Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jane Graves returns to the Lair!

interview with Suzanne
Jane Graves is the author of eighteen contemporary romance novels. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award, the industry's highest honor, and is the recipient of two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Booksellers' Best Award, and the Golden Quill, among others. And I'm honored to call her my friend.

Suz: Welcome back to the Bandit Lair, Jane. Pull up a barstool and have a glass of wine while we catch up. It's been a while since you visited us here. What have you been up to?

Jane: Thanks for the wine, Suz. I'll have this glass of Cabernet while you sip your White Zinfandel. We do know each other well, don't we?

For personal reasons, I took a break from writing for a few years. Fortunately, when I was ready to get back in the game, my editor was very excited and wanted to buy more books. Black Ties and Lullabies will be out on June 28, and Heartstrings and Diamond Rings will hit the shelves on September 27.

Suz: Black Ties and Lullabies is your third Romantic Comedy for Grand Central Publishing and it's once again set in Plano, Texas. This time your hero is billionaire businessman, Jeremy Bridges. Many of your readers will remember meeting him in Hot Wheels and High Heels. How did he come to be the hero of this book?

Jane: I got more mail from readers wanting his story than any other character's I've ever written. He was actually somewhat of a villain in Hot Wheels, but there was a scene at the end of the book that hinted that there was more to the womanizing multimillionaire than met the eye, and I think that was what readers picked up on. I'm so happy they did, because I wanted very much to write his story.

Suz: I fell in love with your heroine of Black Ties and Lullabies, Bernadette Hogan, on page one. She is a very unusual heroine and has a unique relationship with Jeremy at the beginning of the book. I'll let you tell the Banditas and friends about "Bernie".

Jane: Bernadette Hogan is a bodyguard, ex-military, who never met a firearm she didn't like. It's rumored that she once killed a man with a Popsicle stick, but she insists that's absolutely untrue. It was a Q-Tip. She's been Jeremy's bodyguard for two years, and he aggravates her so much that if it weren't for the outrageous amount of money he pays her, she would have quit a long time ago. If you read chapter one at http://janegraves.com/blacktiespage.html, you can get a sense of their rather unusual relationship.

Suz: Throughout this book, you had me chuckling frequently at both the internal thoughts of the characters and their dialogue with each other. Do you find it easy or hard to write the witty/snarky banter between the characters? Does internal dialogue come easy for you?

Jane: Writing snarky banter is second nature to me, because I'm a pretty snarky person. But in real life, even I have to draw the line somewhere. I can't always say what I think. But my characters can, and oh, man, is that ever fun. It's a blast to let them say things I couldn't say in real life without getting slapped silly or arrested.

Suz: Since we're on the subject of writing, you have a rather unique approach on writing a book. I know of only one other writer who does the same process as you. Care to let everyone in on the Jane Graves way to write a romance novel?

Jane: Okay, but I feel obligated to issue a disclaimer up front. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. It'll make you certifiably crazy.

I begin writing a book by tossing down a whole bunch of dialogue, bits of scenes, exposition, whatever, that I can see possibly being part of the book somewhere in the 400 or so pages I'll eventually end up with. Then I expand on those pieces at random until the characters start talking and the story comes to life. Then I try to zero in on page one, because I can't sell the book until I can get proposal chapters written. Or if I've already sold the book, I can't get paid for the proposal until those chapters are done. I like to get paid. But getting three consecutive chapters down in the very beginning? It just about kills me. Fortunately, the more I get to know the characters, the easier the writing becomes. Still, when I finally write The End, I invariably have at least fifty pages of excess stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor.

I hear other writers say they see the story in their head and just write it down. Consecutively. One chapter after another. I'm so jealous of people who can do that. It would make my life SO much easier. Then some of them go on to say that one of the reasons they can write so many books is that they type fast. Well, I type over 100 words per minute, but when I spend an hour working on a three-sentence paragraph until my eyeballs bleed, typing speed doesn't really come into play.

I've been told many, many times that my writing seems smooth and effortless. That's hilarious. If those people had any idea of how much I consider every freakin' word that goes onto the page, they'd think twice about saying that. I'm actually not a very good writer. What I am is a pretty good rewriter. I just have the persistence to hit it over and over and over again until I get it right.

Suz: (Boy just hearing about that process exhausts me!) The next book in your future is Heartstrings and Diamond Rings. Can we have a little peek into that story?

