Friday, September 6, 2013

Meet Jenna Barton--Author, Autograph Collector, and Tea drinker.



Today I’d like to introduce you to a fabulous writer I know, Jenna Barton. She’s delightful and writes delicious heroes and heroines. She also has a very interesting hobby which I had ask her about and share with everyone. Please join me in welcoming her!

Thank you for inviting me to chat! 

I am glad you are here. Now, I am going to get straight to it, I’ve been dying to talk about this: You have an interesting collection; you get signatures from authors on your breast. Why did you start this?
Haha! Yeah, it's interesting. I'm not sure if most people think it really is interesting in the true definition of the word, or if it's the 'bless her heart' version of interesting. –I think it’s cool!
Author Signatures on Jenna's breast. *awesome*
I started this completely on the spur of the moment at the Georgia Romance Writers' Moonlight and Magnolias conference in 2012. My dear friend Kendall Grey was prepping for the conference book signing and she was feeling down about her Just Breathe series. They're fantastic books but the Urban Fantasy market is tough right now and she was disappointed in some of the numbers she was seeing. Kendall is one of the most fabulous people I know. As we say down in the South, she's good people, and I wanted to a.) make her laugh and b.) give her a way to see her mojo was still there. So I went downstairs to the book signing and said in my biggest voice "Kendall Grey, you're a rock star author and I want you to sign my boob!" and she did, and that's how it started. Ha! See you are awesome. This is at once a thoughtful, and a new fad for sure!

Who was your first signature? What was their reaction?
 It was Kendall Grey. She's never one to skitter away from a challenge. She stood right up and whipped her Sharpie out and signed her name right there. Now that shows, humor, savvy, and plain coolness to do this. I like her (and I have one of her books-just sayin’)

Who refused you?
Well, nobody has turned me down yet, but I've only had four signatures so far. My friend Shakir Rashan was my second signature and I knew he'd get a big laugh out of it, so that request wasn't a hard one to make. After he signed me at an event last December, the boob signature became sort of a joke: 'who's next, Jenna?'. And I thought, 'self, who do you want to be when you grow up as an author? who do you admire?'. The first author that came to mind was Jill Shalvis. She, Kristan Higgins, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are consistently good authors. They're funny, and unaffected by their success, and each of them is also little sassy in their own way. They're my favorites in contemporary romance. So I joked to Kendall that I would ask Jill next, it became a twitter joke, and then Jill saw it on twitter (while I was making dinner and supervising homework, so that was quite an interesting convergence of the two Jennas) and she tweeted 'I'm not afraid of bewbz'. She's awesome and even posted the big moment on her blog. Awesome! I love it when an author has a sense of fun. 

I want to add that I noticed some people seemed offended by this. Jill - and Kristan, because she and Jill share everything! – apparently thought this whole thing was cute and funny. I am a big proponent of respecting people's boundaries and would never ask an author who I thought might be uncomfortable about it or ask them around a crowd of people where they might feel cornered. For the record, Kristan told me after she signed my chest, she tweeted she felt like Stephen Tyler and her husband saw the whole thing. He thought it was hilarious. I was there—and it was a rock-star moment! I thought it fabulous (and that’s why I had to drag you on her to talk about it).

Who do you wish to get in the future?
After the Shalvis/Higgins double-win at RWA nationals, I said Eloisa James was next in jest but I haven't interacted with her much, so I don't know about asking her. I have so much respect for her as both an author and a student of Shakespeare (I studied classical acting in London when I was in college) (Really, Oh wow!! That is cool—I see more interviews with you, just sayin’) and would never want to offend. That's why I'd never, ever ask Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I think she's wonderful and have a lovely email and nice memory of a hug from her after my first sale. I don't think it's appropriate to ask her. I can understand this.

Without a doubt, I'd love to have a signature from legendary erotica author Laura Antoniou. She's the reason people in my sub-genre are able to write erotic romance and be seen as legitimate authors. I'll need one from my buddy Ben Bjostad when his novel is published. The next time I see Rie Warren, she's definitely whipping out her Sharpie because my girl has published two books since I've laid eyes on her, and she's got three more finished and waiting to see ink!  Yeah! I have to see that one--It will be outstanding. (I keep hoping Rie’s mojo will rub off on me, boy does she write like the wind).

Hey, come to think of it, M.v, I do need one from you too. Awww--Thank you. *blushes* I would be honored.

I think I also need to add myself to that list. Once the first book of my erotic romance series The Enclave releases from Omnific Publishing later this year, I'm going to sign my own boob! Good thing I'm still flexible! Ha! I think we need to make an event out of it.

You are an extraordinary writer and I’d like to ask more about that…
Aw! Thank you. That's a very special compliment coming from someone as talented as you, M.V.  You are very kind to me, and I appreciate this. J

When did you start to write? What called you to it?
I started writing and calling it writing when I was in second grade. I wrote a Sherlock Holmes story and won the Southside Elementary creative writing award for that school year. I'm not telling which year that was but let's just say I was probably wearing plaid bell bottoms when I picked up my certificate. Hehe! Awesome! I remember those bell-bottom days….

