Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jennifer Wilck in the Author Spotlight


Cate: Please welcome Jennifer Wilck. Jennifer, will you please share a short bio with us?
Jennifer:
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).
One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I’ve gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.
In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.
When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.

Cate: Congrats on both releases! Tell us about A Heart of Little Faith and where it's available.
Jennifer:
Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.
With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens.
As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone.
A Heart of Little Faith is Whiskey Creek Press’ #1 best seller for  the month of August and is available from:

Cate: Wonderful - congrats! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Jennifer:
Excerpt:
Gideon entered his sister’s crowded SoHo gallery in Manhattan and glanced at his watch. If he was lucky, he could make a quick appearance and leave. Garish paintings and semi-pornographic sculptures, coupled with snooty patrons and pseudo-intellectual artists, bored him. A mĂ©lange of overpowering perfumes blasted his olfactory nerves and he grimaced as he quickly tried to breathe through his mouth. He’d only come to support Samantha, and with any luck she’d be too busy with potential buyers to do anymore than register his presence, leaving him free to make a hasty exit. In the meantime, he needed to find something to eat before he starved to death.
Across the room he spied black-clad catering staff and made his way around half walls and columns to check out their offerings. At least he thought they were catering staff. With black continuing to be the customary dress code of New York art patrons, he could never be too sure. Still, silver platters were sure to give them away. Before he’d gotten halfway across the converted warehouse, a waitress materialized in front of him, offering champagne and scallops wrapped in bacon. Pendulum lights from above glinted on the crystal glasses, and the smoky scent made his mouth water. He snagged a glass of champagne and two scallops, and popped one immediately into his mouth. The ice cold glass chilled his fingers and provided a welcome relief from the warmth of the overcrowded room. The scallop melted in his mouth, leaving the taste of crisp bacon for him to savor. A little bit of heaven.
He saw Samantha and made his way over, past old gentlemen sitting on oversized ottomans comparing notes, willow-thin women chatting about the Hamptons and a few art students staring at the scene with longing. He waited until she noticed him. They said their hellos quickly, and she apologized as another group of people swept her away. He nodded his understanding and, with his duty complete, headed back the way he’d come.
He’d gone about twenty-five feet when something caught his attention. Surrounded by movement — the friction caused by the artist’s use of flashy, contrasting colors against stark white canvas, the undulating positions of the sculptures, or the constant swaying of people in the room — her stillness drew his eye. All other sights and sounds disappeared as he approached her. He no longer heard the chatter and laughter around him. His vision tunneled and all surrounding sights disappeared into a fog. His ears picked up only the sound of her fingernails tapping the crystal goblet and magnified it until her tapping became the beat of a song for him alone. The jasmine scent of her perfume floated toward him and made him think of summer vacations in a tropical paradise. Distracted by her, he didn’t notice those around him trying to get out of his way.
She stood motionless in front of a painting. The spotlight above illuminated her brown hair, turning it a fiery red tinged with gold, her skin a luminous peach. Her blouse, made of some gauzy material he couldn’t name, but longed to touch, draped gracefully over her shoulders and down her back. With the lights pouring down on her, he could just see the outline of her body. The barely there whisper of an outline attracted him more than any wet T-shirt ever could. Her black-flared pants hugged her hips the way he once had held a woman, gently but firmly.
He stared at her, bedazzled. He only intended to look for a moment, but she turned around and met his eyes. Caught red-handed he contemplated turning around, but that would be cowardly. He couldn’t continue to stare at her without appearing either moronic or rude, especially since he hated when people stared at him. He inhaled and tried to muster up a smile, when another man approached her. Breaking their gaze, she turned and smiled at him. Gideon inched closer. He heard her engage the other man in casual conversation before she gently excused herself. As the other man walked off, she turned back to Gideon and smiled. Her green cat eyes pierced his soul and made him believe she could see right through him. He continued to watch her, entranced.
“Hasn’t anyone taught you it’s impolite to stare?”
Struck by the irony of her question, he burst into warm laughter and shook her outstretched hand. Her soft cool hand fit completely within his hard, callused one and he closed his other hand over hers. He felt the delicate veins beneath her skin, her pulse beating in her wrist and wished to prolong the skin-on-skin contact for as long as possible. Reluctantly, he let it go. 
“I’m Gideon.”
“Lily.”
“Are you a fan?”
Lily stared at him blankly for a moment and blinked quickly. “Oh, of the artist’s?” She turned once more to look at the painting, tilting her head to the right. “Not exactly. He’s a little too…”
“Much? Bright? Vulgar?”
Lily laughed. “I see you’re a huge fan. No, maybe, I don’t know. The colors are cheery, if only maybe there weren’t so many. But looking at it does brighten my mood.”
“Bad day at work?”
“Terrible. But why are you here if you don’t like the artist?”
Gideon turned and pointed to Samantha on the other side of the room. “She’s my sister.”
Lily raised her eyebrows as she looked over at the gallery owner.
“Oh, Samantha’s my best friend. I didn’t realize you were her brother. So I guess she roped you into this too?”
He sat back and gave her what he hoped was a relaxed grin. “Brotherly duty, or some such nonsense. Apparently I pulled one too many pigtails as a child and this is my penance.”
Lily laughed. She has a great laugh, he thought. It lit up her whole face. “Samantha had pigtails?”
The two of them turned to look at Samantha, currently sporting short and spiky jet-black hair, with small rhinestone barrettes scattered throughout. “You’ll have to fill me in more later,” Lily added, as she stifled a yawn.
“What, is it my stimulating conversation, or these garish paintings that bores you?” Gideon asked, one eyebrow raised.
Lily apologized. “I’m sorry. I had a long day at work and I’m exhausted. I wasn’t even going to come, but Samantha begged.”
“She tends to do that. I’ve told her it isn’t a pleasing trait, but why should she listen to me? I’m only her big brother.”

