I’m delighted to welcome J. A. Dennam here today for an interview and a look at her New Adult romantic suspense Truth and Humility. Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win in J.A.’s giveaway!
Hi, J.A., thanks for being my guest! Tell us a little about Truth and Humility: I self published Truth and Humility in mid-November and have sold nearly 4,000 copies since then. It is a love story between a man and woman who were conditioned to hate each other from birth, but once they are thrown together under tumultuous circumstances, they find it hard to keep their hands off each other. The story is chock-full of family feuding, misguided anger, fierce love and heartwarming characters.
Danny Bennett knows that most of what keeps her family feuding with the Cahill clan is baseless accusations from both parties, but that doesn’t keep her from taking sides. After all, when her fun-loving brother, Derek – the person she idolizes the most – has been accused of murder, her loyalties lay solidly with him. But her loyalty to her chosen future is what she puts first when she applies for a dangerous job in order to pay for her college education. Accustomed to living on the edge, Danny welcomes a good challenge…until she realizes she has unwittingly landed herself in the bowels of the enemy camp and fallen prey to her brother’s irresistibly sexy accuser.
Driven by hatred, Austin Cahill knows exactly what to do with the Bennett girl who saunters onto his jobsite under false pretenses: use her as a weapon against her brother, the man he holds responsible for his fiancé’s fatal drowning. Derek Bennett must pay for his crimes, but Austin must coax a confession out of him first. His plan to “own” Derek’s beloved baby sister should break the man, but he soon discovers a much bigger obstacle…his burgeoning desire for Danny. When Derek comes for her, will Austin be prepared to let her go in exchange for the truth? Will his quest for vengeance destroy the woman he’s grown to care for? Or will it be the truth that brings them all down?
What inspired this story?
I’d been recovering from a broken leg for months. By the time I was able, I wanted to conquer anything and everything outdoors. My husband had brought home trailers-full of old factory junk and I tore it all apart for recycling almost by myself. While doing so, I cultivated TRUTH AND HUMILITY in my head in lieu of listening to music. That is how I entertain myself (scary): in complete silence, performing mundane chores and thinking of ways to turn them into fierce love stories.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
Right now I am re-vamping Truth and Humility as per my new agent’s advice. I’ve had it edited, cut 23,000 words and fixed some POV issues. The new cover is scheduled to shoot today and I will be there with my director hat and coffee. Once the changes are complete, there will be a big re-launch of the book. Then I will start book #2.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love the creative aspect of writing. When I constructed my first fictitious town it was like having a baby. I tell my kids, “Hey, I did that WITHOUT Minecraft!” I love making my characters unique, giving them a voice, living vicariously through them for a while, feeling their every emotion. It can be exhaustive, but in a good way.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
I start with a little plotting. I do this in my head more than on paper at first. Once I get something rolling, I build my characters, but not too much. I like to leave room for when I start the research. That’s when I fine-tune everything because I ALWAYS come across something that considerably changes what I’ve done so far.
What did you learn from writing your first book or what do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
My first book was just fun. I ran wild with it and it became a beast of 188,000 words. Oops! When I started querying, I quickly discovered publishers don’t want something that big as a “first” from any author. But I’m glad I didn’t know that because Flesh of Angels wouldn’t be the epic tale it is today. If publishers are interested, though, it can easily be split into two books…hint, hint.
How do you balance writing and everyday life?
I don’t. Not very well, at least. My family feels greatly neglected when I’m writing. This is something I will need to work on since I’ve recently chosen writing as my career. But for now I am like a bulldog, when I start a story I clamp onto it and don’t let go until it’s finished. For anyone who knows bulldogs, that is a most accurate analogy.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
My mother. All through life, I’d have stories brewing in my head, but they were just for me. As I got older, the stories got more complex and creative. My first book, Flesh of Angels, had been brewing for over three years and was driving me absolutely crazy. I confessed this to my mother and, never knowing this about me, she encouraged me to write it all down. Nothing serious, just a way to purge…and, of course, she wanted to read it all. Wouldn’t ya know, when I started writing it down, I couldn’t stop.
