September 21, 2016
Guess who I got to interview this weekend? Janis McCurry!
Me: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. We’ve known each other for several years but don’t think that I’ll go easy on you with these questions. Hazard Play came out in July. It’s about a nurse turned poker player who teams up with a bounty hunter. You have all these really fun elements. Can you tell us about your first novel and where the idea came from?
Janis: One of my oldest friends is a woman who raised four children alone, put herself through school and became a nurse. She eventually went into home healthcare. What I have always admired about her is her willingness to take a risk. The original title of the book was RISKY BUSINESS. So, Tess Hazard is modeled after my friend’s ballsy spirit.
Me: I would like some of that ballsy spirit myself. Your friend must feel good about inspiring you. A recent reviewer said your second book, Revealing Rebecca, was “brilliant, clever…with twists until the end.” Rebecca is the good twin walking on the naughty side. Were you a good kid growing up? How much your own sisterhood have you brought into your writing?
Janis: I am the epitome of a rules follower, which I’ve found has NOT helped that much in my writing. I have three sisters and we’re very close, all living within twenty minutes of each other. Family is important and there is something about sharing sisterhood (whether they be of the blood or of the heart) that is irreplaceable. I always include a sister or family in my books because they shape my characters.
Me: Speaking of a sister of your heart, Lynn Mapp has co-written a book with you called the Matchmakers Chronicle: Summer. Why did you guys decide to write together? What kind of challenges did co-writing a book present?
Janis: I knew we both wrote similar types of romances with humor, heart, and “hotness” quotient. She had been through a difficult time and I felt that co-writing a romance might help. She had been thinking about a matchmaker series. We also (at the time) didn’t have any grandchildren so we decided to build that into our first book about best friends jumpstarting romances for their children who weren’t in any hurry for a happily ever after. Since the son and daughter were like siblings, that meant two separate romances to matchmaker.
We both brought different strengths to the process which was a good thing! The challenge was bringing together six POVs in seamless transitions, making them sound different, yet realistic. We didn’t want a book that felt like two separate stories mashed together.
We also had some differences in what a scene might be accomplishing or rather, what we wanted to be accomplished. But all in all, I felt we worked together well…at least on my end. You’ll have to ask Lynn about her opinion!
Me: Matchmakers is a great book so well worth the work. I have always been curious, do you remember your first rejection letter? How have you changed since then?
Janis: I don’t remember anything specific. Something generic like “not right for our whatever. Please remember that all opinions are subjective by nature and good luck in your writing.”
I’ve kept studying craft and learned to take my time. It’s not a race to finish. Wait until it’s your best. I understand story and character better than when I started writing.
Me: This has been fun! A different look at my friend who happens to be a writer. So tell us what’s next for you?
Janis: Thanks for having me! I’m starting a series called The Berenger Brothers about three brothers. The first book is NOTHING VENTURED. And Lynn Mapp and I are starting AUTUMN: BOOK TWO of THE MATCHMAKER CHRONICLES.