Podcast Transcript 90: An Interview with Jaci Burton

Here is a text transcript of DBSA 90. An Interview with Jaci Burton. You can listen to the mp3 here, or you can read on! 

This podcast transcript was attentively crafted of hand sourced alphabet letters by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

 Here are the books we discuss:

Book Straddling the Line Book The Perfect Play Book Hope Burns

Book It happened One Wedding Book Holiday Sparks

Book One Reckless Summer Book Whisper Falls


[music]

Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to another DBSA podcast. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me today is author Jaci Burton. I am currently at Romantic Times. I still have my voice – it is a small miracle – and at the request of a listener, I tracked down Jaci Burton for an interview because she’s published well over 60 books, she’s got a few coming out this year, and her career is one of, one of those that paralleled a lot of major changes in the industry. So we talk about that, we talk about what she’s reading, and we talk about why it’s awesome to ride a motorcycle, which is something I know very little about, but I’m happy to have learned.

This podcast is brought to you by Putnam, publisher of The Collector, a brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts, available now wherever your fine books are sold!

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, who is also at RT. I should go track her and Whidbey down. I will have information at the end of the podcast as to who this is and where you can find the music.

And now, on with the podcast.

[music]

Sarah: Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself, tell us who you are, and tell us how you’re a brand-new author? I’m just kidding.

[Laughter]

Jaci Burton: I was like, what? Wait, I didn’t prepare for that.

Sarah: You’ve gone back in time. [Laughs]

Jaci: I have!

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: Please don’t make me go back in time. I worked way too hard to get here.

Sarah: Tell me who you are, girl.

Jaci: I am Jaci Burton. I am a published author, and I have been writing since 2003.

Sarah: And how many books have you published? We were talking about this last night.

Jaci: We were talking about this last night, and I do not know the exact number, but it’s somewhere over 60 books.

Sarah: Okay, first, holy shit.

Jaci: [Laughs]

Sarah: Second, do you look back on that and go, oh, my God?

Jaci: I look back at it and think, holy shit.

[Laughter]

Jaci: I can’t believe I have written more than 60 books, and I don’t know how I’ve gotten this far, but it’s pretty awesome.

Sarah: So, over the course of writing 60 books, you have seen a lot of changes in the publishing industry, and you’ve published with a lot of different houses. You’ve published with Harlequin, Carina, Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, not in that order, and Penguin, and who else, who am I missing?

Jaci: I think that’s it.

Sarah: That’s all of them?

Jaci: Yep.

Sarah: You have the very, very diverse publishing experience over the course of your publishing career, which is a lot of books. What are the things that you’ve seen change that you like, and what are the things that you like about how different the industry is right now?

Jaci: Well, when I first started writing, before I became published, I targeted, specifically targeted Harlequin category lines. You know, I thought that was the be-all end-all. You know, I wanted to be in print, and I wanted to write for Harlequin category, and my voice was not suited for Harlequin category, and it took me a good two years to figure that out. And then I accidentally fell into digital publishing when I found Ellora’s Cave, which, back then, you know, in the early 2000s, was very new. And I, you know, it was a brand-new world because I, I wrote hot love scenes which were not acceptable for Harlequin category lines back then.

Sarah: And it wasn’t a case of your writing, it was a case of fit.

Jaci: It was a case of fit, and the thing that I find that’s very different now versus back then is there are so many more options for authors now than there were back then. Back then, there was traditional publishing, and digital publishing was brand new and not as well accepted, and now, you know, there’s self publishing, there’s digital publishing, there’s traditional publishing, and now there’s, you know, so much more than there was for us back then, and I think it’s fantastic that authors have so many choices available to them that we didn’t have back then.

Sarah: I remember, at my first RWA in 2005 – no, 2007 – it was, it was when either one of my children was born, because I went to RWA, and my first RWA I was enormously pregnant and gave birth six weeks later. You probably wouldn’t remember –

Jaci: I do remember that.

Sarah: – I was a small planet orbiting the lobby –

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: – and I couldn’t drink in the bar! Even though I could have perfectly managed a drink with my actual physical body, I – can’t be a pregnant woman drinking in public, people will kill you! I remember at that time being at a signing, and you were published by Ellora’s Cave and Samhain, but you had, I think – I saw you at a signing, and I know it wasn’t a digital signing, because they had just removed digital publishers from their, from RWA’s list of accepted publishers, and there was this real sense of, oh, well, see, I told you digital publishing isn’t legitimate. Now that same argument is being made for independent publishing because digital publishing is now legitimate. People understand that that is actually a valid option and a perfectly legitimate way to earn a living as a writer.

