Friday, May 1, 2009

Interview with Jeannie Ruesch

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Jeannie Ruesch. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thanks for having me! I’m happy to be here today. Of course anywhere with chocolate gets a big thumbs up from me.


I understand you have a new release out called SOMETHING ABOUT HER. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Yes, SOMETHING ABOUT HER came out on April 10th. It’s a historical set in the ever-loved Regency era, about a Duke and a widow who shouldn’t fall in love, but can’t help themselves:

Michael Ashton, the Duke of Ravensdale, is caught in two scandals, neither of which is his own doing. The first involves a woman (don’t they always), and the second…well, it also involves a woman and a large sum of stolen money. In order to save the reputation Michael has spent his life rebuilding, he must track down the widow of his presumed-dead cousin in order to charm...or seduce her missing husband's whereabouts from her.

After being abandoned a mere hour after her wedding, Blythe Willoughby Ashton wonders how she could have been fooled by such a cad and still feels humiliated and betrayed a year later. Her husband wooed her, married her, took her money and left. When she learns of his death, she decides unceremoniously to go on with her life—without a man. So when Thomas’s cousin—a Duke, no less—shows up uninvited on her doorstep, looking more handsome and irresistible than any man should, Blythe instinctively doesn’t trust him nor does she want to like him. But her traitorous heart doesn’t seem to care. At the same time, Michael’s clear agenda gets quite blurry when the woman he believes an accomplice to his cousin's schemes turns out to be the woman he can give his heart to…and the only one he can’t have.

SOMETHING ABOUT HER is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

It’s funny how much we struggle to find the perfect “working” title while writing, especially knowing you won’t often get to keep it. But I have to have a title I love in order to finish a book. Strange, I know. :)

SOMETHING ABOUT HER is my original title. It ultimately speaks to the core of the story -- my heroine, Blythe, was different from any woman the duke had met. When you meet someone you know you shouldn’t want, there is usually something about that person that draws you in. There was something about Blythe that was irresistible to him. Because of her, he began to see life differently.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always loved reading historicals. Some of the first romances I ever read were from this genre--Kathleen Woodiwiss and others. Writing historical wasn’t actually a conscious choice– it just happened. I’d written other things or started other ideas across the gamut from contemporary to historical. But this story wanted to be written most. When looking for the specific era to set it in, I looked at some of my favorite books, including WHITNEY MY LOVE by Judith McNaught, for the tone, the feeling I wanted in my story. The regency was a natural fit.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

SOMETHING ABOUT HER began with the thought of a family of siblings, and it actually started with a different plot altogether. However, one of my characters, Thomas, refused to stay dead as I had him written originally. Once I gave in to his demands, the story opened up and wrote itself. It’s the love story Blythe and Michael were meant to have. And from their story, the other four stories in the Willoughby Family series have naturally flowed.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

I love research books and websites, and the list would probably take a page and a half. ☺ There is amazing information available on the web on the Regency– it’s a beloved era and people know it well. Even still, I’ll look for confirmation on certain facts in two or three places before I consider putting it in my book.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

My heroine Blythe really tugged at my heart. In her story, she’s at a crossroads, one I think women today identify with. When the story starts, she’s been betrayed by the man she loves. She’s confused and uncertain of herself, and her ability to trust has been severely shaken. It’s a place I’ve been and I imagine most women have been, so writing her emotions was very personal.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I am a plotter. When I got tired of having notebooks and sticky notes all over the place, I actually created an entire notebook of details and facts for my characters and my books. It contains character sheets, places for details about everything to do with them. It’s called the WIP Notebook (http://www.wipnotebook.com) and it came to be because I use it for myself. A friend saw it and told me I needed to make it available for others, so I have. It’s on my website in an edoc download or spiral notebook.

