What's Up with J.A. Derouen??
The wonderful J.A. Derouen, author of Hope Over Fear and Wings Over Poppies was nice enough to answer a few questions for me. Who does she imagine as her characters? What are her upcoming projects? Does she like coffee or tea? Read on to find out!!
What made you want to start writing?
I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, practically inhaling books by the truckload. I’ve also spent my life honing the skill of daydreaming to an art form. Over the past few years, a fictitious town in Louisiana took root in my mind, complete with residents, pasts, and intertwining lives. They inundate my mind, never too far from my thoughts. Putting the story to paper has been cathartic, almost like a form of therapy. I’m not sure that it’s a want as much as a compulsion
What is your favorite genre of books?
I’m a romance junkie all the way. Contemporary and new adult romance are my “go to” genres, but I dabble in historical romance, and pick up a paranormal romance once in a blue moon. I’m a pushover for second chance romances, and if there are children involved? Forget it, I’m in love!
If your books were made into movies, who would you create as a star cast? (Marlo, Celia, Sarah, Alex, West, Cain, Adam)I never really casted the guys or thought about who they are. The girls I always knew exactly who they are, but they guys I never really thought about.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about 6 months to write a book. It takes a little longer to release due to editing, proofing, formatting, etc., but 6 months is my usual time frame.
What is your favorite part of writing?
It’s the best feeling for me to just put the words on paper. I’ve had these thoughts in my head for years. I pull over on the side of the road to type into my Notes app. I hear songs on the radio, and they punch me in the gut when I think of my characters. Typing it up, writing it all down, is my way of letting it go.
Do you have any habits/traditions while writing?
Up until recently, I’ve always been a coffee shop writer. I couldn’t write at home because I’m easily distracted. I know all the regulars at the local coffee shop, and I’m sure they’re wondering where I’ve been lately. But I’m in the process of converting a room in my house into my writing cave, and it’s working well so far. The hubby and the professor are happier, for sure. We’ll see if my characters feel the same way! No matter where I write, coffee will always be in the mix. ;)
Where did you come up with the idea for HOF and WOP?
There are pieces of me, bits of my life, littered through every story. The little nuggets of truth are scattered and in no particular order to protect the innocent … and not so innocent. Ha ha!
The stories aren’t separate to me, though. When I started writing Hope Over Fear, I already knew how each of the four books would play out – Sara, Alex, Celia, and Marlo. The books are interconnected, and they’ve always been that way in my head, too. So I’m holding some really big secrets that I can’t tell for months (Celia) or a year (Marlo). I think I’m going to explode!
I loved your dating catastrophes for Alex, were any of those based on personal experiences?
She is one big dating catastrophe! One of the dating experiences did happen to me. Let’s just say I’ve been “Anthony Michael Halled”. LOL!
Was there any particular part of either story that was hard to write? Why?
There are so many parts of each story that were emotionally trying, but not necessarily difficult. Those parts usually flow the best for me, but I’m completely wringed out by the end of it. Here are few that were particularly tough on me, but they are by far my favorite scenes:
- Hope Over Fear prologue
- Hope Over Fear - the Abigail story line in general and particularly the hospital room scene
- Wings Over Poppies – the last night Alex and West spend together in the past.
- Wings Over Poppies – the exchange between Alex and West in the garage.
Let me just say, choosing two scenes from Wings Over Poppies is so hard, nearly impossible. West’s journey nearly broke my heart – it still brings tears to my eyes. Alex’s strength is what got me through the writing of WOP.
Do you enjoy being an "indie" author? It's such a unique group, do you hope to sign with a publishing company and see your books in stores?
I love being an indie author. I feel a lot like Julie Roberts in Pretty Woman. “I say who, I say when, I say how much.” Well, maybe not exactly like that – LOL! I’m so appreciative of the friendships I’ve made with readers, bloggers, and other authors. I’m having a blast doing something I truly love to do, and that’s the most important part for me.
If a publishing company ever approached me, would I be open to new opportunities. I’d be crazy to say no, but it’s not something I actively pursue or even want. I’m happy doing what I’m doing.
Do you feel like you include any part of yourself in your characters? Do you base any part of them on you?
I think all of my characters have a piece of me inside them, but they also have characteristics I wish I possessed. I’m jealous of them sometimes.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
My writing process is very much directed by my mood. I’m sure you can see where this could be a problem. I think my husband should shower me with chocolate and flowers to keep me in a good mood. I don’t know that he would agree …
Who inspired you the most to write?
If I’m being honest, I’d have to say my 10 year old son. Two years ago, he wrote a poem that won first place in the parish and eventually state Young Author’s Contest. At the ripe old age of 8, my son was a published author. The message of the poem centered on individuality and being exactly who you are. What an inspiring notion! And with those words, my little professor inspired me.