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: What do you think when you see that same challenge of, nonono, that’s not going to work, that’s wrong; this way is right, happen again? What is it, what do you think when you see that sort of disagreement repeating?

Jaci: You know, I, I think that it’s just going to take some time –

Sarah: Yeah.

Jaci: – for the acceptance. I think that there are so many people in the community that dig in their heels when something new comes along.

Sarah: Yes. We cannot change!

Jaci: Yeah.

Sarah: Change bad!

Jaci: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is, is that, well, I don’t do that, and so therefore it scares me.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: And I think that, or, you know, someone might be making money at that, and so therefore it scares me, because I’m not doing it, I’m not making money at it, and so therefore it scares me.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: And I think that there is that type of thinking, or, they may be taking something away from me that I’m not going to be able to have –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: – or I don’t know how to do that.

Sarah: So it’s scary, and it has to be bad.

Jaci: Yeah, as if it’s scary –

Sarah: And it’s different.

Jaci: – or it’s something they don’t know how to do, or it’s different. So, you know, there’s this outcry of, well, that’s bad.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: You know, or, that’s never going to be successful. You know, everybody was dismissive of digital publishing, and look how successful it is now. You know, everybody’s going to be dismissive of indie publishing and, you know, and we know it’s going to be successful. Everybody finds their way. It’s an author’s market right now, and –

Sarah: That’s a good thing.

Jaci: – there’s, there are so many thing that an author has available to them, and the, the bad thing that I see is that there are so many authors out there that are saying it has to be my way, and your way is bad.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: You know, I do this, so therefore what you do is bad, and that shouldn’t be.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: You know, that shouldn’t be the way that it’s done. You know, it’s, if we, if one of us is successful, we’re all successful, you know? We should be celebrating each others’ success because that means publishing is still in business.

Sarah: Yes. [Laughs] People are buying books! That’s a good thing!

Jaci: [Laughs] People are buying books, no matter how they’re buying them.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: You know, that’s a great thing, because that means that we’re all still in business.

Sarah: That’s right. But have you thought about self publishing?

Jaci: I actually got rights back to one of my books from one of my previous publishers, and I self published it earlier this year.

Sarah: I did not know that!

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: Oh, excellent! What has your experience been like? Have you, have you been, have you been interested by the, the difference in how – one of the things that I’ve heard a lot of indie authors talk about that they love is the instantaneous feedback of what is selling and where, and you get your statistical sales figures almost in real time, whereas with traditional publishing, it was three to six months in the past, sometimes nine months in the past, and with digital publishing it’s 90 days?

Jaci: Yeah.

Sarah: 90, 90 days to get –

Jaci: Yeah, it’s, it’s a very instantaneous feedback, which is really interesting. I’m not doing it entirely myself. My agency is, is –

Sarah: Right.

Jaci: – you know, helping me with that, but still, I’m getting that feedback of, oh, you sold this many copies already, and I’m like, really? That fast, you know –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: I think it’s fantastic. I get to pick my, you know, I pick my own cover art, my own, you know, the, who, who’s going to do the cover art for me. It’s, it’s been a really fun experience, and as I pull more books, you know pull my rights back to more of my books, I will be self publishing those books, so it’s really fun for me to be with traditional publishing and digital publishing and self publishing –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: – because it gets my fingers in so many different pies.

Sarah: Yep.

Jaci: I’m really enjoying it a lot.

Sarah: And when you have a long career with a great deal of achievement like you do, the more options you have. You have the experience to approach those options and understand, after 60-some-odd books, okay, this is the kind of cover that might be hot right now –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and this is the cover copy that worked for that book, so I’m going to do something like it for this. You can learn from your own experience –

Jaci: Exactly.

Sarah: – and apply all of that stuff to your career while still also writing digitally and traditionally published.

Jaci: Yes, exactly.

