My latest book, Love and Danger, is about a hippie who falls in love with a former military hero. Daphne Summer, a single mother, is trying to help her sisters save their family’s 100-year-old cottage from the taxman and ends up in the middle of a huge fight with a developer. In comes Evander to save the day. He thinks he’s just a broken man who is only good for stopping bullets as a bodyguard. Of course, Daphne shows him otherwise. And did I mention that he’s a billionaire in disguise? To say the least, things get interesting in Muskoka—the area where the story is set (and a place I visited a lot as a child).
What does your writing process look like?
One big mess. From the document, to my hair, to the house. Usually after I launch a book I look up and wonder how the house got so messy. And why is there no food in the fridge? Didn’t I just go shopping? (Nope, that was a few weeks ago!)
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
For me when I write a first draft I tend to have a lot of characters whose names are similar. Like Allie Alexander who is working with an Albert and an Alfred. Or I have two heroes in the same book named Cage and Kade. I usually have to go back and change a few names.
That said, with the Summer Sisters Tame the Billionaires series I did have all the heroines and heroes named beforehand. (The heroines are nymphs and have some symbolic mythology that is echoed in the books. As well, the heroes are named after…well, heroes and gods, so their names are also symbolic.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Vacationing in Italy because I’m a billionaire. HA HA HA!
Were you already a great writer?
Let’s just say that when I sat down a few years ago and decided I was going to write a novel I thought I needed 20,000 words. Turns out I should have aimed for about 75,000 words. (Which was actually a relief seeing as the story was definitely nowhere near done when I hit 20,000 words.)
Have you always liked to write?
I used to keep a journal/diary as a kid and my mom said I used to sit on my bed eating crackers and writing. Not much has changed. Although I’m usually found on the couch now and I’m allowed to eat the whole box of crackers—although there are little people who expect me to share.
I grew up on a beekeeping farm so my first job was farm stuff. Feed the bees, wrap the beehives for winter, load and unload trucks, extract honey, catch swarms, repair equipment, package honey, clean out honey tanks (not a laughing matter when you have waist-long hair—talk about sticky mess! (even with a hairnet)), fix trucks, mail honey to customers, take honey orders, work on beehives, do queen checks, graft and raise queen bees from eggs…the list goes on. You know, the usual teenager stuff such as fall into barrels of honey, get trucks stuck in mud in the middle of nowhere, teach men twice my size how to bully a heavy stack of honey boxes out of your way or how to jimmy the key so the old truck starts.
My first off-the-farm job was as a ski instructor in the Canadian Rockies. I was eighteen and it was tons of fun! I skied over two-hundred days that year and my quads have never been that amazing since.
Do you read your reviews?
You bet! I find reviews very helpful—good or bad. I love to see what readers want or don’t want in my stories, what their reactions were to characters or plot points/twists. Reading reviews has helped me grow and develop as a writer.
Do you respond to them, good or bad?
I responded to one reader review who HATED my first book (as in “I’ve lost the will to live!”). I recommended some authors she might like. I actually felt pretty bad she hated the book so much. That said, I learned a lot with that first book and hearing such visceral reactions was helpful.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Treadmill. Get on it and run until you’re not pissed off any longer and you can see the proactive way of using the bad to make you even better. Or until you can no longer breathe from running so hard. Whichever comes first.
If we Googled your name what would we see?
ME! Lots of me. My dad called me a Google pig for hogging the first page of search results for my name. Mwa-ha-ha. It was a planned takeover and there is no way I’m giving any other “Jean Oram”s the front page again. It’s mine, all minnnnnne. Mwa-ha-ha!
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Um, yeah. I write romance. Of course it does. And if it doesn’t, just stare at the man a little longer until it sinks in.
Does Prince Charming exist?
Yup. But I married him so he’s off the market. He keeps telling me to “spread the word” when I tell him he’s great, but there is no way I’m doing that.
Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched?
Yes, but that’s just the paparazzi outside my windows.
What's your favorite material object that you already own?
My truck. It’s all pretty and big and has power windows and all these fun buttons. Plus, it goes VROOOM when I start it which makes me feel sexy for some odd reason. I’ve always had the crappier vehicle in the family so this is a real treat. Plus, I was able to pay for half of it (used) last summer with book royalties and that felt really, really good and as though I was finally financially contributing to the family after being a stay-at-home mom for almost a decade.
