Rosalind James is the author of the Kindle-bestselling “Escape to New Zealand” series (currently five titles strong), as well as the new U.S.-based “Kincaids” series. Her first book,”Just This Once,” has sold tens of thousands of copies in the year since it was published, eventually reaching #85 in the Amazon store. A marketing professional and publishing industry veteran, Rosalind has lived all over the United States and in a number of other countries, traveling with her civil engineer husband. Most recently, she spent several years in Australia and New Zealand, where she fell in love with the people, the landscape, and the culture of both countries. She loves trying new things in her writing, most recently the mystery and suspense in “Nothing Personal.”
Rosalind credits her rapid success to the fact that “lots of people would like to escape to New Zealand! I know I did!”
Interview with Rosalind:
Which of your seven books is your favorite?
That changes all the time. This latest one, “Nothing Personal,” just consumed me. I got to do some mystery and suspense, which I loved, and Alec and Desiree took me over. This book poured out of me in a furious blur, like nothing since “Just for Now.”
What’s your publishing story?
After I finished my first two books, I tried the traditional thing, submitted to 38 different agents and publishers, got pretty discouraged. Three expressed interest, all ultimately said no. The problem seemed to be, “New Zealand rugby? Huh? Tough hook!” And I knew it was a GREAT hook! I KNEW it!
Besides, I’d had a 20-year career in publishing, 10 of those years in marketing, and I figured I should be able to figure out the self-publishing thing if anybody could. I sold 2,000 ebooks the first month, 20,000 ebooks the fifth month, had a magical hour where I outranked Nora Roberts, published the paperbacks, and a year and four more books later, it’s still going great. Guess those folks were wrong . . . not that I’m gloating, LOL. Thank goodness for Amazon!
What’s your writing routine?
I’d like to give you some rational, reasonable schedule, but the fact is, once a book grabs me, I’m working all the time. Just ask my poor husband–if it weren’t for pizza, he’d have wasted away by now. I lost six pounds in the six weeks it took me to write “Nothing Personal.”
You’re best known for your “Escape to New Zealand” series. What research did you do to make sure the setting was real and vivid for your readers?
Swam in the ocean a lot and drank lots of coffees and traveled all around and did lots of fun outdoors things in beautiful places, and watched a lot of rugby in pubs. Sigh. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.
Seriously, I’d say, just lived there. The longer you’re there, the more Kiwi culture seeps into your bones. The Maori influence, the geographical isolation (it’s just so FAR from everywhere), the sheer physical beauty of the place, they’re all part of it. You end up with this emphasis on family, the land (and the sea), hard work, and . . . well, I’d describe it as being a “regular person,” no matter who or what you are. Not being a jerk. Oh, and rugby.
All your heroes in that series are rugby players. Why rugby?
Umm . . . Google “All Blacks haka.” Go on. I’ll wait.
Yeah. Well. Tight jerseys, short shorts, full contact, big muscles, the “regular person” deal combined with the fact that the All Blacks (NZ’s national rugby team) are NZ’s version of movie stars—and the best team in the world. The pressure of that in a country of 4.5 million people, about 4 million of whom will recognize you walking down the street—and will come up to shake your hand, ask for an autograph or a picture, and you’ll be expected to smile and SAY YES. It’s life in a fishbowl, and good behavior is expected. Pretty different from the lives of athletes in other countries, and I just found it fascinating to think about what it would be like to be that person.
On the other hand, “Welcome to Paradise” is totally different, a spin on reality television. What inspired the plotline? Why 1885?
I wanted to write a story about brothers—guys’ relationships make me laugh. Somehow I got the idea to put them on a reality show. I’m from Idaho, and I have farm connections, so doing a show about living like pioneers in 1885 was a pretty easy leap. I got to interview some older folks who grew up on farms and whose parents did too, almost back to those times, and my awesome, handsome bull-rider nephew did things like going out and throwing an axe for me. I texted him, “If you have an axe throwing challenge how far can you throw it,” and he texted back, “One handed or two?” That cracked me up. (Axes are HEAVY.)
Why do you write love stories?
Romantic love is such a powerful and beautiful thing. But I try to write about more than that too–about those pivotal moments when you make the big, scary decisions, when you change, when your life changes. I also love writing about parents and children, sisters and brothers, friends, the love of country and place. Sometimes when we say “love,” we forget about all the different kinds of love that enrich our lives. Two of my books, “Just for Now” and “Just for Fun,” are very much about fatherhood and motherhood. Plus, kids are funny.
What type of person is your ideal heroine? Your ideal hero?
Heroine: Strong, with a backbone. Doesn’t necessarily mean she’s “tough”: several of my heroines are very gentle and sweet, but they all have a core of fortitude, character, endurance.
Hero: No question I write alpha males! But not jerks I hope–because to me, a strong man doesn’t need to hurt or control anyone else, especially a woman, to feel like a man. (I’m not talking about what kind of sex you have. That’s a whole different thing, though for me, reading or writing, it has to be explicitly consensual. And role-playing and having fun are one thing, real degradation and pain are another, and not someplace I go. And it has to include condoms!)
I suppose the main thing I like to both read AND write in characters is just basic decency, being a person who’s trying hard to do the right thing, even if you mess up.
Another New Zealand book, I think. I have an idea floating around in there. But Alec and Desiree have to leave my head first!
Nothing Personal Excerpt:
She’d spooned up every bit of the rich broth, the chunks of beef and vegetables, had dipped a second and then a third piece of bread in olive oil. Alec had watched it all without comment, while dispatching his own dinner with an alacrity that confirmed to Desiree that he really hadn’t had dinner yet tonight.
And when they’d finished, he’d insisted, together with Giuseppe—of course the waiter’s name was Giuseppe, because this wasn’t romantic enough, the white tablecloth and the single red rose and the candle and the worn brick against her shoulder—he’d insisted that she order cannoli for dessert.
“Just one,” he coaxed. “If you don’t want it, you don’t have to eat a single bite. But I think you need to taste whipped cream tonight.”
“Don’t you think she needs some whipped cream?” he demanded of the waiter, who smiled back at him, sensing, Desiree thought through a satisfied haze of red wine, succulent beef, and way too much potent testosterone, a truly magnificent tip.
“Definitely, the signorina needs whipped cream,” Giuseppe agreed. “And we have the best.”
She wasn’t sure how you had better whipped cream than anyone else, but when the dessert arrived, she had to concede that this was the best.
Amaretto, one still-sane corner of her practical brain suggested, but that sensible voice was drowned out, oh so rapidly, by the sensation on her tongue, the silky smoothness of cream, the almond sweetness of the liqueur, the delicate drift of pastry and the deep dark pleasure of chocolate. And Alec, watching her as she allowed the rich concoction to drift between her lips, over her tongue, down her throat. Watching her, enjoying the sight of her enjoying herself, as if it were his tongue. His throat.
By the time he’d slapped a hand against the door of the cab that had again been waiting when they’d stepped out of the restaurant’s front door, leaped back onto the sidewalk and raised that same hand in farewell, she’d been so lost in fatigue, wine, and lust that she could only sit back against the scarred leather and thank heaven that she hadn’t actually kissed him. Or begged him.