Sarah: That’s pretty cool. So what book do you have coming out next? ‘Cause I know you have the Hope series, and is it book 3 that’s coming out right now? ‘Cause we were just in the Lauren Dane elevator, but we were not in the Jaci Burton elevator –

Jaci: [Laughs]

Sarah: – so I don’t know, I don’t remember the ad.

Jaci: Actually, Straddling the Line, the next book in the Play-by-Plays.

Sarah: Oh, Play-by-Play.

Jaci: Yes, that’ll be out in July.

Sarah: On a scale of 1 to the cover of your first Play-by-Play novel, how hot is the cover for this one?

Jaci: I don’t know that anything could ever exceed the first cover, the first Play-by-Play cover. Everybody, you know, the feedback that I get –

Sarah: It’s so good.

[Laughter]

Jaci: Yeah. The feedback that I get from people telling me, well, this cover’s just so awesome and so hot, but the first cover was just the best cover ever.

Sarah: Oh, God. And have you seen how many other covers have mimicked that one? There are similar poses with the same model. There are similar, there’s the sort of, the background was sort of marbled –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and faded. It looked artistic. There’s a lot of that background with a guy with, holding a, a football with no shirt on. There’s a lot of shirtless football people running around, and your cover is still the king.

Jaci: There has been a lot of imitation, which, of course, is very flattering –

Sarah: Because it meant it worked.

Jaci: Yes, that means it worked, and it worked very well, so, yeah, that’s a good thing. But, yeah –

Sarah: I mean, that cover is damn near iconic.

Jaci: It is.

Sarah: Isn’t that awesome? [Laughs]

Jaci: Yeah, it is probably the best cover I’ve ever had.

Sarah: So the next one, the next novel is Play-by-Play. Tell me about that novel.

Jaci: Straddling the Line is about, he is, my hero is my Deion Sanders –

Sarah: Nice.

Jaci: He plays both football and baseball. So I wanted to do a character that straddles the line between two sports.

Sarah: Is it Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson –

Jaci: Bo Jackson.

Together: Yeah.

Jaci: And I think there’s –

Sarah: Not a lot of people.

Jaci: Yeah, there aren’t a lot of athletes that play dual sports. Some of them try.

Sarah: Right.

Jaci: You know, I think Michael Jordan did the, you know –

Sarah: Minor leagues.

Jaci: Yeah, that. And, you know, there are some that actually have, were drafted into two sports, but none of them, none, you know, not very many of them actively play two sports. So Trevor, my hero, is a two-sport athlete, and I cover quite a bit of that where he finishes off the baseball season and then moves over into football, and my heroine is a sportscaster, so she’s going to do a feature story on him, and they actually knew each other in college. So it’s a fun story, and he also has a secret that he’s holding that he can’t tell her about, so –

Sarah: Can you tell us the secret?

Jaci: No.

Sarah: It’s a spoiler?

Jaci: It is a spoiler.

Sarah: Okay. Does he have two penises?

Jaci: He does not have two penises.

Sarah: Okay, that’s not it.

Jaci: This is not a –

Sarah: That was a good guess, though.

Jaci: It was a good guess!

Sarah: Let’s see, what could it be? He has a third nipple.

Jaci: He doesn’t –

Sarah: And that’s the source of all his power.

Jaci: Wouldn’t that make an interesting cover, though.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: Search the cover for the third nipple!

Sarah: Where is it?

Jaci: [Laughs]

Sarah: Let’s see, what else could his secret be? No, I think two peens is going to be my guess.

Jaci: Yeah, well –

Sarah: I’m going to stick with that and hope.

Jaci: You’ll have to search –

Sarah: You can –

Jaci: We’ll have to, everyone will have to search his pants.

[Laughter]

Sarah: Preferably on the cover, look very closely.

Jaci: Yes, look closely.

Sarah: What bulges do you see on that cover?

Jaci: Yes!

[Laughter]

Sarah: And what about the next Hope novel?

Jaci: Hope –

Sarah: Hot men with shirts and dogs.

Jaci: Hot men with shirts and dogs. Well, the Hope Burns cover, which, Hope Burns releases in October, unfortunately does not have a, a dog, but it does have a hot car.

Sarah: Okay, we’ll take it.

Jaci: Yes. Yes. So that’s the third book in the Hope series.

Sarah: And how many books are planned for that series, do you know, or do you have, like, a community that you can keep writing in for a while?

