Joining me today in The Loft is author Jessica James. After working as a stagehand, newspaper editor, and equine veterinary technician, Jessica turned to writing historical fiction, and tales of small-town southern romance and suspense. She is a four-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction and has also won many other literary awards, including the Reader's Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. She resides in Pennsylvania.
S: Welcome, Jessica! Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Loft!
What attracted you to the romance genre?
J: My favorite thing about romance is that no matter how old you are, love is still this mystical, magical, unpredictable thing that often starts with a heart-wrenching roller coaster ride of emotions and hopefully ends with blissful happiness. I love having the opportunity to sweep readers away from the real world for a few hours and transport them to another time and place.
S: I think that's why romance is such a popular genre. We provide respite from daily life.
Do you write in other genres?
J: Yes. In addition to southern romance and romantic historical fiction, I write suspense and thrillers—although all of my books include a love story of some sort.
S: Do you believe in love at first sight? Has it ever happened to you?
J: I never really believed in love at first sight until I wrote my first romantic suspense novel. It came to me out of the blue and ended up with the title, "Meant To Be," which fits both the plot and the way the book came about. I even wrote a “Story Behind the Story” add-on to explain all of the strange things that happened on this writing journey. So to answer your question, it has never happened to me, but it has happened to my characters. It’s another one of those mystical, magical, unexplainable things about love!
S: How do you get in the mood for writing?
J: I have a “writing chair” that I bought with money that came from winning a book award. It’s a big comfy chair facing a sliding glass door with a view of the yard and a constant stream of wildlife. When I’m in that chair, my writing muse knows I’m there to work. My only requirement for writing is complete silence. No music. No TV. And hopefully no ringing phone or other distractions.
S: What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
J: The advice that sticks with me to this day was given when I became a newspaper reporter straight out of college. At that time, journalism was a male-dominated industry, and I was the only female in the entire newsroom, from editors on down. The advice was, “Think like a man. Act like a lady. Work like a dog.” That advice was given to me almost 40 years ago and I still think about it.
S: (Smiles.) The first newsroom I worked in had other women, but they all worked on the society or food pages. Thankfully, I was a general news reporter.
What inspired "Duty Bound?"
J: A real-life Civil War soldier was the inspiration behind "Duty Bound" and the entire Shades of Gray Civil War Trilogy. As fate would have it, I would never have learned about the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy if I hadn’t first worked as a veterinary technician at a state-of-the-art horse hospital in Virginia. Colonel John Mosby--The Gray Ghost--is a legend in that area of the country, so you can’t drive very far without seeing a road sign that depicts him. Mosby’s daring military adventures, along with his bold personality and charisma, make him the perfect hero for a Civil War novel. My main character is based on the military aspects of Mosby, since the real-life soldier was actually married and had nine children.
S: Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Duty Bound?"
J: Called the “greatest love story ever told” when it was first released in 2008, this trilogy has been expanded and improved. "Duty Bound" is the first volume and is available for pre-order for its June 1 release. "Honor Bound" releases June 8 and "Glory Bound" on June 15. The entire trilogy will be released in one book on June 29. I think this trilogy is very important right now because it depicts the emotions and passions of ordinary people who were forced to take unexpected actions during an extraordinary time. The title of the trilogy, "Shades of Gray," represents the blurring of loyalties and the merging allegiances. As the main character says, “Right and wrong, good and evil, black and white have always been distinct opposites. Now the lines are muddled.” The trilogy is special to me—and to many others—who have had the opportunity to read a copy. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
Here's the blurb for "Duty Bound:"
Honor and conviction clash with loyalty and love in this poignant Civil War tale that pits brother against brother. Duty Bound takes readers across the rolling hills of Virginia in a page-turning tale of action and adventure as a Union spy spars with a renowned Confederate cavalry commander. Gallantry and chivalry are put to the test when Colonel Alexander Hunter discovers that Andrea Evans is not only the woman he promised his dying brother he would protect, but is the Union spy he has vowed to his men he would destroy.
"Duty Bound" is available for pre-order and is priced at just $.99 before its release on June 1.
S: That sounds like a captivating story! Where can readers buy "Duty Bound?"
J: It's available from all major booksellers, including--
S: Jessica, thanks so much for joining me today. If you would like to learn more about Jessica and her books, please visit--
Travel Blog: https://www.pastlanetravels.com
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/jessicajames
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