Media Radio Interview
Guest: Jude Willhoff
Today, award-winning author Jude Willhoff is here with us. We'll be talking about her book, Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors. Hey Jude, welcome to our show. Is Jude your pen name or were you named after the Beatles?
Thanks, I'm happy to be here. Jude is my real name and I wasn't named after the Beatles. Actually, I was a twin born in the seventh month. My brother didn't make it and weighing less than two pounds, I wasn't expected to either. The nuns at the hospital called me Jude, after St. Jude, the patron of lost causes and it stuck.
1.) Cool name. So Jude, why did you decide to write about romance authors?
There are many reasons. The first being that these women have been a huge inspiration in my life. They've set personal goals and achieved them beyond their wildest dreams. And another reason is because reading romance makes people feel good about themselves. A few years ago, when I was going through a major health crisis, I read a ton of romances and they helped pull me out of a deep depression. Because of my health I had to change careers in mid-life. Then I thought if romance makes me feel this good when I read it, what will it do to write it? I had always wanted to write and decided if I was ever going to do it, now was the time. I tried and I'm hooked.
2.) Why is this book, Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors, important?
It's important because people want to know about the authors they read. Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors is a positive way to touch people's lives. There's enough strife in the world in everyday life. Give me a happy ending any day. If you feel good about yourself, you're not going to be out doing harm to others. And according to a Romance Writers of America report, romance novels generate $885 million in sales every year. 177 million copies are sold yearly. Almost half of all mass market paperbacks sold are romance novels. Romance novels are sold in more than 100 international markets. The average romance reader is a college-educated person over 35, working and spends $1,200 each year buying some 200 titles. The stories in Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors will motivate others. It's about women who believed in themselves and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams doing what they love.
3.) What inspired you to write Interviews with your Favorite Romance Authors?
From a business standpoint, the published New York Times bestselling authors fascinated me...they still do. I decided to write this book for purely selfish reasons, I wanted to be like them. I want to be able to tell my stories and achieve the level of success that these women have accomplished. In order to do this, I know I need to learn all I can about the romance publishing business. Where do you start? What do you do next? Tons of questions swirled around my mind. Then, I realized, as in any profession, if you're taught by the best, it's only natural that you'll aspire to become the best. Somehow I had to get to these headliners and legends of our time and find out how they achieved their success.
4.) How did you go about it?
One author at a time. Being a shy person and having a thirst for knowledge about the writing profession, I decided the best way for me to do this would be to interview these successful authors one-on-one. It would help me overcome my shyness and to gain insight into these great authors. I wanted to find out exactly what they did that I wasn't doing. And that's how it began. I had a couple of my first interviews published in my Romance Writers of America chapter newsletter, Pikes Peak Romance Writers, The PikeSpeak. And lo and behold, the articles were always picked up by numerous RWA chapters. This is how I discovered others were just as hungry to find out about these wonderful women as I was. We're all fans of the romance genre.
5.) What happened next?
I spoke with an agent at a RWA conference and she said I should think about putting my stories about these women in a book, that there was a market for this sort of thing. She said the primary audience for Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors would be their huge fan base, not only aspiring authors, but published authors, agents, editors, Romance Writers of America members, writing conference attendees and anyone else wanting to learn about the romance publishing industry. And because this book is an example of the living history of the romance industry, other potential outlets would include possible library distribution, writer's conferences, RWA chapter meetings and on-line resources. It sounded good and with nothing to lose, I decided to go for it.
6.) So what is Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors really about?
Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors is a collection of in-depth conversations with some of New York Times and USA Today's bestselling romance authors and authors on the rise. By reading Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors, you'll be able to peek behind the scenes to see how these inspiring women became the headliners and legends they are today, sharing their struggles and triumphs in the industry. Imagine sitting down with a cup of hot tea on a snowy afternoon to chat with your favorite romance author. You may ask anything you wanthow they got started writing; what they did before they were published; about rejections, their regrets, mistakes, and fears; writing habits; how they write and handle promotions, agent and editor advice; about their booklists, websites and the publishing business in general; and getting personal advice from them about how they made their first sale.
7.) Would we recognize the names of the authors who gave you stories for Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors?
