THE JAMES GANG
Each month I interview a writer who has "James" in his/her pen name. My June James Gang interview is with Raina James.
1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?
Raina James is a pen name, although Raina is my real first name. (I like it, it’s relatively unique, so why mess with it?) I’ve always known that when I was eventually published I’d use a pen name. When I was younger, my main reason was I didn’t much like my maiden name. (Hey, kids can find rhymes and taunts for the darndest things!) However, now that I’m a “grown up,” my main reason for a pen name is I want to keep my public and private personas separate. I’m an editor at a major daily newspaper, and while my colleagues have been incredibly supportive, I’ve always felt news and fiction should be kept distinctly separate. Call it a quirk. I’m sure many journalists feel the same way. As for why I settled on James, it is a family name in that it was my paternal grandfather’s first name and a middle name for my dad and my eldest son. I had briefly considered Douglas, for many of the same reasons, but I just preferred the way James sounds: simple and strong.
2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?
I have been published in contemporary erotic romance, although I also write science fiction and fantasy. When I can, I like to inject some humor into things, but only if it fits with my plot and characters.
3. Tell us about your latest release.
My current release, and first published work, is Serena’s Song. It’s a contemporary erotic romance about rock star Finn “Riff” Logan and single mom and widow Serena Jeffries. When a magazine expose reveals that Serena was the inspiration behind the song that launched Riff’s career 15 years earlier, he seizes the resulting media frenzy as his chance to get back in her life. Serena, a savvy businesswoman who is not the innocent she once was, is determined not to let the man who broke her heart do it again. But Riff has done some growing up of his own, and he won’t stop until Serena is his again, heart and soul.
4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?
Clichéd as it sounds, love. No matter what the challenges a couple faces, it all comes down to that one thing, love, the magical, mystical, all-important treasure that has had the power to lift humans to the heights of ecstasy and plunge them down to the pits of bleak despair since time began. How can any obstacle stand in its way? Love’s ability to triumph over those obstacles is what makes a story live. Without it, it’s just words on a page.
5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Riff is my favorite character by far. He is a confident, successful, darkly attractive man, but one woman has the power to make him vulnerable. He’s mature, responsible, not into playing games and, most importantly, despite his professional success he’s willing to acknowledge he’s made mistakes in his private life and do whatever it takes to atone.
6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
I love playing what-if, and my characters and worlds let me do that. But the thing I most enjoy about being an author is control. Working in the news business and seeing all the horrible things that people do to each other for the most petty of reasons, it’s incredibly easy to become cynical and jaded. Writing romance reminds me of why I studied journalism in the first place—people are fascinating. And in fiction, especially, I can always control what happens to them and guarantee that my hero and heroine will have a happy ending. While that’s not always—or even often—possible in real-life, in my books, it is.
7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?
I was over the moon when the first review came in for Serena’s Song. It was from Whipped Cream Reviews, a sister site of The Long and The Short of It. Reviewer Chamomile gave Serena’s Song 5 Cherries and said, “Serena’s Song is a sensory indulgence by a gifted writer. According to Raina’s website—yes! I was looking for more—this is her first published work and all I can say is wow! I am already impatient for her next release.” After that, I received some really nice responses from Just Erotic Romances (5 Stars), Romance Junkies (4 Blue Ribbons) and ReviewYourBook.com (4 Stars). I think no matter what happens to me down the road, career-wise, I will never forget these first reviews for my debut published novel.
8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?
Sometimes I feel very much like I’m stumbling around in the dark as far as promotion goes. There are so many things to learn! Much as it would be nice to be able to submit my book, then let go of my responsibilities like releasing a helium-filled balloon into the sky, that’s not the case. The first thing I did when my book was accepted for publication—aside from edits, approving the cover, that kind of writerly stuff—was set about getting a Web site up and running. I spent a lot of time trolling the Web, looking at sites to see what I liked and what I didn’t, before settling on what I wanted. Then a Web designer created something for me that I absolutely love: www.RainaJames.com. I also attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention for the first time as a published author. It was a distinctly difference experience from just going for fun (What?! You mean I have to meet people and be chatty?). I’m an introvert at heart, but while a little daunting, it was also a wonderful opportunity to connect with readers and other authors. I have tried to be active in online author chats, post excerpts of Serena’s Song and get my name out there. My next project is to make a video trailer for Serena’s Song. I don’t know how effective that will be, but I know many, many authors are doing it. Besides, it looks like fun!
9. What is your next project?
My next project is a romantic comedy tentatively titled Getting Over Harry. Finally fed up with her absentminded fiancé’s neglect, broken-hearted DeeDee decides to let her friends implement a unique 12-step program they’ve designed to help her move on and find the perfect man: Goodbye, Harry! Hello, Bachelors No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5! But Harry, a research scientist who’s brilliant about everything except relationships, isn’t about to lose the woman he loves to another man. Shocked out of his complacency, he rallies his lab assistant and a cadre of university students to help him sabotage DeeDee’s blind dates and win back her heart.
10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you’d like to impart or a favorite quote?
Write wherever you can, whenever you can, even if it’s just minutes at a time. I wrote the first draft of Serena’s Song longhand while I was sitting in waiting rooms when a relative needed to spend a lot of time at medical appointments. I’d transcribe it to my computer when I got home at night. It was exhausting, but exhilarating, to see what I could accomplish, just by writing a few minutes here and there.
Thanks, Raina! Next month, I’ll interview Liza James!
Raina James Interview
Allyson James Interview
Marianna Jameson Interview
Sherry James Interview
Marcia James Interview
Maddie James Interview