Jane: The heroine is Alison Carter, Heather Montgomery's best friend from Tall Tales and Wedding Veils. In that book, Alison's dating disasters were well documented. In her own story, she's still determined to find her Mr. Right, but she's losing confidence in her own ability to find him. So she hires a matchmaker. But when it turns out that the matchmaker isn't the kindly old lady she expects but her sexy young grandson, the fun begins. Heartstrings and Diamond Rings will hit the shelves on September 27.

Oh-I also want to let everyone know about a promotion my publisher is running for the month of June. They're discounting the price of the e-book versions of Hot Wheels and High Heels and Tall Tales and Wedding Veils to only $1.99! That's 75% off the cover price, so if you haven't read those books yet, I hope you'll consider picking them up! Check out the deal at http://www.janegraves.com/

And now a question for you. The original cover of Black Ties and Lullabies (the blue one shown here) was much more cartoonish in nature, a follow up to my two previous covers that were the same style. Then my publisher decided to go with a different look. They did a photo shoot and came up with the cover with the red dress.

Which one do you like better, and why? Also, there are a whole bunch of covers these days with headless characters. How do you feel about that? If you see hero's and heroine's faces on the cover, does it screw up your ability to imagine them for yourself? Personally, I feel a little sorry for the models-I wonder if their contracts include the fact that they're going to be decapitated?

Those who comment will be eligible to win one of two copies I'm giving away. I have two sets of advance reading copies-one set for each cover-so the winners can specify which cover they'd like on the autographed copy I send!


Lolarific said...

I do believe he's coming back to the summer season?

I think both covers fit in their own way. It's all about how you as the writer want your book perceived. As light and fun or as a serious romance.

barb said...

Congratulations Lolarific... I think he decided it was too windy and cold here and ruffled his feathers too much when he goes out LOL

Hi Jane I don't mind either....I would rather picture the face myself and it does mean the models can do a few books and you don't know they are the same people

Lolarific said...

And on the whole cut off heads thing...I always imagine the characters as they are described, not by what's on the cover. I love seeing people on a cover but I pay more attention to the other things in the photo. The clothes, what position the models are in, and all the unsaid things that are transpired into the cover shot.

Na said...

For me, I prefer the newer cover which is very romantic and still mysterious as we can't see the model's faces. The cover reminds me of Kristan Higgins's novel covers, which has the same feel to it. I don't mind that no face is shown because sometimes the models themselves don't represent how I feel the characters look, however other times when faces are shown it just works. Overall I like it a lot. It makes me want to pick it up and read it. While the other cover is still nice, the newer one feels more polished and less girlish. Although, the older I get I sense more light-hearted and comedic story.

Phyllis said...

I'm excited for you, Jane! Ok, here is my 2 cents...since the others are in the blue cover style, then they should have stayed with that cover for the whole series. Change covers for other series and keep the same format for those..but I'm a stickler for detail and a matchy, matchy sort of gal.

As far as headless covers, I'm for them. The models they use never match what I imagine. I like "MY" characters as I read your words.

Congrats Jane!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Lolarific!

Keep that rooster busy today! No slacking off in the shade for him.

I loved the more comic style of Jane's covers, but then they came up with the "flirty" one for this book and I have to say I love it a lot!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Barb! You stay warm down there in Australia! Right now cool weather sounds grand to me...It's been 105 all weekend here!

I like your thinking on the headless models. Maybe we'll have start identifying them by body types?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Na!

The more flirty style does say romantic comedy with some sophistication, doesn't it?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Phyllis!

Somehow I knew you'd be awake with me! Isn't it great to get another of Jane's books to read? I love knowing these take place in MY town! Too cool!

marybelle said...

I like both covers, but the 'red' one does catch my attention more. I often wonder about the cover models. Not as glamorous as it may seem.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I like them both but I suppose the red one looks a little more sophisticated.. As far as the whole headless thing, I always imagine the characters myself so I don't have to see their faces. I just don't know what started this whole headless fad.

Helen said...

Well done Lolarific and I agree with Barbara it is freezing and windy and raining here at the moment I am sure he is going to enjoy some warmer weather.


I do like the sound of these books and I like headless couples on books because I do have a picture of what I think they are like and I think the red one is very sexy.

Have Fun

Maureen said...

I like the covers with actual people better. I don't mind the headless ones but I do enjoy the covers where parts of the head are visible, maybe they turn their head away a bit. Congratulations on the new book and I think the red dress is great and very noticeable.

Addison said...


