Today’s interview is with J.K. O’Hanlon, author of Objection Overruled, a finalist in the Contemporary Single Title category of Romance Writers of America’s® 2013 Golden Heart® contest for unpublished manuscripts. This is the premier contest (worldwide) for writers of the romance genre. Welcome, Jane!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an eclectic skimmer, enjoying a wide-range of activities that don’t always make sense. For example, I live in a fly-over state, but I know nothing about farming or small town life and I am most at home on a beach or in the mountains. I can craft a glorious loaf of sour dough bread, but you do not ever want me to bring the cake to the church social. Although I play four musical instruments, I’m always content to leave the symphony or ballet at intermission, and please do not invite me to a musical theater production!
Frequent exercise facilitates my obsession with food and drink. With over 100 different types of spirits in my home bar, crafting perfect cocktails for my friends is one of my greatest pleasures. When my husband needed coaching to mix me a drink, I wrote and published a book, Three Ingredient Cocktails. I’m wrapping up research on my second non-fiction book, Twelve Happy Hours, which should be out in the fall. It’s a fun, albeit quirky, life which gives me a leg up at Trivial Pursuit.
Like most writers, I read every day and love everything, rotating through mysteries/thriller, literary, non-fiction, classics, romance, commercial fiction, young adult and women’s fiction. My top three all-time most re-read books are: The Canterbury Tales, The Grapes of Wrath, and Middlemarch.
Now tell us about your manuscript, Objection Overruled, that just finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest!
Objection Overruled is my first novel and the second fiction work I’ve written. It’s a contemporary erotic romance situated in and around Baltimore, Washington DC, and the Chesapeake Bay. Although set against a backdrop of legal and financial intrigue, the sultry romance between a heroine and hero with opposing loyalties carries the day. With only a few weeks until trial, attorney Jackie North can almost taste victory until the opposing side’s last minute switch of its expert witness threatens to unravel her strategy. A loss will send her where she’s vowed never to return – the humiliation of bankruptcy she suffered through as a teen.
Brandon Marshfield is a sexy and savvy financial wiz. When a college fraternity brother calls in a marker, Brandon heads to Baltimore to fill in as an expert witness with hopes that once and for all, he can put his dark past behind him. Jackie and Brandon head into a deposition, confident of crushing the other until their gazes cross on the courtroom floor. A single night of passion they shared as strangers only a few weeks earlier left each with a smoldering fire in their heart.
Pulled together by physical magnetism, torn apart by opposing loyalties, can their objections be overruled?
I’m proud to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Loose Id for publication of the book. Release date is set for July 30, 2013. The book will be published under my pen name, J. K. O’Hanlon.
How do you feel about the Golden Heart experience!
Would surreal be overly dramatic?! I’d only entered a couple of contests before the GH, and wasn’t planning on entering until my critique partners goaded me into it. I’d planned another conference relating to my non-fiction writing (Tales of the Cocktails) for the same time as RWA Nationals, so when I got the call, I had to rearrange all of my travel plans, which was a nice problem to have. I’m not sure how many erotic romances have finalled in the Golden Heart, but I’m delighted that the judges enjoyed reading something that is both humorous and steamy hot.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories? And/or for this story, in particular?
Stories pop into my head. Too many, in fact. I keep a book of stickie notes with story ideas jotted on them. The idea for Objection Overruled came to me one day while driving to my office, when I was still working as a lawyer. As soon as I had a chance, I outlined the characters’ “goals, motivations, and conflicts.” The story has gone through three major revisions, but the core of it remains the same as that idea that came to me in the car one day.
What has your writing journey been like?
Growing up in a mid-sized city in a non-descript fly-over state, my childhood goal was to move to the East Coast or the West Coast. And become an aerospace engineer. Logging a 10-year stint during my early adulthood in the Mid-Atlantic area checked off one goal.
But, after realizing that a life existed beyond programming my HP calculator, I started the gradual de-escalation of my major, ending up with an unmarketable, but vastly entertaining, history degree. Law school seemed like a logical choice, so I stumbled around that area for a while, learning an immense amount of fascinating cocktail knowledge, while never knowing how to do anything useful like fix a speeding ticket or get a questionable relative out of jail.
When I left the practice of law to spend more time with my family, a disturbing number of friends suggested I write to fill in the gaps. While I chalked them all up as crazy, given the low overhead and the unsettling number of characters rattling around in my brain, I thought I’d give it a try. Three years later, after one short story, one novel (soon to be published), and one non-fiction book (published), I now officially put down “writer” on any form asking for my occupation. I am a member of Mid-America Romance Authors and Georgia Romance Writers.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
I wrote most of Objection Overruled at one of our local libraries. I’d sequester myself in a study carrel until I made my daily word count. Recently, I transformed a spare bedroom into my office where I now work, and occasionally watch the slingshot weather shifts common in the Midwest. My critique partners and I have a standing Skype date each day at a certain time. Whoever is available logs in and after we catch up with each others’ lives and goals, we then set a timer and get to work. Knowing that someone else is out there working at the same time and checking in with my accomplishments helps me put words into the computer even when inspiration eludes me.
How can fans reach you?
I’m getting my website, facebook and twitter connections for my erotic romance personna finalized. Until then, people can find me under my alter ego, The Thirsty Jane: http://www.thirstyjane.com/; www.facebook.com/thirstyjane; Twitter: @thirstyjane
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Once I decided to follow my dream to become a writer, I heeded Michelangelo’s words: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” In other words, DREAM BIG!!! Thanks for having me Leslie, and best of luck to you in your writing career!!!
Thank you, Jane, for visiting Leslie Lynch Writes – and we wish you the very best in your publishing future!