Hi Jenna. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today.
We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.
Jenna: Thank you for having me, and thank you for your interest in ALL THE RIGHT PLACES. I’m so excited to be here!
TRC: Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Jenna: I’m an avid reader, and I’m a huge fan of the romance genre. I started reading romances at a young age. My mom had no problem with my reading preferences, but my dad wasn’t quite so accepting.
When I was in high school (and without a boyfriend, I must point out), my dad warned me that reading romance novels would prevent me from ever finding a mate. “Those books are giving you unrealistic expectations of men,” he insisted. “No real man could ever live up to a fictionalized version of romance.”
My dad was wrong; romances didn’t give me unrealistic expectations of men, but they did give me a strong sense of self-value. And when I met my husband, he was way better than any hero I had ever read!
Before I decided to write a romance, I worked as a journalist. So in a way, I’ve always been a writer, but I wrote fact rather than fiction. My life as a journalist gave me a great foundation for fiction writing because I’ve been outlining, researching, and meeting deadlines for more than a decade.
TRC: Have you always been interested in writing?
Jenna: I’ve always been interested in storytelling. When I was a little girl, I spent hours with my best friend making up stories. It was our favorite thing to do. As we got older, the stories always included a strong romantic element, usually featuring our respective crushes. Thankfully, we never put those stories down on paper. I shudder to think what would have happened if anyone had actually read them!
TRC: All The Right Places is your debut novel. Can you tell us your reaction when you found out your book was going to be published?
Jenna: Let me tell you a story—when my husband proposed, I was elated… ecstatic… euphoric… and a whole bunch of other e-words. I loved him to distraction and wanted nothing more than to be his wife. But instead of screaming “Yes! A thousand times yes!” I asked him, “Are you sure about this? You’re going to be stuck with me for life, you know.”
So that’s me… when I really, really want something, and I actually get it—either through hard work or sheer luck or a combination of both—I have a hard time believing my good fortune. And when I saw the email from my agent that Berkley wanted to acquire ALL THE RIGHT PLACES and do a three-book deal, I thought I was hallucinating or maybe having a bad reaction from the ham sandwich I ate for lunch.
Once I realized the book deal was actually the real thing, I was so relieved because my hard work had paid off. And I was also relieved because my agent’s faith in me had been rewarded. And to be honest, I also felt a lot of pressure because I knew that getting a book deal was really just the beginning. There’s so much work that goes into publishing a book, and of course, you still have to connect with readers and sell novels.
TRC: Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for your Riley O’Brien & Co. romance series? Also, how many books do you have planned?
Jenna: The idea for ALL THE RIGHT PLACES came from a bumper sticker. My husband and I were running errands, and as we sat at a stop light, I noticed the bumper sticker on the car in front of us. It advocated breast cancer awareness, and it said: Save the Tatas.
I pointed out the bumper sticker to my husband, and he pointed out that there are a lot of words for breasts. And then he oh-so-helpfully proceeded to name them all: boobs, hooters, jugs, melons, rack, tits… oh, the list just goes on and on.
I started thinking that there were a lot of words for butt, too: ass, backporch, badonkadonk, booty, caboose, derrière… again, so many words, so little time.
That thought led me to another – listing the synonyms for butt would be a fun beginning for a romance novel. But who would be thinking about butts all the time? And then it came to me – someone who was involved in the clothing business.
And the most popular clothing for butts? Jeans.
Right now, there are three full-length Riley O’Brien & Co. novels. The second one, COMING APART AT THE SEAMS, is scheduled for publication on Dec. 1, 2015. The third in the series, HANGING BY A THREAD, will come out in spring 2016. I’ve also written two Riley O’Brien & Co. novellas, but I don’t have any specifics on when they’ll be published.
TRC: Can you please tell us the premise of this series?
Jenna: Around the world, people wear Riley O’Brien & Co.’s iconic jeans, known as Rileys. Unfortunately, competition from designer denim is eroding the company’s market share, and the women’s division is in really bad shape. The company has alienated its female consumers, and as a result, it is struggling to stay competitive and relevant.
That business challenge is the basis for the series and sets up the external conflict for the entire series, and especially ALL THE RIGHT PLACES. This generation of O’Briens—risk-averse Quinn, quick-witted Cal, and strong-willed Teagan—have differing opinions on how to solve the problem.
TRC: Last week, All the Right Places was released. Would you please give us a brief description of the first book in your series?
