"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Jacquie Rogers is a former software designer, campaign manager, deli clerk, and cow milker, but always a bookworm. Rural Owyhee County, Idaho, was a great place to grow up, riding her horse and setting the scenes for many tales. Her current release, Faery Special Romances, won the Fall NOR Award for Best Print Sci-fi/Fantasy Romance and finaled in several other contests. Two of the stories are set in or near her hometown.
She lives in Seattle with Mark, her indulgent husband who is also her proofreader, and Annie, a feral cat that doesn’t like people or bad weather.
An Interview with Jacquie Rogers
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Jacquie R.: No, I had no intention of ever becoming a writer. My mother wanted me to be a writer so of course I didn’t. In the first grade, I wanted to be a television baseball announcer. Never did that, but I did try several other careers, all of which ultimately helped enrich my writing. Really, I think the best preparation for an author is to gain experience in a wide range of fields, which I inadvertently did.
I began writing a year after I started reading Romance, which was spring of 1995. I had pneumonia and had read every book in the house (we have LOTS). My daughter refused to buy another biography for me until I read one of her Romance novels. Mind you, I was not happy with the idea, and was prejudiced in the extreme. Kathleen Eagle changed my mind and made a believer out of me! Then the next year, I woke up from a dream—an entire book. I wrote down the plot and wrote the first half of a futuristic murder mystery, which turned into a Romance, and I’ve been writing in the genre ever since.
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Jacquie R.: I wish I were more scheduled, but alas, I have a tendency to let other things interfere with my writing time. There’s no excuse—my kids have all moved out and I shut down my software business—so my time is my own. But it’s so easy to allow things to eat up my day, such as coding web pages, coding promo emails, running contests, answering email, and then there’s myspace, facebook, bebo, squidoo, pagii, shelfari, goodreads, manicreaders . . . ad infinitum. Plus, I had no idea that to be an author, you also have to be a graphic artist, mail clerk, movie maker, web designer, and promotions guru. To counteract this, I generally work on a schedule: email from noon to 3pm; writing from 3pm to 6pm; husband time to 9pm; then either writing or PR from 9pm to 3am. Yes, I’m a nightowl.
When not writing, I play fantasy baseball, watch the Mariners (2008 has been very, very bad but I watch anyway) and rodeo on TV, and most importantly, spend time with my dh.
PNR: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing? Who has been your biggest support?
Jacquie R.: Biggest influence? A combination of Maggie Osborne, Ogden Nash, and Rita Clay Estrada. Or not. I don’t actually know.
Who has been my biggest support? Oh, my . . . I don’t even know where to begin. <takes deep breath> I’m one of the luckiest people on this planet because I’ve been blessed with so many wonderful, caring people who have helped me every step of the way. In the beginning, my daughter Moriah and my sister-in-law, Sherry Walker, praised me up one side and down the other, encouraging me to write more. Sherry later joined a critique group with the Two Wendys and me, so she’s been there from the beginning, and is still a pillar for me. Then there’s Gerri Russell, the first person not related to me who ever read my work. She’s got to be the sweetest, most diplomatic person I know, and gave me the courage to enter my first contest, which was a huge step. Judith Laik and Sherrie Holmes both have nourished my abilities and kept me centered. Stella Cameron, Karen Harbaugh, and Adrianne Lee have always made me feel like I have the talent to go on.
Then, feeling pretty blue after a major accident in 2004, I was chatting with Deborah MacGillivray, Diane Davis White, and Leanne Burroughs (now my editor), who had a breast cancer research charity project going. I wasn’t so sure I could write a short story—had never written one before, and Deborah said she didn’t think she could, either, but we gave it a try. It was fun! What resulted for me was FAERY GOOD ADVICE, a story that won the 2006 PEARL Award (Deborah’s story won, too!). I wrote another story in that anthology, a futuristic called SINGLE GIRLS CAN’T JUMP, which I’m proud of as well.
PNR: Most authors are avid readers; what is your favorite genre to read? What titles would we see in your TBR pile?
Jacquie R.: Here’s the top layer of my TBR pile:
DRAGON LOVERS: Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney, Barbara Samuel, & Karen Harbaugh
TEXAS TENDER: Leigh Greenwood
GUARDIAN OF HONOR: Robin D. Owens
RIDING THE THUNDER: Deborah MacGillivray
KNIGHT’S FORK: Rowena Cherry
THE BRIDE OF BLACKBEARD: Brynn Chapman
MAXIMUM RIDE: James Patterson
CAMELOT’S DESTINY: Cynthia Breeding
ONE MORE TIME: Celia May Hart
DRAGON’S BREATH: E.D. Baker
RAPE OF THE SOUL: Dawn Thompson
. . . and at least 50 more. I would love to spend more time reading.
As for genre, I stick with Romance mostly. I love humorous paranormal, western historical (preferably not a costume drama), Elizabethan, and anything ancient—Greek, Egyptian, Norse, or Celtic mythology. If a story makes me laugh and feel good, then I don’t care what genre it is. J
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Jacquie R.: All the elements—plot, character, pacing—in one seamless story package. If I put down a book and say, “Wow, great plot!” or “Strong characters!” then, upon later analysis, I nearly always find that the book is not well-balanced for my reading taste. I like all the elements to be so closely intertwined that I can’t identify one particular sentence, scene, or event as either solely character development or solely plot. To me, that’s a great story.
