When Jane Goodger commented on my blog and said she was going to send me a copy of Marry Christmas, I immediately asked her for an interview :) So here it is... Don't be surprised if the questions sound familiar ^_^;
Questions about the writing…
Q: First, what is your real name? :P Is it Goodger, Blackwood or …
They’re both my “real” name! Jane Goodger is my married name and Jane Blackwood is my maiden name. I go by Goodger for historicals and Blackwood for contemporaries.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your first sale? How did you celebrate it?
I was one of those lucky authors who sold their first book. I wrote it because I was bored at work. I was a journalist and was used to writing two to three stories a day. Then I got a job at a magazine where I was responsible for writing two to three articles every two weeks. Needless to say, I had a lot of down time because I write very quickly. At first, When There Was Hope was just something to pass the time, but when I was half way through, I realized I was writing something that was pretty good. Although I was thrilled to get “the call” I didn’t get to really celebrate because that was the very same day my sister was hospitalized for emergency open heart surgery (she’s ok now).
Q: Why and how did you start writing? Did you always dream to become an author?
When it came time to pick a major for college, I picked communications because it meant I could be a reporter. I had one talent as a kid and that was writing. I never thought I could actually make a living at it and never thought that one day I’d be an author. But one day, as a journalist, I interviewed a local romance author for an article and thought out loud, ‘I could do that.’ My co-worker said, ‘yeah, but are you?’ And so I did.
Q: Over the years, who or/and what have been some of your influences?
Judith McNaught and Kathleen Woodwiss were by far my biggest influences early on. They were the ONLY romance writers I’d read before I wrote my first book. I didn’t know the Romance Writers Association existed and had no idea at all that romance books were such a huge part of the mass market pie. I was clueless, which I think may be why my first book was published. I wrote it only for me. Since then, no one has read a word of my books until I send it to my editor. I know a lot of authors love their critique groups, but now it’s become a “thing” with me that no one can read it except my editor.
Q: What is a typical day like for Jane? Example, Nora Roberts considers writing her "job" so she writes from 8am-5pm. What about you?
I would certainly treat it like a job if I got paid like it’s a job. I can write two to three hours a day. But in my defense, I need to do very little editing. I can write ten to twenty good pages (pages that need little or no rewrite) a day. I wrote Marry Christmas in three months, in addition to substitute teaching two to three times a week.
Q: Do you use an outline or do you free write?
I free write. I do give my editor a basic (three paragraph) synopsis, but other than that, I just sit and write. When I get into my “zone” I’m not even aware what I’m writing, then I go back and edit, and think, “wow, that’s pretty good.”
Q: What do you do when you are faced with writer's block? How do you work through it?
I’d written seven historicals and my publisher dropped me. Just a few months earlier, they’d brought me to New York, bought me lunch at a posh restaurant, introduced me to all the big-wigs and called me the next “hottest” romance author. I was expecting to finally make some real money. Then, they dropped me. I was crushed. I can only say it was like being dumped by a guy you really liked. For a year, the stories that had always been buzzing around my head were gone. It was the scariest time of my life, because I’d always had characters and stories moving around my brain. When other people watched Oprah while they were folding clothes, I was thinking about scenes. Then it was gone. I tried to write during that time, but it was wasted effort. Nothing worked. And then, one day, I got over my little pity party and an idea began nagging at me. Funny thing was, it was a contemporary! That’s when I wrote Sexiest Dead Man Alive. My new agent had to sell me as if I were a new author (once someone gets dumped, it’s difficult to get published). Getting published again was a huge ego boost and my muse was back in force. I cannot stop the ideas tumbling about my head. Right now, I have two terrific historicals I simply cannot wait to write. It’s a great feeling!
Q: You started off as an historical romance writer. How did you branch out to contemporary romance and was the adaptation difficult?
My sales were terrible. I’ve had agents and editors blame covers, blurbs, timing, etc. But the truth is, even though my books got great reviews (I never got a bad review from Publishers Weekly---and they’re tough!), I was not connecting to readers. I firmly believe it was because I was writing books set in New England, which for some reason is a turn-off to readers. It was publish or perish for me, so I switched to contemporaries.
Q: Why did you change your pen name? Was it your decision or the editor/publishing house’s request?
Goodger’s sales were in the tank, so Kate Duffy at Kensington suggested another name. Goodger is no longer in the bookstores’ computer bank, so Goodger is back, baby!
Q: In the last few years, you’ve been focusing on contemporary romance. Why make a come back in historical romance?
Kate Duffy is one of the most respected editors in romance publishing and she happens to be my editor. She had faith in me and wants me to succeed. It was important to get my books out to as many readers as possible, and that meant getting me in WalMart. And WalMart wanted historicals. I was half way done writing my next contemporary, when Kate called and asked me if I could possibly write a historical. I nearly cried, I was so happy. I feel like I’ve come home and from the response I’ve been getting from Marry Christmas, I’m glad I did.