Find out more about Samantha’s big brother in A Heart of Little Faith, available from Whiskey Creek Press this month! Part of the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Cate: Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Jennifer: Gideon is strong and fiercely independent, yet he has a soft side that he shows to those he loves. He adores children and is a role model to them. He’s stubborn, but admits when he’s wrong (although not as quickly as Lily would like). He finds ways to take care of Lily without making her feel weak or needy. He keeps in mind how he feels when people treat him like he’s helpless and strives not to make that mistake with others. Oh, and he’s gorgeous too! ;)

Cate: Sounds like a great hero. :) Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Jennifer: You mean aside from the fact that everyone lives happily ever after? The world itself is similar to ours, just more perfect. Lily and Gideon are both looking for a savior, although they don’t realize it at first. They both learn that that which we perceive as a weakness can sometimes be our greatest strength.

Cate: What's next for you?
Jennifer: I have another book, Skin Deep, coming out from Whiskey Creek Press, in November. And I’m working on another romance, with a Jewish theme, but that’s still in the draft phase.

Cate: What inspired you to draft your first story?
Jennifer: Honestly, I have no idea. I was watching TV and just got an idea for a story, so when the show ended, I went to my computer and started writing. The show was CSI, and my story has nothing to do with forensics or murder or anything like that. I think I just liked the look of one of the guest stars.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Jennifer: I try to, but I’m a mom, so my routine changes constantly. Ideally, I try to write in the afternoons before the kids come home from school, but that doesn’t always work. I usually work on my blog and critique partner’s work on Mondays and leave the rest of my week for my WIP. And if I need more time, my family is pretty supportive and tries to give me time on the weekends. But one of the things I like about writing is that it gives me the flexibility to do other things as needed, like volunteer in my kids’ schools, etc.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Jennifer:  I love hearing from readers! They can find me at my website, www.jenniferwilck.com; my blogs—Fried Oreos www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com and Heroines With Hearts (contributor) www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com or on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Jennifer: Yes, I’d love to know what is it about a book that makes them unable to put it down.

Cate: Great question. Readers, Jennifer is giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on Saturday, August 27 and announce the winner here.
Thanks so much for being my guest, Jennifer! Best of luck to you.

10 comments:

Cate Masters said...

Welcome Jennifer! Congrats on being the August bestseller at WCP!

Paula Martin said...

Great interview, Jen - and hi again, Cate.
In answer to your question, for me it's knowing that the book is going to have a 'happy ever after' ending but not being able to work out how on earth the author is going to get the characters past all their problems and conflicts to that ending. That's when i can't put a book down!

Jennifer Wilck said...

Thank you, Cate, both for the well-wishes and for having me as your guest today! Paula, thanks for stopping by and it's good to know what makes a book a "must read" for you! For me, it's compelling characters.

jrlindermuth said...

Enjoyed reading the interview, Jennifer. Interesting how CSI inspired your story. Isn't it odd how something can provide the inspiration and not actually be reflected in the finished work?

Jennifer Wilck said...

I know, John, I think that's one of the most fun things about writing. We can all look at the same thing and get completely different ideas from it!

Heidiwriter said...

Excellent interview. I loved how you've been creating stories since you were a child! We have that in common. I like books that make me care so much about the character that I'm right there with him/her, fighting to win!

Jennifer Wilck said...

Hi Heidi, thanks so much! I love character-driven stories--they hook me every time!

Daphne said...

Jen,
Loved your question. And now for my answer...
I love graphic language, by which I do not mean racy or sexy (although that's fun too!), but rather language that is so descriptive that I am readily able to visualize or even "feel" what's going on. One of my favorite writers, former Miami Herald crime reporter Edna Buchanan wrote a book titled, "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face." Whoa! Can you just imagine yourself staring at a body and realizing that you know who it is? Scary! That title gave me chills and, consequently, thrills, because it is, in my opinion, a great example of deft use of simple language to convey an image. I think your excerpt shows that you well know how to and succeeded magnificently in writing visually. Great stuff!

Jennifer Wilck said...

Thanks, Daphne! I love language too and I love to listen or read how different people use it to express themselves.

Jennifer Wilck said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by this week! I loved talking to all of you. Heidi, you're the winner--I'll contact you for your address.