Interview & Contest: Jenn LeBlanc

Jen: Please help us welcome Jenn LeBlanc to Romancing the Book.  Jenn, will you please share a short bio with us?

Jenn: I have several constants in life that define me:
Colorado, Canon, CJ, kids and curls.

Born and raised in a household of other people’s children in this beautiful state —very nearly with a camera in hand— I never left. I started my own family, got used to the curls, went to college, built a CJ, and started a business, all with a camera in hand.

I always had another passion; storytelling born from daydreams and nightmares. My fingers were never as quick as my mind, and no amount of practice got them there, so it was difficult and frustrating to have this inside me. When my second daughter was born her inherent traits kept me pinned— my only escape the keyboard. Spending my days in parenting chat rooms I got highly adept with one-handed typing and I can still type just about as fast with one hand as I can with two. It’s a great talent to have when engrossed in a scene and in need of a hit of caffeine. I recently finished my first novel but I quickly realized: I was born a photographer.


From the realization that someone ELSE would be shooting the cover of MY book my control-freak took over. What started as an easy cover shoot ballooned into this completely new kind of media, designed specifically for digital book readers.

I live and thrive off chaos and the constant flow of the creative process. I wear shorts and flip-flops year-round —much to the chagrin of my friends and family— and I am currently working on the illustrations for my second novel.

Jen: Tell us about The Rake and the Recluse and where it can be purchased.

Jenn: The Rake And The Recluse is a time travel romance, though it is more at home with historicals than scifi or fantasy books. The book is illustrated with about 100 photographs. They are embedded within the story and it is meant to be read as an ebook. The story is focused on Francine, a 21st century woman who is transported to Victorian England. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks and through the iBookstore for your iThingy for only $2.99

Francine Larrabee woke up on the wrong side of the century. She was fairly certain she went to sleep in her own comfy bed, but she doesn’t quite seem to be there now. Only adding to her problems is that she has no voice, is constantly being glowered at by a large, stunning man who is obsessed with propriety, and she is apparently betrothed to another horrid little man, determined to ruin her, and any other girls that get in his way.

How does she find herself in the past, when she couldn’t even find herself in her present? How does a self sufficient businesswoman survive in a time when women were still considered property for the whole of their lives and what is she going to do with this man who draws her to him so fiercely.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When were you first published? Tell us your call story.

Jenn: I have always written and told stories, but my typing skills could never keep up with my brain and my stories got lost in the translation. In March of 2009 I woke up with a line and a very vivid scenen in my head. I had to write it down. That is how it began. The book was released in February of 2011, I self published it because all my query letters said things like “We love your voice, we love the story, but we just don’t know what to do with this.” They wanted to represent the manuscript without the images or not at all. At that point the two were married, there was no going back and separating them, so I did all the work, hired the necessary editors and published myself.

In July I was standing in a boutique where I had images up for sale when I received an email from Harper Collins. They found TRATR online and wanted to read the full manuscript. I about passed out in the store. It was pretty insane. I had walked away from traditional publishing, they didn’t have the vision for what I was doing, then this email, and my Marilyn Monroe in the ice cream shop moment.

Inevitably, I decided to stick with self publishing, but talking to one of the best editors with Avon about my MS on a conference call with the PA to one of the highest level editors was not only surreal but empowering. It was validating. They loved it, they loved the idea, they wanted it.

Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?

Jenn: I had a big book release party at the Denver Press Club. It was a big deal because the week after my party I was back at the press club to receive a first place award for my work as a photojournalist on the BP Gulf Oil Spill last year. It was quite a week.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?

Jenn: No.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Jenn: I am a total pantser. I have tried to plot but it really doesn’t work for me. I’ll keep trying but my characters are more in charge than I am.

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?

Jenn: I’m not sure. When I started writing I actually had no idea the book would be a romance. At that point it was just a book. I wasn’t very familiar with the genre, and had only read my first romance novel a couple months prior to that. Since then I have read probably close to 400. I love the interpersonal relationships, I love seeing people overcome adversity and come together.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?

Jenn: The hardest part of writing is the editing. There’s a scene in Love And Other Disasters where one of the characters shares his screenplay with a producer and the producer starts talking about all these changes. The character gets upset and the producer says something like “You have to kill your baby! You have to KILL IT!!” That’s what editing is about, it can be painful because there are some truly beautiful moments that are lost to the process in favor of the work as a whole. The most rewarding is easily hearing from readers who loved the work. It is so incredibly wonderful to hear from people who love your book as much as you do.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?

Jenn: They do, these characters have been haunting me for nearly three years. They don’t let up at all. I love my boys, Perry and Gideon, and miss them desperately when I’m not working with them.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

Jenn: Oh see now I would be in Victorian England because I love the time period so much. I would take my camera, CF card and my Edirol recorder. Even though they wouldn’t last for very long I would spend as much of my time as possible photographing and recording until the batteries died.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Jenn: Oh gosh, recently? Right now I’m reading The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne, her writing is so poetic. I love love love Delilah Marvelle. She is such a dirty girl and her books are so creative and wonderful. One legged heroine? Yes. Sex addict hero? Yu huh. Just crazy scenarios, I love it. I also recently found Shana Galen, and renamed her latest book Lord And Lady Hotness because WHOA. Then there’s Courtney Milan and her virgin hero, and Ashley March and the line from Romancing The Countess “I’m not touching you…” *shivers* Holy WOW read that book. Another one of my favorite writers is Julie Anne Long, I just love her characters because they are so very enchanting and her writing is lyrical. On the contemporary side I am a big fan of Pamela Clare and her I Team series and of Julie James. Though Pamela has some historicals and is working on a new one now that I can’t wait for.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Jenn: Right now I’m working on TRATR redux, which will be released starting on December 20. It is completely revised and re edited with an amazing new editor, it will include more images and it will have the full story the way it was meant to be, as a serial novel. I’m actually really excited about it. That was something else the publishers didn’t really like, was the serial novel. In February the rest of the story will be out, completing the TRATR. In the spring I have another book coming out, which has lovingly been referred on on twitter as Twitchy, because she is a little odd. I can’t wait to share her quirkyness with the world.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Jenn: My website is www.IllustratedRomance.com and my blog is linked there, you can come chat me up on Twitter or Facebook any time, I love to talk to readers! I also run a Tumblr, it’s called Casting Perry. It is VERY NSFW!! But it’s fun, I post images of models and other men who I would like to shoot or who I find inspiring in some way.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Jenn: What imagery draws you to a book? What are some of your favorite covers?

Contest details:

  • The prize is an ebook copy of The Rake And The Recluse.
  • The contest is open to anyone over the age of 18.
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Sunday, December 11.
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