If you're a regular here, you know I've been a fan of Jessica Hall's, aka S. L. Viehl's, romantic suspense books since she was writing as Gena Hale, and her stories have plenty of steam. Now, to go along with the release of her latest, Heat of the Moment (Onyx), I have an interview with her to share with you! Enjoy!
BELLA: So, what made you decide to write romance after your work in sci-fi?
Was it something you'd always wanted to do, or an idea/character that wouldn't
let you alone until you wrote the story?
JESSICA HALL: Actually I wrote my first romance novel in 1974. I sent it in to Avon, who rejected it, but at age 13 I wasn't very polished. I wrote another
twenty-two romance novels after that and began actively pursuing publication in 1989.
Problem was, I couldn't find an interested publisher. After ten consecutive years of weekly rejections, I was ready to give up. That was when one of my friends dared me to write a science fiction novel. I didn't know anything about SF, but I thought it might be good for me to try something else. That's how I ended up writing my first SF novel, StarDoc, in 1997.
Writing StarDoc was so much fun that I wrote a sequel, and passed the
manuscripts around to my friends, who raved over them. Feeling brave, I submitted the SF books to three publishers, all of whom rejected them. Honestly, I wasn't surprised or hurt by this. The only people who seemed to be published in SF were real scientists, like the guys who work for NASA, and even they were having a terrible time selling their novels. Also, published SF seemed very cynical and nihilistic and depressing, which is not me. I filed away the StarDoc manuscripts and went back to my serious work, writing romance.
Another friend copied the StarDoc manuscript and sent it to an editor
without telling me. That editor made an offer for both books, and suddenly I was a published SF author writing a series. Six months after I hit the SF
bestseller list for the first time, I sold my first three romance novels. It's probably the strangest way any romance writer has ever gotten into the business, but I'm very grateful for how it all worked out.
B: You've tackled Japanese swords and now New Orleans Mafia. What's next? Can we expect to see another familiar face in your next book?
JH: I'm working on an idea involving a haunted plantation, modern-day pirates and lost Civil War gold in the Louisiana bayou. If the publisher goes for it, you'll be seeing Moriah Navarre and Caine Gantry again.
B: What happened with the name change from Gena Hale to Jessica Hall? Was
it solely a publisher thing?
JH: That was my publisher's decision. I know name changes can create headaches for loyal readers, and I do apologize for any confusion it may have caused.
By next year I will have a minimum of thirty novels published under seven
different pseudonyms in five genres, and I know that won't make things any
easier for the readers or the publishers. I'm working on a solution, which will likely be a central web site linking all my work together.
B: Do you have a favorite hero or heroine from your romances? Or is that
like choosing a favorite child?
JH: I enjoy writing all of my characters, but I have a soft spot for Raven and Kalen from The Steel Caress. They helped me to grow as a storyteller, and I loved writing their romance, rocky and difficult as it was.
Read on to Part Two for the rest of the interview, as well as my review of the new book!