Handbags, Books...Whatever

Handbags, Books...Whatever (http://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com) is the website of Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction. Handbag lover. Avid Jazzerciser. Mah jong player. Yoga practioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Choc-aholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome.

HBW Calendar

  • 08/02- open
  • 07/30 - Keta Diablo
  • 07/26 - Mariah Lynne
  • 07/23 - Mageela Troche
  • 07 19 - Vicki
  • 07/16 - RWA
  • 07/12 - Edith Maxwell
  • 07/09 - Chris Redding
  • 07/05 - Vicki
  • 07/02 - Fourth of July

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jo Davis, June 16-18

I'm pleased to have Jo Davis on Books and Stuff. Jo's new release is Trial by Fire (would you check out the hunky guy), which launches her romantic suspense series, featuring the firefighters of Station Five.
Jo's writing career goes back to the third grade when she wrote and illustrated stories for 25 cents! She's tons of fun and I'm a lucky gal to call her friend.
Hey, Jo. Thanks for coming to Books and Stuff. How did you get from teaching to writing romantic suspense stories?
Do you have a favorite author or authors? Anyone inspire you?
What is the appeal of writing romantic suspense? And why write firefighters?


Jo Davis said...

Hey, all! It's great to be here! Vicki started me off with some questions to answer, to get the ball rolling. I apologize in advance for the long post, but perhaps these will spur some questions. Bring them on! Here goes...

How did you get from teaching to writing romantic suspense stories?

There’s a story in itself! I really did write story books in elementary school and sell them for twenty-five cents each. When I was supposed to be learning two-digit multiplication. Hey, that was Coke money back then! I was rich! Seriously, I can’t recall a period of my life when I didn’t write. I’d always wanted to be an author, I just didn’t know how to get started. I couldn’t unlock the key within myself to open the floodgates, and I didn’t want to go into journalism. Isn’t the world full of enough madness and mayhem? I didn’t want to write about sad stuff. But I was stumped.

Like a lot of people, I put my dreams on the back burner and did the normal thing. The expected thing. I became a teacher, and I enjoyed my career for the most part. I loved the kids, learning about them, and that moment when a child “gets it” and knowing I helped them get there! But, something was missing. Right before my 35th birthday, I went through a crisis, career-wise. I was stressed so badly at work, I was having heart palpitations. I’ll never forget waking up one Saturday morning and saying to myself, “Is this it? Is this all there is, for the rest of my life?”

It was a profound moment. I went out and bought 3 spiral notebooks, and with a story idea in my head at long last, I began to write. I didn’t even know how to format a manuscript on the computer, but I learned. I finished that book. And wrote another. And another. Years flew by. I began to win contests, and people started to take notice of my work. In a leap of faith, I quit my teaching job, landed a fabulous agent 8 weeks later, and sold my first book a little over a year after that. Less than three months after that first sale, my Firefighters of Station Five Series sold to NAL. It was the career change of my dreams.

Do you have a favorite author or authors? Anyone inspire you?

Ooh, yes. Wilson Rawls (WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS) was the first author ever to make me cry at the end of a book. I’ve read it over half a dozen times, and the ending still chokes me up. As a kid, I thought someday I’d love to touch readers’ emotions that way. Sadly, Mr. Rawls died in 1984, so I’ll never have the opportunity to tell him how much his story meant to me. In a total about-face, one of my huge inspirations is Stephen King. He’s THE MAN. I mean, the guy can make a ballpoint pen sitting on desk become evil with a simple turn of phrase. And you’ll believe it, too. He’s a fascinating person as well, and I hope to meet him one day. In romance, there are too many to list! I read over 300 books per year, what can I say?

What is the appeal of writing romantic suspense? And why write firefighters?

I love a fast-paced story with a great bad guy or two who place nearly insurmountable obstacles in the path of my heroes. I love seeing the hero come out on top, albeit battered and bruised! Why firefighters? OMG, there’s just something incredibly hot about a man in a firefighter’s uniform, knowing he goes to work each day and puts his life on the line for innocent victims and his teammates. I thought this concept would work well for a big series loaded with hunky, all-American heroes. Danger, passion, and testosterone. What’s not to love?

