THE JAMES GANG
Each month I interview an author or publishing insider who has “James” in his/her name. My November James Gang interview is with Amber Quill author, Jamie Craig (the pen name for co-authors Vivien Dean and Pepper Espinoza).
1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?
Pepper: When we were about to publish our first collaborative novel, our editor told us that it would be better to have one name on the cover, not two (Pepper Espinoza and Vivien Dean would be pretty unwieldy, to be fair). I looked up from my computer and saw my husband watching television. His name is Jaime (pronounced “Hy-May” not “Jay-Me”) and I thought “Well, I like the name Jamie for a girl.” Later I realized that some people thought “Jamie Craig” was a man, but at the time we chose the name, it didn’t strike me as masculine at all. The funny thing is that I did not take my husband’s last name when we married, but professionally, both my names are really his.
2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?
Vivien: Erotic romance, in almost any flavor we can imagine. We’ve done m/f, m/m, ménage, across a broad spectrum of genres, including paranormal, contemporary, and historical.
3. Tell us about your latest release.
Cowboy Blues at Amber Quill. It’s a het erotic romance about a bull rider and the photographer he meets every year on July 4th:
Nothing takes more courage than riding a bull…except maybe falling in love.
Spencer Cole risks his life every night on the backs of the world's most dangerous bulls, and that's the way he likes it. A rising star on the professional rodeo circuit, he is poised to be one of the most elite bull riders in America. Until he sustains a devastating injury - a concussion that brings his future as a bull rider into sharp question, and a torn shoulder that requires major surgery.
Rebecca Rankin’s annual trysts with Spencer Cole are the high point of her Independence Day Celebration, but the timing is never right to seek out more from their relationship. She is not prepared to be thrust into the role of nurse-maid for a bitter, angry cowboy. But Spencer doesn't just need a nurse...he needs somebody to show him his life didn't end when his career did...
4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?
Pepper: I think people who know me might be surprised that I write romance. Let’s just say, I’m not a very sentimental person. But I think it’s that lack of sentimentality that actually draws me to romance. I’m fascinated by the way people fall in love, by the way they choose to join their lives together, by the decisions they make because of this process, the mistakes they commit, the joy they find. It’s really an amazing process when you think about it. I’m not at all satisfied by stories about soul mates or love at first sight because I think there’s so much depth to explore when two people really begin to discover each other.
5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Vivien: This one’s so hard! We’ve written a lot, so I’m not sure how I can narrow it down. I have a soft spot for Gideon from our Master Chronicles, though that could be because we’ve written twelve stories with him. But I love how much he loves, how he’ll do anything for them, and yet, there’s always an edge he walks, like you’re not entirely sure what he’ll do next. As for a heroine, it’s from a novella we wrote called Time in a Bottle. Wendy DeMartino is a rock star, sassy and yet down to earth. I loved her, and now that I think of it, Macaulay, her alt-country love interest in that, ranks pretty high on the heroes I love, too. Told you it was hard!
Pepper: Jesse Madding from the Master Chronicles is probably my all time favorite. I love him and he’s very much a real person in my mind. Now that the series is over, I miss him, and I worry about him and wonder what he’s been up to. As for favorite heroine, I adored Remy from Chasing Silver. She was really hot and sharp as a whip.
6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Vivien: Falling in love with the characters. Getting to meet them and experience their stories makes it all worth it.
Pepper: Discovering the story. When you get writing and the whole story is just there. Like it’s always been there, waiting in the back of your mind for you to find it.
7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?
In 2008, six of our stories were finalists for the EPPIE award, EPIC’s award for e-publishing. They were Mosaic Moon, Dominion, Stealing Northe, Stealing West, July: Vintage, and No Fear in Love.
8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?
Pepper: When we first started working together, promo and brand were things I worried about a lot. But then I began to think about the process I go through when I buy a book. It’s either because a friend recommended it, because I’ve liked the author’s previous work, or because the first page caught my attention. It’s never because of an ad I saw in a magazine or a banner on somebody’s website. With that in mind, we decided that the best thing we could do to promote our work is to write the best books we could across a number of genres.
9. What is your next project?
We’re currently finishing up a gay erotic romance about a Mafia hitman and a piano player set in 1954 Las Vegas. Next on the slate will be a sequel to our gay werewolf story, On the Ragged Edge of the World.
10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you'd like to impart or a favorite quote?
If a zombie bites you, you bite it the hell back!
Thanks, Jamie! Next month I’ll interview Liquid Silver Books author, Jeanne St. James!
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