knew he wanted something special from her.
She swung like a weathervane blasted by a ferocious arctic wind. A man stood dominating the massive living room, sporting only a pair of board shorts. Drops of water slipped down his olive skin. She couldn’t help following the path of one glistening drop. His dark hair was damp. His eyes, as black and reflective as hematite crystal, searched her face; a quick flick down her body then back to her eyes.
‘Sorry, just been for a swim,’ he said. He took a sip from his coffee mug. ’Refreshing when you haven’t had much sleep. And we both know how that feels, right?’ His all-knowing tone, elevated brow and innuendo-laced words forced her mouth open and her eyes wide.
Her brain screamed run, run, run. But she stood, staring. Desperate to leave . . . but she had to know. Why was she here? How did she get here? And where the hell was here?
It sounded more like a challenge than an invitation. A challenge to which she didn’t know the rules. His thoughts certainly weren’t on caffeinated beverages.
‘Ah, no.’ Her voice sounded scratchy, as if she had a particular taste for single malt.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘At least you could stay for coffee. That was quite a performance.’
She knew from his expression he was reliving an experience she’d clearly been part of.
A fuzzy image popped into her brain.
She’d been naked.
He’d been watching.
They’d been in that bedroom.
I must have slept with him.
Her heart beat to the mantra – shame, shame, shame. Mortification crawled up her back and settled like an ill-fitting mantle. She’d known herself for twenty-five years and yet today she stood in the skin of some slutty stranger.
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I love spending time creating exotic and interesting settings for my stories. Is there a setting in a story you’ve read that’s really resonated with you?
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