Welcome, Jess Michaels!
by Jess Michaels (aka Jenna Petersen)
Country miss Miranda Albright has secretly watched her wicked neighbor, Ethan Hamon, the Earl of Rothschild, as he 'entertained' lovers on the grounds of his country estate for three summers. But after her father dies and the family falls into financial peril, Miranda is driven to strike a bargain with the Earl. He will play financial and social host for a Season for each of her three younger sisters... in exchange for three months of sin with her.
Miranda has always ached for the passion she’s spied upon, but she knows Ethan is the kind of man who could steal her heart, as well as claim her body. And falling in love with a man who admits she is nothing but a game to him could be the most dangerous and forbidden seduction of all.
Everything Forbidden is set in Regency England. How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?
I think that when I started reading, most of my favorite books were set in the period, so it was a natural fit when I wrote my books. Pretty much everything I write, erotic or just straight historical is written in Regency (a few Victorian novellas early). Since I started, I’ve come to love the dichotomy of the period. There were such rigid Society rules and yet some of the young women didn’t wear undergarments of any kind to keep the lines of their dresses smooth. It’s just a fun time, socially, which is perfect for a romance.
What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?
People sort of accept erotic romance in the Victorian period, but they seem to be surprised when they find I’ve set an erotic romance in the Regency. But then they get excited, so I’m not sure it’s a constraint. LOL
What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?
Actually, my lovely agent, Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman literary agency and I were talking one day, brainstorming about a new erotic contract I was working on proposals for. She started talking about an idea about a young woman who seems innocent, but is really spying on her libertine neighbor as he ‘entertains’ his lovers. The spark went from there and Everything Forbidden was born (opening with that scene). I am all about character, though, so once I have a kernel of an idea, I always go straight to character.
Did you have to do any major research for his book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?
Not so much for this book, beyond the basic Regency base I already have. The story takes place on a country estate with London Society not really coming into play until the end of the book, so I got a little more freedom that way. Generally when I research now, it’s for specific parts of a book. Like the book I’m starting right now has a boxer for a hero, so I’ve done quite a bit of research on underground pugilism and opium addiction. And in between books, I tend to read research books to spark ideas.
This is a new pseudonym for you, what made you decide to branch out with a new persona?
It’s sort of a new pseudonym. I’m more widely known for my Jenna Petersen historical romances, but I actually started out publishing erotic romance as Jess Michaels in 2004 (a year before my Jenna Petersen debut). I wrote erotic historical novellas for Red Sage for a couple of years before I helped launch Avon Red with my novella in Parlor Games, which came out in June 2006. So Jess has a small, but faithful group of readers who I hope will keep growing.
I have always liked very sexy romance (which is what I write as Jenna). So this shift to even HOTTER books was very natural. I love to play in both genres.
What/Who do you like to read?
I love romance, of course. Authors like Kathryn Smith, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Suzanne Enoch. I also really like Neil Gaimen, Susan Carroll, the Philip Pullman Dark Materials series, Susanna Clarke, Carrie Bebris and LM Montgomery. I love books, in general. LOL
Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?
Sure! I write at least 10 pages a day, five days a week as a base. Most days it’s more like 12-15, especially once I really get going on a book. I plot extensively and do a lot of character work before I write one word, so I pretty much always know where I’m going, though my stories invariably surprise me and pull me from my plan at least once each time. I have learned that I write better when I write ‘head down’, or just write without editing from beginning to end. Then I take a break from the book and come back to it for a full edit before I send it to my editor.
From beginning to end, it takes me about 6-8 weeks to write a first draft and 12-16 weeks total to write, revise and turn in a book. Although I have done all that much quicker when on deadline. But that’s at my comfortable rate.
What are you planning to work on next?
Well, next May (2008), I’ll have another Jess Michaels book out, Something Reckless. My heroine, Penelope Norman, is the sister of the heroine from Everything Forbidden so if you like that book, I hope you’ll pick Penelope’s story up next. Then in July 2008, my next Jenna Petersen book, Lessons From a Courtesan will hit shelves. I just finished revisions on this book and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a book to come out. I’m just jumping out of my skin. And this month I’m starting on my next historical romance, so I’m keeping busy.
One other thing you are known for, aside from your two author personas, is The Passionate Pen. What can you tell us about the site?
The Passionate Pen is my site for aspiring authors. I created it in 1999 (so we’re approaching a decade now, must plan celebration). It came from the fact that I was very frustrated after I finished my first manuscript but couldn’t find one clearinghouse of information about the publishing industry. I wasn’t a member of RWA, so I was just on my own, really.
I started compiling a list of romance publishers and as it grew, I realized that other people might want this information, as well. So I built The Passionate Pen. Over the years, it has changed and grown, but at its core is that list of romance publishers, alongside a list of literary agents who take romance. In 2001, I added a diary (I was blogging before blogging was cool) which followed my journey from unpublished to the Call and beyond. I also have articles about writing, links to writing sites, and much, much, much more. Oh, and the Buy A Historical page, which encourages readers to buy historicals and buy new, with an emphasis on debut writers. This is my way of trying to help keep the market strong.
The site is truly a labor of love (though if people want to pay it back, buy my books! LOL). And I really enjoy helping other authors. I’ve gotten literally tens of thousands of emails since I started and the site gets nearly 200,000 hits per month. So it’s grown a lot.
Thanks for having me here today! It was fun. And I’m happy to answer questions in the comments section!