Name J. Rose Allister (my pen name for the spicier side of romance)
Age 53, which means that sometimes I wake up feeling 30, while other times I feel 70.
Where are you from
I hail from Southern California, born and raised in the San FernandoValley but currently residing halfway between L.A. and Palm Springs. It’s an interesting locale, where palm trees, citrus, and tumbleweeds vie for real estate against the San Bernardino mountains.
This is where I have raised my family, comprised now of seven kids and seven grandkids (with number 8 on the way). Along with my #1 job of being a mom, I’ve been a speaker repair technician, an ice cream shop manager, an insurance draft clerk, a childbirth educator, and a web designer. I wound up getting a publishing contract for my first novel while sitting on the wait list for an RN program…and I chose that route instead. So now I’m an author with a day job as a hospital unit secretary, and when I’m not working or writing, I’m with my family. The youngest of the flock is still at home, often talking about wanting to write a novel someday.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’ve got some fun stuff coming up that I’m quite excited about! First off, I’ve gotten myself hooked on giving freebies to fans. Being a lover of all things free myself, this seemed like a natural thing to do. I’m currently writing a free bonus story for my upcoming Sons of Herne box set, a collection of the urban fantasy/erotic romance novellas that I released throughout 2016. I’m also going to make available free stories for my two other series, the Lone Wolves of Shay Falls MMF/werewolf books, as well as the Immortal Paradise MF/urban fantasies.
The other thing I’m bursting at the seams over is that I’ll be launching a new pen name, Janell Michaels, for mainstream (non-erotic) romance. I’m starting off with the Going to the Altar series, a set of contemporary, wedding-themed books. I’ll also most likely be re-releasing some of my oldest books under this new pen name. A site is already up and running at http://janellmichaels.com.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first gave myself permission to use the term “writer” around 17 years ago, when a then-web design client gave me some mentoring advice on getting started. She told me that a writer is someone who writes, period. A simple sentence that took a while to sink in, but when it did, a new world opened up. Then I bemoaned to her that I didn’t know how I could ever try and write a Whole.Entire.Book (!) while working and going to college (pursuing the aforementioned plan to become a nurse). Her stern, but smiling advice was to just DO it. It was a real Yoda moment for me: Do, or do not, there is no try. I did it. Soon after, I closed down my web design business to focus on my writing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My very first full-length novel was inspired by a dream I had. A movie star (who may or may not have resembled Johnny Depp, ahem) bumped into a stranger and suddenly developed her psychic abilities. The ensuing visions showed him some interesting dynamics between the two of them, along with images of danger. The dream was short, but it intrigued the heck out of me. I spent close to two years trying to write down what I saw in those few moments, and the result was Visions, first released in 2006. I plan to re-release it sometime in this coming year.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
A career, my passion, and a downright obsession. It is most definitely a career path, one I wish I could focus on solely. For now, I must divide my time between wearing the author cap and working a day job to support my family. Eighteen hour days aren’t uncommon while I juggle both. By treating my author business as much of a full-time job as my other work, I’m hoping to implement my five-year plan to be able to make writing the only gig in town.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My last finished book is Archipellus: God of Samhain, the final Sons of Herne novella. While I enjoyed writing the entire series, I’d have to say this one was my favorite. The tone was a little darker, but dotted with humor, and the stakes felt more immediate. It was the longest of the series, wrapping up the overall arc as well as the romance. That gave me a little more time to play with side characters, world development, etc., but I would have liked to do even more. If I could change anything, it would be to make the entire series into a set of full-length books. The novellas were complete stories in and of themselves, but more exploration of the immortal realms would have been fun.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
That’s a great question, and yet I’m sitting here scratching my head because I can’t pinpoint quite what happened. I know that I was an obsessive reader from childhood, and sometimes, when I’d run out of books to read for the thirtieth time, I’d write my own stories. But then, life and adulting arrived, and I put aside stories for a time.
My interest in fiction writing popped up again in my thirties as a random itch that refused to be scratched. I’d been doing a lot of non-fiction articles for a health newsletter at work and some humor articles online. I recall thinking to myself one day, “What I really wish I could do is write stories.” I’d somehow lost touch with how to go about such a wild idea, so I read every book I could get my hands on about how to craft fiction. Some seventeen years, thirty-five books, and dozens of short stories later, I’m nowhere near done scratching that itch.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m infamous for having several irons in the fire at once, but since we’ve been talking about my Sons of Herne series (more info available at http://jroseallister.com), I’ll share a short, exclusive peek at the bonus story I’m writing for the box set.
In this snippet, Bethany is decorating a tree outside her house with ornaments for the holiday season she thought she’d never live to see. Not until handsome, powerful gods had come from another realm, cured her terminal illness, and rescued her from a supernatural kidnapping. Afterward, the immortal she’d been enamored with, Andero, had gone back to his realm and not returned, despite her hopes that something had sparked between them. Now, her cure is about to have unexpected consequences…
Bethany stepped back to view her handiwork, blowing on her cold-cramped fingers while taking note of bare spots in need of ornaments. Plugging in the lights cheered her, and the extra glimmer reminded her of the year that the branches had been coated with just the thinnest sheen of ice. It hadn’t been enough to weigh down the limbs, but the tree had sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight. Wouldn’t that be pretty this time?
The next ornament she grabbed was a clear glass ball filled with artificial snow. She threaded another ribbon through the hanger and reached up to tie it to the tree, still thinking of the way the icicles had given off a crystalline glow. Somehow, she missed the branch. Her hand went right past it once, then twice. In fact, she was certain she was passing through it. When she pulled back, the branch froze over with a clear shimmer of ice, the way she’d just been remembering.
“What?” She blinked and backed away, staring. Just the one branch had frozen. “There’s no way I did that.”
Feeling foolish, she reached out to another branch, and her finger pushed against the solid bark. When she drew back, nothing happened. “See?” she told herself. “Nothing weird going on here.”
Except…wait. When it had happened, she’d been thinking of how the tree had looked before, all frosted over.
Swallowing, she pulled up that image in her mind and reached out. She went through the branch, gasped, and yanked back. It, too, froze.
Closing her eyes, she tried once more, forming an image of the rest. She stepped away, opened her eyes, and her mouth fell open. The tree was as she remembered, crystalline branches with icicles sparking in the morning light.
“How?” she whispered, her breath coming out in foggy puffs. “What’s happening to me?”
“What has happened to you is not of this earth, nor of the world beyond.”
She spun around to see a familiar face. “Andero?”
He stood leaning against another tree, his powerful forearms folded across his chest. As with the other gods she’d seen, his dark eyes glittered with the golden light of immortality. There was a hard set to his jaw, although the bare hint of a curve to his perfect, bowed lips softened his scrutiny of her. That face coupled with the way his snug-fitting tunic and leather leggings clung to his muscled body prompted a flutter in her stomach.
While his appearance was a welcome sight, the sword strapped to his back in true warrior fashion, the way he had when she’d first met him, gave her pause. But then, maybe he wore it everywhere he went, like a security blanket.
“I’m surprised to see you popping in for a visit,” she said, attempting to keep a level tone. “I figured I was never going to see you again.”
“This isn’t a social call, I’m afraid.” He pushed away from the tree and glanced at the glistening one behind her. “I’m here on business.”
She knew only a little about what Andero’s duties involved. While they’d passed time together sitting vigil over her wounded sister, he had mentioned that he monitored humans who blurred the lines between mortal and immortal. Those who showed certain…abilities.
Her eyes followed his. “So you’re here about my ice powers, I take it.”
His narrowed gaze snapped to her. “Ice powers?”
She nodded at the tree. “What I did just now.”
“That isn’t control over ice. I fear what you have acquired is far more powerful. Dangerous.”
Her eyes widened. “Dangerous?”
A shiver washed over her. He pushed away and stepped closer.
“I’m not dangerous,” she murmured, stiffening a little when he took her hands in his and rubbed warmth back into them. “It’s just me. Bethany.”
His dark lashes were long, sweeping his high cheekbones while he focused on her frozen fingers. Her comment prompted him to meet her eyes, and a butterfly migration rose in her belly.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to come here.” He frowned. “I was hoping not to see you like this.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is the two-edged sword of author time management. Finding time for writing and time for the business side is tough, and time spent on one means less for the other. But both are important, so I have to strike a balance. If I *had* to sacrifice one for the other, I’d write stories even if nobody read them. But since I do want to share my work, I get to go out and connect with fellow bookworms…and that also means taking on the many other tasks of the writer biz. I’d rather chat about my favorite reads or write the next scene than work on a sales spreadsheet or send out review requests. For years, I was lucky that my publisher handled that for me. But those days are gone, and I have a lot more work on my plate. So my calendars have calendars, and I try to schedule time in for everything. Including the fun stuff. :
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Every winter season, I get in the mood for fantasy. So after some Lord of the Rings and Song of Ice and Fire books, I’m currently re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
My reading preferences are all over the map, by the way. Before the current fantasy hankering, I was all about sci-fi and thrillers. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch rocked my world. Before that, it went on a YA stint (loved An Ember in the Ashes), and earlier this year it was a lengthy round of erotic romances. (Mrs. Dumont was a favorite.)
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
We’re huge movie/TV buffs at our house, since these are stories, after all! Some of my favorite TV shows are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Reign, and The Blacklist.
As for movies, I’ve got so many favorite picks it’s hard, and I mean downright challenging, to stop after just a few. Some that I watch time and again include Pride and Prejudice (the Kiera Knightly version—sorry fans of wet-shirt-Colin-Firth!), Runaway Bride, and the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars sagas. Every summer, Jaws, ID4, and Blue Crush is mandatory viewing. For Halloween, it’s Practical Magic, and The Long Kiss Goodnight kicks off my holiday season.
See what I mean about how hard it is to cut myself off with just a few?
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite foods include chocolate, coffee, Tom Ka soup (a Thai coconut-milk-based bit of heaven), chocolate, the black-and-bleu burger from BJ’s Brewhouse…and did I mention chocolate?
My favorite color is purple. As a kid, my mom let me pick my own room colors when we moved to a new house. Picture the deep, dark purple shag carpet (it was the seventies), lavender curtains, and a white spread for my daybed with bright purple bolster-style cushions. Yeah, baby, it was the height of designer chic.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?