Jen Turano is the acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House publishers. Her second novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013. Her fourth book, A Match of Wits, released in July, 2014, while a new series, A Class of Their Own, will begin hitting the shelves in early 2015. She is a member of ACFW and makes her home outside of Denver, Colorado with her husband and teenage son. Visit her website or Facebook page for more.
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Jen. Congratulations on your upcoming release, After a Fashion. Looks like a fun story! Can you tell us what first drew you to the Gilded Age?
Jen: The Gilded Age has always fascinated me, especially because it was a period in history when everything was changing, and changing rapidly at that. For the first time, common men were amassing huge fortunes, and with those fortunes came one interesting story after another. Gentlemen such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Astor, and Jay Gould, to name a few, were men of great ambition, letting nothing stand in their way as they went about the daunting business of securing themselves fortunes. What I find even more interesting than the gentlemen, though, were the ladies who mingled and married these men, ladies with ambitions of their own, but ambitions that centered around their positions within society. The New York 400, a precursor of the famed Fortune 500, came into existence during this time, and with that illustrious club came intrigue, drama, and far too many story ideas for me to ever be able to write.
Savanna: 😉 Very cool! What was your favorite part about writing Harriet and Oliver’s story?
Jen: I’ve always adored the movie My Fair Lady, and have always intended to write a story loosely based on that premise – the working-class woman meets the well-off society gentleman, and…Well, that has to be my very favorite part about After a Fashion. Harriet is not a pampered society miss, but a woman who has made her own way in the world. As such, she’s very independent; a condition that Mr. Oliver Addleshaw finds rather bemusing, especially after he forms an interesting alliance with Harriet, yet soon discovers that he’s unable to exactly understand the woman and her self-sufficient ways.
Savanna: On your website it said your writing career began when you and your son, who was in the 3rd grade at the time, set out to write a book together. What a fun memory! What were some of the books you enjoyed reading to him when he was little?
Jen: My favorite story to read to him was Andrew Henry’s Meadow – a book my little brother adored when he was a child and one I tracked down on the internet. Dom and I really read just about everything out there, though, from Eragon, to Harry Potter, to all of the Fudge books. Since I was never able to part with any of the books I bought him, I now have tubs filled with wonderful stories that are just waiting to be read to future grandchildren, although…since Dominic is only a Freshman in college now, I’m thinking I’m not going to see any grandchildren for quite some time. But…I’ll have plenty of books to read to those grandchildren someday.
Savanna: 😉 Great idea! I read you also enjoy hiking around Colorado. What other fun outdoor activities do you enjoy?
Jen: I like to bike, power-walk, paddle-board, swim and snow-shoe, but I’ve pretty much hung up the skis even though I do live outside of Denver. I just don’t like chairlifts because I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to heights, and since there’s really no other way up the mountain except on a chairlift, well…it was time for me to give up the skiing. (Those pesky panic attacks were beginning to become somewhat of a nuisance.)
Savanna: Haha! I’m not a fan of those chairlifts either! 🙂
As a romance author yourself, what is one of your favorite romantic movies and a favorite romantic book?
Jen: Movies – My Fair Lady, Pride and Prejudice (the latest version with Keira Knightley,) Ever After: A Cinderella Story.
Books – Ain’t She Sweet – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and The Flame and the Flower – Kathleen Woodiwiss – although I have to admit – I recently reread The Flame and the Flower – and it was a bit dated – but I loved that book so much in my younger days that I was going to name my son Brandon (the hero) – until my husband gave me an arch of a brow when I brought that up into the conversation.
Savanna: Can you share with us a piece of writing advice that has made a difference in your career?
Jen: Aspiring writers just really need to keep writing. You never know what is going to sell – so, finish a manuscript – send out your query letters, and then…write another story. I have quite a few early manuscripts that will never see the light of day – but that’s okay. They were my stepping stones and I was fortunate in that when I did send them out into the publishing world, agents were kind enough to tell me exactly (and I do mean exactly) what I was doing wrong. It was a little annoying at first, hearing how horrible I apparently was at my craft, but I didn’t give up – I took that annoying advice, improved my writing, found a genre that suited me, and I finally broke into the market.
Savanna: Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Jen! It’s been great having you. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Jen: I’m just wrapping up the third book in this new series (A Class of Their Own) – it’s still untitled, but the second book, In Good Company, will be releasing in July of this year – which is a really fast turnaround time from when After a Fashion releases – but will keep me out of trouble. After that, I’m playing around with two different proposals, but can’t say more about that since I don’t have anything concrete yet to announce, but… I’ll be sure to do that when I hear back from my agent.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog!
Jen has graciously offered to give away a copy of After a Fashion. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest is open only in the U.S. and ends Feburary 17, 2015. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody! 😉