PNR: Congratulations, your short story FAERY GOOD ADVICE, in the No Law Against Love anthology from Highland Press, won the 2006 PEARL Award; how does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Jacquie R.: Frankly, I was shocked, pleasantly so. The PEARL Award is prestigious, and one of three used by some libraries to buy books (the other two are the RITAź and RT), so it’s a real honor to even final, let alone win. And wow, what good company I’m in—all my favorite authors! I felt more like a fan-girl. LOL. I was also honored when THE DUCHESS AND THE DIRTWATER FAERY finaled in 2007. The PEARL Award is one of the best-run contests around, too. The rules are clear and enforced, so a win truly is a win.
PNR: FAERY SPECIAL ROMANCES released in May 2007 from Highland Press, a compilation of ten of your faerie stories. Generously, your author royalties are donated to the Children’s Tumor Foundation; could you tell us a little about your involvement with this organization?
Jacquie R.: I had always planned to anonymously donate the royalties of my first book to neurofibromatosis research. But my daughter, Mercedes (http://www.myspace.com/hurricanemercedes ), who is my publicist and also lives with neurofibromatosis (NF), would have none of it. She contended that while the money would be nice, the real benefit is raising NF awareness in the Romance reading community.
For those who don’t know, NF is a genetic neurological disorder where tumors grow on nerve endings—usually benign but can be cancerous, and very painful. NF people haven’t been good self-advocates because a face and body covered with hundreds of tumors is not considered cute poster material. These people need the courage of a lion just to go to the grocery store—everywhere they go, people stare, or wince and look away, or say some of the meanest things.
Difficulties stemming from NF include scoliosis, blindness, deafness, paralysis, learning disabilities, coordination problems, and a host of other manifestations.
While NF is genetic, a large percentage of the cases are spontaneous mutation, as was my daughter’s, so any family of all races can be affected. But once that mutation has happened, there’s a 50% chance of passing it on to their child.
Children’s Tumor Foundation has been wonderful. They have a solid plan for finding a cure for NF, and are truly caring and supportive people. Their website is very informative. http://www.ctf.org
PNR: The fun thing about FAERY SPECIAL ROMANCES is that readers watch Keely blossom from kindergartener into a young woman as the stories progress; could you tell us what inspired this magical fantasy and a little about your vision for the project? Will readers be seeing more of Keely in the future?
Jacquie R.: The structure of the book is that of a saga. The reason it happened that way is because the very thought of a 4-year-old with wings and not so stable magic sent me into a fit of giggles. Anyone who has herded 4- and 5-year-olds can understand. Then I had to figure out what time period that would be—and it ended up to be around 1200AD. So, following Keely’s development from small child, to tween, to puberty, to the various stages of maturing into an adult, it fell into place that there would be stories spaced from 1200 to a few hundred years into the future, when Keely would be about 1,000+ years old—marriageable age for a faery.
Sounded like a good idea at the time. What I didn’t realize is how much research it would take. Zounds! I had written western historicals and futuristics. I’d never written Medieval, Shakespearean, Restoration, Colonial, Regency, Antebellum, Roaring 20s, or the 60s. Just because a story is short, doesn’t mean you can get away with scrimping on setting. But I love research, and did I ever learn a lot!
As for seeing Keely in another story—all I can say is I hope so. It all depends on my publisher.
PNR: Readers are captivated by the magical world you have created. Tell us about the challenges you face in world building with paranormal elements and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and stories? How much research is involved?
Jacquie R.: The biggest challenge of creating a fantasy world is the multitude of choices. When I write a straight historical, the readers know what they think the world was like from history books, other romances, school, and other sources. There’s an expectation of each period and setting which must be met. But with Fantasy, all bets are off. The author can create worlds that defy the laws of quantum physics, or anything else familiar to us. So the first challenge is to narrow down the choices. The second challenge is to create rules for the world and to teach the characters how to abide by those rules, or they’ll suffer the consequences.
As for research, I’d be willing to bet most paranormal writers do quite a bit. I do, and in fact, I had so much material that Eilis Flynn (http://www.eilisflynn.com) and I created a workshop called Faeries Along the Silk Road and we have another called There Be Dragons in progress. Yes, I’m planning a story about dragons, and I’m really excited about it.
PNR: Could you give us some insight into the mythology of your Fae that is the thread to connect your stories?
Jacquie R.: My faeries are most like the Dana o’Shee (as described in pantheon.com). A holographic tattoo played an important role in the first story, so my brainstorming partner, Judith Laik (http://www.judithlaik.com) and I came up with a Faery World of six clans: Rainbow (Keely’s clan), Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Brown. Each clan has an element that feeds it such as air, fire, water, etc.; a hologram tattoo, which is that clan’s logo; a physicality, in that some clans have more pointed ears and some are taller; and the magic specialties, such as control of the Portal to the Human World.
