Interview with Janette Kenny

Jen: We’re happy to have Janette Kenny as our guest this weekend. Janette, will you please share a short bio with us?
Janette: For as long as award-winning, bestselling author Janette Kenny can remember, plots and characters have taken up residence in her head. But she didn’t fully embrace her secret dream to write for a living until she was a busy cosmetologist making a name for herself in her own salon. Once the writing bug bit, the incurable passion consumed her to create stories and people them. She’s climbed in the saddle and ridden the same trails as her western heroes and heroines, camped on the range, explored ghost towns in blizzards and stone jails in record heat waves, and visited too many stage stops between the Mississippi and the West Coast to count. She’s slept in authentic log cabins listening to the lonesome howl of a coyote, and came frighteningly close to crossing paths with a grizzly bear high in the Rocky Mountains in Montana.

Jen: Tell us about A Cowboy Christmas and where it’s available.
Janette: A Cowboy Christmas is the first book in my Lost Sons Trilogy and it’s available at all online and brick and mortar bookstores, discount stores and from Kensington Publishing. This is Reid’s story, the eldest of the orphan boys who met at the Guardian Angels Orphan Asylum.

Closer than brothers, bonded forever after growing up in an orphanage, three best friends set out to become cowboys, not knowing destiny will also make them heroes. But one fatal betrayal divides them, and now each man must face the West alone.

Reid Barclay has never celebrated Christmas—but this year, the rugged cowboy is going to change that, even though there’s trouble brewing at the Crown Seven Ranch. What with a herd of prize thoroughbreds to protect and a long-ago wrong that he wants to make right in time for the holidays, Reid’s in deep, but he’s not the type to give up. Or become distracted. Which is why he fights so hard to resist the beautiful cook who’s taken over the ranch kitchen. Not that Miss Ellie Jo Cade can cook—why, she burns everything from gingerbread to roast beef. But her sweet face and sensual womanliness are pure temptation…

Cornhusk angels…bright berry garlands…spun-sugar snow—everything about Christmas holds fond memories for Ellie Jo. A twist of fate gave her the chance to spend the holidays with her pa at the Crown Seven for what may be the last time and she’s doing her best to make peace with an ornery wood-burning stove and make the old ranch house truly festive. Reid and her father don’t see eye to eye, though, and she doesn’t know who to trust. Yet Ellie Jo’s heart tells her to believe in Reid…and the only-at-Christmas magic that heals lonely hearts…

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Janette: I’ve always dabbled in writing, from prose to fan fiction. I was first published in nonfiction – from anti-drug articles aimed at teens to Kansas history articles. But I really was bitten to write fiction when I delved into my family genealogy.

I was far from an overnight success with fiction! I’d been writing romance for seven years, but the last three years I’d seriously pursued publication. Naturally I’d racked up a thick stack of rejection letters from agents and a few publishers. I was of the mind I had to have an agent before I sold, and was told repeatedly that I had a good voice but western romance was a hard sell. So instead of giving up on that book and genre that I loved and believed in, I took a fellow authors advice and submitted my manuscript to Kensington Publishing. One month later, Hilary Sares called me on my birthday and said the words I’d dreamed of hearing: “I love your book and want to buy it.” She offered a two-book contract in Kensington’s debut program, and right before she left the company, I was offered another contract to write the Lost Sons trilogy.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Janette: I have a cousin who’s a poet. My mom wrote poetry as well as fiction, and she had a distant cousin who published celebrity biographies. On my dad’s side, I had an uncle who wrote sports articles for our local newspaper.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Janette: I’ve never been able to do extensive plotting before beginning a story. I get the general premise for a story, and once I get to know my characters and what’s driving them, I start writing. I write everyday and do a quick edit of the previous day’s work before starting fresh, which also helps with continuity and keeps my mind on the pulse of the story.

Jen: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to your experience? If so, how?
Janette: I haven’t noticed it so much, but one of my editor’s recently remarked that my voice was stronger.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Janette: About as much as I typically do though I had to dig deeper into how Christmas was celebrated in that era. Though larger towns and cities were embracing the Victorian holiday traditions, it was a hit and miss in the Old West with some areas doing a fair amount of celebrating to those who’d never bothered. Though I knew my area in Wyoming very well, I’d never been there in the winter, so I needed to research the season too.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Janette: They do and I think about them at the oddest times. But when they come to mind with the problems, fears, and dreams, then I know that I’ve done my job and know my characters well. As odd as it may sound, I’ve often posed a plot problem before going to sleep and found the solution by morning.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Janette: The Victorian era is definitely my favorite era, but as to place, it’d be a tie between the Lake District of England or the American West. What to take? A good pair of walking shoes, my Alpha smart (which has run a year on one set of batteries), and a bottle of aspirin!

Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?
Janette: I bought silver dolphin earrings and a matching charm, and went out for dinner. Gosh, I can’t even remember where now. That’s why I always buy a piece of jewelry for each book sale.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Janette: “Thank you for persevering past any rejection slips, and writing your books. They are most appreciated!”

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Janette: That’s a difficult question because I’ve read so widely over the years and have so many favorite authors. I’ve added fairly new ones to my favorites, such as Jennie Lucas, Larissa Ione and Allison Brennan. A few of my standard auto buys are: Amanda Quick, Sandra Marton, Linda Howard, Lisa Kleypas, Jane Porter, Linda Lael Miller. Really there are so many authors that I love that I can’t list them all. I just finished reading Heartbreak Hotel by Jill Marie Landis

Jen: What’s next for you?

Janette: Two books with back-to-back deadlines. First, I have to finish the third western historical in the Lost Sons trilogy– Trey’s story. It’s due the first of Jan. And then I have to write my fourth novel for Harlequin Presents and turn that in Feb 1.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Janette: My Website— www.jankenny.com, Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills, the group blog I belong to– www.jauntyquills.com and Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/janette.kenny, MySpace, http://www.myspace.com/jankenny, and Twitter, http://twitter.com/janettekenny though I’m sporadic about updates on those public sites and I’ve yet to learn how to tweet.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Janette: What quality makes an author an auto-buy for you? If you’re a pick-and-chose reader, what makes you buy a novel and especially a new author? Reviews? Word of mouth? Reading a few pages of the novel?

Jen: Readers, we’re giving away an autographed copy of A Cowboy Christmas to a random commenter. To enter the drawing, first leave a comment or question for Janette. Then you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to contests.bookblog@gmail.com. A winner will be chosen on Thursday, November 5.