An interview with JOSSiLYNN
My friend and fellow author Julianna Douglas (http://juliannadouglas.com) interviewed me for her publication (http://www.juliannadouglas.com/cgi-bin/vts/blog.html/title/Interview%20with%20JOSSiLYNN%20%26%20Giveaway).
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know that I ever really wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t something that I set out to be. I actually wanted to be a Federal Agent like Scully in The X-Files and spent most of my school life working towards that goal. I got a degree in biology because I thought I could always fall back on medicine if the whole Federal Agent thing didn’t work out, but was fortunate to get a job working for the Federal Government while I was still in college. However, the office (cube) I was in was nothing like the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover building I’d seen on TV and the cases had nothing to do with anything remotely paranormal.
It wasn’t until I was in my third or fourth year of working for the federal government that I had an idea for a story. I was completely bored with my job (still am today) and started making up stories about one of my co-workers who I was convinced was a demon. I would tell these stories to another coworker of mine who told me that I should start writing them down because they would make great movies.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was catching up with the coworker who I was always telling my stories. She asked when I was going to write my book because she hated her job and wanted to live off of my success. I told her that I actually had a story in mind but it was missing something. A couple of weeks later I found the missing piece, so I started to write my first book—a young adult series I write under a pseudonym.
In two weeks I was holding my very first full length novel. I couldn’t believe it. But as many authors know, writing the book is only half of the battle. I started looking at publishing houses, seeing that if they were to buy my story, they would also buy my characters. The characters I had written were too important for me to give to someone else, so I started to look into self-publishing, but my characters were too important for me to self-publish without a book to do a dry run with. That’s how the Queen Nymph series and JOSSiLYNN were born.
I needed a book I could practice self-publishing with that I didn’t care as much about as I did my YA series. I hadn’t read that many romance/erotica books, but looking at the statistics I knew that they sold better on Kindle than any other genre. So I sat down and started to write my first erotica novel. After recalling the story lines of the few romance/erotica books that I had read and that had helped me through some really tough times (I have a panic disorder and reading about sex seems to help break my mind out of a panic cycle), I realized that they were basically smut in nature. I started to write and before I knew it my novel turned into fifteen mini stories about sex and domination and subservience. But since the paranormal interested has me from a young age, I threw some of that into them as well.
It took me fifteen days to write A-O in the Queen Nymph series, and since I wasn’t as attached to them as I was my YA, I set out to find an editor, did the covers myself, and published them. Shortly after, feeling more secure in the whole process, I published the first two books in my YA series.
Three years later I have released several books in both genres and still think of writing as a hobby—a very necessary hobby because the creativity helps minimize my anxiety levels.
If you’re interested in reading my Young Adult series, please email Jossilynn@outllook.com for series name/author name.
I know that you began writing your Book Convention Romance series before you ever attended a romance convention. What about that setting sparked your imagination and inspired you to start writing the series?
It was April or May and I was having a really hard time getting my anxiety under control, when out of nowhere—like literally nowhere because I don’t know how he got my email address—I received an email from the founder and CFO of one of the romance conventions. I was so upset with myself for not being farther along with my anxiety that I made a bold step; I decided right then and there in the living room of my house to buy a ticket and go. I was scared to death. I didn’t have anyone to go with and I wouldn’t know anyone there.
That was how BCR was born. I was excited and nervous, both of which my brain interprets as anxiety, and thinking about how I would be welcomed there if I was welcomed at all. I sat down and started writing about it. Would I make any friends? Would people there like me? Would I meet and maybe hook up with a hot male model (probably not, but hey a girl can dream)? Suddenly I had the first book in a series.
After attending your first romance convention, did you discover that you had any preconceived notions about the experience that changed the way in which you wrote the rest of the series or changed any storylines you already had planned out? If so, in what way?
By the time I arrived at my first romance convention, I was all but finished writing K is for KINK. I left the reread for the plane—flying gives me anxiety—and writing the final scene for the hotel room since I was there by myself and needed something to concentrate on besides my anxiety, but for the most part it was a complete novel.
So you can understand my surprise when at breakfast in the first ten minutes of the first day, Mrs. Julianna Douglas and her husband sat down at the table beside me. I was grateful to them because there were maybe ten tables in the convention space where breakfast was being served and two of the tables were full of people, leaving me as the only person sitting at a table alone.
Other people began to sit down at the same table and before I knew it, I had made friends. It was like being in a school yard. “Would you like to be my friend? Yes, would you like to be mine? Yes.” I began to realize that the women at the convention were nothing like the women I had stereotyped in my book, and there were men attending who weren’t models. It never crossed my mind that the women would bring their husbands with them or that men would write heterosexual romance/erotica.
I went back through and toned down some of the women antagonists in K is for KINK, and when I began writing K is for KISSED, it came from a place of experience instead of a place of preconceived intimidation.
As for the storylines, including the series storyline, nothing really changed. The models I had created in K is for KINK didn’t exist at the actual convention, but I wished they had so I kept them and expanded their role in the convention, but I didn’t want them to be sleazy. I got rid of the bet/game and it was made clearer that women at the conventions were supposed to be treated like the Queens they were (are). I also made it clear that the models were everyday men who owned businesses and did chores and could love as strongly as any woman could. I made them into family men and expanded Dan’s role because as it turns out Dan is my favorite! That caused the books to split between the convention in Las Vegas and Fort Collins, Colorado, which then meant that Randy, my second favorite character, was going to need a bigger part.
K is for KINDRED, K is for KISMET, and K is for KARIN expanded from there, becoming less about the convention and more about the character’s lives outside of the convention.
In your Book Convention Romance series, many of the characters either don’t have family or have been rejected by their families, so they’ve all become a heartwarming, close-knit “family of friends.” Do you have a close group of friends like this in real life?
I have always believed that family is not who you are related to. Family is who is there for you when you need someone to lean on. They are there for the good times as well as the tough times, and they never turn their back on you. They don’t have to hear the other side of the story because they’re on your side no matter what.
For me, my mom and my sister fall into that category, as do my friends. If any one of them called and needed bail money, I would pay it. If they told me they killed someone I would show up with an empty trunk and a shovel. But having said that, I don’t make friends with people who are flaky or unstable. If I wanted that I would befriend my family members. You don’t get to choose your family, but you do get to choose your friends.
To answer the original question, yes and no. I have people I haven’t spoken to for years, but if they called and needed me I’d show up. We don’t live next to one another or celebrate Thanksgiving together, but if I need someone to talk me through anxiety at two in the morning, they would answer. To remove any one of them from my life would be to remove a piece of me.
In your Book Convention Romance series, you have a match-making ghost and a reincarnated animal character. Do you believe in ghosts or other supernatural phenomena like reincarnation?
Yes, I most certainly believe in both. I had a dog I named Jossilynn “Jaws” (now you know where my author name came from) who died on December 5, 2013. I’ve lost my fair share of pets, but Jaws was different. She was my animal soulmate (yes, I believe in soulmates too), and her death hit me hard.
In November of 2015, I had surgery to remove a very large mass in one of my breasts. I ended up staying the week of Thanksgiving at my mom’s house while my dog sitter took the girls (I now have two dogs) over to his house for the week since the doctors didn’t want to risk one of them jumping up on me. One day I was talking to my mom. She was in the kitchen and I was standing in the entryway between it and the dining room. I put my left hand down to pet Jaws’ head just like I used to. She would come up to me and sit down beside me and I didn’t have to bend over to reach her head.
Minutes later I realized what I had done. I told my mom and she said, “I saw you do that. I was wondering what you were doing.” But it was so real to me. She was there.
A couple of weeks later when I was back at my house, I was talking a nap on my couch. Something woke me and for the briefest of seconds, I saw Jaws sitting in front of the couch like she always did, protecting me.
I haven’t had any dreams with her in them—I think that’s how some spirits communicate—but my sister has. I always ask her if Jaws’ soul is ready to come back to me yet. So far she’s content with watching over me and Molly (my other dog and her buddy) from wherever she is.
Which one of the ten main Book Convention Romance characters is most like you and why?
Oh jeez. Let’s see.
Most of them are a piece of me. Samantha has my personality. Lily has my hair color and frequent panic attacks. Randy has my “leave me alone” approach to life. Blake has my awareness, especially in terms of where and when he can touch Lily. Bonnie has my loyalty. Oscar has my sexual humor. Kade has my work ethic. Molly has my sense of truth. Karin has my confidence and artistic touch. Mike has my stubborn streak.
James is the man I would be if I was a man. He’s also the man I would marry in real life.
In each of your Book Convention Romance stories (except the first one), you revisit the previous couple, giving each of them lots of page time with their own POV scenes, which is a little unusual for the romance genre. What made you decide to write your books this way instead of focusing more narrowly on the “main” couple?
As I mentioned previously, I haven’t read many romance/erotica books, so I guess I wasn’t aware that how I was writing was unusual. I know that the idea for it came from reading some of my favorite non-romance/erotica series. I would get to the end of the book, right after the big climax, and that would be it. I wondered what the characters did between the end of that book and the beginning of the next. Sometimes the author would put in a line or two about the time they had spent between books, but that was all.
Luckily for me, I was writing romance/erotica, which to the best of my knowledge didn’t have any rules. I could take characters like the ones I had read about and show that once they got home from saving the world or whatever it was they did, they ate soup and took a shower. Or maybe they went to bed early so they could go to work the next day. The excitement may have been over or on pause, but that didn’t make the characters any less complex and interesting.
I decided that James and Samantha’s story didn’t end in K is for KINK, so why wouldn’t it keep going in K is for KISSED? From a writer’s standpoint, they had already fallen in love, so unless there was something that made them fall out of love there was nothing to move the story forward in the next book. Then I realized that I didn’t have to concentrate on their love story. I could concentrate on Blake and Lily’s love story, but still show how James and Samantha’s romance was going a year later. Even in the books where they don’t have a POV, they still have a presence and you know instinctively what they will be going home to do.