I know you've heard me squeal ad nauseum, but I am SO, SO, SO excited for this book. I absolutely loved Jeremy in every single scene he was in while reading HOT WHEELS AND HIGH HEELS and am so thrilled he's got his own HEA.

And while I loved the series look before, the new cover is fantastic!

Looking forward to this one! :-)

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome Jane! I'm looking forward to picking up your series - I'm a big contemps fan and love finding new to me authors!

I'm in two minds about the covers - the blue one fits with your other covers, but personally I prefer the one with the red dress!

I don't tend to buy books based on their covers, but I might be tempted to pick one up if I thought the cover looked interesting ... and that would be the red dress!

I also don't mind the headless models. I prefer them to models that don't look like how I imagine them or don't appeal.

Diane Kelly said...

Cute covers! And how wonderful to have fans asking for more!

Jo's Daughter said...

I like the models without the heads. It's a way of not always recognizing the same face over and over again & you can just focus on the image or emotion they are portraying.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Marybelle!

I often wonder about the cover models. Not as glamorous as it may seem.

Could you imagine being paid to model only parts of your body? Like a hand model or a foot model or how about an EAR model?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Diana!

I always imagine the characters myself so I don't have to see their faces.

I prefer to go with what I imagine based on the writer's description than what's on most covers. And boy have I had a time coming up with images for some of my own characters for inspiration!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Helen!

I can guarantee you'll love Jane's books! She's been a favorite of mine for years, especially now that she makes me chuckle through the entire book...when she's not making me sigh or cry!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Maureen!

I agree with you. That red dress is definitely an eye-catcher!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Addison!

Girl, If you LOVED Jeremy before, you're gonna just swoon over him in this book! There are some scenes where he just melts your insides!!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Anna S!

Oooooooooooo you'd love these contemporary romances and the HEA's don't necessarily come easy to Jane's heroes and heroines! Nope. She likes to make them suffer a bit first!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Diane Kelly!

Is this your first time in the Bandit Lair? If so, welcome!! Y'all Diane is a friend and chaptermate of us Texas girls. See that cute cover avitar? "Death, Taxes and A French Manicure" is her debut novel!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jo's daughter!
(which one are you again?)

I like the models without the heads. It's a way of not always recognizing the same face over and over again & you can just focus on the image or emotion they are portraying.

See...I like that and in this cover it definitely gives it what I call a flirty feel.

amybee said...

I like the photo cover better. I'd prefer to see faces, but I understand why it is like it is - so we can imagine the faces to our own specs.

Jane Graves said...

Oh, my. Sleep late and then show up here, and look what's going on!

As for the cover, I liked the blue one for one reason only--it continued the same style as the other two in the series, and continuity is important, but I really thought they needed updating.

I was thrilled with the red, which showed up even more vibrantly on the books themselves, which showed up in my mail yesterday.

Jane Graves said...

Check this out. My editor sent me pictures from the photo shoot they did to create the cover. What do you think? Should they have shown these people's faces?


Sally Felt said...

Jane, how is it this is the first I've heard of your looney process? It gives me such comfort :)

I'm so excited to see a new Jane Graves on the shelf. Congratulations.

jo robertson said...

Great interview, Suz and Jane! And welcome back to the Lair, Jane. It's always good to have you here.

I adore your titles; somehow the clever (not silly, but clever) rhyming in them speaks to me: buy me, buy me LOL!

Hate, hate headless torsos, but I know many people do. I kind of like the "cartoonish" character of the original cover because it sets the book apart as a witty stream of repartee (I hope) and draws me in to that as well as the romance.

Sandy Blair said...

Hi Jane,
Great interview. If anyone here hasn't read Jane's work, you're in for a real treat. But be warned: you'll be up all night reading and fall in love every blessed time you pick up one of her books.

I'm just saying...

Karyn Gerrard said...

Hi Jane, Love the sounds of your books! I will be checking them out~

Not fond of the decapitated heads or torso shots. Yet they seem to be becoming the standard. Yuck. I don't just want to see Nathan Kamp's lips, I want the whole face! Or the whole body even!

All the best on your release!

TerriOsburn said...

You all are killing me but I must have these books. Another situation where I don't know how I haven't read this author before. Lover of contemporary and these sound right up my alley.

I like the new cover and I never mind the headless models. Prefer it actually. Off to check out the discounted backlist books. Thanks!

Jane Graves said...

Hey, Sally. My writing process SHOULD give you comfort. It's always nice for a person to know there's somebody out there weirder than they are.

Minna said...

I can't stand headless covers! Make me think of a guillotine...