If you turn into your partner for a day, what would you do?
I’d clean the house, do the laundry, cook a pile of meals to freeze and tell me (Jean) to take the day to curl up in a library and just write and write and write.
Name one thing that's impossible to do for everyone present here.
There’s someone here other than me and the paparazzi? Creepy! Seriously, touch their elbows together behind their backs. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait.
Tea or coffee?
Tea, please! Lots of it. And dear goodness. I was in Vegas lately and a large cup of hot tea was $4.80!!! I had to come home. It got way too expensive and I was too tired to do anything.
Tell us something you hate doing. Why?
Cooking and cleaning. I don’t hate it, but sometimes I get really tired of the fact that meals are expected to magically appear three times a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year with the odd reprieve. And cleaning. 2.5 days after cleaning out main floor bathroom it looks as though it hasn’t been cleaned in at least three weeks. (I have a very messy four-year-old. Which also probably explains why I am so tired sometimes and require a lot of caffeinated tea.)
As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer because “I could kick and scream and bite as good as anyone else.”
Yeah, I still don’t know where that came from. But I did have a strong sense of justice and would often get into fights on the playground defending the kids with disabilities.
What specific thing have you done that impressed yourself.
I’ve followed my dreams and made a fledgling career out of writing novels (about women following their dreams while falling in love—two of my favourite things!). Sometimes I’m kind of impressed by that. The fact that a group of us independent authors hit the New York Times bestseller list with our Christmas novellas in December 2014 also impresses me…although in some ways that still doesn’t feel real.
What is your favorite dessert?
Chocolate Mousse. Yum. Yum. Yum.
What's the naughtiest thing you have done in school?
Got into fights. (See above.)
If I came to your home and looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?
Me covering your eyes so you wouldn’t see the crusty milk drips on the glass shelves.
What childish things do you still do as adult?
I have young kids so I use them as an excuse to be silly. I like to make them laugh which means I am silly on a daily basis.
If you were to be on a reality TV show which one would you be on and why?
The Amazing Race because it looks like fun and is SO cool.
Can you comfortably eat in a restaurant by yourself?
Go to movie?
Yes, although I’m starting to feel a tad suspicious that you are going to ask me out on a date and then ditch me…
What was the first car you drove?
A super big one tonne flatbed truck. I was about 7. We did a lot of bunny hopping as it was a stick shift. My dad jokingly told me the police were behind me. That didn’t seem to help the bunny hopping. Plus, every time the truck hopped my foot fell off the peddle, then the truck would throw me forward and back on the peddle…you get the picture. I’m a much better driver now, by the way. (And if I was on The Amazing Race and they gave me a stick shift I’d rock it.)
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
Scare the crap out of my hubby and kids.
Do you do dance crazy when no one is looking?
Nope, I subject everyone to the crazy dance without prejudice.
Do you scream on roller coasters? Do you lift up your hands?
Yes, and particularly on the little kid, baby ones. It makes it a lot more interesting.
Her latest series, the Summer Sisters, was inspired by her summers spent in the Canadian Muskokas where she would visit her grandmother in her century-old cottage. But while Jean's characters fall in love with movie stars and billionaires, Jean found her husband in the Canadian far north. And he's not a billionaire. Yet. (There's still time.)
Jean loves to ski (downhill and cross-country), hike, camp, read, write, watch romantic comedies, and say random things like "Buckle your seatbelts, kids, Mama's driving!" in order to make her kids crack up.
She lives in Canada with her husband, two kids, very large dog who sheds like she's trying to clone herself, her cute cat that's been nicknamed Nermil, as well as tons of nature. You can read, dream, laugh, and love along with Jean's characters in her novels at www.jeanoram.com/books . You can also find her not quite over-sharing the crazy life of being an author in her new fan girl group at www.facebook.com/groups/JeanOramFans . Come join the fun and vote for the sexiest heroes in fiction.
You can find out more about Jean at her website: www.jeanoram.com
Hang out and find great romance reads on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JeanOramAuthor
Tweet to Jean--she replies personally: www.twitter.com/JeanOram