Saturday, February 4, 2017

Interview with Jen Turano

Heidi here. Today we are welcoming Jen Turano to our blog.

A USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jen Turano has written the critically acclaimed Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers.  Her novel, Playing the Part, was nominated as a 2016  RT Reviewers’ Choice Award Finalist, while her novel,  After aFashion, was nominated as a 2015 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award Finalist and named a 2015 top ten romance from Booklist.  Her book, AMost Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013.  Her next series, “Apart from the Crowd” releases with a free e-novella, “At Your Request” in January, 2017, followed by the first full-length novel, “Behind the Scenes,” in April, 2017.   When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver. She can be found on Facebook, or visit her on the web at www.jenturano.com. She is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.




Playing the Part: Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson's estate to hide out. 

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows. 

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can't ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it'll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

 Jen, welcome to our blog and congratulations on your latest novel, Playing the Part. I’ve read the other two in this series, A Class of Their Own—Aftera Fashion and In Good Company—they are fabulous. How do you come up with such great conflict that extends the entire book?

Years ago, I was in this creative writing workshop, and the instructor said something that always stuck with me.  “To keep the reader turning the page, write a wonderful conflict, but then, when it seems as if that conflict is about to be resolved, blow up a building, have someone fall off a boat, or add a catastrophe no one sees coming.” 

While it’s unlikely I’ll write a catastrophe that turns fatal, I have been known to blow things up between the pages of my books, and because that always sends my brain scrambling for a way to top the blowing up, before you know it, my stories are filled with unexpected escapades, one more unusual than the next.   

I like that advice: “To keep the reader turning the page, write a wonderful conflict, but then, when it seems as if that conflict is about to be resolved, blow up a building, have someone fall off a boat, or add a catastrophe no one sees coming.”. I'll have to remember and implement that! Who/What spurs you to write?

I’ve always lived in my imaginations from the time I was a child.  Back in the day, I would ride my bike around the neighborhood for hours, thinking up one story after another, and oddly enough, those stories always seemed to have a romantic bent. Since I can’t stop story from taking over my thoughts, I’ve given in and accepted the idea I’ll just have to keep writing.  That way, no one finds me strange as I mosey on down the bike trails, talking to myself as I stop for no apparent reason, figure out a scene, then continue walking, chatting up a storm to my imaginary friends.     

I'm glad to hear you'll never give up writing, your talent is absolutely amazing and your voice is superb! Where do your story and character ideas come from?

I get a lot of my ideas from the research books I use.  The novella I just released, “At YourRequest” came from a single paragraph I read about a woman who’d been wealthy, lost all her money, and then set herself up as the social secretary of the day.  She worked for the likes of Mrs. Astor and other New York Knickerbockers, and because of that paragraph, the beginning of the wallflower idea began to fester.  From that story, I moved on to “Behind theScenes” which was inspired by “The Glitter and the Gold,” a book penned by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan about her life as Alva Vanderbilt’s daughter.  It was in this book I became fascinated with the extravagant costume ball Alva Vanderbilt held in March, 1883, and after becoming introduced to that ball, I knew I had to write a book where the setting would begin in the Vanderbilt’s house on 660 Fifth Avenue.  A lot of my contemporary author friends use the headlines for ideas, so I’ve had a research librarian find me newspapers from the 1880, but I haven’t had time to peruse those papers.  Who knows what I’ll find?     

Fascinating, sounds like you do a bunch of research before pen hits the paper. What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

I’m not sure about this, but I think readers may find me a little different because my storylines can be completely out there and my characters have somewhat odd senses of humor.  Add in the idea I’ve been known to include unusual side-characters – like a little pig by the name of Matilda, and…yep, that might make me a bit unique, some may even say…peculiar. 

I also love how strong your female leads are. And when I think of the time period you write in, I feel like women were more weak and needy. So, I find the strength of your characters refreshing. Onto another question, I love plotting and am always looking for tips. How do you plot a novel? How close to the final version does the first draft read?