Jenna: Quinn O’Brien, the great-great grandson of Riley O’Brien & Co.’s founder, is currently running the family business. He reluctantly partners with up-and-coming designer Amelia Winger for a new line of accessories. Quinn views the partnership as a last ditch attempt to salvage the women’s division. Amelia, however, views the partnership as one piece of a larger plan—one that Quinn knows nothing about. She fights her attraction to Quinn, not only because of their professional relationship, but also because she’s working behind his back. But Quinn, with his broad shoulders, smoky blue eyes, and sexy smile, is hard to resist.
TRC: You write sexy contemporary romance. Do you have any desire to write other genres?
Jenna: I like to read just about every type of romance including historical, erotica, new adult, and romantic suspense. I briefly considered the idea of writing a new adult novel because I had an idea for one, but unfortunately, I don’t think my voice is suited for new adult. I also have an idea for a romantic suspense series, but I don’t know if or when I’ll get around to working on it. I have a desire to write something a little darker, similar to Anne Stuart. I have an author crush on that woman.
TRC: What are you currently working on?
Jenna: I am working on a new series, and I am really excited about it! I don’t want to share too much about the first book, but I can tell you that my hero and heroine meet in a hotel bar and have a one-night stand (something that is out of character for both of them). They think they’ll never see each other again. They also think it will be easy to forget what happened in that hotel room. They’re wrong, on both counts.
TRC: What is your writing process? Do you like to write at specific times, in a special place?
Jenna: My writing process is fairly structured, and I think that’s because I worked as a journalist for so many years. In that line of work, I had to deal with hard deadlines and topics that I often found uninteresting, and the best way to manage my workload was to create outlines and follow them.
Before I start a book, I outline it from beginning to end and really flesh out each chapter. I already know how the story is going to end before I even open up a Word document to type the first word. On average, my outlines are about 100 pages.
When I write, my goal is to complete a chapter in one sitting. I don’t like to start a chapter and leave it unfinished because it’s hard for me to get back into the scene. I don’t really prefer to write at any specific time, though I usually prefer to write in my home office. It’s comfy, spacious, and filled with a lot of natural sunlight.
I feel like I have a pretty good handle on my writing process, but I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the writing part of being a published author (producing books) with the business part (marketing my work and connecting with readers).
TRC: Many authors have friends or family, that they bounce ideas and information back and forth. Do you have anyone you like to discuss your stories with?
Jenna: My sister, Steffanie, and my critique partner, Jamie, are my go-to gals when it comes to brainstorming and plotting my stories. My sister is a very hard-to-please reader, and by hard-to-please I mean that she will skip to the final pages of a book if she’s bored. I know that if I can satisfy my sister, then I have a good shot at satisfying other readers, too. Jamie really helps me figure out character motivation and untangle plot snags. She is an idea generator extraordinaire. I am blessed to have both of them on my team.
TRC: When you are not writing, what other interests or hobbies do you have?
Jenna: My favorite thing to do is spend time with my husband. He’s the funniest and most interesting person I know, although it’s true that his sense of humor is more 13-year-old boy than adult male. I also love to read, and I am trying to broaden my reading horizons beyond romance. The problem is, I am kind of hung up on the whole happily ever after thing, and a happy ending isn’t the same thing, not at all. I recently started practicing yoga, and I really enjoy it, but wow, I am not very graceful. Every class is a lesson in humility. And, after years of disliking sports, I suddenly love football, both college and pro.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Jenna: ALL THE RIGHT PLACES features likable characters, witty dialogue, authentic emotion, and sizzling sex scenes. As my heroine, Amelia, would say, it’s “orgasmically delicious”.
Favorite Food: chicken poblano enchiladas
Favorite Dessert: orange buttermilk cake with mocha fudge frosting
Favorite Movie: Sixteen Candles
Favorite TV Show: I’m a little grumpy because a lot of my new favorite shows were just cancelled. It makes me not want to watch any new shows. I loved Forever, but ABC pulled the plug on it. I also like Younger, which is produced by Darren Star, the guy behind Sex and the City, and I’m a long-time fan of Law & Order: SVU.
TRC: I feel bad too. I really enjoyed Forever, and Ioan Grufudd.
Favorite Movie or TV Celebrity: Hugh Jackman. He can act, sing, dance, and OMG, that smile and those abs. Plus, he seems like a genuinely nice guy who loves his wife and children. That’s the kind of guy I’d like to know.
Dark or Milk Chocolate: Depends on my mood.
Favorite literary character (not your own): Hardy Cates, the hero of Lisa Kleypas’ BLUE-EYED DEVIL. That man is finger-lickin’ good.
Dog or Cat: Both! I have an apricot toy poodle who is smart and destructive and a gray kitty who steals my ponytail holders.
TRC: Thank you Jenna, for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with All the Right Places.
Jenna: Thank you. I hope I can visit again soon!