Today I have the opportunity to welcome Jeannie Ruesch, author of Cloaked in Danger, to The Maiden’s Court! Jeannie is on tour with HFVBT and has stopped by to answer a few questions, talk about her new book, and give us a peek into her version of the life of a writer.
You have published two books so far, Something About Her and Cloaked in Danger. Both books are historical romance. What is it that pulls you to write in this genre?
Thanks for having me today!! I'm thrilled to be here. I love history and for me, it's a natural fit to delve into different times, different eras and really build. There's something so compelling about other times and their differences, but also their similarities. We can get so caught up in the strict definitions of what we think an era is about, but just like now, I think there are always lines to be blurred. Cloaked in Danger is a historical romantic suspense, which brings a strong element of suspense into the story as well and blurs that line even more. I like to find ways to showcase that life wasn't always exactly as we read about. While society has its own norms, not everyone fit into those molds. My heroine is not typical — she doesn't want to be. She steps outside of the conventional times often. Of course, that also comes with consequences. A woman in the Regency era couldn't wander around alone without damage to her reputation. The difference for Aria is that she just doesn't care.
How has the experience of writing and publishing Cloaked in Danger been different than the writing and publishing of your prior novel?
Well, I wrote Cloaked in Danger a lot faster. lol It took me five years to finish Something About Her, in large part due to the fact that I had jumped on that "learn as much as I can" bandwagon. So every time I had an epiphany about writing, or took a workshop or read a book that really gave me new tools to work with, I went back and applied them to that story. So it went through a lot of rewrites, including an entire overhaul twice. But it was my first, it was my baby, and I loved the characters. I wanted to make that book shine. I'm still learning, every day, about ways to improve my craft but I've also learned a lot about the process that helps me as a writer move forward. I don't think it gets "easier" so much as it's about developing a process that works for you.
You say on your website that you have wanted to be a writer from a very young age. How has the writing experience changed for you overtime? Do you approach writing differently having been published than you did prior to being published?
Yes, I wrote my first story when I was six and I can see the moment that I wrote "The End" in my memory, as clear as a picture. And I remember how I felt — the joy that made me skip down the hallway to share it with my parents. That joy, right there, is what feeds me as a writer. As for how I write, when I was younger, I wrote what came into my head. But I also never finished a book. So I sat down to outline my story, get the beginning, middle and end ideas in place and then wrote. It made a difference, it worked better for me. So now, I'm a true blue plotter -- and with the time constraints of being under deadline, that helps me tremendously. I also find that leaves room for the scenes to surprise me when I write them, and they do. Often.
How do you approach the research process for your novels? How do you balance the amount of research with the feel of the romance novel?
I love researching. I love reading articles, blog posts, and mostly non-fiction books to get my fill of an era. But I also really enjoy finding the letters, journals and whatever else makes it more human. Research can be a tough nut. I do a lot of reading before I write, but there are always moments when I'm writing and I don't know the right aspect of something. So I'll make a note, and research it later. Sometimes it changes the story, sometimes it doesn't. As for the blend, Cloaked In Danger is a historical romantic suspense, so there are three elements to balance in there -- it has to feel set in the right time period, it has to have a romantic happy ending and it needs to (hopefully) keep a reader wondering what happens next. And I'm a believer that the historical details should be natural, not forced and not put in just for the sake of showing off research. The story has to shine above all.
Do you have a new project in the pipeline? If so, is there anything you can tell us?
Yes, I'm working on the next two books for the Willoughby family. Adam's sisters, Lily and Cordelia each have their own tale to tell and they are coming next. Lily's book is first and it picks up three years after the end of Cloaked In Danger, and suffice it to say her life has not gone as planned. I'm particularly excited about Cordelia's story, because she's such a prickly character and well, not overly likable in the first two books, in my opinion so it should be fun to write for her. After that, I have plans to head out into other eras to tell other stories and I can't wait to dive into that research -- World War II America, Victorian England, lots of great stuff ahead I hope readers will love!
When you are not writing, what do you do with your time?
I've also been in marketing and design for twenty years, and my day job is as a Marketing Manager for a great company with incredibly nice people. I'm blessed, I think, to enjoy both of my jobs. In addition, I design book cover designs for publishers and authors. The best parts of my day, though, are the ones I spend with my family. They will always come first.
Who would you say has inspired your writing?
At different parts of my life, different authors have inspired my writing. When I was young, I was enthralled with Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High. In fact, my first book (150 pages handwritten) was not-so-loosely based off of that series. ;) When I was a teen, I loved Danielle Steel's sweeping tales of family and love. Kristin Hannah is another who tells amazing stories about the relationships in our lives. Judith McNaught has inspired my love of historical romance. Lisa Gardner is a goddess of suspense, and I so admire her ability to dig so deep into the grit of things. Brenda Novak is another author I greatly admire. Besides being a wonderful friend, she has this way about building emotion in her characters, no matter than genre or topic. It's incredible.
Jeannie Ruesch wrote her first story at the age of the six, prompting her to give up an illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and declare that writing was her destiny. That journey to destiny took a few detours along the way, including a career in marketing and design.
Her first novel, a fairy-tale like historical romance, was published in 2009, but the darker side of life had always captivated her. So after a dinner conversation with friends about the best way to hide a dead body, she knew she had to find a way to incorporate suspense into her writing. (The legal outlet for her fascination.) Today, she continues writing what she loves to read – stories of history, romance and suspense. She lives in Northern California with her husband, their son and an 80 pound lapdog lab named Cooper.
She is also the creator of the WIP Notebook, a writer’s tool to help stay organized while you write, which you can find at her website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.
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