Research will definitely affect character development, because in order to understand a person, it takes a combination of personality, life events and environment. All three of them combine to make us who we are, so as details in setting and story become clearer to me, the characters always gain more clarity and focus, more emotional depth.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

I love the clothing styles from history – the richness of the gowns, the styles, and the curiosity of being so encumbered by your clothing that you required someone to help you dress. :-) And in fact, I purchased a book of regency period paper dolls – with different clothing styles and everything, so when I write or need to think about how their clothing made their lives different, I have the paper dolls right in front of me.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Absolutely. As a teenager, I idolized Francine Pascal who wrote Sweet Valley High. In later teen years, I became a fan of Danielle Steel and she was a great inspiration for a long time. And today, I find reading is one of the most important things I can do as a writer. I can find the drive and refuel my desire and love of writing by reading books I adore. Nora Roberts, Judith McNaught, Kristin Hannah and many more – for me, it always boils down to characters that become friends. If a writer can make someone stay in my head for years, that’s a writer I aspire to be like.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I think it all matters, from the signature lines in emails and groups to online ads to being on blogs. I placed an ad in RT Book Reviews magazine and I feel it was a great move. I got a review from it, a good one, and I think it’s only helped my sales. But it all adds up--it’s a matter of consistently putting yourself in front of your readers.

What do we have to look forward next?

You will get Adam’s story next! Adam’s, currently a work in progress with a tentative title of HER RELUCTANT HERO, continues just a few months after Blythe’s story ends. Adam is haunted by the mistakes he feels he made with Blythe and determined to give his sisters one hundred percent focus until each is married off. But along comes trouble in the form of the daughter of a treasure hunter, a woman determined to save her father. Aria’s tendency to land on the edge of scandal more often than she can afford convinces Adam he should stay far, far away. If only it were that easy…

But each of the Willoughby siblings demanded their own story, so SOMETHING ABOUT HER is the first in a series of five. And I love writing a series since it allows me to visit with the characters that much longer and it creates the ability to really plan out longer character arcs. While each book will stand alone, I love that I can weave in small (or large) details in Blythe’s book that will be a part of who Adam is in his book.

Thanks, Jeannie!

To celebrate her book release, Jeannie Ruesch is offering a free ebook of SOMETHING ABOUT HER to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (Please check back on Monday to see who won.) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Jeannie Ruesch wrote her first "The End" at the age of six and it's been a love affair with stories and writing ever since. Even with a detour into the realm of marketing and design (that day job thing), she always returned to the stories she loved at the end of the workday. She finally decided to get focused, and ultimately found publication with her first completed novel (as an adult, that is) in 2008. She lives in Northern California with her husband (who is likely tired of having his brain picked over the male perspective and their son.

Check out author’s website at http://www.jeannieruesch.com

Buy links:
Amazon http://tinyurl.com/sah-amazon
Wild Rose Press ebook : http://tinyurl.com/sah-ebook


14 comments:

Denise Patrick said...

Boy am I glad I checked out this blog today. I've been reading about this book and thinking I might want it. I'm so glad to hear it's the first in a series, because I love books about siblings. The family dynamics sometimes is its own character and make books so much richer. I'll definitely be checking it out - if I don't win it first! *grin*

Jeannie Ruesch said...

Hi Denise, Thanks so much! I'm glad you stopped by as well. :)

I love books that are part of a series, too. What are some of your favorites? In historical, I love Julia Quinn's Bridgertons. Such a great family!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Jeannie! I'm a big fan of your WIP Notebook...thanks for sharing it with us.

LuAnn said...

I love the title of this book and the cover!

Estella said...

I love historicals!

Ida Plassay said...

Great interview!
Good title, and it sound like a very captivating nove!

Jeannie Ruesch said...

Hi Debra - I'm so glad you're finding the WIP Notebook useful! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Jeannie Ruesch said...

Hi LuAnn, thank you! Seeing the cover for the first time when I got my author copies of the book was such a thrill. LOL I love it just as much today as I did in the beginning.

Jeannie Ruesch said...

Estella -- I love historicals, too! I'm such a fan of the genre, so I love being able to write in it. I'm excited about the next books in the series, too.

Jeannie Ruesch said...

Hi Ida, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it -- I hope you enjoy the book.

Pam P said...

Hi Jeannie, I love reading historicals, your series sounds like it's for me. Love that title and fits so well with the cover.

Mari said...

Hi there! I love historical novels! BTW, I just looked at your website and I love your tagline "Will design for Chocolate"! Fun!

Kim Watters said...

Congratulations Pam P. You're the wnner of Jeannie's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for posting.

Pam P said...

Thanks, definitely looking forward to reading it!