Meet Jean M. Grant, author of the historical romance "A Hundred Kisses" and three more books set to come in early 2019, including "Soul of the Storm," a Deerbourne Inn Series novella. Jean is a member of the #5amWritersClub Twitter community, and I was the lucky winner in a giveaway she hosted for a signed copy of her book!
Keep reading for my interview with Jean!
What inspired your story, “A Hundred Kisses”?
This book was my fourth written. I’d been hanging out in 12th century Scotland for the first three books and past two decades (ahem, we’ll call them practice novels written over 15 years while doing the school/career/parent gig…). Then I thought, “Why not jump ahead a century and see what happens?” Turns out the 13th century was fraught with the Wars of Independence. Then, after feedback from a few agents, I added a twist to this story: a wee bit of the mystical. Based on lore and embellished by my imagination, I created a fictional people of “Ancients” who resided in the Western Isles of Scotland, and harnessed the power of the elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. Deirdre’s power is from fire and she is a “Feeler.” Turns out, I wasn’t done with this storyline. A Hundred Kisses became my first published book but will be the middle of a soon-to-be trilogy. The first one (a prequel), A Hundred Breaths, is a story about Gwyn, Deirdre’s mother, who was a Healer; her ability utilizes the power of water. Oh, and Vikings and more Scottish-Norse history is thrown into that story (and personally my best villain yet!). It will be published in early spring/late winter 2019. I’m currently writing the last book in the trilogy. Stay tuned!
What do you love about writing romance books? Three words: happily ever after. Life is filled with struggles and not-so-happy endings. I love to see characters grow from past emotional wounds, find some sense of happiness, and I am a sucker for romance! Diana Gabaldon and Judy Garwood both lured me in twenty years ago.
When it comes to world-building do you have any particular tricks or techniques? I love world-building! In my first drafts, I’m usually too purple with my prose and scenery. So, I pare them down in the editing process. Nothing bothers me more than a story with excess dialogue but no imagery or sense of place. I’m a scenery gal! I research…and visit the locations if possible. I visited Scotland about ten years ago, so that fed my imagination with castles, moors, and crags. I visited an abbey (in the next book), stayed in a haunted castle, trekked up a mountain, and kayaked on a gloomy loch. For my contemporaries, I try to visit the location, speak to experts, or explore museums. I explored a cool Viking ship and went to a rustic town in Vermont both in the name of research. It helps that I love to travel and I’m an outdoors buff.
Which of your characters would you love to spend the day with and why? I would like to hang out with my heroine’s mother and grandmother (they are in the prequel to A Hundred Kisses), to learn more about their Ancient culture and the magic the people of this mystical group use.
What does your writing space look like? It’s orderly. My consignment-store antique desk is loaded with bright pink Post-its on my screen or the top surface, and a small stack of work sits beside the monitor. About a dozen reference books (on the writing craft and history) hang out beside my feet. My desk sits in a corner of my children’s playroom so I am surrounded by, ehm, energy. I do have a window with a view outside though. And my back is to the kitchen so I can ignore the dishes in the sink. I of course can write on the go—laptop is quite versatile—coffee shop or sports practice. Somedays all I have are nooks and crannies.
What are you working on at the moment? Five projects. It’s a bit nutty, and not purposeful, but I have three new books coming out in early 2019 (it’s just the way the stars aligned!), so it’s been a few months of ping-pong with my editor. I’m not lying when I say that I read my manuscripts about 5-10 times before submission, and another 10 with my editor. I also feel with each one, we grow as a writer, and we hone the craft, and deepen our artistic voice. Or at least that’s our hope! I’m also writing a travel magazine article for Outdoor Families Magazine and working on the sequel (book 3) to A Hundred Kisses.
What is the best book you’ve read recently? I listen to audio books when I can, as my eyes go buggy with all this reading/editing, but holding another author’s book in my hand (or reading an e-book) is also refreshing! Some favorites of recent: Letters From Skye (Jessica Brockmole), A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (Diana Gabaldon), Winter Garden (Kristin Hannah). I enjoy reading across romance subgenres and women’s fiction.
Books by Jean: A Hundred Kisses (paperback, e-book, and audio book) A Hundred Breaths (paperback, e-book, early 2019 release) Will Rise from Ashes (paperback, e-book, early 2019 release) Soul of the Storm (novella, paperback, e-book, early 2019 release)