My plotting changes with every series.  I submit a synopsis to my editor for an entire series, but in all honesty, I’m not an author who follows that synopsis often.  I might stick to the premise of what I proposed, but once I get into the chapters, my characters tend to become a little…confrontational with my ideas.  By the time I finish a first draft, then edit it seven times before I send it off to my editor (where she and another editor comb through it, send me suggestions, and I normally rewrite it again) it barely resembles my original idea.  But I know authors who do a chapter by chapter outline and stick to that as they write their stories.  I think it’s an individual preference. Because I write humor, I need to be able to change mid-chapter if a different amusing scene hits me.  Otherwise, my stories would come across as forced, which isn’t amusing in the least.    

Wow, I would never have guessed that. When I read your writing, it sounds so effortless. It's amazing the number of edits you do. Given all we've talked about, what advice can you give to aspiring novelists to produce a sound novel that’ll sell?

I would suggest learning everything you can about the publishing marketplace.  A writer needs to produce a book that appeals to an audience.  Publishing is a business, so know what readers in your genre are reading.  Don’t write to trends (think dystopian, vampires) because publishing house buy two years out, and read all the time. This will allow you to understand a target audience, and publishers should be able to know exactly what target audience you have in mind when you pitch your story to them.   

Great advice! How about a fun question. You are headed to a deserted Island and can bring only two things with you, what do you bring?

My husband, and I would say my son, but since he’s now twenty-one, and he’s never been the type of guy to enjoy hanging out with his parents, I think I’ll leave him behind.  Instead, I’ll bring my e-reader, stocked with thousands of books. 


Yes, the e-reader is a must. Your next novel, Behind the Scenes, is releasing in April, can’t wait. Jen, thank you for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on your newest novel, Playing the Part.

Thank you for having me, Heidi.

It was a thrill Jen! Let's keep the conversation rolling. Does anyone have a question for Jen? By the way, she is giving away a signed copy of Playing the Part to one of  you (US only) ~ so comment away and don't forget to leave your email address too 😀

31 comments:

  1. Great interview! Hi Miss Jen! It is so good to see you here at Stitches. I would love to know if you have ever had your wonderful sister in mind as one of your characters as you wrote? It is so wonderful to run across two people in this big world that you felt like you had always known . That is the way it was for me when I met you and your sister at RT. Great times!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hey Melanie - wonderful to hear from you. I've been without internet this weekend - no idea why - so sorry for the delay! As for my sister - well, you might not have realized this - but Tricia is very...bossy. So, when you run into a bossy character in my books, yep, that would be a shout out to my sister:) Thanks for stopping by - hope to run into you again soon!

      ~ Jen ~

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  2. Welcome to STT, Jen! It's an honor to have you. :)
    I love the humorous style of your writing. Simply brilliant.

    Heidi, great questions! You did a fantastic job with the interview.

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    1. Thank you, Amber - it's lovely to be here. Delighted you enjoy my humor - I'm always worried I'll just come across as having completely lost my mind:)

      All the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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  3. Jen, I love your books! I've already read Playing the Part, and can't wait to get my hands on Behind the Scenes. Thanks so much for joining us today and sharing all the wonderful advice and insight into your writing! Great interview, ladies!

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    1. Thank you, Crystal! And Behind the Scenes will be out before you know it. I'm just finishing up a content edit on Out of the Ordinary - that'll come out in November - Miss Gertrude Cadwalader is shaping up, but at this point, I'm a little tired of her and her antics...We'll be buds again once she gets into print - but until then, nope, she's causing me trouble.

      Have a great week!

