New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Graves is a nine-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. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Jane lives in the Dallas area with her husband and a very sweet kitty who kindly keeps her lap warm while she writes.
Jen: Please tell us a little about your newest release.
Jane: I was talking to good friend and fellow author Lori Wilde about a new series concept, and she suggested I do something with animals. I surfed around a little and saw the Legend of the Rainbow Bridge. I imagined a fictional town in the Texas Hill Country that is said to be the home of this mythical Rainbow Bridge, a spirit world tied to earth where pets go when they die. They wait there for their human companions to join them before crossing the Rainbow Bridge to Heaven. Consequently, Rainbow Valley has evolved into “the most pet friendly town in America,” where all businesses welcome pets and an annual pet festival brings animal lovers from miles around.
The first book, Cowboy Take Me Away, is a reunion story. Luke Dawson is Rainbow Valley’s most notorious bad boy, and when he left after high school, he swore he’d never return. He’s on the verge of the becoming the world bull riding champion, only to sustain a knee injury that forces him to recuperate in Rainbow Valley. He gets a job at the Rainbow Valley Animal Shelter, where he’s reunited with Shannon North, the good girl who stole—and broke—his heart. As their rekindled relationship deepens into desire, old secrets resurface, and Luke must choose between the future he’s always dreamed of and the only woman he’s ever loved.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Jane: I love to soak in the bathtub, and that’s always where my best ideas come to me. I hurry to finish, get out, dry off enough not to leave puddles in the hall and run to my computer. I keep repeating my brilliant thought to myself over and over so I don’t lose it. With luck, I’m able to get my fingers on my keyboard before the thought vanishes into the mist, never to be seen again.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Jane: I’m a full-time writer. I have all day long to put words on the page. But no matter how hard I try, I don’t make much progress until about six or seven o’clock in the evening. By eight or nine o’clock, I’m really cooking. But when is my husband home so we can have dinner and spend time together? After six o’clock. My internal clock really sucks.
The easiest thing for me to do is write light, comedic banter between my heroes and heroines. That stuff just flows.
The most rewarding thing about writing? Reader mail, hands down. I’m always astonished at what they take away from my books and how much they look forward to the next one. My readers are the best!
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what three things would you take with you?
Jane: I love the idea of time travel! Only I’d like for somebody to time travel from the past to 2013 and let me show them around. Imagine flipping through an iPhone with Alexander Graham Bell. Showing Benjamin Franklin Times Square lit up on New Year’s Eve. Putting a Kindle in the hands of Johannes Gutenberg. Or just demonstrating to an overworked frontier wife how a microwave works. I think that would be the coolest thing ever.
Jen: How do you come up with characters’ names?
Jane: I go to SSA.gov, the Social Security website, and find out what the top names were in the year my character was born. Since I personally don’t like weird, exotic, or trendy names for my heroes and heroines or the other major characters in my books, that works well for me. Now, for strange or oddball characters, I’m liable to name them just about anything. For those, I just let my imagination run wild.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Jane: I had what I thought was the misfortune of having one of my romantic comedy books hit the shelves within days of 9/11. I wondered who in the world would be eager to read something funny after that tragic day. Then I received a letter from a New York reader who read the book and thanked me, telling me it was the first time she was able to laugh again after that terrible tragedy. I realized then that humor will always have a place in this world no matter how dark things seem.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jane: Right now I’m finishing up the next Rainbow Valley novel, as yet untitled. The hero is single dad Marc Cordero, the owner of a vineyard outside of Rainbow Valley. He’s spent his whole life taking care of others, but with his daughter off to college and his brother taking over the family winery, he’s ready for an adventure. He just didn’t expect it would start with a runaway bride in a heap of trouble landing on his doorstep one stormy night.