By Joyce Lamb, USA TODAY
Courtesy of USA today:
Pamela Clare and I teamed up for this interview, because, well, you know, JAK really is too much for one interviewer to handle. You’ll notice that Pamela takes her interviewing duties more seriously than I do, which I think gives this interview a good balance. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) Bonus: For one of the questions, Jayne consulted with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Squee!
Take it away, Pamela …
Pamela: Welcome to HEA, Jayne! You have three different names to help readers know which “world” of yours they’re entering: Jayne Ann Krentz for romantic suspense, Amanda Quick for historicals and Jayne Castle for futuristic sci-fi/paranormals. When you’re doing a book signing, do you ever get confused about which “you” is signing which book?
Jayne: Trust me, I did not set out to establish three pen names and, for the record, I do not recommend it as a career strategy. The idea back at the start was that I would stick with the name that proved most successful. But each name is working, at least for the moment, and I love all three of my worlds. The different fictional landscapes allow me to do a wide variety of plots. Some things that work well in my Jayne Castle futuristics, for example, just wouldn’t fit into my Jayne Ann Krentz contemporaries — dust bunnies come to mind. That’s why there’s a dog in Copper Beach instead.
Pamela: In your keynote address at the Bowling Green State University Conference on Romance, which every romance reader and writer ought to read, you talked about the bias against romantic fiction as being part of a general bias against popular fiction. Where do we come by this notion that something that is popular is automatically garbage?
Jayne: That thinking has been around for a while, and it has been applied quite sharply to popular fiction — genre fiction. The negative attitudes toward the genres — romance, science-fiction, westerns, suspense, etc. — are fallout from the academic world’s long-standing fascination with existential philosophy and modern theories of psychology and sociology. A world view shaped by that kind of thinking disdains the ancient, heroic virtues such as courage, honor, determination and the healing power of love as unrealistic. But those are precisely the qualities that power popular fiction.
In modern literary fiction, characters are viewed as victims of their flaws and dysfunctional childhoods. In popular fiction, characters are saddled with the same kinds of emotional and psychological baggage, but readers expect them to use the ancient heroic virtues to overcome the effects of bad parenting and trauma — at least long enough to do what must be done. In the popular fiction genres such as romance and suspense, the heroes and heroines must do the right thing.
Joyce: I saw that you wrote on your Facebook Wall last week: “COPPER BEACH is the first book in my new JAK Dark Legacy series. This is the year I am untangling my three names. No more “cross-time” – “cross-name” trilogies. The Dark Legacy books will only track through my JAK name.” Why the untangling?
Jayne: All I can say is that linking my three names through a couple of trilogies that crossed through all three of my fictional landscapes seemed like a good idea at the time! And I have to admit the books of the Dreamlight Trilogy and the Looking Glass Trilogy were a heck of a lot of fun to write. But it turns out that not everyone wants to read all three of my worlds. Some readers want only the historicals. Some want only contemporaries. And then there are those who prefer my futuristics. (It’s those dust bunnies. The little dudes have taken over my Jayne Castle life.) Anyhow, I’m taking a break from the trilogies and untangling my names starting with Copper Beach.
Joyce: It’s common knowledge that you and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are good buds. In fact, one of the best times I’ve had at an RWA conference was attending a talk between you and SEP. My sides ached afterward. So hypothetical situation: You and SEP are trapped together in a burning building. Who panics first? And who saves the other from certain death?
Jayne: I discussed this with SEP and we both agreed that given her flare for drama she would be quite comfortable in the role of the one who panics. She would also probably be wearing her tiara. I would be the one who, because of my Girl Scout training, would remember to stay low and take the stairs in case of fire. Afterward she would still be wearing that tiara and looking good. I would be covered in soot. She would be the one who got interviewed by the media.
Joyce: Like Pamela and I, you and SEP are the perfect balance! You’ve said that writing, for you, is like an addiction. What do you think you’d be addicted to if not writing?
Jayne: I don’t think I want to find out.
Joyce: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
Jayne: Nope. That way lies madness.
Joyce: When you’re not writing (which may be never!), what do you read?
Jayne: I read what I like to write: romantic suspense. I also love thrillers and novels of suspense, but I can’t handle extreme violence and torture. Sadly for me, there’s a lot of that out there these days in the thriller genre. Currently I’m having a lot of fun with Carol K. Carr’s India Black and the Widow of Windsor, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Call Me Irresistible, Christina Dodd’s Revenge at Bella Terra and Cathie Linz’s Tempted Again.
Joyce: A lot of your books, including Copper Beach, are novels of romantic suspense with a psychic edge. Why do you like to work with the psychic vibe?
Jayne: I don’t do vampires and werewolves or magic. I can enjoy reading those stories but I cannot write them with conviction. The myths and archetypes that power those tales just don’t suit my kind of characters. But the psychic thing does work for me and for my readers. It deepens the sense of the bond between the hero and heroine, for one thing. The concept of psychic energy is easy for most people to imagine. After all, it’s just one step beyond intuition — and almost everyone is comfortable with the idea of intuition.
Joyce: Please tell us about Copper Beach.
Jayne: Copper Beach is the first book in my new Dark Legacy series — romantic suspense with a psychic edge. The heroine, Abby Radwell, deals in the dangerous underground market for rare books associated with the paranormal. She also has this little problem with accidentally setting fires with her psychic talent. A very valuable, very rare “hot” book is rumored to be coming onto the market. People are trying to kidnap Abby because she can break the psi code that conceals the secrets of the book. She hires Sam Coppersmith, a psychic private investigator, as a bodyguard only to discover that he’s after the book, too. Did I mention that there is a dog in the story?