Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Stories, co-authors Jenni James and AJ Cole

Before we begin the interview I just want to remind everyone that our short story contest ends TONIGHT! Get those stories turned in people! 

Now, on with the show....

Today we are joined by not one, but two special guests Jenni James and A.J. Cole. They are the co-authors of the book Eternity.

I'm pretty excited for this interview. I got the rare opportunity to ask one question and get two different answers. Perhaps a little bit of a yin and yang thing. You'll have to read on and see. But first let me get you a few links....

If you're interested in checking out the blog where these "coauthors collide" then visit The Heathen and the Saint.

If you want to see what Jenni's up to check out her author website here.

Now, I'd give you a link to A.J.'s site but he tells me his material isn't appropriate for this audience. But, if you'd like to get a peak at what he's got going on Jenni has posted a link here on her website.

Enough with all of the business stuff. Let's get on to the interview!

Q--Tell us about yourselves.

Jenni I'm a mom to 7 kiddos and I'm married to a totally hot air force, recruiter.  When I'm not chasing the little ones around the house or writing--which lets face it, I don't do much else--I enjoy painting, acting, directing and entertaining.  A couple of years ago, my family moved back to the states after living 9 years overseas, in England and Portugal.
A.J. AJ is a former model and ex-cop from Nottingham, England. He is married with two young children - 'The Zeds' (Zachary aged 4 and Zara aged 3) - and a weimaraner dog called Charlie. When he's not reading, writing, toddler wrangling or weimaraner wrestling, he likes to relax by running, practising martial arts, meditating and cooking south east asian cuisine.
Q--How in the world did two people from two different parts of the world end up writing a book together?

Jenni  We met on authonomy, my agent was interested in his book--and when he asked if I'd like to write with him, he's such an amazing writer, I didn't question it--I just said Where? When? How? Oh, and YES! of course. 

A.J. I first met Jenni on the Harper Collins authonomy site, where she read an excerpt from my debut crime novel and gave me some pointers on presentation and editing. I had a hankering to work on something very different to the darkness of that first book, and we both came to the conclusion that it would be fun to see how our two very different styles might mesh together.
Q-- Where did you guys get the idea for your novel Eternity?

Jenni  AJ really wanted to do something completely opposite of what he'd been writing and Eternity--Heaven--was as opposite as you could get!  Lol!

A.J. The initial inception of the idea came from me. I'm not Mormon, but I did some reading around it in order to get a handle on Jenni's beliefs. Off the back of that I was turning over the concept of love that was truly 'eternal', and we chatted through some ideas on the phone before getting on to it.
Q--How did you outline or plot the story so your separate pieces would fit?

Jenni We did outline, really?  Did we?  It was amazingly organic how we just each wrote a bit and the other would take over for the first draft, and then the second draft--AJ went through to the end, while I started from the beginning and revised while adding in new twists and turns.
A.J. I never plan or plot a story in any detail, and Eternity was no exception! Initially we would take it in turns to write a section, basically picking up the baton from where the other person left it. However, as we moved further on, Jenni began to revisit the earlier sections and expanded on certain aspects, while I pressed on with the battles and struggle that came at the end. We seemed to instinctively know where the story would go, and there were very few brick walls along the way.

Q--How are you most like the character you wrote in Eternity?

Jenni I mostly wrote General Laurelia (though we each took turns with both)  I think she's like me because she's stubborn and is determined to do what she believes is right, even without stepping back and seeing the full picture.  Once she sets on a course of action, there's no deterring her. I also have no fear and truly--no seriously--believe I can kick anyone's butt at anytime.  Including Satan's army.  Lol!  ;)  She also needs, but refuses to admit, protection.  Yet, she has this constant drive to protect everyone else. 

A.J. As Jenni said, we both wrote elements of each character (I find that a big part of the fun in writing is inhabiting other entirely different characters to your own) , but I'm mainly responsible for Petrus (originally called Petrarchus, but people seemed to find that too much of a mouthful!).

Petrus is flirtatious, self-assured to the point of infuriating sometimes, very capable in physical conflict and somewhat too headstrong at times - in those respects we're pretty similar! Lol!

We're also both a little bit vulnerable on occasion, even though we try to never admit it :o)
Q--What was the most exasperating part about working with each other?
Jenni Lol! Our different personalities.  I love editing and deleting, while AJ was a bit more cautious.

A.J. Jenni is considerably more romantically inclined in her writing than I am, so I had a problem with the copious amounts of kissing and gazing into each others eyes that existed in earlier drafts! Eventually we settled on mutually agreeable adjustments to each others work, but there was a little bit of disagreement first!
Q--Tell us about Eternity.

Jenni I'll let AJ tell this one, he does it better than me.  :) 

A.J. Eternity is a paranormal romance that tells the story of an all-consuming love that crosses boundaries and transcends life and death. The initial setting is in the war-torn pre-existence, before the creation of earth, a time when Satan's army are determined to seize control of heaven for themselves. General Laurelia is one of God's most powerful Generals, leading her troops as they prepare for battle; Petrus is a lowly soldier under her command, but with exceptional abilities and an unflinching desire to win her heart.
Q--Finish this sentence: “If people only knew...”

