1. Mini bio time, Jacoba. Give us a quick 24hr insight into your life. How does a typical Monday pan out for you? And where does writing fit into it all?
JD - First, it’s lovely to be invited here today. I’ve been dying for some of Babs' coffee and cake. (Glad John and Alfie left me some, cheers guys.) Though I’d much rather she visited Australia, so we could enjoy the real thing. Hint, hint!!!
Okay, so back to book business ...
I really hate Mondays, I'm so glad you picked that day!! Groan. That first moment of waking, when you know the working week lies ahead, and that the day doesn’t include a leisurely morning of tea, toast and writing, is a real- am I allowed to say: bummer- if not: a pain in the you know what. So after dragging my head from the covers at about six thirty, there’s kids to feed, dress, and after a quick check of my emails, it’s off to work I go, usually without the “hi ho”. Mondays are meeting days, just to add to the delight, so my day doesn’t finish till five, five thirty sometimes. I am, however, very fortunate to have a very lovely husband, who is home in the afternoon to bath my little boy and get him ready for bed, and to get homework done with my thirteen year old, cheers and hurrah-because that is definitely not a delight, and if I’m honest I’m kind of grateful when meetings run late ( says in a hushed small voice, so hubby does not hear that). So it's usually only dinner and dishes I help with. Then I usually zone out in front of the telly for a couple of hours, if I don’t doze off that is. I wouldn’t say I’m very productive with my writing on a Monday, unless I’m editing or get a buzz from an idea, that might have been swimming in my head all day that I have to get down.
(And if my boss ever reads this, I love my job, truly I do. And I really do love Mondays, hand on my heart.)
I know I’m a heart breaker. I broke Cam and me.
And I also broke myself somewhere along the way.
But I finally made it back.
It’s been two years.
Two years I wish I could erase, and purge from my existence.
I wish I could kick myself back into the past, kick that stupid, idiotic girl,
and tell her to stop running away.
To live the life she wants, not the life her Mum wanted her to have.
You were such a coward Bailey Ryan.
Now the only thing I know for sure is, I’m home.
I’m never going away again.
And maybe Cam will forgive me.
And maybe I’ll exorcise my demons and forget.
Maybe … but I’m not really sure.
But now I’m here, I know one thing …
I’m sure as hell going to try.
Amazon .com Amazon.co.uk
JD - Originally it was called, The Beating of my Heart, and was a short story that I put in Soooz’ Paragraphs of Power competition one month last year and won, must have been all the voting I did. Whoops!!! Shouldn't have said that. Ah well...
But it really did stick with me and I never felt it worked as a short story. Bailey, the MC had a lot more to tell, and I always wanted to go back to finishing her story. When I joined Wattpad in July last year, it gave me the opportunity I’d been waiting for, and after writing a chapter or two a week it soon became a 60,000 word book. So after lots of feedback and editing, I decided to publish it. I got quite a few reads on Wattpad, over 10,000, and lots of positive feedback so I thought, why not. It was my first attempt at contemporary romance, a genre I love to read, so I took the plunge two weeks ago, and now it’s my first self published book.
Jacoba on Wattpad
3. How did you first come up with the idea?
JD - Oh, gosh, I really don’t know the answer to this question. I suppose I love the unrequited love scenario, and I love a good romance with lots of angst. Quite frankly I didn’t want to write another graphic romance novel, there are a tonne of those around, and not sure I’m cut out for writing those scenes. Anyway, I wanted to go back to the basics of a good solid romance, where the to and fro, of the love interests are what keep you turning the page. I adore Jane Austen stories for that reason. I don’t think she ever put kissing or … red rooms of pain (ha ha) in her stories, yet they are still adored and loved world wide.
4. Bailey is a wonderful character with a lot of complications in her life. Was it difficult to write her story?
JD - No, she kind of stuck in my head and the words flowed as though she was whispering in my ear, telling her story. A couple of her traumatic scenes were a bit tricky to write, and made me sad, but it all fit in with her decisions in the end, and why she decided to return to her hometown and try to win Cam back. I truly think our life experiences have a huge impact on the characters we become as we grow up, and I wanted to capture that with Bailey.
5. Personally I love the way Bailey’s story is revealed through her best friend ‘therapy sessions’ it’s a quirky way to bring in back story that works so well. Was that part of your overall plan, or did that evolve as you wrote?
