Interview with Delle Jacobs

Jen: Will you please share a short bio with us?
Delle: Hi, Jen. Thanks so much for having me here today. I’ve enjoyed Book Talk and reading about authors and books. What better subject could there be than books?

These days I’m a stay-at-home writer, after a long spell of being a social worker working with troubled families and teenagers. I think- no, I know, writing kept me sane through all those years because I could always go home at night, sit down to my computer, and all the day’s trauma and drama would vanish. Writing romance fiction is difficult enough and intriguing enough that nothing else could break into my concentration. By the next morning, I could once more face the day’s challenges.

Sometimes now I miss all, but not too much. Now I live with a varying number of three generations of adult males- they come and go from far off places like Alaska. And there are the requisite two black writer’s cats. But males and cats pretty much leave me alone to do my own thing, which after all these years is still writing.

Jen: Tell us about Sins of the Heart and where it’s available.
Delle: Here’s my favorite blurb:

The Cornish cliffs at dawn: Two ladies, one spyglass. Two naked men cavorting in the surf. One, icy-eyed Lord Edenstorm, is the man Juliette hoped never to see again. She has what he wants, the names of gold-smuggling traitors. He doesn’t know, if she tells him, she dies. If she doesn’t tell, she dies. Perhaps if she only pretends to help, she might survive. But what happens if deceit gives way to love? Is it possible to forgive the Sins of the Heart?

Sins of the Heart is available on April 28th through Samhain Publishing, and on Amazon, and through bookstores everywhere. It’s also available as an ebook through Samhain.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Delle: I tried to discover writing when I was four. I knew my letters and they made words and words made stories. But when I tried to write them, it didn’t work. When I was nine, I tried typing, but the “plot” I had in mind went in the wrong direction before I even finished the first paragraph. I gave up in confusion. I didn’t know then, that’s how my creative process works. As a mature writer, I can sort through the assault of new ideas to find the best story, but as a child- no.

Eventually, once I felt my time was becoming my own again, I turned to serious writing. I love historical romance and that’s all I want to write, but I hit the publishing world at a time when historicals suddenly wouldn’t sell. I kept getting rejections, awful things like “great story, but in this tough market…”

In 1999, a good friend persuaded me to submit to Awe-Struck E-Books. I believed so strongly in my book, Fire Dance, knew it had to be published. It had elements in it the traditional publishers didn’t want then, so e-books looked like its only shot. The Call from the editor, Kathryn Struck, was, in fact, an email, a sign itself of the changing times. I knew e-publishing would be a hard route. Still, I’m the kind of person who wants to be on the innovative, cutting edge of something new. So I did it.

It was almost a shock, after all the negatives I’d heard about e-books, that Fire Dance did so well when it came out in 2000, even getting great reviews at a time when most e-books were either ignored or roundly trounced.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Delle: Don’t miss it. Or how about this: Three words? Me?

Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
Delle: I think I can write anywhere, any time, with anything that’s handy. My laptop? I almost always have it. Notebooks? Research books? Probably, because I love research. Maps? I usually have one, depending on the setting.

I’ve been taking laptop everywhere, since 1995. I now carry a tiny MSI Wind that fits in my purse and weighs under 3 pounds even with the extra battery. Close at hand today are Roget’s Super Thesaurus, a Maxi Atlas of England, English Surnames, and a few photo books of the English Midlands where I’m setting my current story.

Jen: How do you shut out disruptions?
Delle: Hot button! Just when I think I’ve got the family trained not to walk in and start chattering, I discover I’m wrong. What is it about a person typing on a computer that makes others think the work is mindless? If I don’t want to make a really bad mistake, I have to stop and clasp my hands together to make them resist the urge to keep typing. I’m going to lose my train of thought anyway, but at least I won’t also lose an entire day’s work by making one wrong keystroke.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Delle: Work is hardest. Play is easiest. Sounds trite, yes, but it’s true. Writing is both. I don’t think I’ve had more than ten days in all my writing years when everything came easily all day, but my hardest work has always ended up being my most exciting and best work in the long run. With every book, I set myself a challenge to do something beyond my abilities, or something I haven’t done before.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Delle: The writing itself. That’s even better than selling, or winning awards or even having cheering fans. But if I don’t love the actual writing that much, how can I expect anyone else to love it?

