Saturday, March 5, 2011
Interview with Jesse Petersen
Today, I am talking with Jesse Petersen who writes fiction under Jenna Petersen and Jesse Petersen. She has also written under the name of Jess Michaels.
MW: Why romance? You’re a very talented author and could write almost anything. What is it in the romantic genre that calls to you?
JP: I really love the whole idea of the building the relationship as the central focus of a novel and of course, the Happy Ending is so satisfying to write. I love reading romances, so it also feeds that desire.
MW: You write under three different pen names for three separate sub-genres? How is this working for you? Do you do this to distinguish yourself from other personas? Some writers such as Brenda Joyce found a change in name meant a loss of readers, is this struggle for you?
JP: Well, there is no longer any work coming out as Jess Michaels, so I’m really just Jenna Petersen and Jesse Petersen. It works for me because the genres are completely different. Jenna is historical romance, Jesse is fantasy (not romance). So the readers don’t completely overlap like they would if I were writing all romance.
MW: Who is your target audience? Do you feel that you have a target audience or it is constantly evolving? Who reads your books that surprises you?
JP:I don’t really think about target audience, I more think about what story do I want to write within the constraints of the genres where I write. As long as I enjoy the story myself, I figure that it will appeal to the portion of the reading population that likes my voice and my types of stories. I’m always sort of surprised when younger readers contact me. Or men reading my romances, though now that I’m writing fantasy those things don’t surprise me as much.
MW: Do you feel like your heroes are traditional alpha males? Why or why not? (I find the heroes in the Avon Red especially dominating in a good way.)
JP: For my romances, I do like an alpha male. I think it fits the men of their time in historical. When I write my fantasies, I don’t really write alpha males the same way. Smart, capable, strong men, sure. But the dominance doesn’t translate as well in a modern setting.
MW: Many romance writers joke that they use a pen name because their families will be embarrassed if they use their real name. Has this been an issue for you?
JP: Nope, my family is 100% behind me, read all my books and are excited for any success I experience. I’ve been very lucky not to deal with that issue. I have a pen name because my real name is Jesse and the spelling and gender are always an issue.
MW: The female romance heroine is constantly evolving she’s not the dim witted virgin she used to be. How do your characters reflect the sensibilities of the 21st century woman?
JP: Well, I hope that readers can see them as intelligent women with strength, even if they’re following rules that the reader might not necessarily have to encounter in their own lives. A woman they can relate to in the way she feels and the ways she deals with those feelings. At least in my historical romance. My fantasy heroine, Sarah is very snarky and tough and I’ve had a lot of female readers talk about how much they feel she “Sounds” like them.
MW: Women will tell you that they read romance to escape to a more exciting world filled with men who do not have questionable sexual orientation (unless it is that type of romance.) When you read, what do you want out of a romance?
JP: I just want a good read with characters I enjoy and can relate to. I like a sexy romance and a dark, emotional read. That’s what I try to write.
MW: Some televangelists and a handful of psychologists rail against the romance industry because they believe it harms relationships and marriages. How would you answer that statement?
JP: Women who read romance tend to have happier relationships. So there’s that.
MW: Romance books make up 51% of all books sold, what does that say to you?
JP: That people want to read uplifting stories that focus on the development of a relationship. And why not?
MW: Tell me about your favorite book you’ve written? Who is your most memorable character and why?
JP: I think that’s like asking who your favorite child is. I really have loved writing all my books. I think my most successful book has been LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN, so Justin is probably the hero most readers would talk about if asked about my work. I loved writing him, as he was very dark and alpha.
MW: What are your future plans? What books are in the works and what books are ready to go, but waiting for release?
JP: I have one book left to be released as Jenna Petersen in August, A SCOUNDREL’S SURRENDER, which is the last book in my Billingham Bastards series. I’m looking to sell a new book, but so far no takers. It will likely be coming out from a new name. And there is a final book left in my “Living With the Dead” series of fantasy books, EAT SLAY LOVE, that comes out in July. I’m also working on some new ideas in fantasy. But right now those are my final releases.
MW: You are making plans to go under one name (if I heard correctly) what impact will this have on your readers? (I know this is only speculation.) How will you unite the three diverse groups?
JP: I wouldn’t go under one name. My Jesse books are always going to be very different from my historical. I am going to be taking a new name for historical.
MW: The arrival of Kindle has birthed new readers who wouldn’t normally carry around a paperback. Is this a boom for the romantic industry or is it too soon to tell? Are any of your titles on Kindle?
JP: I think eventually Kindle and other readers will be the norm. All my work is available on Kindle, Nook and other readers.
MW: Do you have any appearances or book signing lined up in the near future?
JP: Nope, I’m in the process of moving so I’m not doing any travel this year that isn’t related to personal life stuff.
MW: What is your ultimate goal in writing? What do you want the readers to walk away after reading one of your books?
JP: I hope they’ve read a book they’ve enjoyed and that they want to read more. My ultimate goal in writing is to be able to keep doing it as a living.