THE JAMES GANG
Each month I interview a writer who has "James" in his/her pen name. My May James Gang interview is with Allyson James.
1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?
I took the pseudonym Allyson James because I was already published at Dorchester as Jennifer Ashley, and I wanted to try my hand at writing very raw, very erotic romance. I didn’t want to a) violate any contracts; b) totally change my current style as Jennifer Ashley; and c) shoot my career in the foot if I was terrible at erotic romance.
Why James? Am I bad if I say I thought it sounded cool? I always loved the name Allyson (the daughter of my mom’s best friend is named Allison), and it sounded good with James! That’s the real reason—I liked the cadence. Plus Allyson James has the opposite initials of Jennifer Ashley, although I admit I didn’t notice that at first.
2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?
As Allyson James I write erotic romance (futuristic and paranormal mostly), and hot paranormal romances for Ellora’s Cave (EC) and Berkley. Under other names I write historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, mysteries, and mainstream fiction.
3. Tell us about your latest release.
Coming up in August, I’m in an anthology with erotic historical author Robin Schone. The anthology is out from Berkley called Private Places, and my story is “The Decidedly Devilish Duke.” In it, my heroine Amelia plays cards for her fate with a duke she refused to marry ten years before. They’ve both changed, both having married different people, but when they come together again the sparks fly even faster! The cover of that anthology is just lovely.
I will also have a July 2nd Ellora’s Cave release called Catch a Falling Star (Torrid Tarot) that is set on a fantasy-like world—the hero is the king of his land and is losing his powers, and the heroine is from a sci-fi world and crash lands on this remote and lush planet. Is she the key to a prophecy that will save them or does she represent the fall of Thane and his world? I had the best time world-building this story—the planet of Pamaar is exotic, sexy, and fun.
4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?
I’m supposed to have a theme? No one told me! :-) Seriously, I think all my books have the underlying message of: believe in yourself, be true to yourself, and love without limits. Other than that, I try to write stories that delight as well as make readers laugh and cry. If they make me laugh and cry, I know I did it right.
5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Yipes! I love each hero/heroine so much when I tell their story that it’s hard to say which are my favorites. If I have to pick, I love Malcolm and Saba in my Berkley release, The Black Dragon. Malcolm’s a dragon shapeshifter who has trouble with emotions, but Saba looks him in the eye and doesn’t take crap from him. The other heroes I love are the Shareem, each and every one of them. Rees is probably my favorite because he was the first and he’s so damaged. But then I love Coyote Jackson from a recent EC release, Howlin’. I plan to put him in more stories.
6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
The hours. :-) I can get up when I want to, write when I want to, sleep when I want to. No cubicles, no dressing up, and no one yelling at me if I eat at my desk. I also love the fact that I can tell story after story after story, and it’s my job!
7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?
My very first Allyson James book, Tales of the Shareem: Rees, got a Gold Star Award from Just Erotic Romance Reviews. I was stunned, because I really wasn’t sure I’d be any good at erotic romance. Under my other names, I’ve won two Romantic Times BOOKreviews’ Reviewers Choice awards and have been nominated for several more, and I won a RITA award from Romance Writers of America.
8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?
Badly. I am a writer first, and I’m very bad at marketing and promotion. I have a website (www.allysonjames.com) that I try to keep full of content that is informative (e.g., when the next book is coming out, what all the books in a series are), and entertaining (the Shareem page, excerpts). I blog a little, have a MySpace page, and I send out a newsletter. But I’m very bad at chatrooms and forums because I get tongue-tied (finger-tied?), and I don’t know what to say. I’d rather spend the time coming up with more books for my readers than attempt to entertain them with witty repartee, which I can’t do!
9. What is your next project?
I’m working on many things. First, Tales of the Shareem: Calder is top priority. I’m also working on a new erotic romance series for Berkley (a paranormal with big cat shapeshifters and winged men). That’s in addition to the Dragon series I also have going at Berkley. As Jennifer Ashley, I’m working on a new historical romance series and a new vampire series. My days are always full!
10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you’d like to impart or a favorite quote?
Grab onto the people you love and love them to pieces. Love them every day and tell them every day, because one day you’ll turn around and they’ll be gone. Be able to remember them with fondness and love, not regret that you didn’t give them enough.
Thanks, Allyson! Next month, I’ll interview Raina James!
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