Joanna Wayne's writing probably began with her love for books. She was the middle child of a huge, loving but boisterous family, and her escape from the chaos was always to bury herself in a fictional world where anything could happen and dreams frequently came true. As early as elementary school, she talked of becoming a writer, but she put that dream on hold when she married and started a family. It wasnít until after her youngest of two children were in college that she saw an advertisement for a creative writing class that was being offered at a local university. She decided it was now or never for a writing career, and with that thought in mind, she signed up for Writing the Romance Novel, a class taught by the talented Emilie Richards. After that, it was full speed ahead. She joined the local chapter of RWA and formed a critique group with three other aspiring writers. Her first book, Deep in the Bayou, was released by Harlequin Intrigue in 1994. It was the thrill of a lifetime, and she still gets gooseflesh whenever she thinks of what it was like the first time she held her own published book in her hands.
Suzie Housley: First of all, welcome to Beneath the Covers. I am thrilled that you took a moment out of your busy schedule to stop by and discuss what is going on in your writing career. From the Moment I read BEHIND THE VEIL I knew that you were an author that I had to invite as my honored guest.
Joanna Wayne: Thank you for inviting me, Suzie, and thanks
for the nice comments about BEHIND THE VEIL. This is a terrific site.
Suzie Housley: I have always admired any author who breaks "out of the box" to write about a true to life characters with a physical, social, or mental disability. In your opinion, why is it that readers do not see more books like BEHIND THE VEIL?
Joanna Wayne: I think itís risky for a writer to step outside
what has been proven to work to take a chance on a hero that readers
might not accept. Also, it takes the right story for a hero with disabilities
to be showcased. The hero in BEHIND THE VEIL was exciting to create
as he was an unusual character with so many things to make him fascinating.
Suzie Housley: You are a master when it comes to writing romantic suspense, have you ever thought about changing genes? If so, have you thought about pursuing?
Joanna Wayne: That an interesting question since my next
release is not a romantic suspense in the true sense of the genre though
it does have some suspense elements toward the end of the book. JUST
ONE LOOK, which will be released in April, 2004, is part of the Cooperís
Corner continuity series. Itís primarily the story of a woman who has
plastic surgery to reduce the size of her nose only to fall for the
one man who canít appreciate her new image--or so she thinks. Itís humorous,
poignant and terribly romantic. I love the hero and heroine in that
book, but the secondary characters also really came to life for me.
I am currently working on a single title which will be released mid
2004, but itís a romantic suspense. I guess that will always be my first
Suzie Housley: To date, how many novels have you got in print? Was there one that stood out and refused to leave your mind once it was completed? If so, which one?
Joanna Wayne: To answer the first part of that question, JUST
ONE LOOK is my twentieth novel. The second is more difficult to answer.
The first book has stuck with me, partly because it was the first. But
I guess if I had to choose a favorite book it would be MYSTIC ISLE.
Itís a story that really let me spread my wings and deal with issues
not usually touched on in category romance. Also, itís set in New Orleans
and the surrounding bayou country, both areas which I love. And, like
many of my books, it deals with family relationships in an honest and
Suzie Housley: What's the most satisfying and the least satisfying part of your career as a writer?
Joanna Wayne: The first half of that question is easy. The most
satisfying part is knowing that my stories touch the lives of readers.
Itís humbling but also gratifying to receive letters and email notes
from readers saying how certain books have meant something special to
them. The second part of the question is difficult. I actually like
all the parts that deal with writing, so I guess the least satisfying
part is the bookkeeping that is necessary because Iím self employed.
I hate accounting and keeping records.
Suzie Housley: You mentioned you joined a RWA - was that before or after you were a published author. Do you see yourself playing a more active role in RWA now that you are published?
Joanna Wayne: I got started writing romance novels when I took
a class at the University of New Orleans Metropolitan College titled
How to Write a Romance. Thatís where I first learned about RWA, and
I joined our local chapter immediately. I served as president of my
chapter after becoming published. Now I like to offer others the advantage
of what Iíve learned by volunteering to present talks and workshops
for other chapters. Itís my way of giving something back.
Suzie Housley: When you were forming your critique group, what traits did you look for in the members you selected? Do you still use the same critique group, or does it all depend on what you are currently writing a the moment?
Joanna Wayne: To be perfectly truthful, I was so green when
I started writing that I had no idea what to look for in my first critique
group. We formed a group based on geographic location. There were five
of us originally, but eventually it shrunk to three very dedicated wannabes.
We are all multi-published now and are still good friends. One of those
three is still in my critique group, along with two male writers. Iím
the only one of the four whoís writing romantic suspense, but the other
three are very talented writers. I donít always use a critique group
for my category books but I know this group will be very helpful as
I write my first single title
Suzie Housley: Do you find that you tend to cater to what other writers and publishers are demanding? Or do you like to be daring, and write with your own flare and style.
