I stumbled across Jami Alden’s Private series a few months back and blew through the series as quickly as I could. Hot, fun reads filled with exotic locations, sexual tension, alpha heroes with a heart, and scorching hot loves scenes. So, I was eager to get to know the author behind the books. Jami chatted with us about her upcoming release–Guilty as Sin. She also shared what she would do differently if she was starting her career today, and what we can expect from her next.
Tell us a little about yourself, including something people might be surprised to learn.
Oh jeez, I always freeze up at questions like this. You wouldn’t know it from some of the villains I come up with, but I’m a relatively normal person with a pretty run of the mill (yet wonderful!) suburban life. I live in the San Francisco bay area with 2 sons, ages 6 & 8 and a husband I like to describe as a well adjusted alpha. He’s got the brawn and the brains without too many of the more difficult aspects of an alpha male you might find in a romance novel
People might be surprised to learn that I can recite all of Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. I also have a total frat boy sense of humor which often gets me in trouble at dinner parties with other suburban moms.
What inspired you to become a writer and how’d you get started?
I picked up my first romance novel at the age of 15 and have been reading them nonstop ever since. At a certain point, I started to make up my own stories and scenarios, often involving existing characters. (There may have been fan fiction written. Very bad, very florid, fan fiction written by 15 year old Jami.) As many writers do, I had the thought, “If I really wanted to I could probably write one of these.” I dabbled for years, trying my hand at western set historical and a shorter contemporary novel, but it wasn’t until I got laid off from my day job in software marketing that I really got anything accomplished. I was really fortunate that my husband was and is very supportive – when I got laid off, he told me I shouldn’t go back to work, that I should really give my writing a serious go. So I did, and the rest (three more years, a kabillion rejections and a baby) is history!
Which writers inspire you?
That’s a tough question! I would say the authors I grew up reading definitely influenced, if not my writing, my sensibility and the kind of emotional experience I want to create in my books. Off the top of my head, they include Kathleen Woodiwiss, Karen Robards, Catherine Coulter, Judith McNaught and Elizabeth Lowell. More recent authors include Shannon McKenna, who blew me away with her edginess and sexiness. My critique partner, Monica McCarty, is such a phenomenal writer, and working with her really pushes me to try to do my best work.
What was the first story you had published?
My first published book was Delicious, among the first published in Kensington’s Aphrodisia imprint of erotic romances.
What is your most recent release? Tell us a little about the premise of the story.
The story opens with Kate Beckett, 16, and Tommy Ibarra, 19, enjoying a passionate, summer romance. Kate is the daughter of a senator and comes from a very privileged background, while Tommy comes from a ranching family with deep roots in Sandpoint. Over the course of several summers, Kate and Tommy form a friendship which blossoms into a romance the summer Kate is 16 and Tommy is . Daddy of course does not approve of the local older boy dating his daughter! One night, while Kate is supposed to be babysitting her younger brother, she sneaks out with Tommy. Tragedy strikes when Kate’s brother is kidnapped and murdered.
Torn apart by the tragedy, Kate and Tommy haven’t seen each other for 14 years, over which time Kate becomes a well known advocate for missing children, and after a career in the army, Tommy has his own security consulting business. When a teenage girl goes missing in Sandpoint, they are both brought on to help with the search.
How would you describe your main characters?
Tortured and driven.
What is your favorite scene in the novel?
I think it has to be when Tommy is taking care of Kate after she gets a concussion. It’s intimate without being sexual, and it’s when Tommy really starts to let his guard down as he realizes these feelings he has for Kate are never going to go away.
If you were starting your writing career today, what would you do differently?
For one thing, I would have written so much more before I had kids. I had so much free time – I should have a couple dozen books under the bed! One thing I would try to do is not be intimidated, by editors, agents, even other authors. For instance, I went with my first agent because she was a nice woman and didn’t intimidate me like my friend’s agent – who had a reputation for being real tough cookie. Because I was intimidated, I didn’t even send my stuff to my friend’s agent.
Cut to a few years later, my career is stalling, and my agent can’t seem to get me anywhere. I met my friend’s agent, discovered she’s a really lovely person (with clients, anyway – can’t vouch for what she’ll say to editors that get on her nerves!) and switched over. There’s such a difference knowing I have someone on my side who is a true advocate and who isn’t afraid to make a lot of noise on my behalf
Another piece of advice – keep your eyes on your own paper. Try not to get caught up in what your friends, your enemies, or your frenemies are doing. We all have our own path, we’re all doing this for our own reasons. As my dear friend and very talented author Veronica Wolff says, “It either has to feed the family or feed the soul. As long as it’s doing at least one of those, you’re good.”
When you’re not writing or reading, what’s your favorite way to kick back and relax?
I’m one of those a**holes who doesn’t feel right if she doesn’t exercise, so I spend a decent amount of time running and working out. I’m also obsessed with food and love love love to cook. I watch a ton of Food Network and Cooking Channel for inspiration. Also, like most authors, I love to read. Monica McCarty recently turned me onto Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights series, and now I’m sad because I only have one more backlist title to go!
What should we expect to see from Jami Alden in the next eighteen months?
Up next, I’ll be publishing Blame it on Your Heart, the first in a new sexy contemporary romance series I’m writing set in Big Timber, Montana. Blame it on Your Heart will be out in September, with another title following in the spring.
Connect with Jami Alden online: