Interview with Jessica James, author of “Meant To Be”

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

Writing military suspense is not something I set out to do—it’s something that happened, so I feel like it’s Divine Intervention. That is special.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

Because I started out a historical fiction author, research is VERY important—and I enjoy doing it, no matter what I’m writing.

Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

I used to fight against the daily word count, but it’s really the best way to make sure I sit down and write every day. I have it set low at 1,000 words absolute minimum, but I like to do at least 2,000.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies. Is there any truth to that?

Absolutely. I think writers have to be comfortable being alone. I travel alone, do my research alone and write alone.

Do you think writers have a normal life like others?

I think we have the best lives in the world! (Not sure if that’s normal, but it’s nice).

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I have no idea where my characters are heading until they get there.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

A-B-C. Attaching Butt to Chair.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

Taking the reader away from everyday life for a few hours of enjoyment. I want to entertain—and hopefully educate them without their knowing.

Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?

Not reviews, but I personally reply to every email from readers.

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

I loved animals so I wanted to work with them—and I did. I have a degree in veterinary technology, which was my first career. I then earned a degree in journalism and became a reporter, then an editor, which led into writing books.

Do your novels carry a message?

Absolutely. All of my books have a central theme of honor and duty, along with a poignant love story.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Absolutely.

How realistic are your books?

I do a lot of research, so they are very realistic.

What books have influenced your life the most?

Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts and Killer Angles by Michael Shaara.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

I wrote an epilogue to my latest book (DEADLINE), which has turned into a series. The next book is entitled FINE LINE, and will feature a new character (former Navy SEAL), Nickolas Colton.

Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

Usually I dedicate my books to our nation’s warriors. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I work part-time as a stagehand for a performing arts center, and I love it. I took the job because it involved physical work, which I needed to counteract the sedentary life of a writer. That was ten years ago, and I’m still doing it.

Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?

I enjoy traveling and seeing new things—especially historic places and museums.

Which of your books took you the most time to write?

Shades of Gray—my first book, took twenty years.

What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Do writers ever retire?

I plan to write until I’m 100.

Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?

Everyone who reads SHADES OF GRAY tells me “it would make a great movie.” I agree.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

My suspense novel DEADLINE comes out in print in May, 2016, and will be followed by FINE LINE in July. The series will focus on former Navy SEALs who form a private security firm called Phantom Force Tactical.

Have you received any awards for your literary works?

Yes. I am a two-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction as well as a dozen other awards for my historical fiction. My suspense novel MEANT TO BE also won the Golden Leaf Award and is currently a finalist for BOOK OF THE YEAR in the Foreword Magazine INDIEFAB Awards.

Have you ever changed the ending of a book based off the reaction of your fans?

Funny you should ask. My first book, Shades of Gray, has a realistic war ending. When a publisher bought the rights, they wanted a happily-ever-after ending, so I re-wrote it and called it Noble Cause.

Tell us about an interesting or memorable encounter you had with a fan?

I get lots of emails from fans and love when they travel long distances to attend a book signing. My most memorable communications are from men. They are always surprised that they like my books since it’s a genre dominated by male authors.

Do you blog?

Yes, I blog on my website at www.jessicajamesbooks.com.

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