Friday, June 17, 2016

Interview with author Jill Jaynes

Jill Jaynes makes a repeat visit to Journeys with Jana today (her first visit is here) to talk about her life, her writing and hiking. Welcome Jill!

Where did you get the idea for your new novel?

A while ago, I decided I wanted to write a series of related stories about a young woman who has inherited a family magic which she knows nothing about, and unknowingly knits love magic into the things she makes for her friends.

Whenever she gives one of these gifts to her friends, they meet the love of their life.
Her story will be a novel-length book, but the friend’s stories are all novellas. It’s a lot of fun because the only common thread necessary in the friends' stories is that they know her. Other than that, the stories can be about anything, anywhere. These are a series called “Knit Witchery Tales.”

The first Knit Witchery Tale I wrote is the story about one of her friends who meets a knight in shining armor in present day Seattle. That one is “Knightless in Seattle” which came out last November.

While I was writing Knightless, I had a boyfriend who loved to brainstorm story ideas with me, and he hit on this idea that I should write one of these stories about a pirate. And the pirate had to have a ponytail. There was something about that ponytail that stuck with this guy and he always insisted that this future pirate of mine must have a ponytail. Fine. I promised him a ponytail.

I don’t have the boyfriend anymore, but I kept the pirate. And the ponytail.

My new novella, the second  Knit Witchery Tale  is “Pirateless in the Caribbean,” and I did mention my ex-friend in the book’s dedication. Credit should go where credit is due, after all.

Why did you choose this genre?

I read widely in many genres, I’ve been an addict since I started reading at age 4. I like a lot of things- science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, women’s fiction, suspense, even some horror.

But I have come to love romance. It celebrates the most positive force for good in the universe. I love reading it, because it refuels and recharges me with positivity, instead of draining me with more examples of the unhappier side of human nature and the cruel vagaries of the world.

Of course I want to write it. It is where I want to spend my time emotionally and psychologically.

I also love it because it definitely is focused on the emotional journey of the characters, and it’s very satisfying to write it- tapping into my own truths and sharing something positive that, hopefully, people can identify with.

Added bonus, Romance as a genre is a huge umbrella- with room for as many sub-genres as you can make up; science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, historical, contemporary, suspense, thriller, cozy mystery, steampunk- the sky’s the limit. I can write romance as many ways as I can imagine.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. That year, in my 3rd grade class, our teacher did an amazing class project.  At the beginning of the school year, she told us that we were, each of us, going to write a book. These books would be printed up, illustrated by us, and bound in hard covers. We would be real authors. And like real authors, when our books were completed, we would share our publications with our loyal audience by holding an “Author’s Tea,” which would be a formal event our families would be invited to.

I look back now and am amazed at this teacher’s vision for us, and how well she actually executed it. She must have been a writer, because she understood how to value every contribution in an authentic way. Every single student in that class, about 25 of us, produced a book. The whole project took several months. At the end of that time, we held our Author’s Tea and we couldn’t have been prouder to share the results of our hard work and creativity.

This certainly lit a fire in me. I’d always been an avid reader, now I couldn’t stop writing. I loved making up stories as much as I loved reading them. It was an amazing discovery.

But I stopped after a couple of years and didn’t come back around to writing until I was in my late 30’s. I’d always told myself (as a lot of people do), “Someday I’m going to write a book.”

Well, my teenage daughter started writing. She wrote fan fiction and posted it online, gaining a following and receiving fan mail and invitations to post on various websites. And I realized that if I didn’t start that book I always said I’d write, that she was going to beat me to it.

So I started to get serious. I took a class in creative writing. I stayed in a critique group. I joined Romance Writers of America- which was the best decision I ever made. What a great community and resource we all are for each other.

Long answer to a short question, wasn’t it!

But an interesting one, Jill! How did you get started writing romance?

I’d been doing family history research and I was amazed by the story of how my father’s parents met and married. I decided I’d write a story based on theirs, and since it was a love story, I’d write a romance. How hard could it be?  Like I had any idea what I was talking about. Pretty funny, but hey, it was a start. The passion I had to tell that story kept me going through the monumental learning curve I took on as I joined RWA and learned about the romance genre. I learned about the craft and the business of writing and boy, did I have a lot to learn. I was so lucky to meet great people and join up with critique groups where we helped each other become better writers and make all our mistakes together in a safe place of encouragement and learning.

Where do you live and how long have you been writing?

I live in Southern California, in Orange County. I was born here and have grown up here, never lived away from it. But because my parents were from Michigan, and instilled good solid Midwest values into me, a lot of people who meet me are surprised to find out I’m not from the Midwest. I’m very down to earth.

