Today The Jaunty Quills have a special treat for you. Rita winner (the Rita is the most prestigious award conferred by the Romance Writers of America) Joanna Bourne makes her debut on the blog, and she’s graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us about life, love, and Rogue Spy (which releases tomorrow!).
Keep reading to find out how to win your copy of Rogue Spy.
Shana: Welcome, Jo! Can I call you Jo? Tell readers who might not have read you (shame, readers, shame!) about Rogue Spy and the other books in the Spymasters series.
Joanna Bourne: I’m going to offer the cover copy, since it’s informative without Giving Away Too Much.
Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.
Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.
Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever.
Shana: You’ve traveled widely and said in other interviews (yes, I stalk) Paris would be where you’d choose to live. One of many reasons I love reading your books is because it’s so obvious you have been to Paris and know the city well. If readers were to visit Paris, where would you recommend they go to really get the sense of stepping into one of your novels?
JB: Go to the Marais. It’s a big section of old Paris that didn’t get neatened out of existence by Baron Haussmann in the Nineteenth Century. (The Victorians were very fond of doing away with all that untidy history stuff.) There you can see the Medieval city and the grand houses of the aristocrats of the Seventeenth Century.
My Spymaster people are quartered in the Marais in the 1790s. Some of the streets I mention are very much today as they were then. The Marais is a fine place to soak up atmosphere. The whole of Paris was once a city of small, crooked, cobbled streets and narrow stone buildings.
Shana: What is your writing process like? Do you have a daily page or word goal? Do you write early in the morning or late at night? Do you plot or fly by the seat of your pants?
Joanna Bourne: I make outlines. I create a detailed scene-by-scene plan of the story. Not that I follow that, you understand, but I write it out. I do this to give myself confidence and to set my mind at ease. Also, the publisher wants a synopsis before I start writing. I truly hope they never go back and compare that neat initial synopsis with the manuscript I actually turn in.
But I’m naturally a Planner, I think. It is my process. I couldn’t do some of the mystery thrillery suspense bits of a story without knowing how the details fit in place. I have to be very structural.
As to the nitty gritty of writing — once I get my mind centered on the story, I write. Time of day isn’t so important. I guess I don’t approach this in an orderly fashion.
Hmmm … I find I sometimes work better when I’m out at coffee shops or the library. That’s about it for ‘writing habits’.
I haven’t tried setting page or word counts. Mostly I write about five or six hours and then run out of steam.
I recently set up one of those ‘walking desks’. It is an experiment in progress.
Shana: I want one of those desks. Do you have a day job or do you write fulltime?
Joanna Bourne: I’m lucky enough that I can work full time. No day job. I have such respect for writers who hold down full time jobs or maybe have kids, and still keep up a productive writing schedule.
Way to go, says I.
Shana: Did you do any special research for Rogue Spy? Tell us one interesting fact you’ve learned from your research for Rogue Spy or another of your books.
Joanna Bourne: I have the notion of placing a scene in the next book at one of the clothes-washing areas outside of Paris. The city’s laundry would be carted out to the green fields of what was then the countryside, washed in the waters of the Seine, and spread out to dry on the grass and over the bushes.
There’s nothing like period prints and painting to give us the details of the past . . . one painting, being worth a thousand words, as it were. I’ve been able to find dozens of wonderful pictures of French laundresses going about their work and bright French clothing lying over the fields.
Shana: Finally, tell us what’s next for you.
Joanna Bourne: Next up is the Séverine story, set in Paris in the early 1820s. I’m early in the process on that one and really don’t know exactly how I’m going to put it all together. Some intriguing stuff going on though. A hero nobody’s seen before. Well, except Séverine’s seen him.
Shana: Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one!
Readers, now it’s your turn. If you could visit any country or city in the world, which would you choose? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of Rogue Spy. [U.S and Canada only). The winner will be announced on Sunday.
Visit Jo’s website to learn more about her.
Order Rogue Spy now
Check out my Facebook page this week for a chance to win 3 of Joanna Bourne’s backlist. Super easy entry!