THE JAMES GANG
Each month I interview an author or publishing insider who has “James” in his/her name. My April James Gang interview is with Patriot Press author, Jessica James.
1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?
I wish I had a great story about my “James” heritage, but it’s a pen name. I wanted to use a name easy to remember because I can never remember authors’ names when I get into a bookstore. Of course, now I have to live with people asking me if I’m related to the outlaw Jesse James when they meet me at a book signing, but hopefully that helps them remember the name!
2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?
Romantic historical fiction.
3. Tell us about your latest release.
Shades of Gray is an historical fiction novel that takes place in northern Virginia during the Civil War. It’s an epic love story that chronicles the clash between a Confederate cavalry officer and Union spy as they defend their beliefs, their country, and their honor. Surprisingly, it’s been well received by both men and women, and by both historians and those who prefer romantic fiction. Men seem to enjoy it for the Civil War backdrop and women enjoy the epic love story–but in both cases I think it’s the human story that draws readers in. Plus, I think everyone enjoys a good old-fashioned love story.
4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?
Besides being about the Civil War, the recurrent themes in Shades of Gray and my WIPS are honor and true, everlasting love. Really, I’m not sure I could write about the Victorian era and not include them.
5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Yes, no matter how many books I write, I think the hero in Shades of Gray–Colonel Alexander Hunter–will always be my favorite. He is the perfect hero—bold, brave, gallant, and gorgeous.
6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Actually, most days, I find that crafting the perfect sentence is excruciatingly painful work. However, I do enjoy listening to the traffic report in the morning while tapping away on my computer in my pajamas. And, of course, once that perfect sentence has been created, it is the most enjoyable feeling in the world.
7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?
Sure! Shades of Gray won two Best Regional Fiction awards in 2008 (an Indie and an Ippy). It was also a 2009 HOLT Medallion finalist for Best Southern Theme and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year in the Romance category in 2008. It was also named the favorite book, or among the top 10 books, of the year by six different book review blogs. I guess the thing I’m most proud of is that Shades of Gray twice hit #1 on Amazon in the romance/historical/U.S. category, which moved it (briefly) ahead of Gone with the Wind.
8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?
I do a lot of book signings at Civil War events and send out lots of press releases. I also have a Web site and a blog that I try to keep up with.
9. What is your next project?
I’m working on another Civil War novel called Above and Beyond, in which the heroine plays the part of a strong Unionist in Virginia while secretly spying for the Confederacy.
10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you’d like to impart or a favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes, which sort of sums up the theme of Shades of Gray, is:
“I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more.” -Richard Lovelace, Off to War
Thanks, Jessica! Next month, I’ll interview Avon author, Syrie James!
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