Jenn3128 said...

I really like both covers equally. Both are fun, & a little flirty. I prefer covers with no heads on the models. If I start reading & find that the covers don't match the character I get annoyed.

Jane Graves said...

You know, I gotta wonder if they tell the models that yeah, you're going to be on a romance cover, but sorry, we're going to decapitate you.

chris k said...

I can hardly wait for this book - I loved Hot Wheels and Wedding Veils.

As for the covers - the original blue looks more like lighthearted emphasizing the comedy to me and the new red reminds me more of a romance.

The little photo shoot slide show was fun- I'm really glad they went with barefoot and red dress. The gray dress was boring and the bare feet more fanciful.

About those heads... I wonder what it says about me that I never noticed the poor models were decapitated??? LOL. I guess that could be interpreted as- doesn't matter to me whose face is on the cover!!

whatever the cover, however many heads or lack there of, I'm just dang pleased to have more stories. Not that I want to sound too greedy - : ) - but have we got more stories planned after these???

Chris K

Anna Sugden said...

Jane - are the promo ebooks available for Kindle? I can see them for B&N Nook, but not on the Kindle store. Being in the UK, I can't actually download Nook books unless I'm physically in the US (which I will be from Sat!), so just wanted to be sure.

Janga said...

I pay more attention to titles than to covers--and I love your titles, Jane. I do think the red dress cover will "pop" more on shelves and thus attract more browsers.

I've been a fan since I read Tall Tales and Wedding Veils after reading Ellen Micheletti's review at AAR. I've been waiting and waiting for Black Ties and Lullabies, and I'm delighted to learn that Hot Wheels and High Heels will follow it so soon.

I'm a non-linear writer too, so I loved hearing about your writing process. It's those stitch-together scenes that drive me crazy. They are the ones where the muse leaves me to do the work the hard way, with perspiration rather than inspiration.

Jane Graves said...


Yes. They're available for the Kindle. This link should take you there:


Anna Sugden said...

Thanks, Jane. It's obviously a US only thing - it won't show up on the link for the UK Kindle store or the US Kindle store with a UK location! - so look forward to downloading when in the US.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jane - I absolutely LOVE the sound of these books. I think we know a couple of writers in the lair who would qualify for "never met a firearm they didn't like" (grin). These two sound fantastic.

Now as for the covers, I prefer the red dress one. For one thing - your name is a bit bolder and the baby sucky thing - what do they call those? would be a turnoff to me. I don't mind a baby in the book, I just don't like baby stuff on the cover. Must be something Freudian. Love babies, hate their baggage (grin).

Decapitated heads - well, I can live with them but I prefer to see their faces. Let's face it, you chop off the head and you most likely chop off his shoulders as well - and I'm a broad-shoulders-muscular-arms kind-of gal. But that certainly won't stop me from buying the book - especially this book.

Joan said...

(Raises both hands in air) THANK YOU Jane Graves for writing another great book!!!!

I'm hoping (hoping, hoping, hoping) that Black Ties will be available at the Literacy signing? Cause I know the alphabet and will find you in the G's :D

As to the covers...I like them both....

PJ said...

Hi Jane! I enjoy your books and am looking forward to picking up a copy of this one. I don't buy books based on covers but I have to admit the red one would probably be more likely to grab my attention on the shelf.

Headless models on covers don't bother me. Models (with heads) that look nothing like the characters as described in the book drive me nuts!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Jane and Suzanne,

The cartoonish covers can sometimes
be cute but they are definitely not
my favorite style cover. I find that
headless models are the answer to a
cover problem I've had recently. She
is supposed to be younger than he is,
yet on the cover she most definitely
appears to be "robbing the cradle!"
No faces, no problem!

Jane Graves said...

Hey, Joan! THANK YOU for coming by to say hi!

It was touch and go given its release date, but my editor tells me I'll have books at the big literacy signing. See you at the conference!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Donna!

and the baby sucky thing - what do they call those?

I can professionally tell you those are called pacifiers! hehehe

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Amybee!

You're probably right that we can't see their faces so we can imagine in our own version of each hero and heroine... But if you tell me someone is dressed in a tux I'm going to imagine a Bond-like sophistication, so they could just put Pierce Brosnan's face on my book! hehehe

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Miss Jane!
Oh, my. Sleep late and then show up here, and look what's going on!

I hit the blog in a few minutes of spare time at work last night and before going to bed this morning! So I woke up to see y'all were busy while I slept!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Sally!

