Thursday, August 5, 2010

Elizabeth Jennings Day 1

Please welcome the fabulous Elizabeth Jennings to the island! She writes for Berkley Sensation and Grand Central Publishing. And under her pseudonym (Lisa Marie Rice) she writes for Avon Red and Ellora's Cave.

Elizabeth Jennings has been a wordsmith all her life, as a simultaneous interpreter, a translator, and now as a romance writer. She writes romance because she loves it. Passion, adventure, danger, heartbreak, joy—what’s not to love? There’s no better profession than writing. And writing romance? Icing on the cake. She wouldn’t swap places with anyone in the world. She just hopes there are books in heaven, otherwise she’s not going.

1. Okay, let’s start with the obvious. Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?

As I said before, I’ve been a wordsmith all my life, starting as an avid reader. I was the one in class with an exciting novel open in her lap while the teacher droned on about quadratic equations, which I do not understand to this day. One summer I read so much I lost a dioptre of sight, but what can you expect when you live across the street from the county library? It’s like an addict having a building chock full of crack cocaine. It’s right there across the street, the doors are wide open and all you need is a card.

Though I always knew I’d end up writing, the road there was long and fairly tortuous, as there was this tedious business of earning a living that had to come first. I’m not a starving-in-the-garret kind of person.

I moved to Florence, Italy from a small, provincial town in Central Oregon in my late teens and it took me years to get over the culture shock. I think everything about me, down to the molecular level, changed, definitely for the better. I learned that I loved language and languages, which led to interpreter’s school. Being an interpreter is just about the best preparation I know of for becoming a writer, besides being a lawyer. More fun, too.

So, for more years than I care to tell, I travelled and interpreted. Simultaneous interpretation requires very close and careful listening to what the speaker is saying, to the choice of vocabulary, to the register of language, to the hidden meanings. It’s intensely stressful and it burns language into your brain. Couple this with constant travel to sometimes interesting places (and sometimes not-interesting places—to wit, eight long damp years in Brussels), and with thousands of pages of translation work and you have a viable path to becoming a writer.

After travelling the world, another culture shock—marriage at a late age and residence in a small, provincial town in southern Italy, a little like circling back to square one. Matera, the unknown beauty of Italy, with its spectacular Sassi and incredible isolation from the mainstream of Italian life, became my new home. It’s been an enormous privilege watching the city open up to the world like a blossoming flower.

At the age of forty, it was time to finally try to achieve that lifelong dream of writing. I knew I wanted to write mainly genre fiction—romantic suspense and mysteries. I like to read exciting fiction and it’s what I like to write. With a lot of help from my friends along the way, I’ve published 8 novels and now have a two-book contract with Berkley Publishing (Penguin USA). The first book, Shadows at Midnight, comes out on August 3. Part of that help with becoming a writer was attending writers’ conferences in the States. It was such an overwhelming experience that—again—with the help of friends, I established a literary festival and spectacular international writers’ conference in Matera, the International Women’s Fiction Festival — — where members of our tribe of writers meet, bond, talk shop, listen to top editors and agents, sell novels, overeat and get drunk on the finest food and wine this side of heaven. Visit me at I can be contacted at

2. What publishing houses do you write for?

A great one. Berkley Sensation.

3. What would you say has been your most significant accomplishment as a writer?

Hmmm. I think marrying depth of character to suspense. I try very hard to make my characters very well rounded and to give the reader an idea of who they are even outside the relationship. I hope I succeed.

4. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? And how long have you been writing?

Forever. I’ve wanted to be a writer forever, ever since I taught myself to read at the age of five. It was always there—the ultimate dream. Every time I move (which is often) I uncover and discover tons of notebooks from my teens and twenties and thirties, filled with half-baked ideas and musings and terrible first chapters. It wasn’t until my forties though that I got serious.

5. Tell us something about yourself that we might not know.

Wow. I’m a really good cook and a bit of a foodie (read: food snob). I like pop and rock songs of the 80s. I actually enjoy reading soldiers’ memoirs.

I'm not a foodie but I feel ya on the 80s!

6. Who are your favorite authors?

Romance: Shannon McKenna and Nora Roberts (the Divine Nora). Thrillers: Lee Child, Michael Connolly, Thomas Perry, Richard Marcinko, Stuart McBride. The list changes but these are staples.

7. Tell us about your latest/upcoming release, SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT. (Berkley Sensation, out August 3).