Oh yes. Not only do I have up and coming authors included,
but most of these women are quite famous. They have millions of copies of their
books in print. The authors who contributed their stories are: Judith Arnold, Laura
Baker, Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Chastain, Jasmine Cresswell, Jennifer Crusie, Lori
Foster, Karen Fox, Roberta Gellis, Robin Lee Hatcher, Laura Hayden, Brenda Hiatt, Yvonne
Jocks, Joan Johnston, Jayne Ann Krentz, Katie MacAlister, Debbie Macomber, Kat Martin, Pam
McCutcheon, Kathleen Morgan, Carla Neggers, Laura Resnick, JoAnn Ross, Amanda Scott,
Bertrice Small, Deb Stover and Susan Wiggs.
8.) Wow, that's quite an impressive list. What was it like meeting these legends of the romance genre?
Intimidating and scary as all get out until I actually started talking with them. When I started doing these interviews, I was the most shy, introverted author you'd ever meet. I'll never forget my first interview. I almost didn't go through with it. I was scared to death. To me, Debbie Macomber who has over sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide, walks on water. The woman is my American Idol. You see, when I was going through a very tough time in my life with a major health crisis, learning how to live with chronic pain and Arachnoiditis, her books literally saved my life. The stories she wrote were what kept me going through a lot of the tough times. Like all avid readers, I wanted to see what would happen next so I kept reading and surviving.
9.) Tell us about your interview with Debbie Macomber.
Okay, here I was at Beth Anne's Book Corner in Colorado Springs,
getting ready to meet Debbie Macomber. How could I possibly talk to this
legend? Luckily, Beth Anne Steckiel, the owner of the store had set up the interview
for me and she made me do it. Her encouragement and Debbie's wonderful personality
helped me through the interview. Then I realized a very important thing. Sure,
Debbie has sold millions of copies of her books, traveled all over the world, networked
with incredible people, but she is a person just like you and me. She immediately
put me at ease and the time flew as she told me her story. That was the
beginning of Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors.
10) What's her story and how did she sell so many books?
She sold so many books because she always writes with warmth, compassion, humor and emotion. Debbie Macomber is a class act. Having dyslexia, which is an impairment of reading ability, she has had numerous challenges throughout her life. Today, she tells it like it is as the mother of four and an avid romance reader. When I asked her if she'd ever been rejected, she said, "I hate to say this, but they were hitting me in the head at the post office as I was sending them out. One time I sent off a manuscript, and the only way it could've come back that quick was they had to open it and put it right back in the return envelope without reading it."
11.) Does that really happen?
Yes, I've heard horror stories. Anyway, Debbie's darkest hour was right before the dawn. She got started selling articles and earned enough money to attend her first writer's conference. Three hundred women attended. Of those three hundred, two Harlequin editors picked ten manuscripts to be reviewed. Hers was one of them. She was thrilled, she said, "Oh, man, I was so excited. I mean, this was great."
One of the editors got up and said one manuscript showed promise. Debbie was sure it was hers, but when the editor started talking, her heart fell. It belonged to someone else. Then the editor had everybody in the room laughing about another manuscript. She admitted that one was hers. They were laughing at her manuscript. She felt terrible. She says she'll never forget it. She was humiliated.
Afterward, she went up and talked to the editor. She asked her if she rewrote the manuscript, would she be willing to look at it again. The editor got this pitying look in her eyes. She leaned forward and said, "Throw it away." Debbie was crushed. You can imagine.
12.) That had to be hard. It would probably make most people give up. What did she do?
It was a rough time for Debbie. Her husband was out of work. He was in Alaska, sharing one room with eight guys who slept in shifts, trying to get work on the Alaskan pipeline, eating one meal a day. Debbie said, "It was awfuljust awful." She walked away from that editor with her head held high, saying to herself, Harlequin has lost out on a great writer.
After this crushing blow, she sent a query letter to Silhouette. Every day after that when she sat down to write, the shadows on the wall seemed to say "So you want to be a writer. You think you're going to sell a book?" Debbie's eyes sparkle and her voice sounds like the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz as she related this part of her story.
She had reached the point where it drove her crazy. She couldn't take it anymore. At that time and place in her life, Debbie didn't care if Silhouette wanted to see it or not. Before she could change her mind, she marched right down to the post office and mailed her manuscript.