JD - I love Bailey’s best friend, Gerry, and it was a good device to use to give back story, I wanted to drip feed that in, as the present day story progressed. I’m very fortunate to have some lovely friends and sisters in my life, who I engage in “therapy” with, now and then, and just telling another person is so therapeutic. I’d much rather that, than a person I don’t know. Though I understand sometimes people need to seek professional advice and expertise, depending on their problems. I think if Bailey hadn’t turned to Gerry she would have sought out professional therapy. But by choosing her friend to confide in added a level of intimacy to the story, so I could reveal her background slowly and it also showed how caring and compassionate Gerry is. I’m hoping to have more of her character in another book in the series. I had a lot of people comment on Wattpad about how much they really liked her.
6. Can you give us a short excerpt? Something that will give us all a flavour of Heartbreaker. (About 300 words)
JD - Would love to, though it is always hard to choose. This extract is when Cam and Bailey meet up again, officially, after she returns home…
“Mom, you moved that damn table again,” Cam says, nudging through the door, hopping on one bare foot, the other being rubbed by his large beautiful hands. My eyes are trained on them for a moment, as I recall those very same hands touching me. Shit. I’m not supposed to be thinking about that. I’m here for other reasons. To move on. Then his gorgeous blue eyes land on me and I forget all that. All I see is him and me. Me and him. No past. No lost two years.
God I want him so bad right now.
“Bailey, what ... what ...” he splutters, placing both feet on the ground and stretching to his full six foot height.
I don’t know if I have a voice right now, but I need to say something. His mother is looking between us, like she’s waiting too.
I swallow down a lump. “Hi, Cam.”
He doesn’t say anything just continues to stare at me, then he blinks and looks at his mother who now has her eyes firmly set on him. There's worry there. Concern for him about seeing me, I guess.
Hello. Maybe I do matter.
That thought makes me a feel a little better, even though I know it shouldn’t. Even though I know I’m horrible and to blame and stupid and I hurt him. I still want to smile and latch on to that one thread of hope.
There’s an uncomfortable silence, with so many silent conversations going on right now.
Then I let my eyes trail over him. I swallow an even bigger lump. My brain registering, he doesn’t have a shirt on, his worn jeans hanging from his hips, his brown hair scruffy and messed. Bed hair. His arm pressed with red creases. Then I realize where those creases have come from. Jennifer Jaimeson's head has been lying there. Wrapped in his arms. The realization of knowing who he got that messy bed hair from, and who made those marks, crashes me back to earth and the bile rises in my throat. I swallow for the third time.
Hold it together, Bailey.
7. I know you’ve had a massive response to the books on Wattpad. Did that feedback help to identify your main readership and your decision to extend the series?
JD - Yes, if it had been a complete flop, and I got booed off stage, I would have dropped the idea of self publishing. But the response on there was pretty genuine. It’s not like some writing sites, with the ol', I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine, so you don't always know if the feedback is genuine. There are a lot of readers on that site, who do say what they think. And some comments led me to tweak things here and there, and hopefully made it a better story. In total I probably had about three to four hundred readers who read the whole book, so that boosted my confidence in choosing to release it. And readers asking me to write from other's POV made me consider writing a series of books.
Jennifer Jaimeson's life isn't turning out exactly how she planned.
But plans change, and she is nothing, if not adaptable.
Now after four years out of High School, things are looking up. Well they were, until Bailey, the ex girlfriend of the guy she's been rooming with and lusting after, arrives back in town.
And once Cam and Bailey rekindle their romance, Jennifer is on the outer once more.
But Bailey has a secret. A bad secret. One that Cam knows nothing about.
Jennifer may have just discovered the opportunity she's been waiting for, and is set to put her new knowledge to good use, when an old High School friend of Cam's, Tanning, comes to stay,
He's hot with a capital H, and nothing like the geek she remembers being mean to in High School.
Her explosive lustful feelings for Tanning are soon confused with her residual warm feelings toward Cam, and the life she planned to have with him.
And that's just the beginning.
When the father of her unborn baby, Travis, and her childhood crush and tormentor, Jason, come back into town, things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.
Jennifer's life is about to spin out of control, and no matter what she does, or how she tries to adapt, she will be completely powerless to fix her messed up life this time.
Amazon .com Amazon.co.uk
8. In the second book Sweet Cheeks, bad girl Jen takes centre stage. She’s a minx there’s no doubt about that, but I have to admit, she’s my favourite character...so far. I ranged from wanting to wring her neck, to wanting to give her a big hug. How did you come up with her character?
