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Interview with author Emma Lee Jayne

With Yael Waknin

Questions for author Emma Lee Jayne

First off, let me just say, “Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed on your blog!”

1 – Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was eight years old. I didn’t know what I wanted to write until I started reading romance novels when I was a teenager, but I always knew I wanted to write.

2 – When you start writing a book – do you know in advance that you will write sequels (series), or is it something you think about after the book is published?

It depends. When I’m working on a romance novel, I sort of figure it out as I’m writing and I discover interesting characters I think I’d like to write about.

I also write young adult sci-fi and fantasy under the name Emily McKay. With those books, I usually know going in that it’s going to be more than one book, because there’s a bigger story to tell.

3 – When you start writing a book – do you already know how it will end?

Generally, yes, but there are always surprises that pop up along the way. For example, in the first several drafts of Heart Smart, I didn’t know that Holly wanted to adopt kids. In every draft of the book, she taught that class to the high school girls. So the character of Rosa was there in every draft.

I used to teach at a school similar to the high school I describe in the book. Rosa was inspired by a girl I taught. Intensely smart, but so soft-spoken.

Also, Liz and Tavey weren’t in the first draft either and they both ended up being so important! Especially Tavey! Max wouldn’t be nearly as lovable if we didn’t get to see his interactions with Tavey. She was one of those characters who blindsided me. One day I thought, “Hey, I think I need someone for Max to talk to. Didn’t I mention he has a younger sister?” And from the moment I started writing her, she had so much personality and sass. I loved her! 

4 – In the book Heart Smart you wrote a character with Asperger’s- have you researched this topic, or was the information taken from a personal expert?

I had done research years ago on Autism Spectrum Disorders for another book I wrote, a YA sci-fi called The Farm. Of course, our understanding of ASD has changed a lot and I did even more research as I worked on Max.

I coach a middle school robotics team. One of the kids I coach has Asperger’s. Even though the boy is only 11, there are aspects of Max’s personality that were “inspired” by my interactions with Nathan.

For example, Max is very slow to understand metaphors, jokes, and sarcasm. That’s very much the opposite of the way my mind works. I am always thinking in metaphors.

So as I was working with Nathan on things for robotics, I would watch him struggle with that. In some ways, it felt like he and I were speaking two different languages. The words I used literally meant different things to him.

As a side note, Holly has ADHD, which I (and my two kids) also have. So I have a lot of first-hand experience there.

In some ways, though, she was harder to write. Her ADHD was very hard for me to put on the page, because she is so much like me, I didn’t know how to convey her to the reader. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.

5 – Do you have any books you have written and decided not to publish? If so, what is the reason?

Yes! Usually they’re just stories I don’t think are “ready” yet.

Often, I have a kernel of an idea or a pair of characters and I don’t know yet how to tell their story.

I had the original idea for Max and Holly back in 2009, when I was writing for Harlequin Desire. I couldn’t interest any of my editors in a hero who was a scientist with a limp and Asperger’s. In retrospect, he’s a hero Desire would never publish. But I loved him so much, I just tucked that file away and waited until the time was right.

6 – You wrote Heart Smart in first person POV and Love Letters to Tabitha in third person POV – why? And which one was easier for you to write?

Love Letters to Tabitha was originally published by Harlequin Temptation back in … oh, I think it was 2003, when I was writing romance as Emily McKay.

When I got my English language rights back to some of my old romances, I decided to update them and republish them under my “new” name.

When I wrote it, pretty much all romance was in third person.

Now, I write exclusively in first and I really, really love it. I even thought about rewriting Tabitha completely in first but decided against is.

Heart Smart is actually the first adult romance I’ve written in first person (some of my young adults are in first). In fact, there’s an entire draft of Max and Holly in third person. It didn’t work at all in third. Lol!

7 – Who is your favorite couple of all you have written?

Oh, that is a tough, tough question!!!!

I really, really love Max and Holly.

But right now I’m doing revisions on a novella about Lily McPherson (the billionaire heiress who heads up the McPherson Foundation and who shows up towards the end of Heart Smart), and I really love her and her hero, Sebastian, too!

8 – How long does it take you to write one book?

It depends. A lot of times books simmer on the back burner for years, like Max and Holly did. But once I moved them off the back burner to the front of the stove, I think I wrote the first draft in about ten days—that was the third person draft. Then I sat on it for another year at least. Then, when SmartyPants Romance opened up to submissions, it seemed like the perfect thing for me to send in to them, because I love Penny Reid’s books so much.

So I started almost from scratch in first person. That time it took about three months to write. And then probably another six weeks or so to edit and revise.

9 – What is your favorite genre to read?

Romance, obviously! Lol!

But within romance, I love romcoms best! I love books with heart and depth and humor as well. Like Penny Reid’s books.

I also like sci-fi romance and fantasy. Things with adventure and action. But for me, the romance is always the heart of the story. So I love books like Ready, Player One and the Illuminae Chronicles, that have action-y plots with an amazing romance at their core.

10 – Who are your favorite writers?

Some of my classic favorites are authors like Pam Morsi, Susanne Elizabeth Phillips, and Suzanne Brockmann. Those are my classic, comfort reads.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Penny’s books, as well as authors like Kayley Loring, Kate Canterbury, Lucy Watson, Pippa Grant, and Sally Thorne. And love the sci-fi romances by Ruby Dixon and V.K. Ludwig—those are just such silly fun! Also, I’ve been reading a lot of super short, fun romances by Kat Baxter! (But, in the interest of full disclosure, she’s my critique partner. So I edit those books … still I do read all her stuff and love it!)

11 – If you could turn one of your books into a movie – which one would you choose?

Hmm … I think that’s too hard to choose!

My sci-fi YA, The Farm, would probably make the most interesting

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About the author

I write the kinds of books I want to read. Fast-paced books with lots of world-building, snarky heroines, and swoony heroes. I love story, pop culture, gossip, and baked goods. I’m a modern-day hippy and certified LEGO nerd.

I live in the Austin, Texas hill country, with my geeky husband and two extremely geeky kids. We have dogs, chickens, cats, and more LEGOs than should be allowed by law.