Welcome to today’s second interview with the wonderful Jojo Brown. Help me in welcoming her to XtraOrdinary Romance. Welcome Jojo!
At what age did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I am sure if you asked my mother she would tell you that I was born with a pencil in my hand and a story on my lips. LOL The first true memory I have of thinking this was where I belonged I was around nine years old. I wrote a story about my dad for a contest, illustrated with a drawing of him sitting with his feet up, big hole in his sock reading the paper. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I do remember how it felt to do the writing as well as the sense of achievement when I finished. Also, I was pretty tickled when I won the contest. I thought at the time how lucky those mystical creatures known as author must be.
What has been your biggest influence on becoming a writer?
People. People’s reaction to what I’ve written. First and foremost my oldest friend, Janet. Even as children she always raved about anything I wrote, even if it was just a note. She told me that I HAD to do something with it because she loved the way I used words, plus she’d be really angry if I wasted it. She passed away this year, but I still think of what she would think of anything I write. My next biggest influence would be my mom. Over the years I have written many short stories and poems for her, I love it when something I write brings a tear to her eye. She reads just about everything I write before it even goes to an editor. She’s a great beta reader.
How did you feel when you got your first publishing contract?
Ecstatic! I carried that contract around with me for ages. I showed it to anyone that I could pin down for more than five minutes. I am sure everyone in my small town knew that I had a contract, within days.
How many novellas/novels have you published to date? When did you have your first sale?
I have thirteen books available right now as well as stories in two of eXtasy’s anthologies. My first was A Risk Worth Taking. I signed the contract for that one back in September 2004. The first royalty payment a couple months later wasn’t a great amount, but I felt like I had just won the lottery.
Tell me about your latest release. Please include if it is part of a series or a standalone book.
My latest release is Cuban Matings. It’s a standalone book. In this story you will meet Max and Anna, best friends and co-workers. Max convinces Anna to join him on a two week Cuban vacation after she survives a terrible marriage and equally hard divorce. Outlandishly flamboyant, gay, Max and insecure Anna are both searching, but for totally different things. Max plans to follow his very active gaydar and bed as many hot Cubans and tanned tourists as he can find. While, Anna hopes to find herself out among the swaying palms and shifting sands. When she meets Dimitri on her balcony it’s possible that she might even find love.
What was your inspiration for this book?
Believe it or not it came from a conversation I overheard between my 22-year-old daughter and her best friend. He was trying his best to convince her to go on a ‘Rainbow Cruise’. He finally settled for her accompanying him to gay pride day in Toronto. I just starting thinking how much fun their sort of couple could have on holiday.
How do you categorize yourself: pantser or plotter?
I think I am a little bit of both. When I start a new story I sit down and write out a loose plot. Then as I get into the story there is lots of flying by the seat of my pants. Nine times out of ten the story heads off in a totally unexpected direction. But, I think that’s all part of the thrill of writing.
How do you handle the editing/revision process?
I actually enjoy the process. When I receive edits from the editor, the first thing I do is scan through quickly to see how much red there is. Then I glue my butt to the seat and slog through one sentence at a time. Sometimes I don’t agree with the changes they suggest, but I always try to work with them to make the story as good as possible.
You’ve received some fantastic reviews...how do you feel about them and why?
Thrilled! That doesn’t even seem to be a big enough word to express how I feel. To know that the words that I wrote, words that came together from my imagination to make a story touched another human being is the most amazing sensation I can think of. When it causes the emotional reaction that I hoped for, it is absolutely the most amazing feeling I can think of.
Did anything odd happen while you were researching this story?
Not really odd, no. Something nice happened. I got to know one of my fellow eXtasy authors a bit better. Annie Alvarez helped me with some of the translations and since she is of Cuban descent she was a wonderful source of information.
Share a little bit of the ‘real’ you with our readers. What do you do besides writing? Any hobbies? Dark secrets?
Is there anything other than writing? No, I’m only joking! I enjoy knitting and crocheting. I knit a lot of hats, mitts and scarves for the local Christmas hampers every year. I also draw, dabble in painting and sew. This year I’ve been busy designing and making the costumes for our float in the Santa Claus parade in town.
The only dark secret I can think of isn’t really much of a secret… I live in a haunted house. Our one constant presence is an old man who inhabits the stairs and landing upstairs. The others come and go.
Did someone ever give you a great piece of advice along the way? What was it?
Yes. “Don’t think too hard…you can do it!” I don’t remember who said or where I read it, though. But it affected me so deeply, I wrote it on a card and pinned it to the corkboard over my desk. Whenever I find I am stuck, I look up and read it again. It really does help.
Is your family a constant source of interruption when you’re writing or are there ground rules?
My family is great! If they do have to interrupt me, they poke their head in and ask quietly if I am on a roll. If I don’t answer them right away they know the answer is yes and go away. They only truly interrupt if it is very important.
What is the biggest piece of your advice you can give a beginning writer?
If the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is your story, you are a writer! Stick with it. Don’t let rejections get you down; they are part of the process. And keep a pen and paper with you at all times, you never know when an idea for a story will come to you. I also have a handheld tape recorder by my bed for those middle of the night flashes of inspiration.
Do your characters take over the story?
Absolutely! It’s like they stand behind me and read over my shoulder. All the time they whisper (or shout) in my ear what they want to say. These are not my stories they are theirs, so it makes sense that they’d know it better than me. If I try to ignore them and write it the way I want to, it just doesn’t work. I’ve fallen into long times of writer’s block because of that stubbornness, before.
Jojo’s Bio: “We all have fantasies, I just write them out!” Jojo was born in London, England in 1961 and brought to Ontario, Canada at the age of three. She has been an army wife, in Oromocto, New Brunswick, during her first marriage. She’s also been a farm girl all over southern Ontario, a waitress, seamstress, party planner, wedding coordinator and videographer, personal care worker and costume designer. Now happily settled with husband number two and three daughters, she enjoys the small town life. With so much quiet time to devote to her writing, she lets the muses take her where they may.
Places where Jojo Brown can be found:
YAHOO ID: jojobrown_can
Thanks for being part of my 2 for Thursday promotion, Jojo! I really enjoyed it!
See you all next week!