**Okay, readers, the first person to post the correct answer to my question wins a signed copy of TRIAL BY FIRE: Jo can recite the entire prologue to what classic work, from memory, in Old English? (Hint—the answer is on one of my two websites! Have fun!)

TracyG said...

Good morning, Jo!
I can't wait to see TbF in print. What a series this is going to be!
Tracy G.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. And I wanted to ask Jo what she thinks is the most important element to her suspense writing: charcter, plot, pacing?
Cheers, Liz Baldwin

Anonymous said...

How do you go about researching about firefighters?

Jo Davis said...

Hi Tracy! Thanks for stopping by, CP. Can't wait to see it in print, either-- just a few weeks now. :)

Hello, Liz!
Congrats, you got the question correct right off the bat! Email me at Jo@JoDavis.net with your snail mail addy so I can mail out your copy of TRIAL BY FIRE when I get them! Yeah, my english teacher in the eleventh grade made us memorize the entire prologue to The Canterbury Tales, and I've never forgotten it! Weird, huh?

On your question, I think writing romantic suspense is a delicate balance between all three of those elements and then some. Like a ballet. If one of those isn't as strong, the whole thing falls apart. At least that's true for me.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Vicki and Jo!

What a great place to start the buzz for Trial, than on a friend's blog!!

So, Jo, since this book is about firefighters, where did you get your information from? Any great stories to tell us about firefighters? And how many firefighters are there in the station?

Jo Davis said...

Hey, Suz! Glad you're here. :)

Research can be fun-- as you found out when you went to the fire station with me! I have a team of five firefighters who help me with scenarios and answering questions when I need to make sure my facts are straight. They're terrific, and they always have funny stories to tell about their calls. Like the old lady who kept hearing a voice in her house saying, "I don't know." She called the fire dept, they came in and investigated. It was a smoke detector saying, "Battery Low." :)

Vicki Batman said...

Hey, to Tracey, Jo, and Liz for stopping by. And congrats to Liz for knowing the answer to Jo's question. I had to memorize The Raven - LOL!

Firefighters are cool dudes and gals. I went through the Volunteer fire academy and wore the gear, rappelled, and went up the ladder. We demolished cars and had lectures. Fascinating. Right now, I'm in the police academy.

Vicki Batman said...

Oops! I meant to add hey to Suz for coming by, too. Hi, Suz. How cool you went with Jo when she researched.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Yep, sure did, Vicki! I got to play photographer and interviewer. Jo was very busy writing stuff down, dressing up in firefighter clothes and playing with big, long, hoses!! :)

Vicki Batman said...

What a good friend. I hope she let you play, too. Those hoses when full with water and extremely heavy to haul around. I thought I was strong until...

And the SCBA is heavy, too. I thought I'd be claustrophobic and I imagine some people are. However, once on and running around, it's great. The tank is heavy and sometimes I have shoulder issues. I took it off for the obstacle course. The whole time I ran it, the guys are going "Go, Batman." "That's Batman?" "Who is named Batman?" LOL

chris k said...

Hi Jo

At the time you interviewed your firemen - you were still unpublished. How hard was it to get the men to talk to you?

And I am so looking forward to this book coming out- I can't think of anything more interesting than hunky men in uniform - or out of it. lol.

the little old lady story reminds me of my husband - sometimes it amazes me what he thinks he hears! lol.

I have a sweet friend from East Texas who kept smelling smoke in her house- her husband told her it was her imagination so on a Sunday morning she drove over to the firestation, walked in on very casually dressed and relaxed firemen, who jumped, scrambled, and dressed in a flurry. When my friend said she smelled smoke in her house one of the men looked at her somewhat dumbfounded and said - Lady, you're supposed to call!!

I can just imagination how much fun it was doing research with your station.

Do any of the funny fire stories find a small spot in your book?

Kathy Sullivan said...

Hey Jo,

I am SO looking forward to this book. I can still remember how excited you were doing the research for this book, and when you made the sale. And who doesn't like a hunky firefighter!!!

