I'm excited to share my second interview with my fellow Shades of Pink author JJ Ellis in celebration of the launch of her new novel Dylan's Desire on May 29th!
NDG: For those who are unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself.
JJ: I am a full-time stay at home mom to five kids from preschool to college age. I am also now a full-time writer. I haven’t always been a writer though. I only started this journey in 2005.
I write contemporary romance that I hope fits into the contemporary ciction genre too because I always make sure there is a strong sense of family, community and friendships.
On a personal level, I hold a degree in public relations that I never had cause to use until I became an indie author. It’s nice to know my degree isn’t being wasted!
NDG: I think we're all familiar with the term "playing doctor," and have probably fantasized about it at some point if most of us are honest. Without getting too personal, what drew you to the whole nurse/patient trope? Have you ever written any similar plot with a doctor/patient relationship between the protagonists?
JJ: In the first book in the Harper’s Rock series the main character’s brother Dylan was in an accident…When we decided to make it a series involving all of the brothers we had to decide who Dylan’s love interest would be. One day TA and I were brainstorming and he said that because the character was going to be injured and hospital/home bound for a good piece of the story, his nurse was the best choice. It wasn’t planned as a nurse/patient story in any way, it was more of an afterthought. Flying by the seat of your pants is the only way to go sometimes!
And then we made the nurse love interest a bit character from my Sunset Destiny series to go with the fact that Dylan and his brothers are cousins to the main characters in that series.
NDG: You mentioned that this book is "sexier" than some of your others. How was it to push the envelope a little in this direction in your writing? Is this something that reader's can expect in your future books?
JJ: We actually started to up the sexy factor with the book before Dylan’s (Logan’s Leap) with only one single ‘risqué’ scene. I was scared to death but TA pushed it and it went over quite well. With Dylan’s Desire TA was in charge with the story and I let him have free rein. I ended up loving it…eventually. Some things will probably always be anxiety causing for me, but that is what makes a you evolve as a writer…You have to write about things that make you uncomfortable sometimes.
As for other books, I’m going to say that I hope we have a mix of sweetly sexy and risqué sexy depending on what the storyline calls for.
NDG: Another familiar trope, but one that never gets old, is having a childhood connection between the protagonists. It lends a sweetness to the romance, knowing that these two people know each other so well, and yet there is more for them to learn about each other. How do you balance these two sides of a relationship---their familiarity with each other along with things they discover or re-discover about each other that keeps the story interesting?
JJ: My husband TA, with whom I write, doesn’t really think about this aspect of it, he just wrote the story as it flowed out of him. (I created Dylan and he developed him. He pretty much had full rein over Nicoletta)
I however have an affinity for couples who have known each other for a long period of time before finally getting together. I find it makes the characters more genuine which lends itself to an interesting story. We both believe that great characters are key to the prefect story!
NDG: Tell us a little bit about the process of writing with your husband. Do you pass the manuscript back and forth and add to it? Does one of you come up with the initial ideas? How did he come to want to write romance with you---most men would run screaming from reading this material, much less writing about it. Has he written in other genres?
JJ: Writing as a team varies for us. With our first novel together The Heart of Alaska, we each took the characters we created and ran with that part of the story (I created one couple and he created the other). And then we helped each other to smooth out the rough edges. I must say that for the most part TA does the serious/action stuff and I do the fluff and romance.
With this series I started book 1 years ago and then TA came in, in the middle and helped round things out and added suspense. The second book was my baby and TA was there to help me round it out and add suspense. Dylan’s Desire, the third book, was his baby and I was there to fluff and add a dash of sexy and romance. I think our writing relationship will always work in whatever way is best for each book.
NDG: At the beginning of the book, Dylan is, let's just say quite immature. What's the most important aspect of his evolution and growth as a character?
JJ: We don’t think he is truly immature. He has some immature actions like all people do, but as a combat vet, a successful business owner, and a man who realizes he did something terribly wrong at the beginning of the book, he has to be very mature. I think he doesn’t always think he is mature and for him becoming less of a bad boy with the ladies (thanks to coming to term with his brother’s death and Nicoletta coming back into his life) he FEELS more grown up hence his character comes full circle.
NDG: There's also an aspect of mystery and suspense to the story. Is this something you include in many of your other books?
JJ: The suspense/mystery aspect is new for us. My Sunset Destiny series is straight romance but thanks to TA’s talent and guidance, we added suspense to the Harper’s Rock series and it worked with the characters and storylines we created.
NDG: What's coming next for you?
JJ: Next for us is something new and special. It is a baby boomer romance which means that the main characters are in their sixties. Readers get a sneak peek of this romance in Dylan’s Desire with the characters of Jack and Evie (Dylan’s mom).
It will be unlike anything I’ve ever done. The main characters are ‘sixty somethings’, but it will also explore the previous loves and struggles in their lives. For Evie it was her husband of forty some years, Cole, and their struggle with infertility. For Jack it was his wife of forty some years, Francesca, and their battle to overcome his mindset from the horrors of Vietnam. It’s like three books in one. Fate’s Encore is the title and we are not sure at this point when it will come out.
For more about JJ and her books, find her on Facebook, Twitter, or visit www.writerjjellis.com.
JJ also hosted the cover release for my first novel My Brother's Keeper, scheduled to launch on July 15th. It's also available now for pre-order!