Jane Porter to visit Australia
Contemporary romance author Jane Porter will be visiting Australia in August for the Romance Writers of Australia conference (and our signing event). Jane has kindly agreed to answer some of our burning questions …
What kind of books did you love when you were a child?
Series. I loved connected books, stories about a girl, or the girl and her family. My favourite series when I was little was the Little House on the Prairie series about Laura Ingalls. And then I fell in love with Louisa May Alcott’s series about the March family. I loved that Jo, from Alcott’s Little Women, was a writer. Looking back, I think I was also loved inspired by Laura Ingalls who was also a writer. Being a writer definitely seemed to be the way to go!
Do you remember the first romance novel you read?
It was probably a Barbara Cartland romance. I would have been 13, and it was probably The Impetuous Duchess. I was in heaven. Within months of reading everything I could find that Cartland had written, I stumbled across my first Mills & Boon romance while living in Europe with my family. It was sweet but had such emotional intensity and I was hooked forever. Now this is what I wanted to do.
How old were you when you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Young. Really young. I’ve always written stories. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t make up stories in my head. I wrote down my first story in Kindergarten and it was a short story about a Christmas Elf. I wrote my first picture book in second grade ( a friend illustrated it for me) and my first young adult novel in fourth grade. Writing was my ‘gift’ and I took it seriously, from walking around with a notebook as a little girl, to spending recess sitting next to my classroom wall writing, to entering poetry and essay contests. I don’t know why, but writing is as natural as breathing for me. I have to do it. I want to do it. Not that it’s ever been easy for me. I actually find writing quite challenging … maybe that’s the attraction!
When did you first sit down and start to write? How long after that before you were published?
I got serious about being published in romance in college. I’d been published in national magazines while in high school, but started writing my first ‘adult’ romance the summer between high school and my freshman year at college, and continued working on that romance my first year at UCLA before submitting it to Mills & Boon as a sophomore. That story, Struck Out in Love, was rejected, along with many others. I finally got my first sale in January 2000. It took nearly 15 years to finally sell to Harlequin, and nearly 15 rejected books before I sold The Italian Groom to Harlequin Mills & Boon in London.
How hard was it to first get published?
Very hard. Very, very hard. 15 years. 15 rejected books. It took a toll on me.
What authors do you read and/or admire now that you’re an author, too?
When I read for pleasure I love historical romance and paranormal. I nearly always avoid contemp romance since I write contemporary romance and don’t want other authors voices in my head. With that said, I am a massive Sarah Mayberry, Kelly Hunter and Megan Crane/Caitlin Crews fan, so I always read what they write. But my escapist reading will always remain the historicals … Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Lorraine Heath, to name just a few!
It’s You, a new standalone, was out in June, and you’ve made mention of more Taming of the Sheenans books. Is there more we can expect from you in 2015 and 2016?
I’m working on a Harlequin Presents now, the third story in my Scandalous Copeland mini-series, and then in November I’ll have out my fifth Taming of the Sheenan story, A Christmas Miracle for Daisy. (I just saw the cover and its soooo gorgeous!). And then come late August, I’ll be back to work on my next fiction novel, Wait for Me, but it’s still in the very early pre-writing and rough writing stage so that one will probably be put on a back burner for a bit while I write another romance. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to my women’s fiction because sometimes the character’s intense thoughts and emotions overwhelm me! But Christmas this year with the Sheenans will be fun. 🙂
If you weren’t a writer, would you still be teaching, running a not-for-profit or something else?
I would either be teaching, working in the film industry as I love making things, creating things, and working on projects that are collaborative in nature.
How did it feel to have your book Flirting with Forty made into a film? Did you enjoy being on the set? Would you like to see any of your other book made into a film?
I loved having a movie made from my book, and was intrigued by the process of Flirting with Forty being adapted, but at times it was painful. What makes a great novel isn’t necessarily what makes a great film, and vice versa, but ultimately, I appreciate the creativity that goes into both and did enjoy being on set in Hawaii. I would have enjoyed being in the film industry if I didn’t write. I loved the process and it was cool to be both an extra on the film, and sit behind the director and watch him work.
I’m lucky that I have had five more stories optioned, with Odd Mom Out and She’s Gone Country being turned into screenplays and reaching various stages of development but not green-lighted. Two of my Taming of the Sheenans stories have been optioned this year by two different producers for cable movies, and I’m waiting now to see if anything develops. I don’t hold my breath, though. I know better.
Other than books, what is one item you can’t resist buying?
Rocks. I love crystals and collect rocks. I have a rock collection from all over the world … South Africa, Japan, Ireland, Italy. Many of them I can get for free (I pick up on walks, etc) but I also love crystals and polished rocks I find in stores.
We often ask authors if they’ve self-published books, but you’ve gone a step further and created Tule Publishing. Can you tell us how this came about?
I was firmly entrenched in ‘traditional publishing’ when I began to worry about my fellow author friends late 2012/early 2013, realising that I wasn’t the only author exhausted by the changes in the industry and bruised by the publishing rhetoric that sales were down due to authors not writing good enough books, or the right kind of books. Writers weren’t being told the truth. They didn’t create the problems in the industry—the economy did. When the 2008–2009 recession hit, it impacted all areas of the economy, resulting in one of the US’s biggest book chains closing, and the other downsizing. Print runs shrank. Ebooks were on the rise. Amazon was changing the nature of the game. The industry was shuddering and changing, but it wasn’t the authors’ fault.
Furious that smart, creative, successful women were getting the short end of the stick, I reached out to my three of my closest author friends—CJ Carmichael, Lilian Darcy, and Megan Crane—and asked them if they’d want to do a special project with me, something fun and creative that would allow us to work together and enjoy being smart, creative, successful women, and well … Tule Publishing was born.
Montana Born, Tule’s first imprint, launched in Sept 2013 with the Copper Mountain Rodeo series with the Holiday imprint, headed by Kelly Hunter, launching in 2014. In the past two years Tule Publishing has expanded to four imprints, with the goal to continue publishing fantastic stories by gifted writers, and in so doing, delighting readers while satisfying authors’ desire for creativity, freedom, and commercial success.
You’ve posted that Shane Swan/Sean S Finley will be making appearances in your Taming of the Sheenans books. Do you enjoy tempting readers with glimpses of characters like Shane? Popping him in the Sheenans stories and supplying tempting photos is kind of cruel to us readers 🙂
I absolutely do love teasing my readers with snippets of upcoming stories as well as details about future heroes. One of the reasons romance readers read me is that they love my heroes and so as its fun for me to share things with my readers that I know they’ll enjoy. I’m lucky to still be writing 15 years after getting my first sale, and so grateful I have a loyal reader base that likes what I do. Those readers mean a great deal to me … they are not merely readers. They are my friends. My community. Having fun with my friends makes my writing ‘job’ a pleasure.
What are you most looking forward to doing while you are in Australia? Will you have the chance to explore?
Sadly, this is probably my shortest trip to Australia ever. I am only going to be in Melbourne for five days before racing back home to continue getting my kids settled into school. With a 20-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 6-year-old, my boys are all attending different schools with different start dates. The oldest can manage all right, but the 16-year-old returns mid-August for his junior year and being a boy who is a bit of a procrastinator and dreamer, I’ll need to be there to make sure he gets the year started properly. 🙂
[This article first appeared in the July 2015 ARRA newsletter.]