Monday, July 07, 2008

Spotlight in Six: Jessica Hart!

We're thrilled to have Jessica Hart with us this month for our Spotlight. Jessica is also offering a great prize to a lucky reader: a signed copy of her new release Newlyweds of Convenience, as well as a special Jessica Hart tote bag!

1. Where do you find new and fresh ideas?
Sometimes a song or a film can trigger a light bulb moment. For instance, the idea for the book I’m writing at the moment came about as a result of a discussion I had with a friend as we were driving back from seeing MADE OF HONOUR recently, and NEWLYWEDS OF CONVENIENCE (July 2008) was inspired by seeing a trailer for THE PAINTED VEIL. I really liked the idea of a woman falling in love with her own husband, and started to think about how that might work in a book. But I get most of my ideas from talking with friends. We go out and have a bottle of wine and thrash out our latest emotional crises, and it’s amazing how often a germ of an idea arises from those discussions … I’m always asking my accountant if my bar bill could be tax deductible!

2. Writers often use photos of celebrities as "casting". Do you do this,and who has inspired some of your characters?

Not really. I did have a photo of Patrick Dempsey modelling Versace stuck up by my computer when I was writing CINDERELLA’S WEDDING WISH (2009) but that was more for the way he was wearing the suit than any similarity with what my hero looked like. Otherwise, I tend not to have a very detailed image of my characters in mind. In real life I think attraction is often a gradual process, so I like to have heroes who seem quite ordinary-looking to begin with, but who become steadily irresistible to the heroine as she falls in love with him.

3. What are your favourite and least favourite parts of writing a novel? Isthere a particular section that you struggle with?

Struggle??? Oh, yes, indeedy! Chapter 7 on the first draft is my most common crisis point. It always feels like I’ve been writing and writing and I’m not getting anywhere, and that what I have done is an absolute disaster. Invariably I get to the point where I realise that I’m going to have to bite the bullet and rewrite entire book – ugh, I hate that moment! I think the bit I like best is plotting, which for me means sitting down with a friend and a bottle of wine and thrashing out the whys and wherefores of the back story. The story always has so much potential at this point, and I feel as if it’s going to be the best book ever - until I start writing! The truth is that I like being a writer, but I don’t really like writing that much … although I absolutely love typing ‘The End’!

4. When you are not writing, what do you do? How do you pamper yourself?

It’s embarrassing to realise how many of my favourite activities revolve around food and drink! I love cooking, and eating, and meeting friends for coffee or a glass of wine. One of my favourite evenings is playing bridge with fellow foodies, where we take it in turns to cook a special meal, and hunch over the cards until the small hours. I love to walk, too, although now have to leave my elderly dog behind, and my ideal holiday is walking somewhere wild with a big horizon. But really what I like to do best is to talk, and I don’t mind where I am or what I’m doing as long as I can have a really good conversation – maybe to make up for all the hours I have to sit silently in front of my computer! As for pampering, I always celebrate finishing a book in my lovely bathroom, lying back in a deep bath with candles, bubbles, music - and a glass of champagne.

5. Imagine you're stranded - where are you and who are you with?

It just so happens that the book I’m writing at the moment is set on a private island in the Maldives, so I wouldn’t mind being there in the shade of a leaning coconut palm, looking out at that perfect lagoon (in my mind, I already am!) and if I could be with someone who loves me the way Tom loves Imogen, that would be very nice!

6. Finally, Jessica, please tell us what's up and coming for you in themonths ahead!

I’m off to San Francisco for my very first RWA conference at the end of this month, so am looking forward to that with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Barbara Hannay, Barbara McMahon and I are presenting a workshop on writing romance for a global audience, and will be talking about how to achieve the emotional tension that is key to Harlequin Romance, and that appeals to women around the world. It’s quite difficult trying to plan it when we live on three different continents, but we’re hoping the workshop will be fun as well as useful, so think of us on Friday 1 August!

September marks a personal milestone for me when I turn 50 (I’m trying to be brave about it) and by a happy coincidence my 50th book, Last-Minute Proposal, will be published in October. I’m already planning a party to celebrate both!

Thanks Jessica! To enter the monthly contest to win Newlyweds of Convenience AND the tote bag, drop a line to with the subject line Jessica and we'll draw right around the time that she's giving that workshop! :-)


  1. Jessica, LOL at wine bar bills being tax deductible. If only... Then I'd really believe a writer's life was glamorous.

    Congratulations on your two upcoming 50ths and have fun in San Fran, Jessica (I'm so jealous).


  2. Thanks, Michelle! I'm really looking forward to San Francisco, although feeling sick about how much has to be done before I get on that plane! Not helped by technology turning against me, just when I need it most. I have 3 major deadlines to meet before 23 July and my printer has decided to die on me just when I need it most.

    Hoping this comment makes it - have spent half the morning having my password rejected, changing it, having it rejected again, being told it already exists ...aaarghh!

  3. I wish I could be in SF to see the three of you in action, Jessica. Although I think I probably envy the Yosemite trip more! Have a fabulous time.

  4. It will be great to put faces to some familiar names, of course, and the two Barbaras and I have been putting a lot of thought into the workshop - which we hope will be fun as well as useful - but I have a feeling Yosemite will be the highlight for me too. We'll send a photo!

  5. WOW, Jessica -- 50 books!!! That is definitely a milestone. Are you going to do anything special for that 50th release? I sure hope so!

  6. Hi, Buffie ... I feel as if I've spent all year building up to the 50th book which is called LAST-MINUTE PROPOSAL (I know, I know ...)and is out this October on both sides of the Atlantic. I've had lots more going on at my website ( and of course I'm going to San Francisco, so by the time the book comes out I think I'll be exhausted! I'll definitely be having a party though!