Jaci: Oh, I have so many stories to tell in Hope. I just signed a thr-, another three-book contract, so –

Sarah: Oh, congratulations!

Jaci: Thank you!

Sarah: I didn’t know that!

Jaci: Thank you.

Sarah: You go, girl!

Jaci: So I’ll be –

Sarah: So that’s books 70, 71, and 75? 79?

Jaci: [Laughs]

Sarah: You need to, you need to count.

Jaci: I do. I do actually need to count and figure out how many books in total that I have done and are coming.

Sarah: If you could go back in time to talk to yourself before you sold your book, what would you say to yourself?

Jaci: Just relax and there, it’s going to be really good.

[Laughter]

Sarah: Trust yourself.

Jaci: Yeah.

Sarah: It takes an enormous amount of sort of personal faith and belief that you know, you know that this is something you can do. No, I know that there’s an audience for my book. No, I know I can do this. I know that I’ll find a place for my writing. It takes an enormous amount of personal faith in something that is completely impossible to predict, especially in an industry that is changing very quickly.

Jaci: I, I agree. I panic with every book –

Sarah: Yeah?

Jaci: – as I’m writing them, and –

Sarah: Like, oh, my God, I forgot how to do this, shit!

Jaci: Yeah, I mean, I, Maya Banks and I talk about this an awful lot, that when we get to the end of writing a book, we have no idea how we got there.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: How did this book get written? I –

Sarah: How did we, how did I do that? Wait, I did that?

Jaci: How’d I do that? And can I ever do it –

Sarah: I have had that feeling.

Jaci: And can I ever do this again?

Sarah: Yes. I have had that feeling when I finished the second one. I’m like, oh, I do know how to do that.

Jaci: Yeah. And then, you know, when you go through and do your edits and copyedits and read through your galleys, you know, you think, okay, so maybe I don’t suck at this.

Sarah: Yep.

Jaci: And you would think that after 60-something books that, you know, you know, you would think that some-, you know, an author would say, oh, yeah, you know, this is a piece of cake, but no, it’s just, like, utter panic.

Sarah: [Laughs] No, no, no, I really don’t know how to do this every time.

Jaci: Yeah. So. But yeah, you know, you, you hope to have that level of confidence that you can just go in and breeze through, but it’s, it’s hard. You know, if it, as they say, if it were easy, everyone could do it.

Sarah: Yes, of course.

Jaci: But it, it is, it’s really, it’s a tough process.

Sarah: And it’s a, it’s, I think of it as sort of like a brain muscle. Like, my nonfiction first person writing muscle is very strong because I run a blog –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and I’m writing about my opinion about books, and I’m writing about what I think of things, and so my ability to translate what I’m thinking about something into first person prose is very strong. My ability to write fiction is not strong at all, so that is a skill that I have not developed. It’s easy for me to write what I’m strong at –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and it’s almost like it’s a muscle that you develop –

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: – that you learn how to use, but you still, still, when you use it, it’s work.

Jaci: Yes, it is.

Sarah: You’ve published so many books. Do you have favorites? Are there books that you’re like, I’m so proud of that book?

Jaci: I just did copyedits – I always say my favorite book is the one that’s just, that’s releasing.

Sarah: Right.

Jaci: You know, because I’m so excited about it and so thrilled for the readers to get a hold of it and tell me what they think.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: So I try not to have favorites. I just did copyedits for Hope Burns, the third Hope book, and I loved that book. It’s, you know, usually I, I go through a book and I do my copyedits and say, okay, this book turned out good, and I’m, you know, I’m satisfied. I finished that book, and I looked at my husband, and I said, I love this book. I love this book so much, I’m so damn proud of this book. I can’t wait for my readers to read it. So I’m really excited about that book.

Sarah: That’s wonderful. Is it easier for you to separate yourself from your books because there are so many?

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: Yeah. And when you get reviews, how do you, how do you process reviews? How do you deal with that? ‘Cause I know that’s something that a lot of authors struggle with about, well, should I read my reviews, should I read what people say, and I know that the more books you publish, the greater distance you have from them and that you can not take them deeply, deeply personally, because there are so many. Does it get easier for you? Do you read your reviews?

Jaci: I do. I don’t read every review, but if somebody puts a link on Twitter or sends me an email, yeah, I’ll pop over and read it, and no, they don’t hurt my feelings if they’re not good. You know, it’s a person’s opinion of my, of my book.

