Jen: Readers, please help me welcome Jamaica Layne to Book Talk this weekend. Jamaica, will you please share a short bio with us?
Jamaica: Sure thing. I’m Jamaica Layne, a hot new rising star on the erotica market. I write erotic romance and erotica for Virgin Cheek, Virgin Black Lace, and Ravenous Romance. In my “other” life, I’m a journalist, literary fiction author, and playwright (my plays have received productions in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, and the UK). I live near Chicago with my husband and one-year-old son.
Jen: Tell us about Market for Love and where it’s available.
Jamaica: Market for Love is my debut novel and currently my only book available in print. (My other titles are all released as ebooks or audiobooks). Market for Love is an erotic romance set in and around Chicago’s fast-paced investment-banking world. It’s available wherever books are sold—-in the Romance and/or Erotica section at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon.com, BN.com, Powells.com, Booksamillion.com, etc.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Jamaica: I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl. I wrote my first play at age eight and used neighborhood kids as actors. I was first professionally published (under my own name, not my pen name) in college when I started writing for the local newspaper. I worked as a freelance journalist for many years, contributing to newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Reader, as well as national magazines like Cat Fancy. My plays have been published as well. I also did a lot of technical and scientific writing in the corporate world. I’ve supported myself as a professional writer almost my entire adult life, but it’s only been recently that my fiction writing has been my full-time livelihood.
Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Jamaica: They’re happy for me. Even if they’re not interested in reading erotica, they are happy that I make my living doing what I love—-writing sexy books!
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Jamaica: I do a little of both. I usually have a basic plot outline formed before I start writing the book, and I also do a little bit of character-sketching. This helps me get started—and since I now get multibook contracts that require I submit plot outlines to my editor ahead of time, this is a contractual requirement for me to do anyway. But once I know (sort of) where I’m headed, I can just go with the flow. Sometimes I even surprise myself with how my stories end up fleshing themselves out.
Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
Jamaica: The only “must have” I need is peace and quiet. I’m a stay-at-home mother of a toddler, though, so peace and quiet is in short supply at my house these days! I do a lot of my writing on evenings and weekends, when my husband is home so he can watch my son and give me the quiet time I need. I also write when my son is napping. (which these days, isn’t often!)
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Jamaica: My first job out of college was as a financial reports editor for a major Chicago investment bank. So my “research” for writing Market for Love really came from my own personal experience living and working in that world. Many of the characters and situations in the book are drawn from real people and situations I encountered on the job.
Jen: What is it about the romance/erotica genre that appeals to you?
Jamaica: I love the happy endings, for one thing. We are all searching for happy endings in our own lives, especially now that we’re in a tough recession and times are so hard. And the sex appeals to me, too. Sex is a basic human need, and women don’t have a lot of safe, private outlets for their sexual fantasies available to them. I think erotica serves a wonderful purpose in that way, which really enhances women’s private lives.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of your first book?
Jamaica: I was pregnant at the time, so my hubby and I toasted each other with some sparkling grape juice.
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Jamaica: If I had to name five authors who’ve been the biggest influence to me, I’d say they were Judy Blume, Anais Nin, Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, and Erica Jong. If I could say something to them, it would be to thank them for showing me how much joy there is to be found in writing that is frank, truthful, and beautiful when it comes to both love AND sex.
Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Jamaica: Landing my current literary agent, Lori Perkins. She’s really taking my career to a new level. Lori is a legendary agent and also probably knows more about the erotica genre than anybody else out there. (She was interviewed by the New York Times about it recently, in fact!) I was dissatisfied with my old agent, and decided I needed to part ways with him and find new representation. I queried Ms. Perkins—-my dream agent—on a whim, never once thinking she’d be interested in me as a client—but poof! She was interested, and we clicked right away. It really was a dream come true.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jamaica: Right now I’m writing a lot of novels for Ravenous Romance, a new erotica epublisher (which was profiled by the New York Times recently: click here to read the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/books/08roma.html?_r=3&pagewanted=2&ref=arts). I have several books out now with them that are selling extremely well by ebook standards, especially my time-travel paranormal erotica Knight Moves and my Vital Signs series, which is a five-book “young doctors in lust” soap-opera-inspired series of books (think of it as GRAY’S ANATOMY with the sex left in). You can find those books for sale at www.ravenousromance.com, as well as on Amazon (Kindle edition), Fictionwise.com, and AllRomanceEbooks.com. There are audiobook versions of my books too (listen to them on your iPod!), available for download at ravenousromance.com as well as Audible.com (where my audiobooks are top sellers in the erotica genre).
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Jamaica: www.jamaicalayne.com is my website, and jamaicalayne.blogspot.com is my blog.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Jamaica: What do you want most to see in erotic fiction that isn’t being done currently, and why?
Jen: Thank you Jamaica for stopping by this weekend. Readers, one lucky commenter will win a copy of Market for Love. All you have to do is ask a question of Jamaica or answer her question. Due to the content of the book, the winner must be over the age of 18. The contest will end around 5 pm PST on Sunday, May 24.