Congratulations on all your recent success, you've worked really hard and deserve every bit of it.

Can you give us a little snippet of what else is coming up for you in the future?

Jo Davis said...

Hi Chris!

That's a funny firefighter story, thanks for sharing! I have to admit, I used the one about the talking smoke alarm in UNDER FIRE, my second book in the series. :)

As far as making contacts, I had no luck going on my own and just saying I was an author needing to learn about their job. My local fire station thought I was nuts. So, I made contact through my writing friends, and they were happy to help! Great bunch of guys.

Thanks for the good wishes. I can't wait to see it in print!

Juliet Burns said...

HI Jo and Vicki. Great interview. I'm really looking forward to getting my copy of TBF. I loves me some yummy firemen.
Wishing you all the best,

Vicki Batman said...

Wow, Jo, you have lots of fans. Excellent!

Let's talk about craft. Your stories are romantic suspense, and you also write erotic romance, have you tried in other genres?

What kind of writing turns you off? What stops you from writing?

How have you shocked your readers?

How does humor fit into your stories?

Where do you get your ideas?

What is your writing day like?

Jo Davis said...

Thanks Kathy and Juliet! I really appreciate it. :)

As far as the future, the next two firefighter books are UNDER FIRE, Zack Knight's story (May 2009) and HIDDEN FIRE, Julian Salvatore's story (Dec. 2009). I also have 2 erotic suspense/thrillers being released from NAL Heat-- the first is titled THE SEVEN CONFESSIONS OF ALEXANDER QUINN, and is scheduled for release in August 2009. Stay tuned as well for some big news regarding SEVEN CONFESSIONS... ;)

Jo Davis said...

Good morning, Vicki! I'm loving my visit here, and I'm glad so many of our friends are stopping by. :)

Now on to your questions...

Let's talk about craft. Your stories are romantic suspense, and you also write erotic romance, have you tried in other genres?

I guess you could say my upcoming release from NAL Heat, THE SEVEN CONFESSIONS OF ALEXANDER QUINN, is a break from the traditional erotic romance. It's going to be more of an erotic thriller, which is new territory for me. A bit more mainstream, and not a traditional romance at all, though it does have a romance element.

What kind of writing turns you off? What stops you from writing?

I hate to say this, but first person POV is a real turn-off for me. The reasons are simple-- Most first person POV is from the female's POV, but I'm an author who's very hero-driven. Having only the female's POV does not work for me. I feel I never get to know the hero. What stops me from writing...downloading e-books from my favorite e-stores and playing on the Internet!! Is there a twelve-step program for those? :)

How have you shocked your readers?

Ha! I imagine so. I shock my mother and my critique partners on a weekly basis! But that's fabulous with me. The very last thing I want a reader to be is bored when she/he reads my stories. I want readers to know that if they pick up a Jo Davis book, you'll probably be shocked and titillated at some point...and I want them to pick up the book because of that and the fact that they can count on a great story.

How does humor fit into your stories?

Sometimes, in dialogue between the hero/heroine. Just to lighten a section that has been dark/moody for a while. Also, I make sure to include banter between the firefighters. They can be really funny sometimes.

Where do you get your ideas?

From everywhere. The news, weird Internet stories, and my overactive brain.

What is your writing day like?

My typical day is up at 6:30 a.m., get coffee, and sit down to check email and other author stuff. Then I'm writing by 7:30 or 8. I write for a normal eight-hour day, until my kids come home from school. I'm pretty much done by 4 or 5 p.m. I rarely write on the weekends anymore in order to pace myself and avoid burnout. I love what I do and feel so fortunate to be able to do it!

Vicki Batman said...

Good morning, Kathy, Chris K., and Juliet.

I'm with you guys -- I can't wait to get Jo's book. I adore romantic suspense.

Jo, I like the idea of shocking readers -- in a good way. Can you give us a snippet?

I completely understand your thoughts on first person POV and being hero driven. I write first POV and yes, it's female, but I find it very intimate and like that aspect. So I'm wondering what about you writing first person POV from your hero? Or can you write first POV? I know some authors say they can't as I have trouble with third. What are your thoughts?

