Saturday, September 7, 2013

Interview with J.A. Dennam and excerpt from Between Faith and Fear (Captive #2)


1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I did NOTHING but read while growing up. Mostly movie-based books from the Scholastic book club, like Benji, C.H.O.M.P.S., and Superman. After a clandestine peek over my shoulder, I opened my first romance at the tender age of 12 and officially converted, but I still had room for J.R.R. Tolkien. My mother gets the credit for inspiring me to write my own stories down.

2. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way, either growing up or as an adult?

Judith McNaught is my all time fave in Romance (Paradise & Perfect... sigh!!) She's a master in historical and contemporary. I think I read everything Johanna Lindsey put out up until the mid 90's. Kathleen Woodiwiss (especially Shanna... must have read that a million times!) I also read a lot of Stephen King and John Grisham. Robert Ludlum lived in my town so, naturally, I had to sample a few of his thrillers ;)

3. Where do you get your ideas from? Do they come to you or are they inspired by true events?

A little of both. I'm usually never inspired by news events for fear I'll be called out on it. Most start as fledgling ideas born from true events that I nurture with a little love, lots of obsession and TONS of imagination. Then I'll trip over something really genius during the research process.

4. Do you work with an outline or just write?

Depends on the weather. Really, there's no rhyme or reason to how I operate. I mostly pantsed (what we call writing by the seat of our pants) FLESH OF ANGELS and BETWEEN FAITH AND FEAR, then I outlined the last few chapters as I neared the end. The other two novels I completely outlined, but the stories changed so much I may as well not have. SO, after I type PROLOGUE, I lick and stick my finger in the air.

5. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

If so, how do you get out of the funk? This usually happens when I'm working on a slow paced scene. I'll sit down with another book, watch a show or do chores when it's really bad. Most of the time it just takes stepping away from the computer for a few minutes and the floodgates magically reopen.

6. What part of the writing process is the hardest for you, whether it’s first draft, rewriting or editing?

Since I'm an obsessive-compulsive rewriter and editor, that's the easiest part for me. I guess the hardest part is condensing what I've written. Too much description can lead to Snoresville, so I need to convey the same message using half the words. It's a huge challenge, vitally important in a suspense/thriller/action story and I aspire to get really good at it. That's what was so fun about the hero in BETWEEN FAITH AND FEAR. He can get his point across with a snarky comment or a well-placed F-word.

7. Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what do you listen to?

I'll pop the "P" when I say nope. When I'm at the computer, my gray matter is muddy enough. If I confuse things with outside stimulation, it'll be like writing drunk. Not pretty.

8. What project are you working on now?

The third and final book in my Captive series, HELL'S HILLTOP. I've aspired toward a January, 2014 release at the latest. With all the stuff going on 'tween now and then, it'll be tough, but I'm getting excited about it. We got away from book 1 a little with book 2. But book 3 will contain equal parts of both while Rena and Ty wrap up the series with some heart-pounding conclusions.

Between Faith and Fear
9. Did you always know you would write a sequel to Truth and Humility (Captive Series #1), or did it just come to you?

My original intention was for T&H to be a stand-alone novel. *BUT* I always left the door open for a sequel. And if I chose to go that route, I always knew whom the story would belong to.

10. How did you come up with the title?

Most of my titles come to me as I'm writing the book. You'll usually spot it. Kind of like Where's Waldo :) But, BETWEEN FAITH AND FEAR was actually first mentioned toward the end of T&H.

11. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? Hardest?

I had the absolute BEST time writing the flashbacks. Most of them had me in tears and represent the more humorous side of the story, though they were my hero's darkest moments. The hardest to write was probably Chapter 13. A lot of information had to come out and it was tough condensing it all into a clear, flowy package.

12. Which character speaks the loudest, to you?

As much as I love my hero & heroine, their parts were pretty easy for me to write. So...I have to give props to my evil villain, Rafferty. Half of his dialogue was so bad I had to summon the nerve to write it down. And before y'all shake a finger at ME (tsk!) if our villains had boundaries, what fun would they be?

13. Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why? What would you say to that person?

Danny, hands down. She's my rock. We'd talk about Austin, o'course she might get pissed and hit me.

14. What can you tell us about Book #3? There will be a third one, right? ;)

Absolutely! Book 3 is titled HELL'S HILLTOP. Book 1 was gritty and sweet. Book 2, raw and action packed. Book 3 will be sexy...and bone chilling. By the end of book 2, we don't know what to expect from Rena Hellberg. Can we trust her or not? Ty will get a chance to dive into the woman's psyche and find out exactly what drives her...and how to handle her unpredictable mood swings.

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

 Don't give up. No one will give the time, love, and attention to your story the way you do. No one will appreciate it as much. Do it justice by persevering over the criticisms, the road blocks, the heartache...the rewards are more than worth it! But the path to success is paved with humility. Know how and when to take constructive criticism. Sleep on it, learn from it, then apply it. It's best to get this type of criticism from a critique group rather than a reviewer. I am EXTREMELY blessed in this department.


When gravity took hold once more, they settled back to earth in each other's arms. As they caught their breath, he brought his hand up, moved her hair back, exposing her face as she lay panting on top of him.

"No matter what happens from here on out," he said quietly, "I want you to know that I have lived every day hoping to get the chance to see you again. Make love to you again. Tell you how I feel without my pride getting in the way."

Her eyes opened and she looked at him with wonder.

God she was beautiful. Her flawless skin, devoid of makeup, was every bit as soft as it looked. The color of her hair blended with the heatherblue of her eyes in a way that always reminded him of summer. "I love you, Melanie," he whispered. "Since the day you first batted those eyelashes at me."

She blinked slowly, shook her head. "Until today, I thought I'd never hear those words from you."

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