It cost ten dollars and that was a lot of money, very precious at the time. She came home and the mail had been delivered. There was a letter from Silhouette and inside it said, "Do not send us your manuscript. We're not buying at this time."
13.) Did that crush her spirit?
Most likely, but Debbie told me, if she has ever seen God's hand in her life, it was that day. That was the book that sold. The editor called her on September 29th. It was exactly one month to the day that she had gotten so brutally rejected from Harlequin.
Today, Debbie finds her name is recognized not only in households across the country, but in countries around the world. Because of her success, her husband was able to retire to pursue his love of flying. They live in a 7,000-square-foot dream home overlooking Puget Sound, a house paid for with her writing dollars. She earned her faithful readership by writing heartwarming wholesome stores of love and commitment. Because of her prolific career, some call her "The Stephen King of the Romance Genre." Each new Debbie Macomber novel is guaranteed to touch the heart and lift the spirit.
14.) That's some story. Now I can see why you want to write romance. Where do you get your ideas?
From a little old woman up in the mountains. No, not really, ideas are everywhere. I read everything I can get my hands on: magazines, newspapers, biographies, textbooks, literary fiction, the backs of milk cartons, graffiti, and of course novels of all genres. I love to go to the movies and watch TV. The media has a huge impact on genre fiction. A headline, one word or a sentence can spark an idea for a new book.
15.) Do you research you sex scenes?
I don't know why but everyone always asks this question.
And the answer is yes, of course, I research my sex scenes. Doesn't everyone?
The only thing is...it's a hassle because I always have to keep one hand free to take
16.) When writing your books do you ever put stuff from your real life into them?
Very rarely, in my fiction projects. Real life is more
chaotic, often without motivation or meaning, and fiction can't be that way. I take
fragments of things I hear, see, or read and use them to build a base for a book, but
actually my life is just not that interesting or exciting. It's much more fun to
make up people and their problems and torture them.
17.) Are you working on any other projects?
Always. At the moment I'm working on a romantic comedy called The Wrong Wife. When she hears a doctor discussing the imminent death of a patient, hypochondriac Kally Sutherland is convinced she's living on borrowed time. She enlists the help of her best friend to find a new wife for her soon-to-be widowed husband.
And I'm putting the finishing touches on a nonfiction project called Living Well with Chronic Pain. It's about living successfully with chronic pain using Medtronic Advanced Pain Therapy. It's written with personal excerpts from my journal and success stories about other people using Medtronic Advanced Pain Therapy and spinal cord implants to show those struggling with chronic pain that they can cope in a positive manner.
18.) Jude, those books sound interesting as well. Tell us, where can we get a copy of Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors and your other books?
Okay, listeners, get your pen and paper to write this down. You may order an autographed copy of Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors on my website, that's www.judewillhoff.com or by calling 303-794-8888.
Jude, thank you for joining us today. is there a message you'd like to leave with the listeners?
Yes, there is. I would like them to remember these four things:
A.) You can do it. The valuable lesson I learned by interviewing these authors was that a person can do anything they want to in their life. It's a simple secret. Just set your mind to it and stay focused. These women wanted to be successful authors. They set their sights on that goal and didn't stop 'till they reached it.
B.) Don't give up. Not matter what life throws at you, where there's a will there's a way. Stay focused and you can succeed.
C.) In America your dreams can come true! "If you do what you've always done...you'll get what you've always gotten. You have to ask yourself, is that enough? With hard work and determination you can achieve success.
D.) God or whatever higher power you may believe in will help you. No matter what you are doing, always believe in yourself and step beyond the fear of rejection and magic will happen. Success breeds success. Read Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors today and get inspired with your own dreams.
19.) Once again, where can our listeners get a copy of Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors?
They may order an autographed copy of Interviews with Your Favorite Romance Authors on my website at http://www.judewillhoff.com, that's www.judewillhoff.com or call 303-794-8888. Thanks for having me on your show. This has been fun.
20.) Jude, it's been a pleasure having you on the show today. Would you consider coming back to visit us with your next book?
Yes, of course. Thanks! That would be awesome.