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?
It’s the thought that someone is out there reading something I wrote and loving it. It’s such hoot.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The day Kate Duffy bought my first contemporary. This time I fully appreciated how difficult it is to get published and I was so proud of myself for getting published in a different genre.
Q: If someone told you "the skies were falling" and you could only take three of your books along, which ones would you take and why?
When There Is Hope, Into the Wild Wind, Marry Christmas. When There Is Hope, because it was my first , Into the Wild Wind, because I absolutely adore my hero, and Marry Christmas, because I think it is my best-written and most sensual book.
Q: Do you believe the blogging community has affected your fan base at all?
I think it must have! I have received more fan e-mails for Marry Christmas than all of my 11 other books combined! I confess I sometimes Google myself to see what people are saying, and it’s very gratifying to see anyone reading one of my books.
Q: Do you read the blogs of people who have read your books? How do you react to favorable/unfavorable reviews?
I’ve read negative reviews and said, “Ok, you make some good points.” And it makes me try to be a better writer if they have legitimate complaints. I really do try to be objective about them. However, some of the nastier reviews do make me a bit, um, miffed. I know it’s subjective and not everyone likes the same thing, but if a book is well-written I see no reason to be nasty about it. I’ve read books where I appreciated the fine writing, but didn’t connect with the characters. We all have. I do think that some people relish writing negative reviews and don’t realize that their words can affect a person’s livelihood.
Q: Does interacting with your fan base via internet connection affect your creative process at all?
No, but I do like to hear from them. I can honestly say I’ve never had a nasty fan letter (although I do know other authors have). Since it’s all a love fest, it simply makes me think I must be doing something right.
Questions about the books…
Q: What was your inspiration for Marry Christmas?
Consuelo Vanderbilt. I live near Newport where her family used to summer and one day toured their summer “cottage.” I found her such an intriguing person. When she was 18, her mother forced her to marry the Duke of Marlborough. They disliked each other from the start and ended up getting divorced after producing the heir and spare. I guess I wanted to give Consuelo a happy ending, so I made up my own American girl and a much nicer duke.
Q: What are you planning on working on next?
I just finished the sequel to Marry Christmas and will start on Book 3 of this three-book series this month.
Q: Is Maggie going to get her own story?
Q: What are the plans for the future? Are you going to write contemporary and historical romance alternatively or publish two books a year or…
For now, I’m going to concentrate on historicals. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they continue to do well. However, I do have a proposal floating around out there that, if it sells, will have me doing a series of paranormal contemporaries.
Questions about stuff other than writing…
Q: What are some of your hobbies? What do you do to relax?
I have two jobs and three kids. That’s your answer.
Q: Do you get much time to read?If yes, what genre do you find yourself reading the most?
I read romances almost exclusively and mostly historicals, unless a favorite contemporary author has a book out. I used to take a day to read a book, now it takes a week or more. Yes, cry for me.
Q: What are you reading right now?
I’m reading an historical by Jodi Thomas.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
Connie Brockway (her historicals), Lisa Kleypas, Laura Lee Guhrke, Susan Elizabeth Philips, Rachel Gibson, Eloise James, Julia Quinn. I also love LaVyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, of course. There are others, but I just can’t remember them at the moment.
Q: If someone told you "the skies were falling" and you could only take three books (any authors) along, which ones would you take and why?
Gosh, I don’t know if I’d take the time to read if “the skies were falling!” The Outsider by Penelope Williamson, Whitney, My Love (I adored this book), and Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, because it was the first romance I’ve ever read.
Q: What is your favorite color?
Q: What is your biggest weakness?
I cry way too easily. I cry when I see other people cry. I cry when I see someone happy. I cry when one of my kids does something particularly sweet. I also have a weakness for high quality dark chocolate.
Q: If you could be anywhere, where would you be?
Sorrento, Italy. I lived in Italy for two years and Sorrento was one of my favorite places.
Q: If there was one thing that you could do over again, what would it be?
I’m tempted to say “nothing,” but there really is something I’d do differently. My husband and I bought a sweet little (740 square foot) cottage on a cove for almost nothing about fifteen years ago. We couldn’t squeeze our growing family into it anymore, so we sold it and got a bigger house not on the water. I wish we had stuck it out and maybe expanded it. I miss that little place
Wow, I knew the publishing business was hard... but to actually hear it from an author... Well I'm glad Jane Goodger is back in business :)
If you want more information on Jane Goodger/Jane Blackwood, you can go to her website here.
*Don't forget the contest for an opportunity to win a signed copy of Marry Christmas!! It ends tomorrow at noon (Eastern time).