Sarah: And it’s done, and I can’t change it.

Jaci: Yeah, I can’t change it, and they either liked it or they didn’t like it, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion of my story, but –

Sarah: And that’s not in your control.

Jaci: I have no control over that. That’s like somebody buying a toaster and saying I love this toaster, this is the best toaster I’ve ever used in my entire life and somebody –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: – and somebody else saying this toaster is utter shit.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: I can’t believe anybody would ever buy this toaster, and I’m taking it back. So, yeah, I mean, you know, I don’t ever look at my books as my, you know, this is my tender, sweet little baby –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: – and you have to love it, or, you know, I’m just going to curl up in a ball and die. I’ve worked hard on it, and it’s my product. And I, I put it –

Sarah: It’s the thing that you have made.

 

Jaci: It is a thing that I have made, and I put it out there in the world, and I certainly hope that everyone enjoys it, and a lot of people will, and a lot of people won’t. And you know, that’s –

Sarah: That’s okay.

Jaci: – that’s personal preference, and that’s okay.

Sarah: That’s cool. You have a lot of diverse sexual heat levels in your books. Some of them are extremely sexual and extremely erotic, and some of them are just very hot contemporary. Do you think that there’s a different readership for those books? Have you noticed that there are different readers for those particular series? Or does, does your readership know, okay, Jaci Burton writes hot contemporary with, there’s super hot and then there’s sort of mild hot, but we don’t go to sweet.

Jaci: You know, I don’t know, actually. I tend to keep the same readers across my series and my books.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: I will occasionally – I think when I started the Hope series, I got a couple emails saying, shame on you for writing those bad words.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: [Laughs] I know, right? I said, do you not know me at all?

Sarah: Yeah, there was anal in the other book, you should read that one!

Jaci: Yeah. But I tend to keep the same readers, and the heat level really depends on the characters and their story. I have some stories where there’s sex in chapter one, and then I have some where nothing happens until three-quarters of the way through the book.

Sarah: Your writing career started at a time when erotic romance wasn’t that well accepted either.

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: I just realized that. Not only was digital publishing looked down on, but erotic romance was not exactly welcome either.

Jaci: Exactly.

Sarah: And now, there’s erotic content all over the genre. There’s, in, in every, in every subgenre, you can find an erotic version of that.

Jaci: Right.

Sarah: Heh heh heh.

Jaci: Heh heh heh.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: Yes. Fell into that at the right time, didn’t we?

Sarah: Yes, didn’t you!

[Laughter]

Sarah: I knew there was going to be room for lots of sex.

Jaci: Yep.

Sarah: And I knew people would like it. That was a hard prediction.

Jaci: Right.

Sarah: And then, do you think that’s more of the same, that’s different, that’s not what I’m used to, that’s not what I like, so therefore it’s bad?

Jaci: Probably, yeah.

Sarah: With a lot of sexual repression labeled on top, or layered on top.

Jaci: Oh, sure, yeah. I mean, you know, we’d like to think we’re an enlightened society, but –

Sarah: In a lot of ways.

Jaci: In a lot of ways, you know. I think there are a lot of people that aren’t, or maybe they’re just, you know, hiding in the bathroom reading it.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: In, in the dark.

Sarah: Or on their phones.

Jaci: On their phones.

Sarah: Under the covers.

Jaci: Under the covers, where nobody can see.

Sarah: All right, so this is the hardest question that I ask people. Who are you reading right now? What books would you recommend to readers that you’ve enjoyed recently?

Jaci: I just recently finished Julie James’ It Happened One Wedding.

Sarah: [gasps, whispers] I loved that book.

Jaci: I loved that book.

Sarah: Wasn’t it so wonderful?

Jaci: It was so good.

Sarah: I’m totally making good book noise right now.

[Laughter]

Jaci: It was so good.

Sarah: It made me so happy.

Jaci: It did.

Sarah: It was, it – the thing I love when I, I wrote my review, it was on Monday of this week. I posted my review, and I had to keep quoting scenes. Like, this is why I like this book. And the one scene that I loved best is when they’re in the kitchen and the, the hero and heroine have just sort of begun to get along and not piss each other off all the time, and he’s asking her about her job. He’s like, how big of a fund do you manage? And she was like, oh, you know, four billion dollars, and I’m, you know, making my first recommendation, and he’s like, are you nervous? She says, no, no I’m not. And I’m like, I love that so much!