Jen: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Delle: I think inspiration comes from everywhere, every place I go, every experience I have or read about, but most of all from people. Sins of the Heart began with a silly snippet in a dream that was much too contemporary for me to use. But it merged with a universal theme, a comparison between women in 19th Century England and women today in so many parts of the world who are deprived of basic rights simply because they are women and have no power. Add to that the terrible experiences of war, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and compare them with the experiences of men in the Napoleonic Wars, when war was truly an inhuman thing, and from all that, my hero and heroine stepped forth. Merritt and Juliette were the people who answered the questions I asked: What do people do to survive? How far will they go to save others? How much will they do for their countries? Most of all, how do people find in their hearts forgiveness for themselves, and for those they feel have wronged them? Not a lot has changed in 200 years. In many ways, Merritt and Juliette could tell the same story today, just in different ways.

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one that you identify most with?
Delle: In Sins of the Heart, I found I was strongly identifying with both the hero and the heroine. But it’s strange that once I finish with a book, my mind is ready to move on. There’s always a character in each of my stories whose story is unresolved. In Sins of the Heart, it’s Davy Polruhan, the dashing Cornish smuggler who thought he had everything, only to realize he’d lost it all. Now I’m completely enmeshed with him, and I’m planning his story, STRANGER IN THE NIGHT, which I think will be even more dramatic and adventurous than Sins of the Heart.

Jen: If your book was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Delle: Hard one! I don’t usually think of my hero and heroine as anyone else. Most actors and actresses I can think of are really too old for the parts now, and both my characters are blonde, which limits the field if there has to be a strong resemblance. But I’m not so tied to physical appearance as I am to character, so I think I’d see Sean Bean or Gerard Butler as my hero, and Kate Winslet perhaps as my heroine.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Delle: You really do ask hard ones, don’t you? I had a friend tell me my book Fire Dance was very hard to read because it dredged up painful memories for her, but she finished it because she had to: it gave her a way to resolve her own unresolvable past.

But one of the best was a review: “His Majesty, the Prince of Toads is a wonderful, awful book.” When I read that, I jumped up cheering because she got exactly what I wanted her to get. Just like my heroine, when the hero swaggered into the story, she wanted to slap him. And she was cheering when he got what was coming to him, and cheering even more when the hero grasped that he was wrong and set out to change his ways and win back the heroine’s heart.

That’s what writers want most, I think– for readers to “get” their story. When that happens, we feel like we’re really a part of the huge community of readers, the community of humanity who possess a common spirit.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Delle: Hawaii? Oh, you don’t mean travel, did you? But I have to go there to be sure I’ve got the Hawaiian part right in my Historical Fantasy, SIREN, which I’ve just finished. I’m also finishing a medieval paranormal romance, SIDHE, based on the Celtic concept of the ancient faerie folk called Sidhe. Then there are sequels to my two Samhain releases, which are nearly done. I’ve never done series before, so that’s a challenge.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Delle: I do all the usual, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. Also several blogs and community sites like Wet Noodle Posse, Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction, where I also review books, Rose City Romance Writers.

My own blog, IN SEARCH OF HEROES, is my favorite internet place, where I work hard at always providing my readers with something interesting and valuable. The search for heroes is, after all, what romance is all about, for there’s a hero in all of us, and we’re all looking for something bigger than ourselves, in one way or another.

For my next book release, I’m posting a new contest on my blog: “The Most Beautiful Place on Earth”, in conjunction with Earth Day. But it will be ongoing for five weeks. What’s your most beautiful place on earth? Show us with a photo. Win a prize and promote the best cause on earth, the earth itself! Look for it at http://dellejacobs.blogspot.com on Tuesday, April 28.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Delle: I’m really curious if readers like sequels and series. And how about heroes and heroines who have had other loves in their lives? Historicals still seem to me to be so limited in scope, but our modern age doesn’t really have a lot of patience with clueless virgins, and I don’t want to write them. So where do you think I, and other historical authors ought to take our stories?

Jen: Thank you Delle for visiting Book Talk this weekend. Readers, Delle is giving away a copy of Sins of the Heart (either a download or print copy, winners choice) to one lucky reader. The winner will be chosen from the comments on Sunday, May 3 around 5 pm PST.