Jen: Today we welcome Josie Litton to Romancing the Book. Josie, will you share a short bio with us?
Josie: Josie Litton is the author of several NY Times and USA Today bestselling romances. She’s been hooked on love stories since she was twelve years old and stumbled across a cache of Harlequins just waiting to be read under the covers with a flashlight.
Married and living in Connecticut, she is the parent of two grown children. Becoming an empty nester has left her plenty of time to write, think about writing, plan what to write next, and read. When she isn’t doing that, she’s cooking, gardening, and traveling.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Josie: My newest book, ANEW: Book One: Awakened is an erotic retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” set in the near future. I never know exactly where any idea comes from–they just seem to pop up out of my subconscious. But I think this has to do with my lifelong love of fairy tales combined with more recent fascination about how the amazing changes happening around us are changing the world for either good or bad.
Here’s a short excerpt:
200 miles north of Manhattan
…and a surge of fragrant air fills me.
… the murmur of wind in spring leaves.
… the feather weight of fabric on my limbs.
Slowly, afraid it is all yet one more cruel dream,
I open my eyes.
Splinters of color and shape pierce me.
The world rushes in.
I am lying on a floating bed suspended under the wrought iron dome of a small pavilion. The sky, glimpsed between tall white columns, is painfully bright. Far off in the distance, light creates shards of diamonds on the surface of a lake fringed with the reflections of tall pines. Beyond, an endless vista of trees and mountains falls away to the edge of the world.
In the stillness, I hear the stirring of life all around me. The bed sways as I leave it and step out onto the far end of a garden divided by the long sweep of a manicured lawn. Spring flowers in a riot of white, pink, and blue fill the formal beds. A robin flits by, bound for the fountain at the center where sprays of water create prisms of light in the fragrant air.
I turn and turn again, trying to drink it all in, relief for my parched senses. In the periphery of my vision, I see chestnut strands of hair–my hair!–fluttering in the air. I feel the shifting of the thin sheath that skims my body from shoulders to ankles. Backlit by the sun, the fabric becomes diaphanous and I glimpse blushing alabaster skin.
Turning, turning, my arms fling out to embrace this extraordinary world. I laugh because I can and because the joy bubbling up in me will not be denied.
I am free!
But I am not alone.
The sight of an elegant palazzo at the opposite end of the garden brings me to a sudden stop. Late afternoon sun falls over white stone walls that gleam under a sloping, red-tiled roof. A graceful balcony runs the length of the second floor. Twin, one-story wings extend perpendicular to the main part of the house. They frame the garden between columned galleries.
As I watch, a man emerges from the deep shadows on the far side of the fountain, coming from darkness into light. His stride–steady, swift, purposeful–dissolves the distance between us. Black jeans hug the long length of his legs and his narrow hips. Under a snug black T-shirt, I see the movement of muscles across his broad shoulders and chest. His arms hang loosely at his sides, the fingers of each hand curling inward as though he carries weapons that are invisible to me. His hair is dark brown, thick and slightly long. The sun has burnished his skin. He has strong, symmetrical features, the facial bones angular and chiseled.
Too far away to see his eyes, I nonetheless feel their intensity. My first instinct is to flee but where? Belatedly, I realize that I don’t know where I am, much less where I could go.
Searching for answers, I stumble across a greater mystery. I have no idea who I am.
With that discovery, my heart begins to race but only for an instant. Panic recedes like a swiftly ebbing tide, replaced by a swell of soothing calm. I stand frozen in place, waiting heartbeat to heartbeat as he nears.
Across shrinking space, further details reveal themselves. He hasn’t shaved in a day…two? I wonder suddenly how the stubble along his square jaw would feel against my fingertips. Is it coarse? Raspy? Silken? The thought shocks me with its presumption of intimacy.
When no more than an arm’s length separates us, he stops. That close, he appears even larger, more formidable but also young, still in his twenties, I think. At last, I can see his eyes. Set under arching brows, they are a rich golden amber shading to brown and framed by thick lashes.
When I meet his gaze, I glimpse curiosity darkened by…passion? I shy away from that at once, concentrating on what else I glimpse. Wariness? Can that be right? Is there something about me that makes this man cautious?
At that moment, what I want most is to hear his voice. When it comes, the deep, slightly husky timbre sends a shiver through me. I watch in unwilling fascination as his full, surprisingly sensuous mouth–the only hint of softness I can see in him–shapes a single word:
I have a name.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Josie: I write every day, usually seven days a week. Most days, I focus on creative work in the mornings and switch to the more business-related stuff in the afternoon. In the evening, I go over what I’ve written and set up for the next day. Ideally, I like to write a full scene and the lead in sentence or paragraph to the one that follows before I call it a night.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Josie: I never trust myself to just remember no matter how good the idea may seem. Instead, I write everything down right away in a notebook, on the back of an envelope, on a corner of a shopping list, wherever and however I can. Low tech, I know, but it works. I’ve learned the hard way that an idea can evaporate so I make sure to catch them quickly. As soon as I can, I transcribe all my notes into an idea folder and back that up.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Josie: My books include elements of suspense, fantasy, and even a bit of sci-fi. Right now, the emphasis in on erotic romance but I might skew that a bit with a future project. I don’t ever see myself writing horror. I’m just too soft-hearted and squeamish.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Josie: The most challenging aspect for me is dealing with self-doubt. I have a very harsh inner critic, which is helpful during rewrites but a real problem when I’m just trying to get a first draft written. The easiest for me seems to be crafting the story and characters. I’m blessed with a very active imagination. The most rewarding far and away is the response I get from readers. Over the years, I’ve been very moved by some of the emails and other messages I’ve received from women I’ll never meet but to whom I still feel personally connected.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Josie: It’s hard to choose but I think the best happened shortly after I had a new book come out and was visiting a bookstore. The book was explicitly sexy and I was a little apprehensive when a little old lady approached me, obviously intent on letting me know what she thought of it. I should have known better. With a gleam in her eye, she said, “Dear, there’s nothing new under the sun.” She, at least, had fond memories to keep her warm at night!
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Josie: After years as a traditionally published author, I’m finally taking charge and self-publishing my books. The challenge is enormous but it’s also thrilling and energizing. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Josie: ANEW is a trilogy. I’ve finished Book Two: Hunted and am working on Book Three: Entwined. After that, I think that I’d like to stay in the world I’ve been creating and explore the lives of other people there. However, I do have unrelated stories that I’d also like to tell so we’ll see.