      ~ Jen ~

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    2. Haha! I know all about characters giving trouble, but you're right--once they're in print somehow you're on friendly terms again. :-) I'm sure Out of the Ordinary will be just as great as the rest. :-)

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  4. Good Saturday afternoon Jen. I certainly enjoyed your conversation today and one of your comments made me re-think one of my opinions. While I will always love a physical book in my hands, I just realized that yes, if I were put in a circumstance where I couldn't have my books with me, then an E-Reader loaded with books would certainly be wonderful -:)
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and thank you for this giveaway.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Connie! After I sent in that answer about the e-book, I got thinking about how I'd charge it, so I suppose in reality, that wouldn't be a good choice, but it sounded good at the time:)

      Have a great week!

      ~ Jen ~

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  5. I love your heroines and Playing the Part sounds so interesting! pat at ptbbradley dot com

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  6. Hey Patricia! Great to hear from you - love the cover of your latest book. I have it to read, just doing an edit right now so leisurely reading isn't in my schedule just yet.

    Hope to see you at ACFW!

    All the best,

    ~ Jen ~

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  7. What a fun interview!! I really enjoy your books Jen. I've always loved the humor you put into your stories and the history is my favorite. I haven't read Playing the Part yet and cannot wait to get Behind the Scenes! Thank you for sharing your talent!!!

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    1. Jen's stories are fun to read, I agree!

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    2. Thank you, Terressa! Hope you have great rest of the week, and thanks for stopping by!

      ~ Jen ~

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  8. What a good interview! :) Hi, Jen! :) My only question is - which female character is your favorite that you have wrote? Which male character as well? Thanks for the chance to win! You are awesome! Much love!!! *hugs* My email is - Ninjaspy13 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Megan,
      Thanks for reading the interview!

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    2. Hi Megan!

      Hmmm...favorite character - well my favorite heroine is Miss Permilia Griswold from "Behind the Scenes." And my favorite hero is probably Mr. Harrison Sinclair from "Out of the Ordinary," although I do adore Mr. Theodore Wilder from "A Most Peculiar Circumstance." Thanks for stopping by!

      All the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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  9. Justina Baisley WilsonFebruary 6, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    Great interview but I am bias I Love Hen Turner Turano! Her books keep me wanting more, and laughing out loud. I don't own this one and it would be a great addition to my collection of books. Jen keep writing and Know we Love You and Your Writing. Be Blessed!

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    1. Justina,
      Thanks for reading the interview, Jen's writing is awesome isn't it?!

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    2. Great to hear from you, Justina! Thank you so much for your kind words! I do intend to keep on writing, especially when I have such wonderful readers like you!

      All the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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  10. My emails is JustinaBaisleyWilson at gmail(dot) com

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  11. It startled me to see "Heidi here" at the start since my name is also Heidi. I love Jen's books and it is always fun to "get a peek" at the author behind the stories.

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    1. Heidi,
      I NEVER meet other Heidi's, so hi! Thanks for reading :-)

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    2. Thanks, Heidi - and so this is fun - my mom always wanted to have a Heidi - and just knew the baby she had after me was going to be a girl, (that was before ultra sounds) So she had all this stuff with Heidi embroidered on it - She never got to use that stuff, though, because...wasn't she surprised when my little brother David showed up instead of a Heidi?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      All the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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  12. I enjoyed getting to know more about you, Jen! I absolutely love your books! I have read them multiple times and they still keep me laughing! Looking forward to your new series!

    Thanks for the great interview and giveaway! jdennis298(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you so much, J Dennis. Delighted you enjoy my books, and loved hearing you've read them more than once:)

      Have a great week!

      Best wishes,

      ~ Jen ~

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  13. I like historical fiction! Hope to win this one! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Joan!

      Thanks for stopping in. I love historical fiction, but I can't read the genre when I'm working on a first draft, so right now I'm reading some YA. I'm really looking forward to Amanda Quick's new book coming out soon because it's a different era for her so I'm interested to see what she does with it.

      Have a great week!

      All the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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  14. I love Jen's stories!!!! mksmcpotter(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping in! Love hearing you enjoy my stories!

      Wishing you all the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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