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: She’s competent and confident in her abilities!

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: And she’s like, I’m really scared, and then oh, no, no, she’s saying, no, I’m not nervous. I did my due diligence, I know what I’m recommending, and I know why. I just have to convince them that I’m right. And he’s like, you’re really not nervous. And she’s like, no, why should I be? I love that scene so much!

Jaci: I did too. I loved everything about that book. I loved him, I loved her, I loved the sister, I loved the brother, I loved the mom –

Sarah: And they had nice family relationships.

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: There wasn’t passive-aggressive frenemy siblings that you see so often.

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: She’s so talented.

Jaci: I know. I just, I – that book just swept me away.

Sarah: Wasn’t it wonderful?

Jaci: It was.

Sarah: Oh, I just, I was so happy reading that book.

Jaci: Yeah. The grad-, I mean, the gradual way that they fell in love was just perfect. I think everybody needs to read that book.

Sarah: Oh, it’s a perfect example of, of contemporary romance storytelling.

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: And there’s light comedy, but it’s not at the expense of people.

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: It’s not cringe comedy that humiliates a character for laughs.

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: I mean, she’s had humiliating things happen to her in the past –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and she’s trying to get on with her life and move past them –

Jaci: Yeah.

Sarah: – and it’s not all about making her feel bad that something happened to her.

Jaci: Right.

Sarah: You know, no one brings it up all the time. People are very respectful, that they don’t want her to be feeling bad.

Jaci: I agree, I agree.

Sarah: Her, Julie James’s last book, I was shocked because the conflict was work-life balance, and it totally worked!

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: It’s a to-, it’s a totally solid conflict, and then in this one, it’s sort of irritated semi-enemies to lovers, and the conflict is that he does not look for something serious and she does, and she is looking for something serious, and there’s nothing wrong with her approach. No one ever says, oh, that’s just so desperate, and you’re on the shelf, or no, you’re never going to find anybody. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing for her to be looking for someone to be with on a long-term basis.

Jaci: Yeah. And I – [clears throat] – and I liked the fact that he was okay with who he was in the beginning.

Sarah: Yeah!

Jaci: You know, that –

Sarah: There was nothing wrong with him.

Jaci: Yeah. And I, I really liked that they didn’t make a big deal about the fact that he was single and carefree and wasn’t looking to settle down, and –

Sarah: And he likes to date different people, and that’s perfectly fine.

Jaci: Yes. And I really liked the, the transition – and you may not want to use this – where it started to matter to him when his brother talked about him being kind of like a man-whore.

Sarah: Yes.

Jaci: And he’s like, is this how everybody sees me? You know, maybe, you know, I need to –

Sarah: That’s not who I want to be right now.

Jaci: That’s not, you know, maybe I don’t want this –

Sarah: Yes.

Jaci: – you know. And I, I just that, like I said, the gradual transition of their relationship just blew me away!

Sarah: And none of them, none of them were broken.

Jaci: None of them were broken, yes.

Sarah: They just needed to say, oh, maybe that’s not who I want to be anymore.

Jaci: Yeah.

Sarah: That’s, maybe that’s not what I want right now.

Jaci: Yes, it was very much real life.

Sarah: Oh, so good. I love that book.

Jaci: I did too. I did too! [Laughs]

Sarah: Oooooh, good book noise!

Jaci: I know!

Sarah: God, I love that book!

Jaci: And I haven’t been, and I haven’t picked up another book, like, in a week –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: – because I just, you know –

Sarah: You’re still savoring that one! Yep!

Jaci: Yes! I just let it settle within me, because it was just so good.

Sarah: I picked up two other books on the plane, ‘cause for me, from Jersey to New Orleans is about a three-hour plane ride.

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: And my flight was delayed, so I had lots of time, and – the first mistake I made was picking up a contemporary, because that, It Happened One Wedding was so good, nothing that I pick up is going to measure up easily.

Jaci: Right.

Sarah: I have to take a break for a little while and let the savoring –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – go on. And then the other thing I picked up, the conflict was so external, it was so far outside of the hero and heroine that it seemed contrived, because I had just read something that was very natural and slow, and I was like, wow. I think I need to go read nonfiction right now.