I was so happy to sign the contract with Berkley because SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT is a story that’s been with me for a long time. I felt I not only knew the characters but that they existed outside me and were waiting, arms crossed, tapping a foot, for me to tell their story. It’s a suspense story, with danger and a puzzle to figure out, but it’s basically a story of two people who suffered a devastating attack and put their lives back together. They were both caught in a bombing of the Embassy in a West African country. Claire Day was an up and coming intelligence analyst, at the peak of her powers. After the bombing, she is a shadow of her former self, with memory holes and panic attacks and nightmares. The hero, Daniel Weston, had been the Marine Security Guard at the Embassy, and had to retire on disability, when being a Marine was all he had ever wanted to be. These two brave, smart people put their lives back together piece by piece, and fall in love doing it.

My Barnes and Noble order of Shadows hasn't arrived yet but it should sometime this week! Call me biased since I'm married to one but I'm so glad you've written about a hot Marine :)

8. Anything you’d like to add for your readers and/or aspiring writers?

For my readers—above all I like to make my characters appealing and I hope they appeal to you. Note I say appealing, not perfect. They have their flaws but they are never small-minded or mean. To aspiring writers, wherever they are on that spectrum from wanting to be a writer to being published—never give up. If that’s what you want to do, do it. Join a writers’ organization, form a writers’ group in your home town or join one. Write. Every day. Study writers you admire and discover what it is that they do that you admire so much. Never give up.

9. Please let readers know where they can find you.

I’m late to the website party (the website is going live in a couple of days) for very complicated reasons, but I look forward to having it and to blogging on the writing life and on life in Italy.

Thank you so much for answering all my questions and for hanging out with us today! Elizabeth is offering a giveaway of one of her books, Pursuit (in paperback format only). All you have to do is leave a comment over the next three days and be entered to win. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday! Don't forget to come back tomorrow because she's talking about romantic suspense, my favorite genre!


Anonymous said...

Hello Elizabeth!! Welcome to the Island!

I think my favorite thing about your books, is the character development.

Your characters are so REAL and believable. By the time I finish one of your books I feel like I actually know the characters-have met and befriended them. I love that quality to your work.



Linda Henderson said...

I haven't read any of your books yet, but I really like the sounds of this one. Wounded heroes and tortured souls, two of my favorites. I really enjoy reading suspense and I can't wait to read this one. I'll definitely be looking for it.

seriousreader at live dot com

Mary G said...

Hi Elizabeth
Don't enter me as I have all your books (including the LMR ones). I just read Shadows At Midnight this weekend. I loved it because while your heores are all alphas, the women have strengths too. I loved that Dan had total awe & respect for Claire's abilities. She was just as instrumental to saving herself (& them) as he was.

I love Shannon McKenna & she lives in Italy too. Must be the air there. I'm Italian descent & have never been there. I'm glad your web-site will be ready soon. looking forward to it. You & LMR are 2 of my faves.

Wynter said...

Congratulations on your release! Sounds awesome. How exciting, to live in Italy.

Jillian said...

Congrats on the release. Can't wait to read it. WOuld love to come to your conference someday.

Katie Reus said...

I can't wait until your website goes live! What I love about your heroes is that even though they're alpha, they're never jerks. They might be stubborn but they always put the heroine first!

Thank you so much for joining us on the island today! :)

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Elizabeth and Katie. Elizabeth, I just found out last week that you're Lisa Marie Rice :)

Love your Midnight series, especially because you do the male POV so well, and because you always put in so much emotion.

We just spent a week down in Sisters, OR, at Suttle Lake. Do you know the place?

Thanks for coming by, and best of luck with all your books!

KT Grant said...

I'm a total Elizabeth Jennings fan girl! So want this latest by her.

Congrats on everything :)

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release, Elizabeth. Can't wait to read "Shadows at Midnight."

Ina said...

Hi Elizabeth!
welcome to the island - you are a new author to me and I've to check out your books ;) congrats on the release!
greetings, Ina

Chelsea B. said...

Hi, Elizabeth! You live in Italy? Too cool! I'm not really a foodie, but I like the food network channel LOL :-)

Lea said...

Welcome to the island Elizabeth. I've not read any of your books, however your post is a fabulous introduction.

Romantic suspense is fast becoming one of my favorite genres and I will definitely enjoy one of your books soon.

Looking forward to your posts!

Anonymous said...


and congrats on your release.

I love multi-dimensional characters and joining them on their journey to their happy end.

in Germany

Zosia said...

I can't wait to read this one. I'm always looking for more romantic suspense - it's a genre I can't get enough of!

Cybercliper said...

Hi Elizabeth - I loved the Midnight series and who doesn't love hot, alpha, military heroes. Congrats on your newest release...annhonATaolDOTcom

Anonymous said...

congrats on your books
such a hot cover
and great rreviews

Copyright © 2008-2011 Desert Island Keepers All Rights Reserved. Proudly powered by Blogger

  © Blogger template Starry by 2008 Modified by Lea

Back to TOP