A Conversation with the Fabulous Jayne Ann Krentz: Part One
As some of you know, I spent a good part of November on a Mediterranean cruise with my husband. Once we were well underway someone in my Facebook Readers Group mentioned that author Jayne Ann Krentz was on a cruise that stopped in Morocco, too.
I knew right away we must be on the same ship because it was the only one that month stopping in Moroccan ports. Sure enough, I saw her soon after. I don’t think Jayne and I had ever met, but since I’m a fan, I knew her on sight. I introduced myself, we started to talk, our husbands started to talk, and a lovely new friendship was born.
Jayne told me she’d love to read and give me a quote for my new book, A Family of Strangers, coming on June 25th. (She did and the quote is wonderful.) In turn I asked her if she’d like to be interviewed here at Southern Exposure. Today’s interview is courtesy of that one-in-a-million twist of fate that brought us together.
Of course when novelists get together to chat, stopping is the hard part. So today’s conversation is Part One. Look for Part Two next week and possibly more. Let’s find out.
While I bet Jayne needs little introduction here, I’m borrowing a few facts from her website to get us started.
“The author of a string of New York Times bestsellers, Jayne Ann Krentz uses three different pen names for each of her three “worlds.” As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic-suspense. She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense. Jayne Castle (her birth name) is reserved these days for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense.
She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.”
Rather than do a formal interview, I asked Jayne what she’d like to talk about today. So here we go.
Jayne: Thanks so much inviting me to chat here on your blog, my friend. I will try to restrain myself but you know how it is when authors start blabbing. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to stop. I think that’s because it’s a distraction from that chapter that we really need to finish. Or maybe because it’s fun to talk about the book biz. But here’s the thing: you and I have both been doing this writing gig for a while now and that means we’ve had time to develop some ideas — okay, opinions. So, here we go.
One of the things that I have come to believe with all my heart is that popular fiction — romance, mystery, suspense, fantasy, glitz, science fiction, etc. — is popular for a reason and not just because it’s entertaining. Literary critics have been trying to kill it off at least since the late 18th Century when they decided that reading novels was not good for people in general and really bad for women in particular. For most of the 20th Century academics frowned severely upon fiction unless it was written by an author who was accepted as a literary writer.
The bias against popular fiction persists but I think that’s because critics come at it from the wrong direction. Instead of asking if it’s good or bad they should ask why, in the face of unrelenting criticism, it has persisted, indeed thrives. I take the Darwinian approach: It flourishes and readers go back to it again and again because it reaffirms our culture’s core values. Hey, we all know how a hero or a heroine is suppose to act when the chips are down, right? They are supposed to do the right thing: protect the weak, fight for justice, behave with honor and exhibit compassion. Those are the values in all the classic genres of popular fiction, including romance and romantic-suspense.
Emilie: What did I say in response? Unfortunately and darn it all, we’re out of room, but please tune in next week for Part Two because there’s lots more coming.
You: In the meantime, what are your thoughts about the reason popular fiction strikes such a deep chord with readers? What makes you pick up a book? Are you looking for new insights, affirmation, pure entertainment? I’d love to hear your ideas before you hear mine and more of Jayne’s. Please comment away.
While we’re waiting, I heartily recommend Jayne’s latest releases, two of which I devoured in the past two weeks. The Other Lady Vanishes, is by Amanda Quick and takes place in the 1930s, complete with nostalgic glimpses of Hollywood glamour. Untouchable is by Jayne Ann Krentz, a spine tingling romantic suspense novel set in California today. You’ll be glad you did.
I’ve been thinking about popular fiction – which I love to read and am a happy fan of JAK. But I hate when other readers refer to my kind of reading as “fluff” or “trash” or even “brain candy”. I read it for the reasons summed up by Jayne and because it gives me insight to situations I may never be in. Plus entertainment of course, I love being sucked up into a story and living there with the characters in their setting. The writing of the authors I read is excellent. I really don’t want to notice the writing – I want it to carry the characters and the plot. Of course if its bad then that stands out and the book is a DNF! I am often in awe of the wonderful imagination, creativity and insight of all of you authors. And very thankful! Looking forward to others thoughts and the next post.
We authors get the same kinds of responses, even from people we deeply appreciate. A minister friend used to ask me when I planned to write “a real novel.” Not to criticize but to let me know he thought I had enough talent to do so. But let’s face it, that’s a backhanded compliment. I was writing real novels, just not what he most appreciated. To my credit I never asked him when he was going to read a novel that made him feel life was worth living when he finished.
At my age, i do need to be entertained , not by catharsis or violence. I know about the bad out there.what I need is the the heroine being able to over come the negatives in her life while having a adventure and finding true love,. I hate the harlequin idea that the hero waits to last page to say I love. Then what. We all know that life does is not happy there after. That is real life begins . So i like “ i love you. “ to be in the middle of the book. So they can grow together.
I have read fiction (of all kinds) for years! It has given me the pleasure of having–in my mind–an alternate realm to inhabit, if only until that particular story concludes. Also, depending on the author, I usually learn quite a bit about many topics.
Hi, Kathryn: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Your insights about the importance of the author’s voice are great. It is very difficult to explain why we respond so the writing voices of certain authors but not to the voices of other authors. It is a really intriguing thing, isn’t it?
I once tried out for Jeopardy, and they make you give suggestions of things for Alex Trebek to ask you if you make it on to the show. My suggestion was to say I’ve learned everything I need for Jeopardy by reading romances. I am a voracious reader of all the sub-genres of romance, and I enjoy the context (settings, jobs, communities) as much as the plots. I agree with Jayne that romance readers appreciate the basic humanity of popular fiction. There are human values of treating others with kindness and decency, protecting those who can’t protect themselves and desiring to be known and loved for who we really are, that transcend nationality, race and religion. Those ideals are what keep popular fiction popular.
