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). Since then, I’ve published two contemporary romances with Whiskey Creek Press. The Seduction of Esther is my first book with Rebel Ink Press, and I’m excited to be part of their team.
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 and volunteer for way more things than I have time to do. 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.
I can be reached at www.jenniferwilck.com or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160. I tweet at @JWilck. My blog (Fried Oreos) is www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com and I contribute to Heroines With Hearts at www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com.
I asked Jennifer some questions about her writing life and this is what she said:
How long have you been writing?
It feels like I’ve always been writing! But I guess I’ve been writing fiction seriously since around 2005 or so, and my first books were published in 2011. Prior to that, I was a magazine writer and editor.
Why did you choose the genres you write?
I’ve always loved reading romance and grew up reading Danielle Steele, Judith McNaught and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Although I write contemporary romance, my favorite genre to read is historical. I’m just too afraid of all the research it requires to write it on my own.
How do you come up with your titles?
They usually strike me at some point during the writing process. A Heart of Little Faith came to me after I wrote a scene where the heroine told the hero to have a little faith in her. Skin Deep popped into my head based on the subject of the book—it’s a beauty and the beast type of book. And my upcoming release, The Seduction of Esther, relates to the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Do you work off an outline or just wing it?
I’ve always “winged” it. The one time I tried writing off of an outline was a disaster! Now I write my outlines as I go so that I know at what point in the book different things happen.
How many drafts do you write before you submit to a publisher?
At least three or four. My first draft is just my writing the story from my head. Then I send it off to critique partners and make changes based on their suggestions. Then I go through it at least one more time to look for repeated words, “forbidden” words, character arcs, etc. Depending on how confident I am with the story, I may proof it one more time.
How many hours a day do you devote to writing?
I write part-time and I’m a busy mom, so only about 2 hours a day. I wish I could spend more time on it, and when my kids are away at camp during the summer, I get larger chunks of writing time in.
Are any of your novels in print format as well as ebook format?
The first two books I wrote, published by Whiskey Creek Press, are in print and e-book formats. They are A Heart of Little Faith and Skin Deep. The Seduction of Esther, which will be released June 3 by Rebel Ink Press, will also be published in both formats, although I’m not sure of the timing. The e-book will definitely be out first.
If your latest romance was made into a movie, which actors would you pick for the role of your hero and heroine?
For The Seduction of Esther, I envision Mark Feuerstein, from Royal Pains, for the role of my hero, Nathaniel, and a young Amy Irving for the role of the heroine, Samara.
Do you have any guilty indulgences?
You mean ones I’m willing to admit to? J Yes, chocolate is a major weakness. I’m a sap for Hallmark movies and I love reading TMZ.com to find out what train wrecks are happening to celebrities.
What did you find was the hardest or most difficult part in your path to becoming an author?
The hardest part for me is talking about it to people. I’ve always kept my writing quiet and my parents didn’t even know about it until I showed them my first acceptance letter. Now that I have books published, and continue to write and publish, I have to be a lot more open about it. I’m an introvert, so that’s difficult for me. But I’m learning!
Tell me a little about your novel and how it came to be.
My upcoming book from Rebel Ink Press is a contemporary romance with a Jewish theme. I wanted to write a romance that was Jewish, in much the same way that so many romances are Christian—even if they don’t have a Christmas theme, the characters go to church or something is mentioned in passing. I enjoy all of those books, but wanted to see if I could do something similar with my own religion. So this book, The Seduction of Esther, is about two people who fall in love and the story revolves around the holiday of Purim. For those that don’t know the story, Purim is a joyous holiday that celebrates the survival of the Jews in Persia. The holiday includes dressing in costumes (similar to Halloween), putting on a play (which is how my characters meet), and making lots of noise. Below is the blurb:
Samara Goldberg has a problem even the most beautiful singing voice can’t fix. She’s a walking disaster, especially when she’s around handsome men. To make matters worse, she’s in desperate need of someone to play the character of Mordecai for the Purim spiel she’s producing and the new congregant, Nathaniel Abramson, is a perfect fit. Nathaniel is a divorced dad who’s recovering from the biggest public scandal of his life. The last thing he needs is a relationship with the choir director at his new synagogue, who also happens to be playing the lead female role of Esther in the very play he’s been coerced into joining.