JD - Oh boy. This sounds weird, but I literally woke one morning, and had the idea of Jen’s checklist, which is now the start and end of the book. And that morning instead of dragging myself out of bed, I literally leapt, and started writing my ideas down, and Jen’s story grew from there. I knew a few popular girls in High School, who really got on my goat. We didn't have the clichéd cheerleader, prom queens, in Australia, but those girls could be mean if they wanted to … Goodness, I hope they don’t’ ever read this, I'm sure they're all lovely now … anyhow, I thought it might be cathartic to write from a mean girls point of view and redeem her somehow. I think sometimes those self absorbed characters are the most interesting. And it was so much fun to write from her head.
9. You touch on a number of issues that are relevant to young people today, bullying, drugs, lone parenting etc and your characters often have hard decisions to make. Did any of your life experiences help you to portray these scenes in such a realistic way?
JD - As I said, I’ve read a lot, and in my forty odd years, seen a lot, and yes, experienced some of the things I’ve written about. And I do touch on issues that unfortunately a lot of young people have to face, at an early age. To remain true to the current generation, you’d be almost ignorant as a writer to skip all that, and just focus on the romance, and make everything all happy families, because, well, life isn’t like that. You are constantly thrown curve balls at every turn, and you have to learn to dodge and weave your way through. I also think not enough kudos is given to young mothers who choose to go it alone, it's a hard decision and not an easy road for a lot of them. And I truly think they are unsung heroines. I know how hard having kids can be, and I honestly don’t know how I’d cope if I was a single parent.
10. Can you give us a little taster of teaser Jen? (about 300 words)
JD - There are so many 'Jen' moments, as I like to call them. But her first impressions when she meets up with Tanning again, after being mean to him in High School were really fun to write. So here’s one…
Ouch. Stupid spade. I have another go and this time I put all my muscle into it, which doesn’t seem to help. I’m about to pound the spade into the dirt again, when I hear a deep husky voice say, “You’re not doing that right.”
It's Tanning, and he’s close behind me. So close, I can feel the heat of him, and I shiver involuntarily. I grip the handle tighter and count to three, before I turn around with my best smile.
“Care to show me how it’s done then?”
“Not really. I only came back to grab a change of clothes. I’m going to play golf.”
“Oh.” I sound like I'm disappointed, and I want to kick myself.
I shrug instead and turn, looking at the crappy hard ground. Now I’m more determined than ever to plough through this stupid garden patch. I don’t need his help anyway.
Leaning on the spade I wait for him to leave. I don’t want him hanging around, laughing at me and being an ass.
He sighs long and hard, and I clench hold of the handle.
Why isn’t he leaving?
“Give it here,” he commands.
I narrow my eyes, I don’t want to give it to him, but if he wants to think I’m a helpless female, he can. It's a good image for me.
I stand with my fake smile pasted in place and pass him the spade. It actually hurts to have that stupid smile on my face. I’m usually so good at keeping up the act, but I’m struggling today. He’s making me struggle.
“Why thank you, kind sir,” I say all sweetness, wanting to puke at my own insincerity.
He grunts, and starts to shovel away the dirt and weeds in record time. My god, he is so powerful and strong, I think I could watch him work like that all day, every day. By the time he’s finished there isn’t a weed left standing and the ground is all dug up. The sweat is dripping off his forehead and his t-shirt is drenched. I’m finding it hard not to sweat along with him, just thinking about all that hotness, leading to a whole bunch of naughty thoughts.
11. Who’s next to take centre stage? What plans do you have for the next in the series and how long do we have to wait for it?
JD - Well funny you should mention that. I have started writing Bennett’s story, and also plan to write Travis’s story. I’d like to release them at the same time, the way I’ve released Bailey and Jen’s story at the same time. That probably won’t be till early next year, but if you want more details, I’ll add snippets to the Heartbreaker facebook page, so if any readers want to give me a like you can stay tuned that way.
A dead princess.
A drunken prince.
A darker forest, further away...
Where you'll meet Savath.
A large hearted hero ...
Picking up the pieces in this dysfunctional fairy tale.
Happily Ever After-a distinct improbability!
JD - Good question. Yes I do. As you know, Babs, I have a funny little fellow called Savath, who is just bursting at the seams to get his name in neon lights. I am hoping his wee little tale, will be released next month. He’s been waiting a good while now. It’s called Cold Grey, and it’s a twisted take on the classic fairy tale, Snow White. I have the links to the facebook page listed below, where you can find out its release date.
JD - Thanks a billion for having me. It's been lovely to spend my morning chatting with you. Cheers, she says, and chinks her very nice bone china coffee cup.
The pleasure is all mine, Jacoba. It's been a delight having you visit and chat about your fabulous books. One day soon I hope to be popping in to your house to share a coffee with you for real!