Jenni “If people only knew how much fun writing was, I think more would do it."  

A.J. If people only knew: how hard I work to make my writing as good as possible, then I'd be a bestseller already!

Q--What other books have you written?

Jenni I've written most of The Austen Diaries.  A series of modern Jane Austen rewrites for teens. Pride & Popularity is available now on ebook and has a tentative print date for this summer (Give me a few days and I'll have the real date for you).  Northanger Alibi will come out this fall.  

A.J. I have had my debut crime fiction novel 'BiteMarks' published by Night Publishing under the name 'Drew Cross'. I won't include the link out of respect for Jenni's and your own beliefs - it apparently deserves an 'R' rating, whatever that means! It is, I'm told, an exceptional work within that genre.
Q--How do you include your family/children in your writing?

Jenni How do you include your family/children in your writing?  So far, my goal is to use every one of my kids' names at least once as characters in my books.  Lol!  They're really more interested in the other authors I meet and their books than my own.  For instance two of their favorite authors are AJ Cole (his Scarmap Trilogy) and Karen Hoover (Sapphire Flute).

A.J. I've written a Middle Grade fantasy fiction trilogy called The Scarmap (sample chapter on Jenni's blog, I believe), which is specifically for my children to enjoy when they're a little older. I also tend to talk through the parts that I'm unsure about in all of my work with my wife. She's good at getting me to consider different angles, and when she can't help she sends me out for a walk with the dog, which usually helps!
Q--If you were on Survivor and won an award challenge at week 9 where you could pick any candy bar you wanted, what would it be and why? Do you think deprivation will drive you to crave chocolate and peanut butter or something with carmel and nuts?

Jenni Ooh... Caramel please.  And I'd make it be a British Galaxy caramel bar.  Nummy.  Best chocolate in the world.

A.J. I'm not a big chocolate fan (and I don't know that show!), so I'd probably ask if anybody else had a preference and pick that. I tend to eat good quality, high cocoa content dark chocolate when I do eat it.
Q--If there is one legacy you hope to leave behind with your writing for your children and grandchildren, what would it be?

Jenni To write clean, fresh fiction with heroes and heroines who are fun and normal and believable.  The good guys when too.

A.J. I'd like them to be proud of what I intend to achieve with my writing. In an ideal world I'd like there to be both a financial legacy, and enough of myself in the books that they can feel like they know me by reading my work.
Q--Finish this sentence pretending you are each other: “The most frustrating thing about working with my co-author was...”

Jenni “The most frustrating thing about working with my co-author was how infuriating she can be at times."

A.J. “The most frustrating thing about working with my co-author was: when he insisted on cutting out a number of the kissing scenes!”
Q--Give us a teaser for book two in Eternity.

Jenni Ooh.. I wonder what he's said?  Book two will happen on earth.  Same battle--good verses evil--except, they'll have forgotten everything, even each other, and live on two separate continents. Their mission will be to find one another, defeat the odds and trials Satan will set in their path--realize the great love they once had and become the couple they were destined to become to save the world in the last days.  Easy?  Ha.  Not when he hates the world, women and God and she's little miss merry sunshine and already engaged to the richest man in England. 

A.J. Book 2 brings our angels to earth in human form, with all of the difficulties that mortal life can throw at them. The Dark Lord is determined to have his revenge on them both, and this time they're apart and don't even know who they once were... 

I like this two person interviewing. Fun!

I want to extend a special thanks to Jenni and A.J. for letting me do this interview. Their book Eternity is definitely worth adding to your reading list. I really enjoyed the new twist this story put on the pre-mortal world and I'll be watching for the sequel!

If you are interested in purchasing Eternity here's a link.

If you want to learn more about Jenni's The Austen Diaries keep reading!

Pride & Popularity

Chloe Elizabeth Hart has found she cannot abide the conceited antics of the popular crowd. –Or more importantly, one very annoying self-possessed guy, Taylor Anderson, who is determined to make her the president of his fan club! As if! Every girl in the whole city of Farmington, New Mexico is in love with Taylor, but he seems to be only interested in her.

(Pride & Popularity is currently available in ebook format and will be available in print this July.)

Northanger Alibi

This modern Gothic remake of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, with a nod to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, will leave you in stitches.
Seattle Washington, and the Russo family, are no match for Claire Hart and her savvy knowledge of all things vampire-related. Thanks to her obsession with the Twilight series - if there is anyone who would know a vampire when she saw one, it's Claire. She's positive that the totally hot Tony Russo is a vampire, and she just has to prove it!
Follow Claire's hilarious journey on her first summer adventure away from home, where she learns that everything isn't what it seems, and in some instances, reality is way better than anything she'd ever find in a book.

(Northanger Alibi is currently available in ebook format and will be available in print this October.)


  1. Whoa! Fun interview. I need to get that book.

  2. Fantastic interview! I enjoyed seeing how another co authoring team work together!
    I am interested to see if Jenni and A.J. have had similar experiences to ours. Jennifer wrote about it on her blog here.



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