What great responses from everyone here.
Rhonda: Love your Jeopardy question! Brilliant!
Jayne Ann it certainly is, but when the author’s voice pings home it is perfect. Someone I think of with a wonderfully unique author’s voice is Cathy Lamb. But everyone has their own and thank goodness for that!
Kathryn: I absolutely agree. It’s one of the things that makes the act of reading for pleasure such a fascinating thing. The older I get the more I realize that not everyone got the blessing of being able to read for pleasure — not because they can’t read, but simply because they can’t enjoy storytelling delivered in that format. Very interesting.
Hopefully, the minister would have responded, the Bible. I have read and am in love with the Bible. Of course, the Bible may or may not be classified as a novel. Depends on point of view.
I mostly read for entertainment; sometimes I read for information — either to learn something new or to stretch my mind and make me think or help me make changes in my life (not self-help, per se). My entertainment IS reading and I read just about every kind of genera except horror or really bloody/graphic murder mysteries (I don’t like nightmares!) and the older I get, the more I appreciate humor. Usually the authors who I like the best or stick in my mind’s interior landscape, are the one’s who have a sense of humor and writing voice who is closest to mine in my head. JAK is a favorite because of the humor and the snappy dialogue. I appreciate good dialogue and descriptive language because – I think – of my early reading of Jane Austin and Charlotte Bronte (“Jane Eyre” is a favorite!). And if I learn something about a place or era or event — bonus! So, THANK YOU to all you writers — “good” or “bad” — keep on writing and entertaining and informing us! 🙂
Tonia: Great comments. I have often said that if you enjoy the humor in my books it probably means we have a lot in common when it comes to our world views!
The humor is definitely what sets your books apart! And yes, I would agree about shared world views.
I read for pure enjoyment but learn so much along the way. It doesn’t matter how old one gets, there is still more to learn. These wonderful authors who create situations we can understand and appreciate, even if we haven’t lived then educate us in so many ways. So thankful that they have the expertise to entertain us in written word!
Delores: Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know that you enjoy our books. It was very kind of you.
As an only child with no playmates growing up in rural Arkansas, I developed quite an imagination and had wonderful adventures. As a result, I just love stories. I often used what I read as a launch into my imaginary world, filling in with fantasies from my own mind. As an adult, I read for an escape from reality and for entertainment and pure pleasure. I love to read and love words. If the story teaches me something, that is an added bonus. I love fiction, and I love your books.
Lynn: You stated the case beautifully! Those of us who are able to slip away into our imaginations are so lucky!
This conversation is so good. Loving everyone’s thoughts. And I never thought of some people not being able to read for pleasure. Although I guess the very literary readers do get pleasure from their reading? Oh yes, Emilie Richards you certainly write novels full of insight and quirky characters and situations that fill my heart with hope and compassion. We need the power of goodness in our lives. JAK and ER you do it!
Love popular fiction. I enjoy what I read. Have to confess I don’t read Jayne Ann. Tried an Amanda Quick once. Didn’t care for it. Sorry. We all are different. Like Rhonda, I am amazed at the trivia I have learned from reading the books I read. Will try Jayne sometime. My niece loved her and read every book she wrote.
I grew up in a situation where I was never safe. Reading and getting caught up in the story is one the best ways for me to turn off that feeling of always being on the lookout for danger. I have been reading JAK for 30 years. Her books keep me turning pages and her characters are people that want to do the right thing and I want to be my friends . They are usually also quirky so others turn away from them but I find them more appealing. In recent years when I finish the latest JAK book, I usually say I want more of that & re-read an older book.
Patti: Your story of why reading is so important to you sent chills through me. You bless me by telling me that my books have a place in your world. Thank you.
When I was in the 5th grade, our teacher had a poster with a poem that said something to the effect that books were our window to the world. I love to read to become a part of the world that I would maybe never get to be in. I am reading all the time, whether it is an actual book, newspaper, magazine, or posters on a doctors wall, information on the back of a food product , recipes, whatever I see with words printed on it.
Jane: Great story about that poster your teacher put up in your classroom and how it impacted your life. Wonderful!
I’m reading and enjoying everybody’s comments. Thank you so much for weighing in. Keep them coming.
I have been a reader since I was a young girl. My grandmother and mother were readers and passed on to my siblings and I a love of books. My adult children are readers and my daughter’s home is filled with overflowing bookshelves! For myself I love contemporary fiction. I tell people that I read to be entertained and to “travel” to different places in the world. I enjoy both Jayne Ann and Emilie’s books and I hope you both continue to write your delightful stories that give such pleasure to your readers!
Brain candy? More like corn on the cob with steak, baked potato and a side salad. I am an avid reader, have been for more that fifty five years; I am constantly being directed by others to stop reading so much. I have found fiction is the genre that allows me to stretch my imagination. It is only through fiction that I can travel to New Zealand. It is through fiction I can become a lucid dreamer or a shapeshifter
Most people never get the opportunity to explore not only other world’s, but their own inner world. Fiction allows us to explore, that why it endures.
I love reading fiction – it destresses me from work and all problems others and I am facing. The writing is wonderful and I do learn things from each individual writer. I am very happy both you and Jayne have met each other and have become friends. I have read quite a few of Jayne’s books and have also been reading her Amanda Quick books. Thank you both for being a part of fulfilling my life.
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