"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
PNR Attractions 2007
Spotlight on Upcoming Paranormal Releases
Welcome to an interview with Jenna McKnight, the award-winning, bestselling author of a dozen romantic comedies. Her books have been selections for Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs, launch titles for Avon’s venture into romance novels in Great Britain, and published in 14 countries.
PNR: Have you always wanted to be a writer, what led you to pursue writing as a career?
Jenna M.: I’ve always wanted to write, as far back as elementary school, way back when I was too young to know I was supposed to grow up “to be” something. Too young to know about careers, earning money, and supporting myself. As soon as Sr. Marie taught me that letters make words, I was off and running, penciling little stories that interested me, experimenting with tales that I had no background for--but that didn’t stop me. School work was easy for me, so I had plenty of free time.
PNR: How do you manage to balance your writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Jenna M.: One of the things I enjoy most is the local CERT program. Readers from California probably know what this is, or anyone else who’s stumbled onto it, but for everyone else, CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. I’ve been with the program from the beginning, and sometimes get called into the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center to help out during local emergencies, like when 500,000 residences were without power twice this year following storms. On a smaller scale, CERT is great education for teaching all of us how to be safer in our homes, to be prepared to take care of ourselves for a few days in case help doesn’t arrive. There is a core group of us who like to play victim for the new classes. We’ve had some training from a professional moulage expert, and we get all dressed up in ripped clothing, moulage some great wounds, chemical burns, impalements, spurting blood. Then we position ourselves in an empty building, and let the class find, treat, and evacuate us. By special request, we’ve also done this for a multi-jurisdictional fire/police HazMat exercise, after hours in a shopping mall.
PNR: Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer?
Jenna M.: My friends. Honestly, it’s true. My friends have been reading my stories since high school. It was such a heady feeling to have them come to school in the morning and clamor for the current installment of my work-in-progress, to actually fight for who’d get to read it first. I never forget that. With novels and readers, the feedback isn’t so obvious, so I still rely on my friends, plus all the new ones I’ve made from fan mail.
Note: as for the fight, please, I went to a Catholic high school, so it’s a relative term. Blood was drawn only once in 4 years. J
PNR: Your books put your heroines in challenging positions that provide plenty of sparks with the heroes; where do you get the ideas for your books? Do you outline or “go with the flow” when writing?
Jenna M.: I used to outline to death. Now I know the story arc, outline a few scenes at a time, and try to go with the flow.
Story ideas come from everyday challenges, but I escalate the conflict to put my heroines in more challenging positions. The whole plot gets larger, the conflict more intense, the outcome more important, and that allows for more sparks.
In Love in the Fast Lane, Maggie is climbing the corporate ladder, not unlike millions of other women (everyday challenge). But I put her in a time crunch, with an important interview coming up and a situtation at home with the hero that she can’t leave (escalate!). And of course I give her Scott, a hero whom she doesn’t want to leave, as much as she has to.
PNR: After being very successful writing contemporary romance for the Harlequin American line you made your paranormal debut in 1998 with THE WEDDING KNIGHT, a well received time travel romance. What made you decide to add paranormal elements to your writing, was it a natural progression?
Jenna M.: Actually, I wrote A Greek God at the Ladies’ Club even before The Wedding Knight, but as much as my editor at H. American loved it, the powers that be felt it wasn’t right for that line. So I wrote The Wedding Knight for the now defunct Harlequin Love & Laughter line and shelved Greek God for several years.
I’m an author with a wide variety of interests, who thrives on variety. I need to write different things, not just one genre. Look for me to move around again. First, though, a series of three witch books. The first one is titled A Witch in the House. Do you know that authors have working titles on their books? I’ll always think of this one as Light My Fire.
PNR: Your recent release, LOVE IN THE FAST LANE from Avon, features a conservative heroine, a sexy racecar driver and a ghost; can you give us a sneak peek?
Jenna M.: Would you like a first meeting? Here we go, then:
afraid of her?" Scott whispered to the ghost.
PNR: You write wonderfully witty characters that readers have fallen in love with. Could you tell us a little about the development of your heroines? Their heroes? Who has been you favorite character to write?
Jenna M.: Darius the Greek god was my favorite hero until Scott Templeton, race car driver. Interestingly enough, they are of the same ilk. Both Leo-like, with big egos, both used to adulation of the masses and a little stumped that the heroine isn’t falling at their feet. I love it when heroes realize they’re not going to get their way and then have to figure out a whole new perspective on life. It’s a journey for them, and it makes the story more interesting.
My heroines are equally strong, so it’s a good match. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own problems, their own internal conflicts, their softer side. I mean, we’re women, right? We know how complex we are. I don’t let my heroines off without sharing their vulnerabilities. Maggie, in Love in the Fast Lane, isn’t even aware she has them until the hero shows up. That’s when her boyfriend tips his hand. (Oh, a boyfriend—did I mention internal conflict?)