Although I haven’t lived elsewhere, I’ve had good opportunities to travel. When I was a kid, we did a lot of camping, and my dad encouraged me to be a bit of a tomboy. I loved hiking, rock scrambling, fishing, swimming, climbing trees, you name it. The year I was ten, we drove back east to Michigan to visit family, taking over a week to get there. It made a huge impression on me, showing me that there was a whole world of people out there living everyday lives in all kinds of places I had never imagined. As an adult, I’ve visited England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, let’s see, where else? Been to Hawaii, the Bahamas and Cancun. I don’t tend to go back to places I’ve been- there are so many more places I’d like to go and not nearly enough time to get to them.

Do you have any pets?

When I was a kid, we had a family dog and I always wished we could have more pets. When I had kids, I let them have a lot of pets. At one point, we had two dogs, four birds, a turtle, and three leopard geckos- in our suburban house. I drew the line at snakes and cats. Now my kids are grown, and I have only my two dogs- both rescues. One is an American Eskimo- think small white fox- and the other is a Chiweenie- a Chihuahua-Daschund mix. He is possibly the neediest dog on the planet, but has a huge, loving heart. I love having dogs, they are among the best people I know. Oh, and the very nice cat my now-adult daughter brought with her when she moved back into the house. So much for lines!

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

The hobby that is taking up a lot of my time these days is hiking. And it has been very good to me. I got divorced about five years ago, and after about a year and a half I decided I was ready to get back into the world again and start dating. I tried online dating, and met some nice people as well as some not as nice. But I was still spending way too many Friday nights at home in front of the tv with nothing else to do. Then my daughter suggested I try Meetup. Once I looked it up and found out that Meetup was a way to find other people who like to do what you like to do, I was in.

It turns out hiking is very big in Orange County. There are at least 4-5 really large hiking Meetup groups with up to 5000 members- although most people actually belong to several groups. Well, I like hiking, but it had always been something I did when I went camping. I never even thought about doing it at home. But south Orange County has some beautiful open areas- Cleveland National forest- Trabuco district in the Santa Ana Mountains, O’Neil Regional Park, and several wilderness parks along the coast around Laguna Beach. There is a lot of amazing hiking. And it turns out, a lot of amazing hikers. The group I got the most involved with is a very social group, and we have really become a community and a family for each other.

About the third hike I signed up for, I kind of hit it off with the hike leader- a software engineer turned hike organizer extraordinaire. He asked me out for coffee the next day. Coffee led to dinner, led to dating, led to moving in together, and a little over a year later (April 2015) we got married. On a hike in O’Neil Park. By one of our hikers, who is a minister.
I’m definitely planning a story inspired by these events.

The wedding (we are somewhere in the middle):

The wedding guests

Running the gauntlet

Jill's wedding boots

What do you like best about your heroine?

What I like best about my Stephanie, my heroine in Pirateless in the Caribbean, is that she isn’t like me at all. Or maybe she’s my alter-ego. She is the me I don’t let myself be to other people.
She is kind of snarky, irritable and maybe a little pushy. She isn’t the easiest person to get along with. But she is also very smart, and she has a close (if a little bit dysfunctional) family. She is extremely goal-focused. Too much so, most people would say.

What do you like best about your hero?

Rick, my hero in Pirateless in the Caribbean, is really laid back and doesn’t care a lot about what other people think about him. Plus he is really hot- think Orlando Bloom hot. With a ponytail.

The reason why he’s so low key may surprise you. But he could be just the man the heroine needs to help her see the trap her rat-race has become.

Where can readers find you?

Online at
I’m on twitter, @jill_jaynes
And on Facebook at

What's your tagline?

My tagline is The Magic of Romance. This is because all of my stories have an element of “magic” in them. It could be the magic of a wish, it could be a paranormal ability that a character has.

What's up next for you, writing-wise?

My next novella, Pirateless in the Caribbean, is currently available from Uncial Press for presale on Amazon,  and will be available for download on June 17th on Amazon, Untreed Reads, iBooks, All Romance Ebooks and probably a couple of other places.

In the meantime, I am wrapping up two different short stories for two separate collections that will be self-published with multiple authors.

The first story is called  “Once Upon a Love Letter,” and will go into a collection called “Secrets of Moonlight Cove” that will be available on Amazon in September of this year.  Each short romance in this set takes place in the small beach community of Moonlight Cove, on California’s Central Coast.

“Once Upon a Love Letter” is about a young woman who comes back to the town she left as a teenager to make a life for herself. She has to decide whether to hold onto the chance to re-kindle a flame with her all-grown-up teenage crush, or risk losing him by telling him she has a message from his dead father. He could write her off as crazy, but the message may be too important not to deliver.

The second collection will be a set of Christmas Romances that will come out at the end of November on Amazon. My story for that set is called, “Allie Gets Her Man,” and is about a once in a lifetime Christmas wish made on a very special family heirloom ornament.

After that, I will write “Love at First Hike,” the third Knit Witchery Tale novella.
Told you I was going to write about hiking!

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