Woven around the Jewish holiday of Purim, The Seduction of Esther is a story of two people whose lives mirror the plot of the Purim story. Like Esther, who had to hide her Jewish identity from the King of Persia, Samara and Nathaniel are hiding key pieces of themselves. Evil Haman wanted to destroy the Jews, and the nasty Josh will do anything to keep Samara and Nathaniel apart. Will their love survive, like the Jewish people in Shushan, Persia, or will their fear keep them apart?
And here’s an excerpt:
“How did you do that?”
Samara’s eyes peeked over the top of a pastrami sandwich Nathaniel would swear to be bigger than she. “Do what? Oh, that? Practice. There’s a kind of rhythm to this place, almost like following the music in an orchestra. Once you get the timing down, it’s just a matter of following it and not missing a beat.”
The rest of Nathaniel’s thoughts disappeared as he took a bite of his corned beef sandwich. The thin-sliced corned beef melted on his tongue. Brown mustard cleared his sinuses before he knew they were congested. Fresh rye bread with seeds added the perfect amount of texture. Who knew Heaven hid in a tiny, crowded deli?
“Good, isn’t it?”
Nathaniel swallowed and stared at her, wide-eyed. “Good? Are you kidding? Good doesn’t even begin to describe it. Calling this sandwich good is like saying Pavrotti sings well.”
Samara giggled as she took another bite of her pastrami sandwich. “So you like Pavrotti?”
“I didn’t say I liked him, I just said you have to recognize his tremendous talent.” He licked his fingers and took a drink of cream soda.
“So you don’t like him?” Samara put her sandwich down and frowned.
His gaze wandered from the rim of his soda can and rested on her face. When she frowned, a tiny line appeared between her eyebrows. He wanted to reach out and touch it with his fingertip, to see if it felt as smooth as it looked. He hadn’t had this desire with Liz. He clenched his hand into a fist and pushed it into the scratchy denim of his jeans. What are you nuts? Like any woman on Earth wants a wrinkle pointed out! As her frown got deeper, he remembered he hadn’t answered her question.
“Ah, no, I admire his voice, I’m just not a fan of opera. But I can recognize amazing talent.”
His answer must have reassured her, because she stopped frowning and the wrinkle he admired disappeared.
“So what music do you like?”
They discussed their musical preferences, chided each other for not recognizing a particular band’s or singer’s talents, and agreed on the merits of outdoor versus mega-stadium concerts.
“Bruce Springsteen is playing in Central Park this summer,” said Samara as she polished off the last of her sandwich.
“He’s awesome. We should get tickets.”
Where did that come from?
Samara’s head jerked up and her eyes widened. His invitation had surprised her as much as him. Nathaniel watched her cheeks deepen from pale peach to blotchy raspberry. What did I do?
“Um, yeah, okay.” She dropped her napkin on the floor, and before she could reach down for it, another patron’s shoe ground it into the linoleum floor as he hurried by. Nathaniel leaned across the table and blotted her cheek with his napkin. She jerked back and knocked her glass of seltzer onto the floor.
Nathaniel swore under his breath. Why did I do that?
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He focused his attention on the busboy, who hurried over with a mop and swished away the bubbly liquid. Round, white swirls brightened the otherwise grayish linoleum tiled floor. Nathaniel raised his head and tried not to grin.
“Hey, looks like we did them a favor. At least the floor’s clean now.”
Samara craned her neck to look down at the floor and burst into a fit of giggles. Nathaniel watched her curls bounce as she laughed. Resistance was futile. He could no more resist his attraction to her than he could the urge to join in with her laughter. Tears poured down Samara’s cheeks and Nathaniel’s body shook.
Patrons at nearby tables stopped their conversations and stared at the hysterical couple, but for once, Nathaniel didn’t mind being the center of attention.
Thank you Jennifer for the opportunity to host you today and good luck with your new release.