Do you have a favorite character of your books?
Cain Bennett owns my heart. I love them all, and I hate to play favorites, but he’s it for me.
What would you say to someone who wanted to start writing but didn't think they could write a whole book?
I would tell them to focus on writing one scene at a time. You’re not writing a chapter, you’re writing one scene. You’re not writing a book, you’re writing one more chapter. If you do that for long enough, there will be a book at the end of the process. Take little bites, just a tiny bit to chew each time, and it will seem much less overwhelming.
What is your day job? If not writing, would you only write instead of working?
I’m a high risk pregnancy nurse, and I don’t think I’ll ever quit nursing. Just like writing, it’s in my blood. It’s a part of me. Sometimes I get frustrated being a nurse, like all nurses do. But then I get that patient – the one that puts it all into perspective, and I’m reminded of why I do what I do.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
Hope Over Fear was very much in my wheelhouse, so I was able to use my own experiences and knowledge to write it. Wings Over Poppies took a bit more outside research. I have a second degree in psychology and I’ve also worked as a psych nurse, so I was able to pull from those experiences. But to write West’s character as truthfully as possible, I needed to dig deeper. So I did. Books, videos, testimonials – I grasped onto whatever I could get my hands on.
Do you make things up to fit your books or do you stay pretty true to reality?
How do you handle negative reviews?
I try to remember no one ever reads the same story. We bring our own perspective into whatever we read, and everyone has a completely different experience. We all like different things, and that’s the way it should be. Does it sting? Sometimes. But I appreciate that reader’s opinion just as much as the 5 star review reader.
Who would you fangirl over if you ever met? (an author)
I would completely embarrass myself, probably passing out before I ever got a chance to fangirl, if I ever met Kristen Ashley. She’s the bees knees. ☺
What story will be next? Have you already started on it? Do you have other series, books, characters you are wanting to get started on?
Celia’s story is next, and I have about 3,000 words written. So, yeah, I need to get my butt in gear! The Over Series will be a total of four books, one for each of the girls, with the possibility of one spin off (Abigail). After The Over Series is complete, there is a storyline I’ve been itching to explore. I think I’ll see where that takes me …
Think about a certain someone, what are one of the things you wish you could have told him/her? I still feel you. I know you’re still with me.
What is your biggest fear? I’m gonna go light here and say any and all insects, especially roaches. And lizard. And geckos. And snakes. You get the idea.
What makes you happy? My family, reading … and sweets.
What's more important, family or friends? I think you’re family is what you make it. I have a wonderful family, but my true friends are part of my family, too. I don’t differentiate.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? San Francisco – and then I’d miss the return flight home and stay.
Are you shy? I can be very shy around new people. I warm up pretty quickly, but I can be such a Nervous Nelly.
If you could never fail, what would you do? I don’t think it would be fun to know I could never fail. The exhilaration comes from the jump. I like not knowing what’s at the bottom.
What's your addiction? Reading!
What is your hidden talent? I’m known as a fairy at the hospital. When I come to work, I sprinkle my fairy dust, and the night shift goes by without a hitch. It may not seem like a great talent to you, but I promise my coworkers would disagree.
Tell me a joke.
Here’s a little Cajun humor for you, although it would work much better if I could say it to you with my Cajun accent. ;)
Boudreaux and Clotile got married, and came home to live on the bayou after their honeymoon to Holly Beach.
Boudreaux came home from work one afternoon, and asked Clotile, “Clotile! Woman, why I don’t have any clean clothes?”
Clotile put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips. “You can clean clothes, too, Boudreaux. You need to help me around the house.”
“Oh no, no, no, no, Clotile. You see these pants,” he says while pointing to his jeans. “I where the pants in this family. Not you.”
The next day, Boudreaux comes home from work. “Clotile, where’s my supper?”
“You can fix supper, too, Boudreaux. I need you to help me with the housework.”
“No, no, no. I told you, woman. I where the pants in this family, not you!” Boudreaux said as he stormed out of the room.
The next day when Boudreaux gets home, Clotile is standing in the kitchen, holding a pair of her panties in her hand.
“Why you have them drawers, Clotile?” Boudreaux asked.
“I want you to put these panties on, Boudreaux,” Clotile said as she handed him the panties.
“Are you crazy? I can’t get into those!”
“And if you ever want to get into them again, you better start helping me in this house, Boudreaux!”
Cheetos or Doritos Doritos
Vans or Converse Converse
Coffee or tea Coffee
Coke or Pepsi Coke
Taco or sushi Taco
Rough or passionate sex Passion – always passion … doesn’t mean it can’t be rough.
Mexico or Canada Canada
Cats or Dogs Dogs
Jeans or Shorts Yoga Pants – I’m making my own answer!
Morning person or night owl Night owl (night nurse!)