Jane, how is it this is the first I've heard of your looney process? It gives me such comfort :)

LOL...Sally, you're a nut!

Jane's process doesn't give me much comfort, it makes me tired!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jo Mama!

a witty stream of repartee

Yep! That is definitely what you get from page one of Black Ties and Lullabies

Tracy Garrett said...

Hi Jane! You already know I can't wait to read this book.

"crappy cargo shorts, a Ranger's T‑shirt and flip flops"
Is there a little bit of Mark Cuban in Jeremy? ;-)

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Janga!

I'm a non-linear writer too, so I loved hearing about your writing process. It's those stitch-together scenes that drive me crazy. They are the ones where the muse leaves me to do the work the hard way, with perspiration rather than inspiration.

OMG...JANE...there are 3 of you guys out there in the world!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Terri O!!!!

You all are killing me but I must have these books. Another situation where I don't know how I haven't read this author before.

YEP, you HAVE to get Jane's books. They are the perfect thing to read by the pool or on the back porch in the shade!

chey said...

I like the first one because I've seen too many covers that totally don't match the book. If they only put a couple things on the cover, maybe they put on things that are in the book.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Karyn!

Nathan Kamp's lips, I want the whole face! Or the whole body even!

Mmmmmmmmm, yes, he is yummy, but you know, for a while there he was on EVERY book cover.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Sandy!!

Always a joy when my Critique partner pops up in the Bandit Lair!

Can't wait until you are my guest next month to talk about The King's Mistress

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jenn!

If I start reading & find that the covers don't match the character I get annoyed.

Like they tell you he's a blond and the hero pictures is a brunette?

Leni said...

I like the cover with the couple. Her red dress and his suit make you think about a couple celebrating and all that's possible.
It doesn't bother me when the faces aren't shown because the mystery lets your imagination go.

Beth Andrews said...

Welcome back to the lair, Jane! Congrats on your new release - Black Ties and Lullabies sounds fabulous *g*

Even though they're headless, I prefer the photo shoot cover. I've never been crazy about cartoon covers :-)

Virginia said...

I like both covers but the new cover is my favorite. I guess I just like to see people on cover even if they don't have heads. That gives you something to use your imagaination on.

Barbara E. said...

I like the cover with the couple on it because it gives me a sense that there is romance and fun going on inside. I don't really like headless characters on covers, I'd rather they had heads. I don't necessarily need to see their faces, it could be the back of their head (or heads), but I'd rather they had heads. Seeing faces on a cover doesn't mess anything up for me - once I start reading the book, I don't think of the cover any more anyway.

Louisa Cornell said...

Good job, Lolarific! He likes you! He really likes you!

I like the new covers, Jane! The originals were cute, but the new ones have a sort of sexy and fun look to them. And I have to agree I really would rather see these people's heads!!

Jane Graves said...

The consensus seems to be HEADS. I gotta agree, as long as they're artfully shown to leave a little to the imagination. And I do greatly prefer cover number two to the cartoon cover number one, as most of you did, too. We'll see if it gets attention from readers come June 28!

Thanks to everyone for coming out to say hi. I appreciate it!

Pissenlit said...

Gotta love snarky banter! :)

I definitely like the second cover more. I think the colour scheme and title font is better and the image is smart-looking.

I don't particularly like headless covers because the images give off a bit of an abrupt and unfinished feeling however, I think I do prefer them because like you, they wreck my own image of the hero/heroine.

Pissenlit said...

Er, that is...covers with heads wreck the hero/heroine's image in my head.

shadow_kohler said...

Both covers have there own little way about them but i favor the newer cover. Its sexy and sensual and eye catching. Its a little mysterious with the heads cut off and it makes you wonder what the characters look like. When i read a book, i like to build the characters in my own mind. Thank you for the giveaway!

Margay said...

I prefer the new cover - it looks more inviting and professional and immediately catches the eye. I might pass it over with the first cover because, as you said, it's a little cartoony, so harder to take seriously. And I don't really like the headless covers - I like to see the face, it helps me picture t characters better.

krazymama_98 said...

I do like both covers. But easily my favorite would be the pretty red, sexy one. I am learning to love the more contemporary stories. Would love one of these! Good luck and congratulations on your success!!

Sunnymay said...

Cut off heads leaves a lot to the imagination. I like the one with the girl in the red dress since it's so fliry and almost naughty. I remember being at a Romance book signing where there was talk about too many hands on a man, so this sure was a lively discussion.