As an example, the Rainbow Clan is currently the ruling clan of Faery World, fresh air builds their powers, the hologram tattoo is of a rainbow, the clan members are the tallest of the Fae, and they can do more with faery dust than other clans can. Of course, since the Rainbow Clan is the ruling clan, Keely, who is the queen’s daughter and heir, has control over all the available magic, but to a lesser extent than the other clans.
So I started with a very basic structure, then added a few consequences, such as faeries require Waters of Life when in the Human World, or they’ll revert to humans. If there are no consequences to magic, then the conflict of the story can suffer.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Jacquie R.: Really, character-driven or plot driven only matters in the first scene. After that, character drives plot and plot drives character—that is the nature of Story. Then again, the Romance genre emphasizes emotion, but to me, that doesn’t make a story character-driven. Emotion with nothing happening is not compelling. Action which creates a dilemma is what makes the emotion relevant. My biggest concern is pacing. Slow pacing can kill a book for me as a reader so I hope my books move along at a good clip and keep the reader enthused to read more.
PNR: Keely is a wonderfully appealing character that readers really connect to; could you tell us about her development? Who has been your favorite character to write?
Jacquie R.: Actually, Keely is the only character I’ve ever written that I can’t tell you how she came to me. It’s the weirdest thing, because I’m a dyed-in-the-wool plotter and I never, ever start writing the story until I know my character inside and out. But not Keely. I hadn’t written a short story before, but I had a premise and started with a phone conversation. Keely made me laugh and I haven’t stopped laughing since. She’s so sincere, and she desperately wants to help others find their true loves, but she’s always wrong—sort of a cross between my daughters and Jane Austen’s Emma. Never before has a character come to me fully formed, and I’m not holding my breath until another one does, either, because I think it’s a once in a lifetime deal.
PNR: The folklore of the Fae has long captured the imagination of readers. Why do you feel it is such a popular theme in the paranormal romance genre? What is it about this genre that captures your imagination?
Jacquie R.: The Fae are with us from our first nursery rhymes. I’ve always been fascinated by faeries and felt their presence outside my window when I was little. They always saved me from bad dreams. When I got older, around 8 or 9, the faeries went away, and so did the secure feeling they gave me. I forgot all about them until I started writing, and then my old friends showed up again, their magic as strong as ever.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level in your books? Do you find it difficult to write love scenes?
Jacquie R.: FAERY SPECIAL ROMANCES is aimed at the sixteen and older readership. All the stories are sensual, but not graphic, and there is only one story with intercourse, but it’s well veiled. This book is for neurofibromatosis awareness (although NF plays no part in the book at all) so I wanted to create a book that would be a great gift, and one you could give your Great Aunt Tillie and not have to worry about her keeling over from a heart attack.
As for writing love scenes, I don’t find it difficult to write love scenes if they come naturally to the story, but throwing in an extra sex scene to make a book sell is much harder. For me, it’s all about the romance, the anticipation, the thrill of a knight in shining armor swooping the damsel up in his arms and taking her to the bed of rose petals where they join their souls in passion. Passion, whether in a sex scene or in a car chase scene, is what I’m after.
PNR: You have written in the fantasy and futuristic/time travel genres; is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Jacquie R.: I’ve written in thirteen different time periods and when I finish my next two projects, we can change that number to fifteen. Settings have all been Europe or North America. My first love is Greek mythology, and I’d love to set a story in Ancient Greece. Then again, Egypt is alluring, and so is Persia.
The truth is, I’m interested in a wide variety of settings and time periods, although contemporary is the least intriguing, probably because, well, I’m here. I do enjoy contemporary if there’s a paranormal element, however.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Jacquie R.: My next release is a contemporary (how’d that happen???) western called DOWN HOME EVER LOVIN’ MULE BLUES. Yes, it has a woowoo element (big surprise). The narrator of the book is a matchmaking mule named Socrates. I’m so excited about this book because it’s fun, romantic, and a little sexier than the faery book. I love the book cover (designed by Deborah MacGillivray) and the theme song for the book video was written and recorded by Justin Anthony, who just signed a recording contract with a major studio. This book will be released in trade paper October 2008. At some point, probably in 2009, it will also be released as an e-book. Watch for a huge contest with lots of free print books for prizes to celebrate the release.
I also have a fantasy novel and three novellas in the works.
PNR: Thank you, Jacquie, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Keely’s Contest and News Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/keely/
Keely’s myspace: http://www.myspace.com/keely_faery
For a listing of my sites, go to http://www.jacquierogers.com/links.html.
May 15, 2007
Ten heartwarming tales with a sprinkling of faery magic
Once Upon A Time, the faery princess Keely tried to match . . . . . . a misguided faery maiden and a surly but handsome knight, the pirate Devlin Angell and the ever-hopeful Myra, a faery under the ruse of Lord Kembell and a lady of nobel birth, a blacksmith and a duchess, a flapper and a barnstormer pilot . . . But can Keely keep her own heart? With faery magic, anything can happen! This enchanted carpet-ride features ten romantic faery tales, ten happy couples, and a journey through history with Keely, who grows from a kindergartener to a beautiful young faery woman.
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