Welcome to the second installment in Featured Author Friday. Today, I’m happy to feature Rosalind James. I’ve been reading Rosalind’s stuff for nearly three years after helping to do a cover reveal for one of her books on my blog. Her cover art caught my eye because of how simple and gorgeous it is, as well as how unique her voice was at the time. Her first series (Escape to New Zealand) was based around the All Black Rugby Team (just google them doing the Haka – a Maori traditional dance – prior to their games). She has since written another series featuring siblings based in California and her newest series will be published by Montlake Romance (one of the Amazon imprints) later on this year. On top of that, the audiobook of her first New Zealand book was just nominated for an Audie in the Romance category (for best romance audiobook of the year). I hope you like her stuff as much as I do!
Dee: I LOVE the titles of your books – how did you come up with them?
Rosalind: I love ironic titles. At first, my first book, JUST THIS ONCE (Escape to New Zealand) was going to be called “Rescue Me” (because Hannah keeps telling Drew she doesn’t need to be rescued), but then Rachel Gibson published a new book called…yep, “Rescue Me.” And since I’d written a sports romance and that’s what she’s known for, that ws a clear no-go zone. I had written a second book, and I knew it was going to be called JUST GOOD FRIENDS, and I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if they all had “Just” titles—and were all ironic? So that’s where that one came from. And the series title, “Escape to New Zealand”—that one, I’m really proud of. My first two books were about women who escaped their lives and started over in New Zealand, and I felt like that was what the country had done for me. Beyond that, I just…don’t know. I figure it out when I’m most of the way done with the book, because the title has to fit the “feel” and mood of the book. Except NOTHING PERSONAL. I came up with that long before I even started writing. It came from that “The Godfather” thing: “It’s not personal, it’s business.” It’s a book about a business relationship, a somewhat insulting situation that’s foisted on the hero, that’s supposed to be “nothing personal.” Needless to say, it gets very personal! (Including in the conference room. Probably the steamiest scene I’ve ever written.)
Dee: How do you manage to divide your time between writing and all the other stuff you have to do to find readers and let people know about your books?
Rosalind: Man, that’s the $64,000 question! It can be hard sometimes. I got lucky early on with a free offer one week in that resulted in 2,000 books sold my first month, and another free offer four months in (plus a shout-out from the fabulous DEE—really. It gave me a big boost) that took me to the next level, with 20,000 books sold that month. And then I think word of mouth did a lot of marketing for me, so I wasn’t in the position of having to try to build from scratch. Nowadays, I admit that I don’t do as much marketing as some authors—or as much as I should, but once I’m writing a book, I just want to be doing that. I have an assistant who schedules promotions for me, thank goodness. Other than that–I generally have a really broad idea of where I want to be strategically, and then I try to follow the 80/20 rule: do the 20% of things that will give me the 80% of results. I enjoy interacting with readers on Facebook and so forth, and I’ll admit to a bias toward doing things I enjoy. But I’ve never chased Goodreads groups, spent time trying to connect with bloggers I don’t know, or the like—the really time-intensive stuff, mostly because I’m shy and hate the idea of poking around at somebody who isn’t interested. Shudder
Dee: If you weren’t writing romance, what would you write?
Rosalind: Well, I’ve started writing real-deal romantic suspense, and I’m loving that (I’ve written a couple of books with mystery/suspense elements, and now I’ve got a brand-new romantic suspense series for Montlake Romance), so perhaps thrillers? Not women’s fiction, even though I think I have quite a few readers who enjoy that genre most–I love the happy ending too much! What I love about romance is that it can deal with all kinds of love: not just lovers, but husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, friends, even love of place and of country, which is something I write quite a bit about. It also catches people at those pivotal moments in their lives when they are making the big decisions—it’s a way to write about both two individuals’ and a couple’s journey. I love writing from the man’s point of view as well as the woman’s, too, and romance is the place where you can most easily do that. And I love to write sex, but I can’t do it until my couple is in love and knows each other well—which leaves out erotica, darn it. I guess we’d say I’m stuck!
Dee: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Rosalind: Oh, lots of stuff is real life. My first book, JUST THIS ONCE, is pretty well autobiographical. (They say “write what you know,” so…) Some people have said that Hannah is “annoying.” I never realized how annoying I am, apparently! Some people have also said that my first hero, Drew, is too good to be true, and I laugh, because I took so much of Drew straight from my husband. (Who sadly is NOT the captain of the All Blacks, however.) The opening scene, where Hannah almost drowns in a rip, is based on something that happened to me in New Zealand. My new series (Paradise, Idaho) as well as my book WELCOME TO PARADISE, are set in the Idaho town where I grew up. And everyplace I talk about in the New Zealand series is someplace I visited. It’s so much fun to write about my characters doing some of the fun things I’ve done. Emotionally, too: many of the emotional situations are either situations I’ve been in, or are heavily influenced by something I went through myself. It has to resonate with me to resonate with readers, I think. Plus, I’ve always said I don’t have that much imagination, and it’s true. You know how authors are always saying they have hundreds of ideas stuffed in a file? I’ve had 14 ideas. Well, 16. The 14 books I’ve written so far, and the next two coming up!
Dee: Dog or Cat?
Rosalind: Dog all the way. (Don’t hate me, cat people! I’m allergic.) I used to foster Labrador Retrievers, and now I just have one: the one I couldn’t give up. His name is Charlie, and he’s my writing partner and a total goof. He’s 11 years old and 85 pounds of lovable fun.
Buy Links for Rosalind’s Books
Escape from New Zealand
Just For You (Escape to New Zealand)
Just This Once (Escape to New Zealand Book 1) (Currently Free)
Just Good Friends (Escape to New Zealand Book 2)
Just For Now (Escape to New Zealand Book 3)
Just for Fun (Escape to New Zealand Book 4)
Just My Luck (Escape to New Zealand Book 5)
Just Not Mine (Escape to New Zealand Book 6)
Just Once More (Escape to New Zealand Book 7)
Escape To New Zealand Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
Sweet Talk Boxed Set (Ten NEW Contemporary Romances by Bestselling Authors to Benefit Diabetes Research plus BONUS Novel) (Currently Available for Pre-Order – Release Date – May 1, 2015)
Carry Me Home (Paradise, Idaho) (Currently Available for Pre-Order – Release Date – June 16, 2015)
And because it wouldn’t be an interview without a giveaway – I’m gifting one lucky commenter an ebook choice of one of Rosalind’s books (must be able to accept gifts from Amazon). Please make sure you leave your email address in the comments. The giveaway will close next Friday (the 24th of April)