There’s something to be said about meeting and connecting with authors as they’re starting out on their indie journey. And meeting JR (and forcing her to be my friend) is just one of those things that I did last year. Her debut, One Week With You, was a steamy, delicious novella that I devoured in one sitting. And ever since then, I’ve been desperately waiting for more from JR. She tied in all of the great tropes and infused it with great banter, an amazing relationship and incredible open-door scenes that I wanted to read it again after finishing it the first time.
With a full-length novel releasing this week, JR has been teasing us about all of her future books. She’s already working on the third book in her London Lovers series and like almost everyone else who loved her debut, I’m so excited for more of JR’s stories. Set in London (duh!) and filled with great writing, these books are truly going to be at the top of my list of favourites for years to come!
Her Instagram feed is a combination of promotions for her books, insight into her life and conversations about mental health. Whatever you’re doing as you read this, stop that and go pick up her books. One Week With You is out now in Kindle Unlimited and This Year’s Love is currently up for preorder (releasing June 9th!).
1. BEING AN AUTHOR
Who or what inspired you to write?
I grew up reading Grimms’ fairy tales, Point Horror, Sweet Valley High, The Baby-Sitters Club, and these ‘choose your own adventure’ Usborne books that I was obsessed with. The more I read the more I wanted to write my own stories. I also had a wild imagination as a kid. My mum often found me talking to myself and my Barbies, acting out the conversations in my head, so writing was an instinctual next step. I think I was six when I started.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part is meeting so many like-minded people and the sense of community, and having full control over my work. The worst part is the flipside of that. Full control also means I have to do everything. Writing, marketing, graphic design, publishing, etc. It’s lonely and a lot of work, and the writing often falls by the wayside which is so frustrating when all you want to do is write!
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I never thought I stood a chance with traditional publishing so I didn’t consider it! I also thought if no one liked my books, I could just disappear and pretend this whole thing never happened. 😂 But also, traditional publishing is a slow process, and I’m very impatient. 😂
When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
Read. I find other authors so inspiring. Also taking a break for a day or two and having a change of scenery. Listening to music helps too.
If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Misery by Stephen King
Emma by Jane Austen
Romance wise, pretty much anything by Kate Canterbary, Melanie Harlow and Beth Kery.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t ever stop writing, even if you think you’re not good enough or not getting anywhere. The only way to improve is to keep writing.
Read as much as you can, but also outside of your preferred genre and the genre you’re writing in.
Accept that review spaces are for readers, not authors.
Before you even think about publishing anything, join Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, whatever works for you, and build a community and make friends. Writing is a lonely road and there’s strength in numbers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been so lovely.
Invest in a professional editor and cover designer. They’re invaluable.
2. ROMANCE AS A GENRE
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favourite thing about the genre?
I’ve always loved reading and watching romance. Writing it felt like a natural jump. I think what I love most is all those little moments. The longing looks, the brushing of hands, the tension and build up to the first kiss… It’s so satisfying. And there’s also comfort in knowing the ending will be a happy one. I like reading about people being happy.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
Thrillers/mysteries. I started writing a mystery years ago that I’d love to get back to one day.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
My favourite has to be only one bed. The tension is the best. No matter how many times I read it, I’m always giddy! Least favourite is love triangle and the virgin trope, though I kind of want to write that, lol.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Single parent. Secret relationship. Marriage of convenience. I’d like to write a bit of everything!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I’d like to see more mental health representation, but also characters who deal with things like PCOS, body dysmorphia and chronic pain like I do.
If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?
So much of a romance is the build up of all that tension, and I like reading the resolution of that, where the characters just can’t take it anymore. So it felt natural to write what I enjoy as a reader! It doesn’t need to be super explicit or chapter after chapter of spicy scenes. I do occasionally think less is more! For me, the heat level is dependent on the characters. I’m currently writing an MMC who is filthy and loves his dirty talk, lol, but that’s not going to be the case in every story. It sounds silly but I go where the characters take me!
3. YOUR BOOKS
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
My romance reading journey began with vintage Mills and Boon back in the late 90s, and the majority were set in the USA and the MMCs were mostly billionaires, and they were fun but every now and then I wanted something different. I wanted romances set in my own city, with characters who have everyday jobs and ones who have different life experiences to me. I love that we’re seeing more variety now, but it was always something I kept in the back of my mind. (I do still love me a billionaire romance though!)
Can you briefly tell me about your books?
One Week With You is a forced proximity Christmas romance following Talia Johnson and her brother’s best friend, Rafe. It’s about finally taking a chance on someone you’ve always wanted from afar but never thought you could have.
This Year’s Love is a second chance age gap romance between Leo Johnson, Talia’s older brother, and Grace. They had a brief passionate romance five years ago that ended unexpectedly, and now they’re back working together. It’s a story of how they deal with their history and heartache and whether it’s worth the risk to try again.
Do you already have a favourite character from the stories you’ve written?
Everly, Grace’s best friend from This Year’s Love, is probably my favourite character so far, though her book is a little way off yet. Grace is a close second. She’s strong and confident, funny, and flawed. I love flawed characters.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
I think I put pieces of myself into all of the characters without meaning to!
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I really want to write a small-town romance British country style, but I think that’s a spoiler! 😉
Is there one common element that readers can find in all your stories?
Britishness, lol. So much of where I’m from comes out in my writing, my dialogue etc, and it’s not intentional. It just kind of happens! I’m not a huge follower of ‘write what you know,’ but in this instance it felt right to lean into it a bit.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
This Year’s Love comes out in June. I have two more books in the London Lovers series, and then two more series planned so far. The next series is a dual setting between London and New York, and the first book will have a lot of mental health rep.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
A strong sense of place and character. I hope readers can picture everything vividly, and feel what the characters are feeling, like they’re walking in their shoes. But I want them to feel hopeful and happy by the end too!
4. AUTHOR’S CHOICE
Paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks
Contemporary, fantasy, historical or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones, series or standalones in a series
Open door, ajar door or closed door romances
Music and silence when writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser (I start out as a panster then I pause and become a planster, haha)
Water and tea, coffee or….wine?
Cold or warm weather
Write better in the morning, afternoon or night?
Illustrated or photo cover?