Jaci: Yeah. Something.

Sarah: I need to read something completely different, ‘cause, yeah.

Jaci: Yeah. I have Nalini’s upcoming book to read next, so –

Sarah: Oooh, perks of being a Penguin author? Yeah, that’s a good perk.

Jaci: Yeah, so. And, yeah, I figure going from contemporary to, you know, from Julie James to Nalini is like night and day difference, yes.

Sarah: That’s a very good jump. That’s a very good jump.

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: What other books would you recommend?

Jaci: Anything Shannon Stacey writes. I mean, I know she’s my best friend, but she writes wonderful contemporaries.

Sarah: I think – and I’ve said this a bunch of times – that her novella Holiday Sparks is probably the most perfect contemporary novella that I have read.

Jaci: She writes fun novellas. I love her novellas.

Sarah: And her conflicts are also very often reality based. Her major conflict is, I’m only in town temporarily, and I don’t want to live in this small town, and the other person’s saying, well, I do. And the re-establishment or the leaving of a small community is a continuous theme in those books –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and the theme, her, her trope repeats itself. I am, this is only temporary. No, it’s not. Wait, crap. And, I’m not in town for a long time, I don’t live here. Oh, wait, crap. That, it works! It works every time!

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: It works, it works on me every time, ‘cause I like, I love reality-based conflicts –

Jaci: I do too.

Sarah: – so much.

Jaci: I do too. I love Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series. Fun books, fun books, always funny and romantic. Very –

Sarah: Have you read Toni Blake’s Destiny series?

Jaci: I have not read that.

Sarah: One – uh – pink polka-dot bikini on an Adirondack chair – One Reckless Summer. I remembered the word.

Jaci: I, I did read that. I did read that.

Sarah: They had sex against a tree in the first chapter –

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: – and I was expecting this sw-, I mean, it had Adirondack chair porn on the cover! –

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: – so I was expecting super sweet, and they’re doing it up against a tree, and I’m like, whoa! Surprise!

Jaci: Yes, I did read that one, yes.

Sarah: That one and the third one, which I can’t remember. I love those two books because in the first one, it is a good girl and a bad boy who have grown up, but they’re still on opposite sides of, in that town it’s a lake –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: It’s not the tracks, but it’s a lake –

Jaci: Yes.

Sarah: – and he has a secret, and she’s just ended her marriage and moved back to town after being super popular, and now all her friends are married, and she’s not, and there’s all of this reality conflict, plus hot sex against a tree. But the one that I really, really loved, and I’m trying to remember the title, and I want to say it’s number three, the heroine has Crohn’s disease –

Jaci: Oh.

Sarah: – which is the last sexy romance disease –

Jaci: Mm-hmm, right.

Sarah: – you can have, short of, like, you know, leprosy. It’s really hard to make a character with Crohn’s disease not turn into something that’s sort of medical and gross and off-putting, but the character, she has Crohn’s disease in such a way that she has episodes, and she has moved home because when she’s sick she needs help –

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and her parents are there, so she has moved town, and she, moved back to town, and she’s miserable because she’s not in control of her health, and she’s not in control of her life, because she has to relocate herself to a place where she can be cared for, and she’s like, you know, damn it. I’m an adult, and this sucks! And she meets her neighbor, who you might like, because he owns a bike shop.

Jaci: Oh!

Sarah: He’s a motorcycle guy.

Jaci: I do need to read that.

Sarah: Yeah, I do think you need to read that.

Jaci: I do, yes, definitely!

Sarah: What I loved about it is that she is, in fact, sick sometimes.

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: When she has an episode and her Crohn’s disease flares up, she is really, really ill, and she doesn’t eat enough, and she can’t keep any nutrients in her body, so it’s actually very dangerous, and so in the initial episodes, when she was first diagnosed – it’s backstory, but she talks about how it significantly hurt her body, and that she has to be so careful of herself –

Jaci: Ohhh.

Sarah: – and here’s this bad guy, tattooed biker, and she’s like, I can’t hook up with a guy like that, there’s no way. And then he slowly begins to understand how he can help her – oh, my God, it’s so good!

Jaci: Awww.

Sarah: Caretaker alpha biker boy!

