Friday, February 26, 2010

Overheard with Julie James

Yesterday I mentioned a recent reading experience that opened with the heroine overhearing very loud smexing in the hotel room next to hers. Sex and what she later discovers was the sounds of a murder. She gets embroiled in a murder investigation lead by none other than her greatest nemisis. Hijinx ensue. :) This book, Something About You by Julie James, was a bit of a departure from the authors previous book. It was quite fortuitous, then, that Julie contacted me and offered an ARC just before my turn in the island. How could I resist inviting my local gal to visit along with me?
So without further ado, a short chat with the lovely Julie James. ::cracks open a bottle of a full-bodied, spicy red and passes around the glasses::

SM: Hey Julie, welcome back to the island. I read Something About You and couldn't help but notice that you went a different route with this book, bringing in a suspense element. How did that change the way you approached your writing?
JJ: The suspense element came to me, as the book dedication says, in the middle of the night in a hotel room in San Francisco. The people in the room next to me were *loud*--to say the least--and I was in bed, unable to sleep, and that's when the idea hit me--a woman who overhears loud noises coming from the hotel room next to hers that turn out to be a murder. Adding in the suspense element certainly changed my approach going into the book, because it gave me two plots that I had to outline in advance: the main plot (the romance between the hero and heroine) and the suspense subplot (the murder mystery).

SM: Was it more challenging?
JJ: Um... yes. Definitely. The suspense part of the book is really just a subplot, the driving force that initially brings the heroine and hero together. The overall tone of the book is lighter and humorous (hopefully!). And balancing those two elements was a challenge at times--I had to figure out when it was okay for my characters to be sarcastic and quippy, and when they needed to take things more seriously.

SM: Did anything surprise you during the writing of Something About You?
JJ: I don't know if I was "surprised," per se, but SOMETHING ABOUT YOU is a bit steamier than my first two books. It felt like the right way to go because this book is also a little edgier than my first two--the slightly darker tone seemed to call for more intense love scenes. Plus, there's a lot of build up in the sexual tension between the heroine and hero and I thought that people might kill me if I didn't show the scenes where that tension boils over. ;-)

SM: Jack had a dark, brooding quality that was new to your hero. What made you decide to go this route?
JJ: Ah... I loved writing Jack. He was different than my prior two heroes, wasn't he? Jack is a bad-ass-- he's basically Jason Bourne, or a taller, darker Jack Bauer, dropped into a romantic comedy. So he's running around all dark and scowling and trying to save the day, while everyone else is cracking jokes. The problem is that Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer are so busy brooding and saving the day, they never get the girl. But that's not the case in my book.

SM: Oh, that sexy, sexy Triumph. What about it screamed "Jack"? Did you go take a test drive to make sure it was the right fit?
JJ: I actually spent a LOT of time researching to figure out the right motorcycle! I asked guys I know what motorcycles they liked, came up with a list of potentials, and then researched the candidates on the internet. It had to have just the right look to match Jack: a bad-boy bike, but one that's also classy and refined. So here it is:

SM: What’s the story on Wilkins and his feminine insight? Could we have more of him, please?
JJ: Most of my supporting male characters seem to have more feminine insight than my heroes do. . . I like Wilkins (Jack's partner), because like Cameron (the heroine), he doesn't let Jack get away with his brooding. And he and Jack do a great good cop/bad cop routine.

SM: As a Chicagoan it is great fun to read your books, recognizing my home town. Do you plan to continue setting your books here or is there another location that inspires you?
JJ: I love using Chicago as a setting. Such a great city. Book 4, which I'm currently writing, also takes place in Chicago. (Although there might be a scene in Napa as well...) For me, it's about whatever works for the book. And if what works happens to be the city I live in, all the better. No location research. ;-)

SM: Is there a location in Chicago that you adore, but haven't been able to work into one of your books yet? How about a place you love, but just can't figure a way to make it work?
JJ: There are a lot of locations in Chicago that would be great to use in a book, although I wouldn't say there's one particular place I'm dying to use and haven't yet. In terms of other locations. . . well, I'd love to set a book on an African safari, just because I went on safari myself and thought it was an amazing experience. And I'd also like to use Napa Valley as a location--hopefully that'll be covered with Book 4.

Book 4, eh? Now that I can't wait for! In preparation for this Napa inspired story I shall kick back and open another bottle of wine. What would you all like? Red? White? Rose? Maybe a bottle of each? Wanders over to contemplate the island wine cellar...


Tracy said...

Great interview! Jack sounds like my kind of hero - brooding and bad ass...and he rides a motorcycle, all the better!

I can't wait to read Something About You!

Scorpio M. said...

Nice insights from JJ. Thanks for the interview. I can hardly wait til Tuesday!

beth kery said...

I'm still waiting for that African safari book...

I agree, in many ways, Chicago is an ideal romance backdrop.

Congrats on the incipient release of SAY, Julie! Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on the book.

Oh...and a spicy red is a perfect desert island beverage...

Lea said...

Great interview Julie and Shannon!!

Jack.... *sigh*

Thanks for sharing!!


Shannon said...

Don't you just love Julie? The book is great. I just posted (a day late) my review.

Hope you like it!

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