Jaime Rush - April 25, 2010
BYS: What went Between the Sheets of this book? Either what was happening in your life when you wrote it, or what was happening with the book as you wrote it.
JR: I loved the forbidden aspect to my couple's attraction, which contributed some juicy conflicts, but I felt that something wasn't quite right. I had always seen my heroine, Olivia, as sort of passive in the beginning of the story, domineered by her powerful father. It's a theme I enjoy exploring, watching a heroine grow into her strength, both goaded on and helped by the hero. I liked Olivia, but I didn't really connect to her. It drove me crazy because I couldn't figure out why, even after finishing the book and doing three rounds of edits. I was hoping my brilliant editor would give me a clue from her distance.
Then, days after mailing it off, I was watching No Reservations, my fave travel show. Anthony Bourdain, the host, was hanging out with the L.A. Derby Dolls. I'd heard of roller derby, but only in a vague sense. (This was before Whip It made it mainstream. Great movie, by the way!) I loved the diversity of the women, their courage and strength, their spunk. That's when it hit me. Olivia needed spunk! And she needed something that was hers alone, that she kept secret from everyone, especially her father. Olivia became a roller derby chick. From that one tidbit bloomed a whole personality: pretending to be passive, but feisty on the inside. Playful, sexier dialogs between her and the hero sprouted in my mind (like my spring verbage?), and, of course, my hero, Nicholas, responded to her new personality, too.
I even got to hang out with the Blue Ridge Roller Girls (Asheville, NC) at one of their bouts. I got to hear the locker room talk as they shared tidbits about equipment and how they come up with their nicknames (a very fun process for me to do, too).
BYS: When did you decide to sit down and write your first novel and what led up to the publication of your first book?
JR: I've always been a storyteller. When I was a kid, I would be the director and make up stories about being chased by bad guys. I can remember climbing up on one of those billboards and climbing a tree that hung over a major highway, all in the name of the story. I then started writing short stories. I was thrilled when I got a good rejection letter from Cosmopolitan. My then-boyfriend (now husband) bought me a computer for Christmas, and I was really off and running.
One day I had an idea that was too long for a short story, and that became my first novel. It was a Silhouette Romance that broke all the rules, was missing a chunk of the story, and got a really nice rejection letter anyway (Thank you, Matrice!). I was already working on the next book, which also never got published, but by the time that made the rounds, I was already on the next book (a great strategy for not putting all your hopes into one book). I then got an agent and won the Golden Heart Award from the Romance Writers of America. My agent sold that book to St. Martin's Press. I wrote 18 books for both them and Harlequin before moving to Avon Books.
BYS: Where did you find the idea to write this novel?
JR: The series itself came from my love of three shows that were no longer on the air: X-Files, Highlander, and Roswell. I put the elements of those shows that spoke to me into my series, including psychic/paranormal abilities, being hunted by the government, and a group of very different people thrown together. At the end of book 2, Out of Darkness, we're not sure if Nicholas is a good guy or not. In Touching Darkness, we find out. Olivia is my first non-Offspring heroine. She's more like the rest of us, so readers will relate to her.
BYS: How long did it take to develop your characters for this book?
JR: These were new characters to the series, more or less. We have only seen them as enemies through other people's points of view. I fully investigate my characters, doing intensive interviews and finding pictures of people who represent the image I see in my mind. I sort of saw Nicholas as Michael Phelps, and Olivia was based on a model in an ad, but picture Madeline Stowe.
BYS: Why this story at this time?
JR: With a series, I have to consider whose story should come next, in line with the series arc. So while I'd been jonesing to write Petra's story and Eric's story, Nicholas and Olivia's story came next in the natural progression. A big part of the arc completes with this book, and Olivia is closely tied into it.
BYS: Take us through a typical writing day and your creative process.
JR: After I get the family off to their various pursuits, I head to my office, which is a separate room connected to the rest of the house via a lanai roof. My space is bright and fun, with yellow walls and lots of trinkets and sculptures that make me smile.
The first thing I do is put on an uplifting song, like Black Eyed Peas's "I Gotta Feeling," and get my spirit and body moving. Then I traipse outside and feed the birds and squirrels (this is more for cat entertainment than altruistic reasons, I confess). Then I start working on business-type things, like checking email, clearing paperwork off my desk, and other online things.
Then I make my daily cup of coffee. My hubby got me a barista machine, and I'm loving my cappuccino. Now I'm ready to do some writing type work. Creating and writing are the best parts, but sadly, constitute little of my work time. A lot of my day consists of promotion, organization, and business.
Mid-morning I make my smoothie, and then a couple of hours later, I break for lunch. Usually I watch something I've DVR'd to get a mental break, like my fave shows, Supernatural, LA Ink, Lost, or Oprah. Then it's back to work. My boss is a real bee-atch and will not let me linger.
Twice a week, I go to the gym, and on non-gym days I usually wake up early and either get on my recumbent bike or swim laps. When you're sitting on your behind most of the day, you've got to compensate <grin>.
I work until about five-thirty, and then I'm off duty to start dinner, hang out with my kid, and have family time. After her bed-time, however, I'm back in my office, though sometimes it's to work and other times it's to read or meditate. The best part, though, is that I actually look forward to my work days. That's something I wish for everyone.
JR: I see and hear the scenes. Sometimes it's easy, just write what I'm seeing. If only it were like that all the time! But I do love getting those snippets of dialog, and they're usually an emotionally heightened scene. For instance, I got this great bit where Olivia proposes having an affair with the hero. She's kind of naïve and overprotected, so it was fun hearing that come from her.
BYS: What keeps you going and motivated when life throws you a curveball?
JR: You can't let disappointments get you down. Wallowing in that negative energy only brings more disappointments. My favorite phrase is, "This too shall pass." I look beyond the clouds, knowing that the sun always shines above them.
BYS: What are you working on now?
JR: I just turned in book 4 of the series, Eric's story. Readers have been asking for his story, and funnily enough, when I was conceiving the series, I wasn't actually intending to feature him. He's got a, let's just say, strong personality. He grew on me, what can I say?
BYS: What advice do you have for aspiring writers? And how did you keep your spirits up until the first book was published?
JR: Remember that wherever you are, there will be writers doing better than you and writers doing worse than you. Bless them all, as we're all on the same journey. And for those doing better, rejoice! She sold her first book, he made the New York Times list, and if they can do it, so can you, my friends!
As for how I kept up my spirits, I kept on writing. If I got rejections for a book, well, I was already writing a new and better one, so maybe that would be THE one. You have to know you'll succeed and be willing to do the work and wait until it's your time.
And for something fun! I've been running my Kick Butt First Line contest for every book I release: Shocking, suspenseful...make us want more! Cash prizes! Contest runs from May 1 through June 1, 2010. It's open to readers and writers. The entries are entertaining to read, even if you don't enter. For details on that and my books, go to www.jaimerush.com.© 2010 Interview by BetweenYourSheets.com
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