Jaci: Oh, my God.

Sarah: You need to, yeah, I need to, I’ll go look up the title, and I will –

Jaci: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah: You need to, ‘cause, you know, I know you like motorcycles.

Jaci: Yeah, I do.

Sarah: Are you going to drive your motorcycle to RWA?

Jaci: We are bringing the bike to San Antonio.

Sarah: [Gasps] So, do you each have one?

Jaci: No.

Sarah: Do you sidecar?

Jaci: Yeah, I –

Sarah: You ride on the back.

Jaci: – I ride in the back.

Sarah: You ride in the back?

Jaci: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: So what is the longest trip you’ve taken on your motorcycle?

Jaci: Mm, a few hours.

Sarah: A few hours?

Jaci: Yeah.

Sarah: What do you like about motorcycling? ‘Cause I live in northern Jersey, and there’s, like, 90 million people around me, and it’s actually very difficult for people to live and bike in that area. You have to go out past the metro area to have space.

Jaci: Oh, yeah. See, we do, we have a lot of open space. You know, you can ride into Arkansas and, you know, the back roads, the, you know, just being, just the freedom of – for me, especially, because I ride on the back, I put my earbuds in, and I just think.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: It’s great for plotting.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jaci: The wind in, you know, my face, and – I’ll fall asleep sometimes.

Sarah: Oh, my God, I’d be terrified I would fall off the bike.

Jaci: [Laughs]

Sarah: Holy shit!

Jaci: It’s all about balance.

Sarah: What is – I have never ridden a motorcycle, so I don’t know anything about it. What, what do you love about it? What do you like about being on a motorcycle? Is it that you’re not enclosed? That you are, that, that you’re moving and you feel all of the movement? Is it the openness of being on something as opposed to in something?

Jaci: It is the openness. You know, the, the, feeling more like you’re one with, you know, nature, you know –

Sarah: And the movement, yeah.

Jaci: – the, the wind and the fresh air and – yeah, I mean, it’s just, it’s a, it’s a freeing experience.

[music]

Sarah: Is there anything that you want to add?

Jaci: The only thing that I would add is how much I appreciate all the support. I mean, I think, you know, people that I talk to on social media are always just so great.

Sarah: Aren’t romance fans awesome?

Jaci: Romance fans are awesome.

Sarah: It’s why I love RT.

Jaci: Yeah, I mean, you know, the, even the disagreements or the things that we debate back and forth, you know, just the, just have it being, having the opportunity to have a dialogue is just fantastic.

Sarah: So you sound very happy in your career.

Jaci: I am very happy in my career.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Jaci: I’ve all-, I have been supremely lucky to have this career and to have it go the way it’s gone. I could not be happier.

Sarah: That’s awesome.

[music]

Sarah: And that is all for this week’s podcast. I want to thank Jaci Burton for agreeing to be interviewed in the middle of RT, which is a loud and busy experience. I will have other author interviews from RT, plus I have a very nice and odd conversation with Jane to share with you in coming weeks, plus, yes, I promise I’m going to quiz Jane, and it’s going to be awful, fun, awful fun. That’s what it is.

This podcast has been brought to you by Putnam, publisher of The Collector, the brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. You can pick it up now or immediately or the next time you go to the bookstore. I will have information about this book in the podcast entry, should you be thinking, there’s a new Nora Roberts? I think I need to know more!

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, as is all of the music for the podcast. This is called “Forgotten,” and it is from an artist named Jason Hemmens. You can buy the mp3 or the album online, and I’ll have links in the podcast entry about where you can find this song and Hemmens’ other music.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, I hope you will let us know. You can contact us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com. You can leave us a message at our Google voice number, 1-201-371-DBSA. If you have ideas, suggestions, feedback, you want to tell Jane she’s wrong about something, even though she wasn’t in this episode, I’m totally on board with that! I kind of enjoy it. Either way, we love to hear from you, especially if you’re enjoying the podcast and have suggestions of what you’d like to hear next.

In the meantime, Jane and Jaci Burton and I wish you the very best of reading. Thank you for listening.

[outro music]

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  1. 1
    LML says:

    Pure pleasure to end the week reading this transcript.  Thank you.

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    @LML:

    I am so glad to know you enjoy the transcripts! We’ll keep doing them for sure. Have an awesome weekend!

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