Hi ! I am so excited to have J’nel on my blog today! I’d like to start off with some questions so your reader’s can get to know you a little bit better. – Becca
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’m a Florida girl who now calls Virginia home after some years in Texas and Germany. Married to a super smart guy with a dashing beard, I stay at home to care for our little girl who bounces with more energy than a three-ring circus. A homebody named Daisy the beagle rounds out our happy little pack.
What hobbies and activities do you like to do?
I consider myself a very adventurous person as long as it’s well planned and safe haha! Far off places call my name, but you won’t find me zip lining. Walking around beautiful places and soaking in culture is my idea of the perfect time. If I can find a bit of spare time, I usually have my nose stuck in a book, baking up something loaded with chocolate, or decorating the house (changing out the pillow covers are a particular favorite).
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am definitely not a morning person, though I wish I were, so I guess that makes me a night owl. But not too late. Once it gets past 10pm my oh so soft bed starts singing my name.
Growing up, what did you see yourself doing as a career?
Princess. Or something of that equivalent that allowed me to wear sparkly jewels and pretty dresses. That never panned out and I briefly turned thoughts to veterinarian school, but that didn’t last long either. Honestly, I never had one set thing I wanted to be. I wandered without direction through college and went straight into the Air Force. Civilians once more, we’re blessed enough that I can stay home and pursue my true passion of writing.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I suppose I was born with it. Books have always been a part of my life which was in part due to my mom. She enjoyed reading, and she always took us to the library when we were young. Then one day I started writing and never stopped.
Thank you for these great answers! I have some questions about your writing and books.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research is my favorite part of the process. I love diving deep into books and anything I can get my hot hands on that deals with the era in which I’m writing. From fashion, to politics, to inventions, and of course music. Usually I’ll start researching as I’m finishing up a novel that way I can already have the creativity flowing and get into the mindset of a new era once I type The End, and I do continuous research throughout the writing because there’s always something new to learn that I just have to include in the book. Sometimes I forget I’m supposed to be writing because I’m enjoying the research so much.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
As with most writers, there’s a little bit of me in each story, whether I meant to include it or not because it’s a part of me and it comes out naturally. I never rely heavily on personal experiences because I’ve never been a spy, or a pirate, or raced across the Scottish countryside on horseback ☺ I much prefer to make up the stories with dashes of history thrown in for flavor. And let me tell you, truth can indeed be far more fantastical than fiction.
What weather inspires you the most, in terms of bringing out your literary best?
Ooh, that’s an interesting question! Once upon a time I would’ve said the summer, but now that just makes me want to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. These days I find a cozy sweater on a drizzly day get the creative wheels spinning.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Oh my goodness, I’d curl into a ball crying if things weren’t planned out from the get go, but I’m not such a stickler that I don’t allow myself to veer slightly when something brilliant comes along.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with again?
Characters, no. Once their story is told I don’t like to revisit it. I imagine when I type The End their story continues to go on in the big blue yonder of happily ever afters. The last thing they need is me crashing in with more problems to plonk them in! Certain themes such as duty and honor during times of strife call to me again and again which is why most of stories have a backdrop of war or some kind of battle. It’s such a privilege to explore the bravery of those caught in extraordinary times.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?
My very first one. I poured my heart and soul into it, but like most first novels it’s riddled with beginner mistakes and will probably never see the light of day. At least not without a heavy hand of editing.
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
Um, all of them! Ha! If I have to choose one, it would be my unpublished pirate book. Outlaws, pirates, a knife-throwing woman, and lots of high seas adventure.
Your debut novel Among The Poppies comes out in June. It takes place in France during the War to end all wars.
Can you tell us a bit about your novel?
Gwyn Ruthers seeks adventure beyond her restrictive life as a chauffeur’s daughter so she signs up to drive ambulances on the front lines of WWI. Never did she count on meeting William Crawford, a handsome army captain who has her rethinking her objections to settling down. Before they can decide if love is truly what they seek, a sudden attack by the enemy has them struggling to survive while relying on each other.
What inspired you to write this story?
Downton Abbey. It was taking the world by storm and I was swept up right alongside it. I’m one of those people who really enjoys a good war drama so when Season Two exploded into the Great War I was on the edge of my seat. I loved the dynamic between chauffeur Branson and Lady Sybil, and as soon as Lady Mary sang If You Were the Only Boy in the World I knew I just had to write about it. But I switched the storylines for Poppies. Gwyn is the river and William is the highborn.
What is one thing that you learned while researching for this book that was surprising to you?
That Pekinese dog hair was used to fashion blankets from. It was the only material light enough to rest against skin that had been burned.
What do you want readers to take away from your books?
To grab a hold of love when it comes along and never let go, and to remember those who have gone before us to pay the ultimate sacrifice. These were ordinary people with the same hopes, dreams, and longings of love that we have, but when the call came, they stepped up to the challenge. This year is the 100 year anniversary of the end of war, a remarkable time in history that changed the world.
What will you be writing next?
Right now I’m working on the story of my heart, the one that’s been with me so long it’s become a part of me. An epic time travel of woman training to be a spy in WWI travels back in time to the Highlander of her destiny at the outbreak of the doomed Jacobite rebellion. It’s based on the song Loch Lomond which itself is based on a true story. Minus the time travel.
Do you hide any Easter Eggs in your books that only a few people will find? Would you be willing to share a clue with your readers?
Hehe. Of course. I may have referenced the first inklings of a certain magical mouse that many of us love. That’s all I’m going to say!
J’nell, It’s been wonderful visiting with you today! Thank you for these wonderful answers. – Becca
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