So far, I’ve been focusing on your Book Convention Romance series because those are the ones I’ve read. I know you’ve written other books, though, so tell us a little bit about them.
I have another series out called the Queen Nymph series. They are not full-length books and I’d categorize them as smut. I know some people take offense to the word smut, but I don’t. Smut has a purpose in the world just as romance or erotica does. For me, the smuttier the book is the faster it will pull me out of a panic episode. Jump straight to the sex—give me something to concentrate on besides undiluted fear.
The Queen Nymph series is about a nymph, in this case a woodland type of fairy and a nymphomaniac, who heals by having sex. Jacinda is the Queen of her ménage, and to keep them safe, she makes a pact with the Alpha of the werewolves, Richard. The werewolves protect them and in exchange they prostitute themselves to the werewolves. All of them know that sex is not a fate worse than death, even Matt, who is in love with Jacinda and who Jacinda loves.
A new vampire comes to Colorado and wants the werewolves and nymphs to side with them. Jacinda gets very little say in the matter and finds out that Richard has made a deal with the new vampire. The nymphs are captured and held against their will and made to act as sex slaves. To go into more detail would be to spoil the series, so I will leave it at that. The first two books, Aroused Nymph & Broken Nymph, are free, and after that the remaining books, all of which come in sets of two or three, are $0.99.
For you, what's the most fulfilling thing about being a writer?
Getting to live vicariously through my characters. Also being able to take out my frustration with everyday people by basing a character on them and killing it off :)
What do your family and friends think of your writing, especially your super-sexy stories?;-)
My sister and my friends are my biggest supporters. However, having said that, the Aroused Nymph series turned them off of reading any further erotica.
My sister just finished reading the first book I’ve written in the Stubborn Loss series and she liked it.
None of them have read the Book Convention Romance series. It’s not that they aren’t supportive; it’s more like that isn’t their cup of tea.
I sent my aunt in Iowa a couple of copies of my first YA book to hand out to her nieces and nephews, who were at the time between 13 and 18, the demographic for the series. She read the book, then sent it and the other books back, saying that the parents of her nieces and nephews wouldn’t let their children read my book because there was a gay character in it and they didn’t want them to think that being gay was okay. I guess they think gay is something you can catch. The funny part is that they’ve read the Hunger Game series and the Divergent series and seem to have no problem with kids killing kids. Needless to say, I wrote a character in my next YA book who I based on my aunt and am now in the process of killing him off (yes, I made him a male bigot). Word to the wise, never piss of a writer!
If you could trade places with any romance novel heroine for a day, who would it be and why?
I don’t know about romance novel heroines because I haven’t read many romance novels, but I do know what heroine I would trade places with for a day if I could—Patricia Brigg’s character, Mercy Thompson.
Mercy Thompson is who I want to be when I grow up. She is tough but still feminine. She panics on occasion but doesn’t let anxiety control her life. She remains herself no matter what life throws at her. She loves Adam for who he is and he loves her for who she is. She isn’t someone who had everything handed to her on a silver platter. She had to work hard for what she has and she appreciates every moment of her life. She lives outside of the box.
And it would be pretty cool to have the ability to change into a coyote for a day.
If you could bring any romance novel hero to life, who would it be and why?
Nicholas Sparks wrote a book called The Guardian. SPOILER ALERT! There is a Great Dane in it named Singer. Singer gets shot and killed trying to protect the heroine of the story. If I could bring any romance hero to life, it would be Singer. He shouldn’t have died.
Why? Because people suck and men never live up to your fantasies of them. Dogs are reliable and loyal and love you unconditionally.
What are a few of the books that are on your keeper shelf?
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.
The Anita Blake series by Laurell K/ Hamilton
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
The Full House series by Janet Evanovich
The Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
The Eve Duncan series by Iris Johansen
The Bishop/SCU series by Kay Hooper
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
This question is inspired by The Players Club, a favorite romance series of mine: If you knew you had only one month to live and had virtually unlimited resources, what three things would you want to do?
- Turn my YA series into movies. Approve the screenplays, help with casting, and ensure that my vision would be upheld.
Buy enough of any of my books to get me a spot on the New York Times best-selling list, and at the party to celebrate my making the list, I would have sumo-suit wrestling.
Leave instructions for my sister on where I was planning to go with any of the series I was writing to ensure that they would be finished.
Last but certainly not least, tell us what you’re currently working on.
I am writing another erotica series. It will have the same changing POV as the Book Convention Romance series, but with the common theme of being single at a wedding. However, it will not have a supernatural element to it.
I have also been working on the Stubborn Loss series that Molly Wood writes in the Book Convention Romance series. I have one completed and know that there will be a total of five books in the series. The last one will, of course, answer the question of who Isabelle picks—Duke or Luke? The Stubborn Loss series is a romance series. It is sex-lite and focuses mostly on the romance of Isabelle’s relationships.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, JOSSiLYNN. It's been a delight having you. Good luck with all your future projects. I wish you all the best!:-)