Over April and May I’ve covered the spectrum of Vintage Roses, with stories set in the early 1900′s in World War I, and in the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s 50′s and 60′s. Jana, a woman after my own heart, has set her novel Flawless in the dramatic period of World War II.
France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.
Excerpt of Flawless:
“I said in the letter that you had not worked as a gardener before, so he is not expecting you to know the difference between a delphinium and a dianthus.” Monsieur Gagnon poured milk onto his porridge. “But he is expecting you to work hard. If you don’t, you could be fired, or your cover could be blown.”
“I can manage.”
“The job might require a little more than sticking a shovel in the ground occasionally and spreading a bit of manure,” Madeleine said. The others turned to stare at her.
She immediately regretted her sarcastic remark, regretted throwing his words in his face. She shouldn’t let this man get to her, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. They needed to work together for the sake of the mission. But she hated him. After what he’d done to Jean Philippe…
Hunter’s gaze locked with hers, and the heat of his anger scorched her clear across the room. She refused to back down from the challenge in his stare. She’d be damned if she’d let him intimidate her.
“Madeleine, enough.” Monsieur Gagnon spoke sharply. “Regardless of your feelings, we need him. He is our only hope for getting the diamond out of the hands of the Nazis.”
He was right. If they couldn’t steal Le Coeur Bleu, Jean Philippe would have died for nothing. She couldn’t let that happen.
She inhaled deeply and looked away. “All right. We’ll work together.”
An intriguing excerpt, Jana. Tell us about your research methods.
“Because I feature the French Resistance prominently in my story, I read books about its history. The rest of my research was done online. I looked up facts about the war, the French Resistance, and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) who dropped spies into occupied France. There were many details to learn; what kind of plane was used to fly spies into France, how do you crack a safe, what makes a diamond really valuable? My research was definitely interesting and varied.”
What influences do you draw on when imagining characters and plots? E.g. childhood memories, daily life, travel, etc.
“All the things you mention can trigger an idea for a character or plot for me. In the case of “Flawless” a fascination with the events of World War Two going back to childhood stirred my interest. My Dad took part in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. By June 9, 1944 he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW. I’ve always wanted to write a story using the war as a backdrop. “Flawless” was my first opportunity but I’m hoping it won’t be my last.”
Jana lives in Western Canada, on the wide prairies. “I currently live in a large city but I grew up on a farm and have spent the majority of my life in small towns and cities.”
“My writing schedule can be erratic at times. I work part-time so my writing flows around my work schedule. Whenever I can I like to take a block of time to simply do nothing but write. I find devoting time like this helps me to really get into a story. If doing this “writing marathon” isn’t possible, the next best thing is to try to work on the story every day, even if it’s just doing research. The main thing is to keep the ideas percolating in my head so that eventually they turn into written words on the page.”
Trust issues, says Jana, feature in many of her stories. “Learning to trust others and to trust yourself. Learning to trust in love. For instance, in “Flawless”, when Madeleine first meets Hunter, she does not trust him. In fact, she believes him guilty of betraying someone she loved. The only thing Hunter trusts are his instincts for survival. They both must learn to trust each other with their lives, and with their love.”
Jana’s current work in progress, Home Fires, is in a similar vein to my newly released Kiwi Kiss. World WarII is a fascinating time period in history, with many interesting social effects from troops serving abroad.
“Home Fires is about a British woman who becomes engaged to a Canadian soldier during World War Two. When she arrives in Canada expecting to marry him, she’s told he’s already married someone else. But when she meets her fiance’s brother, being jilted turns out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
I’ve always wanted to write a story about War Brides. Some 48,000 young British women married or became engaged to Canadian soldiers during World War Two, and made their way to Canada during and after the war. Special ships brought them and their children across the Atlantic, where they docked in Halifax and then travelled across Canada in special war bride trains. I can’t imagine the courage it must have taken to give up family, friends and country to marry, often after very short courtships. Talk about risking everything for love!”
Jana’s next release (no release date at present) is a contemporary called “The Girl Most Likely”. It’s part of The Wild Rose Press’s Class of ’85 series about a 25th year reunion at the fictional Summerville High School. When the Class of ’85 is called home for the reunion, many old flames will be reignited and many new fires will begin to rage. “The Girl Most Likely” falls into the new fires category. Here’s a blurb:
Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?
Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he’s eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?
Here’s a short excerpt:
He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”
He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”
“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”
“For believing in me.”
“Are you going to be okay now?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”
He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?
“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”
“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”
She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”
Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.
If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?
Where can readers find you and your books?
You can find me and my books at my website at http://www.janarichards.net I hope you’ll stop by!
Thank you so much for being here this week, Jana.
Everyone – please leave a comment or question for Jana, and your name will be in the draw to win Flawless.