THE JAMES GANG
January James Gang
Each month, I interview authors or publishing insiders who have some form of "James" in their names or in their books. My January James Gang interviewee is Ellora's Cave "Blush" author Hetty St. James!
1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?
Oh, dear. My first Regency [romance] (Bertie’s Golden Treasure) was written in 1987! By the time I figured out how to market it and joined RWA [Romance Writers of America], Regencies were beginning to fade a bit. Other writers cautioned me about writing Regencies and sensual historicals under the same name. As it happens, the historicals sold first, and I used my real name for them.
Cut to 2006, and poor Bertie was still looking for a publisher. A friend who lives in England was having many of her previously published Regencies brought out again in library editions in the UK. It seemed they might be receptive to a new story. I didn’t want to use my real name for this venture, so I puzzled over a pen name. Hetty is a form of my real first name (later changed) so that worked. I puzzled over the last name, trying to think of something British-sounding, and I think a news item went by my head that referenced St. James’s Palace. Well, what could be more British than that? And so, Hetty St. James was born.
Unfortunately, the story was rejected again. However, a month or two later, I was told to investigate Cotillion, a new line of Regencies to be published by Ellora’s Cave. I did, sent in my story – and it was accepted! Great joy abounded, believe me! I’d rather forgotten about the pen name, but then I thought, why not? So – there we are. I’m sort of still in the closet about all this. Emerging slowly, shall we say?
2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?
Mostly books with at least a historical facet to them, if they’re not entirely historical. My particularly favorite eras are the 1400s in England, and naturally, the British Regency from 1800-1820 or pretty close. I don’t happen to think 1837 is still Regency. There was a period of about 15 years when there was no real categorization, other than floundering. But, two of my historicals are entirely American in the 1800s, and the other two books are sort of mongrels, if you will. One floats in time between the 1790s Dutch settlements along the Hudson River in upstate New York and contemporary times in the same area, while the other is set in the contemporary US. The heroine is an author of Regency stories, who gets stuck doing research when her heroine decides to time travel back to the 1400s!
I write a lot of short stories, and non-fiction. For the last eight or so years, I’ve been reviewing classical music, opera and theater for various magazines and web-zines, and also books for San Francisco Book Review and their sister pub, Sacramento Book Review.
I’ve also written plays, and two of the four have been produced. One was a finalist in a local new play competition and received a staged reading (you can’t imagine the thrill of hearing your words actually being spoken by actors!), and the other was a series of vignettes about the life of Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini, with an aria or two from each of his operas. This was a professional production and there’s been talk about doing it again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, believe me!
3. Tell us about your latest release.
My most recent release was last month (December) as part of Cotillion’s Christmas Kisses anthology. There are six titles in the book, mine is Wagered Kiss. It’s also released as an e-book. The print anthology is available at Amazon, B&N and Books-a-Million; plus, of course, Ellora’s Cave (http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9798-christmas-kisses.aspx)! The ISBN is: 9781419965388.
Wagered Kiss by itself is only an e-book – ISBN # 9781419936142 and in addition to the EC site (http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9568-wagered-kiss.aspx), will probably eventually be available at all the legit e-book sites.
4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?
I love history and how to blend pieces of it into whatever plot I hatch up. Or my characters hatch up. Frequently, I discover they’ve come to life and taken over the book. It’s almost always better when they do. I mean, who knows their story better than they do? It might take a bit of sorting out or cleaning up, but I think they generally do a good job of it.
5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
I totally fell in love with Bret, the hero in Bertie’s Golden Treasure. Actually, that was him! A real treasure, and he was blond, so why not? He was a very gentle giant. I mean, tall, handsome, rich, a Duke – what’s not to like?
6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Research! I could lose myself in it for hours – or maybe even days at a time!
7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?
Not for writing, exactly. Or at least not for writing fiction. In my reviewing years, I was awarded a fellowship by the NEA and Columbia School of Journalism for a two-week stay in New York City to attend concerts and operas, then write about them for criticism by my fellow writers and the fabulous instructors that we had. All expenses paid, too. And then, when Bertie came out as an e-book, I was in Ireland – again on a two –week (plus) all expenses paid trip to attend a Chamber Music Festival in West Cork and review it for a web-site based in the UK. The Tourist Bureau of Ireland facilitated that trip. Other awards were thirty or more years ago, for accomplishments in my career at that time – selling heavy duty trucks and/or parts. (Yes, I have driven semi-rigs – 18-wheelers! And race-cars.)
8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?
Oops! I haven’t done all that much recently. Actually, I think I’m a Luddite! I’ve always considered the computer a tool, more than a source of fun or enjoyment or whatever. I don’t think I really have a brand, although I’m always hopeful. I hope to be able to do a lot more writing this year, as I’m mostly retired and can devote more time to it. If that works out, I’d consider more promotion, etc. My alter ego does have a blog (http://bookmechanic.wordpress.com), however, and occasionally she mentions me! Lately, however, she’s been busy with moving etc., and has fallen behind – again! She promised me she’d get back at it in the New Year!
9. What is your next project?
Trying to finish some of the 40+ incomplete books currently residing in my computer! There are two time-travels that I really like a lot, so of course, I’d hope that others would like them as well. They’re both quite traditional, except for the time/space jaunts! No love scenes, as such, just a few kisses here and there.
10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you’d like to impart or a favorite quote?
Never give up your dream! Age is just a number; you really are only as old as you feel, and I’m going to be 41 forever! (At 21, I was too stupid to know what was what. As I remember it, my 41 was fabulous!) Or maybe that was 43. Whatever.
Thank you, Hetty! My February James Gang interviewee will be Wild Rose Press author Jill James!
Lynn LaFleur Interview
Chris Redding Interview
Sue-Ellen Welfonder Interview
Brandi Quick Interview
Elle St. James Interview
Jennifer Haymore Interview
Dorothy St. James Interview
Judith James Interview
Tawny Weber Interview
Jaime Samms Interview
N.J. Walters Interview
Silver James Interview
Jimmy Thomas Interview
Jamie Lee Coulter Interview
Jamieson Wolf Interview
Christina James Interview
Cara Lynn James Interview
Syrie James Interview
Jessica James Interview
Julie James Interview
Lori James Interview
Jamie Hill Interview
Jeanne St. James Interview
Kelly Jamieson Interview
Jaime Rush Interview
Jami Davenport Interview
Lorelei James Interview
Dina James Interview
Lyric James Interview
Ava James Interview
Sandy James Interview
Tiffany James Interview
Angela James Interview
Kate St. James Interview
Jamie Leigh Hansen Interview
Jeannie James Interview
Jamie Denton Interview
Elle James Interview
Liza James Interview
Raina James Interview
Allyson James Interview
Marianna Jameson Interview
Sherry James Interview
Maddie James Interview
Marcia James Interview