Jill Shalvis Answers The Five Questions Everybody Asks Romance Authors


Author Jill Shalvis, whose brand-new novel Rainy Day Friends comes out today, gets asked A LOT of questions. We asked her to list the five questions she gets asked the most as a romance author and to answer them. So, here goes:

1. How do you do your research?

It never fails. When someone finds out I’m a romance writer, they almost always ask me some variety on this, usually in a sort of hushed tone like maybe their priest is listening. Let’s be clear. I know what they’re really asking. You know what they’re really asking. And it never fails to crack me up. I write a 400-page book filled with stuff that real life is filled with: action and adventure and emotion and screw ups and victories and heartache and fun and, yeah, there’s usually at least 10 pages of the good stuff, the NC-17 stuff. 

Okay, maybe 20.

My point is, it’s not all sex (um, excuse me, I mean tasteful love scenes). But that’s what people want to know about. Alpha Man gets a similar question at least weekly… “Do you help her with her research?” He generally gives an easy smile and says something along the lines of “it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.”

2. Where do you get your ideas?

In a warehouse outside of Toledo. I try to wait for the semi-annual sale and stock up.  

But really… I get inspiration from real life. I travel a lot, and I’m a terribly nosy, eavesdropper. I love to listen to conversations, love to make up back stories for the people I see. One of my favorite inspirations came from one of my getaway spots on the mid California coast, where wineries meet ranching meet the beach. There in the San Luis Obispo area was where Wildstone came to life for me (the setting for Lost And Found SistersThe Good Luck Sister, and Rainy Day Friends).

Jill Shalvis
3. Do you pick your covers?

I wish. Sorry, did I say that out loud?  No, I don’t get to pick my covers. Or my titles. I get to voice an opinion and even make suggestions, and my publishers try their very best to keep a straight face when I give them my ideas for titles and covers and then… they do what they want.

BUT… for my Wildstone series, we’ve been putting the dogs that appear in the books on the covers. And I love that so much! For instance, Lost And Found Sisters has 12 year old Coop, who makes him human, sexy Mick Hennessey, do the ball chasing. Rainy Day Friends has Gracie, a 150 pounds Old English Sheepdog on the cover, and she’s adorable.

4. Do you let your children read your books?

When my kids were young, I always wanted to ask back “Do you let your children watch NC-17 movies?” I mean, it’s just common sense, people. But my kids are almost adults now, and they read and watch what they want. And what they absolutely do NOT want to read is anything that has their mother and sex together on the page. So, no, they do not read me. They are proud of me and happy for me, and they love nothing more than to see me on the shelves when we’re at Walmart or Target or BN. In fact, they’ve been known to put my books face out in front of Stephen King and Nora Roberts (don’t tell them) and smile at perfect strangers while pointing at my books and saying, “That’s my mom!”.  But they get hives at the thought of reading me, which I’m good with. 

5. How long does it take to write a book?

I always want to laugh when asked this. How long does it take? Well, it takes as long as the darn book wants to take.  Add in at least one family crisis, a mid-book author crisis (yes, every single time I have a meltdown over chapter 12, what’s it to ya?), some sort of computer crisis, and for kicks and giggles, I tend to get sick in the last few chapters, because I’ve been living off ice cream and tears and blood and sweat and dramatics (what, I’m a writer… hello, I was born a drama queen)… But it’s always somewhere between three and four months.

Rainy Day Friends took four months because it’s a bigger, longer, more complicated story.

New York TimesUSA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Look for Jill’s latest book, Rainy Day Friendshere! And follow her personal blog here.

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