PNR: You are known for the humor you infuse in your writing; does this approach come naturally to you? Do you enjoy using humor in your writing?
Jenna M.: I’m laughing at this question, because I find that people think my normal way of thinking is funny, when I think it’s just, well, normal. It comes as naturally for me as breathing, though I often go back and tweak it for maximum punch. Do I enjoy it?—absolutely! Which maybe is why I’m successful with it; I enjoy it, and it shows.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? Do you find it challenging to balance these elements?
Jenna M.: Used to be I could say my writing was plot driven, without question. But over the last few books, I feel I’ve imbued my characters with much more emotion. I’ve slowed my writing pace a bit, and actually give my characters time to steer the plot their way from time to time. I hope I’ve achieved a nice balance. I’m sure it’s subjective, from reader to reader. Even from day to day, given a reader’s mood or frame of mind.
PNR: You have written contemporary and several paranormal sub-genres, which is your favorite to write, and why? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Jenna M.: I like both paranormal and non-paranormal. My goal is to continue with both, writing whichever moves me at the moment, whichever type of story begs to be told, in the best way to tell it. I’ve also penned a psycho-suspense that allowed me to get down and dirty, mean and rotten, and still write a sympathetic heroine. Don’t look for it yet; when it sells, I’ll announce it on the website and in my newsletter, Messages from McKnight.
PNR: In your opinion, what do you believe accounts for the sudden interest in all things paranormal in movies, books and television?
Jenna M.: Remember the song? Could be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius… Besides which, people love a mystery, and with the internet and cell phones, how much mystery is left in this world?
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Jenna M.: Well, I’ve finished Witch in the House, as I mentioned, the first of three witch books. In this series, the husbands of three women (Jade, Annie, and Courtney) all go missing together. In the first, a romantic comedy, Jade Delarue is a hereditary witch, hiding her secret in a small town in the midwest, where she runs Mystic Manor Bed & Breakfast. When she casts a spell for a new love in her life, who shows up but undercover private eye Mason Kincaid, hired by the insurance company to look for signs of fraud before they pay out the enormous benefit. Jade tries to get rid of Mason before he discovers her secret, but all of sudden, her spells aren’t working so well. And the deeper he digs, Mason just gets more and more intrigued by the many layers of Jade.
PNR: Thank you Jenna, for taking time out to speak with us; where can readers find out more about your work?
Jenna M.: The best place is my web site, www.jennamcknight.com. There’s a form there for anyone who wants to receive my infrequent but informative newsletter, Messages from McKnight. Throughout the month of January, I’ll pop in at the Avon Authors chat room on Monday nights. That’s at www.avonauthors.com (go to Discussion and click on Sigma Chat), beginning at 8 pm ET.
Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with readers. It’s always nice to make a more personal connection than what you get on a web site.For a complete list of Jenna's current and upcoming releases, visit her website http://www.jennamcknight.com/booklist.shtml
January 1, 2007 Available: December 26, 2006
Read the Reviews!
She wears Armani. He wears flame retardant underwear.
Maggie's plans on moving up don't involve a high-speed hotshot who claims he was sent by her dead father. Forget how charming Scott is, how he devours her with his eyes, what her shotgun-toting grandmother thinks of him. Maggie is determined to resist, but Scott is determined to convince her that loving him is worth the risk.
October 1, 2004
Read the Review!
Lilly Marquette is checking out the incredibly hot guy behind the counter of an adults-only toy shop when the furnace blows, and poof, she's headed for the pearly gates! She's greeted by guardian angels who give Lilly one last chance to get it right . . . and to choose the right man.
Hot, sexy, Jake Murdoch may be the right man, but he wants nothing to do with Lilly. He believes she stole 18 million dollars from him, and now she's giving away his money! But when she bats those long, sexy lashes at him, it suddenly doesn't seem so important anymore . . . not when he gets one last chance to prove he is the right man.
December 1, 2003
Read the Review!
What if you had sculpted the perfect replica of a gorgeous Greek god and, right before you're about to unveil it to a group of ladies, it comes to life in all its naked glory? What if your creation wanted to reward you by fulfilling your every desire? What would you do? If you're Alexandra, you'd want to smash something. The statue of Darius, playboy god, was supposed to bring in much-needed cash for the orphanage where Alex grew up. Now that it has miraculously turned to flesh, she just needs to give it a small imperfection so that it'll turn back into the marble statue she created. Never mind that she fell in love with him -- it -- a little every day while she was sculpting the exquisite body. Never mind that he -- it -- is every bit as sexy and charming and powerful as she imagined. And she sure as heck shouldn't be tempted by his heated offer to fulfill her every desire...
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