Nancy said...

Hi Jo and Vicki!

Jo, I can hardly wait for the firefighter series - or TSCoAQ! It's a kick to see you here, and I know you'll have a marvelous time!

I'll check in as company permits.

Nancy Haddock
La Vida Vampire

Jo Davis said...

Ooh, Vicki, my shocking snippets aren't printable here! he he. I'll see what I can dig up, though...

In first person POV, let me make one exception... Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series! Love those books, and I can't wait to read the new one! I do like stories from male first person POV, which is hard to find in romance, except in male/male romances. You can find male fp POV in mainstream thrillers, and Harlan Coben is awesome. :)

As a writer, I think it would be difficult for me to write in first person. Trying to think "I" throws me off when reading, so I don't think I could write it, either. I keep thinking, "but the character's not me!"

Jo Davis said...

Hi Nancy! So glad you stopped by! Are you dancing on the beach there? I'm jealous! :)

Vicki Batman said...

Oh, Jo, if your snippet are that good and you can't post, send them to me!

Hey, Nancy. Thanks for stopping by. You're so nice.

chris k said...

I'm afraid I'm another one of those folks who doesn't lean toward first person - I've been known to put a book whose cover and blurb interests me back on the shelf when I see it's first person.

I can hardly wait for the day when writing is a 9-5 (no way will it ever start at 7!!) Mon - Friday gig. -

And I think it's wonderful that your three books are coming out relatively close together - I hate waiting a year for a new book.

Do you already have new ideas for after Alexander? Are you wanting to do more series books or stand alone books?

Vicki Batman said...

It's Wednesday and the last day of our interview with Jo. Pooh.

So what's up after our firefighters?

Can you tell us more about Alexander?

Jo Davis said...

Good morning, Chris!

Not an early riser, huh? I guess this is from many years of having to be at my teaching job at 7:30 a.m. Ick! I thought for sure when I quit to stay home and write, I'd get up later, but no dice! I'm used to it now.

I feel fortunate that NAL is releasing my books so close together. It goes farther toward building readership faster, which is essential.

For Alexander, I haven't decided yet whether the second book with tie in with the first. I'm still toying with the idea of a sequel, but we'll see... :)

Jo Davis said...

Good morning Vicki and all!

Shoot, I can't believe it's already the last day! I'll definitely have to come back again, if you'll have me.

Post-firefighters... Hmmm, I have at least two more books planned to end the firefighter series--if they get contracted! The series conclusion is Captain Sean Tanner's story, our tragic hero. After that, I have a romantic suspense series idea I'm playing with, but nothing firm enough to share yet. A lot depends on the success of my erotic thrillers and what time they will leave me for other projects.

THE SEVEN CONFESSIONS OF ALEXANDER QUINN is about a wife who grants her lonely husband seven occasions of sinful pleasure with any lover he chooses, as long as he agrees to confess to each liaison...but the bargain comes with a deadly price. There is something major in the works for this book, which I can't really discuss in an open forum yet. Let your imagination run wild. (grinning mischieviously)

Life is good, ladies!

Anonymous said...

Jo -
Can't wait to read All of these upcoming releases!
For those of use still waiting for a call, any call, what would you say is the best advice you got as an aspiring writer?
Thanks again to Jo and Vicki for a fun, informative interview.
Cheers, Liz B.

Vicki Batman said...

Absolutely, come back! I hope this forum has been helpful.

So here's what I'm wondering: Your ideal fictional hero would think you gorgeous if you.....

How much do you love cake?

Jo Davis said...

Hmm... my ideal fictional hero would think me gorgeous even if I never lost a single pound of the weight I want to shed. He'd love my humor and intelligence, and be a true partner in life. But wait, that's my darling hubby! So, I don't have to dream after all. :)

I LOVE cake, especially chocolate or Boston Creme. Oooh, I have a terrible sweet tooth, which doesn't help the weight loss goal. Ah, well!

Vicki Batman said...

Thanks, Jo, for allowing me to interview you. I wish you great success with the Firefighter Series and Alexander. Keep me posted!

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