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AJ & Storm: What did you love most about this story?
Jayne: I have to say the characters, especially Frank, who is so much more complicated than just a hired gun. He's unashamedly pansexual, fulfilling his carnal appetites with men, women or any variation in between, yet when he meets Pagan, he falls hard. He sees her more than just an object of lust, but the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Even though he knows their relationship is doomed to failure, and she will never forgive him for what he is about to do, he pursues her anyway. He's a bastard but with Pagan as his moral compass, he is not beyond redemption.
AJ & Storm: What made you choose your genre?
Jayne: I didn't choose the genre to start with. I just wrote the book and worried about it afterwards. If you have a story to tell, trying to shoehorn it into a category before you've finished can be really stifling, in my opinion. But it does get easier to categorise once you've done your first. By then you are getting to know your writing style, and what you feel comfortable with writing about.
Having said that, my second book contract was for erotic romance with an HEA, so I had those boundaries to work in, which felt a little safer. I was writing to a formula, and we all know that can work really well. Some stories lend themselves to an obvious genre, but Closer didn't. I wasn't sure whether it was a romance, because it didn't fit with the soft-focus, rose-tinted romance novels it would have been categorised with. It wasn't erotic either, because although there are erotic scenes within it, they are not quite as graphic or as prolonged as they would be in an erotic novel. There are certain elements that are noir, gangster, psychological thriller, but in the end Suspense covered all those bases. At the end of the day, it's about how easily people can find you on a book seller site, so being excruciatingly accurate doesn't always pay off.
AJ & Storm: What's the most challenging thing about writing? How do you cope?
Jayne: There are a lot of challenging things about writing. Writers want to share their work with anyone who is interested. I gave up quilting because I was making these things and then putting them away in a cupboard. No-one could see them unless I hung them up on my wall, but I could only hang one at a time, so the amount of exposure compared to the amount of time making the damned thing was miniscule. It didn't seem right. And for me, writing is just the same. You write something, and you want people to see it. Not just see it, but love it, comment on it, mull over it, cry about it, be disturbed by it, get turned on by it, never forget it. But if you want all those things, you better write a book that steps up to the plate, because that isn't easy, when everyone is a critic, and one bad, crappily written review sears into your memory far more deeply than 20 great ones. So getting it right, so I'm happy with it, is one big challenge.
But the bigger one is what you do with the book once you've written it. It's your baby. You've created these people and given them problems to solve, seen them cry, die, lose loved-ones. They are real to you, having been in your head for so long. Then you have to hand them onto someone else, whether a beta reader, or editor, or the general public. And that's where the problems start. Getting yourself noticed, doing your own marketing and admin, suddenly realising you are holding a product, and therefore have to think with a business brain, as well as a creative one. That is hard to get your head around sometimes. It would be nice to think we can all publish "and the readers will come," but the reality is that you have to get out there, be persistent, and believe in yourself. I'm naturally reserved, so this doesn't come easy.
AJ & Storm: Tell us about your teasers. What do you look for? How do you go about making them?
Jayne: I've used various ways over the years. When I had a Windows machine I downloaded paint.net (free download) and played for HOURS with photos I had bought from Shutterstock or things I had grabbed off the internet. You have to be careful because of copyright issues, obviously, which is why I use Shutterstock.
Now I have switched to Apple, I use PicMonkey, and I have to say, it's much easier. (PicMonkey is fine to use on Windows as well.) I find I can get some pretty cool effects but it does take up a LOT of time (especially if you're as anal as me.) I've upgraded, which costs around £4.00 per month, and it does widen the scope of what can be achieved, BTW.
One mistake I make a lot is to add too much text. Sometimes, a single sentence, coupled with a striking image, is enough. Keep it simple. Learn from others. There's a lot of room for creativity, and can really bring the characters alive. I use different body parts; hands, feet, lips on a neck, the long line of a naked body but without the bits and pieces. You can get quite arty with it, but remember that the point of teasers is to draw attention to your book, so the title must be on there, and your name. If people are intrigued, they can then search for 'Closer Than Blood by Jayne Lockwood" and all the information they need is there. If you're putting the teaser on your webpage, you can link it in to Amazon (or whoever your favoured bookseller is) and they can be sent straight to the selling page.
Also, think about the genre of your book. Closer is romantic suspense, but it has an urban, grungy feel, especially at the beginning, so I used outlines and fonts that were a bit punk, a bit rock n'roll. Also, it has a corporate feel as well, so sleeker images worked well. Nothing soft and flowery, or soft focus, or overtly romantic, because it just isn't that kind of story.
And enjoy yourselves! You've created these characters, so making teasers, giving back stories, doing character interviews all bring them to life, which can only enhance the reader's pleasure if they enjoy your book.
Thanks, Ellen, for doing this interview with me. You're a champion and I really appreciate it. Xxx