Through high school especially (because you can't listen obsessively to The Smiths and The Cure and *not* write something about your angsty adolescence) and continuing as an a vocational writer throughout my life, I kept buying these spiral notebooks and putting stories into them. Sometimes it was fanfic (the fandoms... oy, I've done several), sometimes it was my own fiction, sometimes I wrote free verse poetry. It was always writing, though. I'm much better talking from my hands than from my mouth, which made me an awkward actor. I was good at everything about acting but the doing it in front of other people part. In my life, my living rooms have seen some brilliant performances. It is the call of the creative is what I see here….

Writing became a passion when I started doing it full time after my second small person was born. Logistically, I just couldn't act at that time, and I had some pretty heavy post-partum depression happening. Writing lifted me from the loss of stage work and so much diffuse sadness I couldn't seem to shift through traditional efforts. It's brought me the kind of creative life I never could quite find through theatre. Now the stories and the characters are fully mine - and I get to play *all* of them! This resonates with me, because I felt the same way when I had children—and writing called to me and filled the well. Oh, how happy I am you are writing!

What is your genre?
I write long contemporary and erotic romance - primarily. BUT I love historical and love paranormal and love dystopian and love diesel-punk and have written *all* of those too. The fantastic thing about publishing now is that I get to do all of those sub-genres of romance and have numerous avenues to put those stories in front of readers. Excellent!

We all get inspired by different writers—who do you read?
I always go back to Shakespeare, as a reader and as a writer. He (or group of he’s, depending on who you ask) wasn't just writing plays. I believe he was synthesizing myth and our common experience and the deep human need for storytelling, whether he wrote his versions of well-known stories, or created his own. There are lines in some of his speeches, particularly from HENRY V, KING JOHN, and THE WINTER'S TALE that are precious word-talismans to me. Awesome—(and here I go to Taming of the Shrew…)

Oh, I love that one! Katherine is one of the characters I still would love to do, if I am able to do stage work again. She is one of my favorite characters…you know, I think I need to read or watch that again(I adore the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton portrayal)

I also love early Stephen King. His voice, his ability 'to hold as 'twere the
mirror up to nature' as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet... when Stephen King is on he is *on*. And prolific... he really did just write a 1000 page book in the time it took me to look up that exact line from Hamlet.  Stephen King is gifted I agree.

And Jenny Crusie. I mean… she’s Jenny Crusie. How can you not get inspired by the way the lady writes humor and heart with such a distinct voice? See, you make me want to read all of these authors!

What are you reading now?
Right now I'm reading some crazy-good submissions to the genre fiction magazine my friend Venessa Guinta asked me to work with her on (ugh, dangling preposition – she’ll kill me for that). It's called Fictionvale (www.Fictionvale.com), and we publish cross-genre short stories in a bi-monthly digital magazine. Our first episode will be out in November and we have some amazing Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Western, and yes - Romance on offer! This is an awesome thing, because I know I love short stories and I am beyond happy that this Magazine is coming out. On behalf of readers everywhere—Thank you!

For fun, I'm reading Elizabeth Naughton's MARKED. Before that it was THE STORY GUY by Mary Ann Rivers, IT HAD TO BE YOU by who else? Jill Shalvis, SLEEPERS, AWAKE by Eden Barber, and STARSTRUCK by Rachel Shukert - and I re-read THE STAND (authors edit) by Stephen King again. All over the place - I'll always read a good book, regardless of the little box people want to put it into. I’m with you—a good book I don’t care what genre is a wonderful thing.

For fun: What is your favorite drink? (Tea, coffee, water, etc..)
Coke Zero is my aqua vitae. Milky-sweet PG Tipps soothes my soul and takes me back to England. Now what is a PG Tipps? I have to ask, it is tea correct? Very cool.

PG Tipps is very hearty English tea. There’s nothing unusual about it, it’s just black tea, but there’s this undefinable *thing* that makes it like no other tea. Next time I see you, I’ll set you up with some. Ooh, I will hold you to it. :-)

Thank you for coming by and I look forward to having you stop by again soon. (Especially when you get your books published, I can hardly wait).

Thank you for having me! You’re one of my favorite people to talk to, so this was great fun for me. Yay!


4 comments:

  1. My first interview! Thank you for having me, honey! Got a box of PG Tipps waiting for you. :)

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    1. Jenna, I had a blast having on here--and I will have you again. and thank you! I can hardly wait to try PG Tipps! :)

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  2. I loved this interview, ladies! Congrats on all of your successes, Jenna. I'm so proud to know you and very happy for you. Thanks for the mention, btw. And the bewbs. :-)

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    1. Kendall, I am glad you stopped by--you are on my list to interview. (This sounds very ominous doesn't it?) :)

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