These are few of my favorite things:
1. I love going on vacation with my family. When we traveled doing art shows, we’d take everyone – including grandparents – to the more interesting places like Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, The Alamo, everything Wyoming related (just to name a few). Our kids are very lucky.
2. Hopping on my Jackpot and taking a long motorcycle ride with my husband. An all-dayer. I’m always up for that.
3. Writing a great novel.
Her walk of shame. It was one of the most humiliating moments of Danny’s life, witnessed by the same meatheads that had teased her so mercilessly before.
Forced to follow the brute to whatever unforeseen horrors awaited her in the offices, Danny was positive she was about to be fired on her first day. She had more skill in her pinky finger than anyone here on his best day. She was used to giving orders, not taking them, especially from sexist pigs. It went against the grain.
They reached the walkway and entered the door to the right of the commons room. As they walked through the first cluttered office toward another in the back, Conan what’s-his-name delivered instructions to the coarse looking woman at the front desk.
“Sue, I’m going to need the appraisal for the water tower and a copy of Dan Connor’s application.”
Boss? Great. Now she was certain this man was no grunt.
A security monitor behind Sue’s desk confirmed she’d probably been observed weighing her sanity at the gate earlier that morning.
“Have a seat, Miss Connor.”
The door clicked shut behind him and Danny’s blood rushed to her ears as she slowly lowered to a swivel chair facing a very old, very organized wooden desk. Never having been in this position, she didn’t quite know what to expect. And then all thought process came to a stuttering halt as soon as she spied the nameplate.
Chief Operating Officer, Safety Director
Conan picked up the nameplate that had her locked up, looked at it disinterestedly then returned it to the desk in a place she could see it better. “You know…it just occurred to me I never introduced myself.”
Her eyes stuck there for a moment, then slowly traveled upward to meet his. “Austin Cahill,” she said with a nervous swallow.
“Danny Bennett.” His gaze never strayed. “Welcome to hell.”
It was the worst possible scenario for a Bennett and she was living it. Every nerve ending went up in smoke when she realized she’d walked right into a trap of some kind. The “grunt” was a Cahill. And he knew who she was before she walked through the gates. She covered her eyes with her knuckles and groaned. “He works. Crap.”
Austin raised a brow. “Something you weren’t counting on?” No answer for that one. “You wanna hear something ironic? You can thank your brother for that. Always admired your family’s work ethic.”
Her voice was sharp as knives when she dropped her hands and glared. “Why didn’t you just tear up my application?”
Austin sat down behind the desk and opened a drawer. “You mean the application you loaded up with misinformation?”
“I didn’t lie about anything, I just didn’t…complete it.”
He slapped a few documents on his desk and closed the drawer with his boot. “It’s fraud. They have laws against that.”
“If you think you can throw a lawsuit at me because I failed to supply my last name, you’re out of your mind!”
His hand came up, casually dismissing the notion while his other hand scribbled on the top sheet. “The thought crossed my mind, but then I asked myself,” he paused and smiled sardonically, “what would be the fun in that?”
Danny gripped the arms of her chair a little tighter. “Look, all I wanted was to work. I had no ulterior motive, it’s just that I need money to pay for college and –”
“Dreams are nice,” he said, completely deadpan. “I’ve had some, too. But if you want to work, you came to the right place, because you’re about to get more than you bargained for.”
J.A. is giving away a digital copy of Truth and Humility to two lucky commenters.
Bio: J. A. Dennam, a member of Romance Writers of America, resides in a small Kansas town with her husband and four children. Besides her great love for literary arts, her passions include fine art, culinary art and music.
Storytelling has always been a part of her life, used as an effective tool to combat insomnia as a child. As an adult, the need to purge her private stories demanded she put them in print. Her fascination with romance, fast cars and adventure films is what structures her stories today, making Romantic Suspense the genre she was simply born to write.
For over twenty years, Ms. Dennam has been building her career as a painter of Western portraiture. In the meantime, however, she managed to complete three novels. The recent decision to forgo her fine art career in lieu of her writing career was a simple one. Her passion for writing far outshines all other passions and she has only just begun to build her list of achievements by entering writing contests, joining local writer’s groups and gaining an impressive number of positive reviews for her books.
You can find all of my books with purchase links on my website, www.JADennam.com