Joanna Wayne: I donít think of it as daring when Iím doing it,
but I do tend to have a rather unique style. Itís the only way I know
to write. I try to find situations that are rife with opportunities
for suspense and then keep the reactions of the characters and the emotions
as true to life as I can. I let myself become so immersed in the story
that I feel the emotions. My next Hidden Passions for Harlequin Intrigue
is about a woman who is swept off her feet and into marriage only to
discover that the man she married is not at all what he seems. When
she finds evidence that he could be the serial killer who is terrorizing
the town, she realizes that she may be the only one who can stop him.
The title of the book is Attempted Matrimony, and itís a June Ď04 release
from Intrigue. Itís a very daring book by category standards.
Suzie Housley: In April 2003, You latest JUST ONE LOOK is scheduled to be released. Could you give us a sneak preview of what we have to look forward to in the future.
Joanna Wayne: JUST ONE LOOK is the story of a woman whoís new
nose helps her to look at life in a totally different way. It also shows
how change in the heroine affects the lives of everyone around her.
Hopefully it will make you laugh and make you cry and come away believing
that love truly does make the world go round. And in June next year,
be sure to look for Attempted Matrimony. And Hidden Passions will reappear
in January, February and March of 2004 in a suspenseful story of three
women whose lives are forever linked because of something they witnessed
as young girls in a Georgia orphanage.
Suzie Housley: Of all aspects of writing, what do you find as the most challenging? How do you get past this obstacle?
Joanna Wayne: I think the biggest challenge is making each story
unique and powerful. Itís not an easy challenge to overcome, but I try
to make each book the very best I can write. I try to find unusual situations
and then let the characters come alive. I never try to stick to a synopsis,
but stay open to new and better ideas as the story unfolds. And I try
never to back away from suspense or emotion. Itís what the reader pays
Suzie Housley: You live in New Orleans, it has always been a city of mystery to me, and one that holds many secrets. Do you find yourself entwining this mystery into the novels you create?
Joanna Wayne: New Orleans is a very intriguing city with
the kind of sultry, Southern feel that lends itself to suspense. The
city and the bayou country have always influenced my writing. Books
of mine with a south Louisiana setting include DEEP IN THE BAYOU, BEHIND
THE MASK, EXTREME HEAT, BAYOU BLOOD BROTHERS, and MYSTIC ISLE. In my
mind, MYSTIC ISLE is one of the most suspenseful books Iíve ever written
and it travels into the underworld of New Orleans. Voodoo, channeling,
sex slaves, and murder--nothing is off limits. But the romance is passionate
Suzie Housley: I am always impressed at the cover art on all Harlequin novels. How much input do you have in what the final cover will look like?
Joanna Wayne: Very little. I fill out an art fact sheet
for all my Intrigues which gives basic information about the physical
appearance of the main characters and some suggestions for scenes that
I think would be effective. The art department looks at this, but the
decisions is theirís. They look for something that catches the essence
of the novel rather than an exact reproduction from a particular scene.
For the most part, Iíve loved my covers. BEHIND THE VEIL had a great
cover. So did WHAT LIES BENEATH, which was the anthology that carried
my novella, Remember Me. I like the new look of Intrigues.
Suzie Housley: I feel the article you have listed on your web site, Rules Of Pacing For Romantic Suspense is an invaluable source of information for anyone thinking of writing a Romantic Suspense. Was this lessons learned, or was this advice passed on from a fellow author.
Joanna Wayne: These were lessons I learned the hard way. Pacing
is one of the most difficult things to learn. For the pacing to be good,
a writer must have a feel for when a story should speed up or slow down,
when you need introspection or action, dialogue or a love scene? But
while a writer must have some talent in this area, there are still some
things that can be learned. I tried to capture these in this list, a
way to help new writers improve their pacing as painlessly as possible.
Suzie Housley: What one piece of advice would you caution new writers to avoid to save in getting their book published?
Joanna Wayne: I think one of the biggest mistakes of new
writers is the tendency to create bland characters in predictable situations.
Donít try to be as good as the books that are on the market now. Be
better. Give the editors something new that will make them sit up and
take notice. Donít try to copy someone elseís work, just give your story
all youíve got and donít be afraid to let your imagination run wild.
Suzie Housley: In your biography, you stated that you teach writing at a local University. Have you ever found a student that mirrors your writing style? Or do you think every writer has their own voice?
Joanna Wayne: I think every good writer has their own voice.
Voice is difficult to describe, but I think of it as the part of me
that comes out in my writing. I havenít found any other writers who
mirror my voice, but I have found some very talented writers. But even
talented writers donít always make it. Sitting in front of the computer
and finishing a book requires a lot of self discipline. A lot of creative
people just donít have that kind of discipline. .
Suzie Housley: Is there anything that we haven't covered in this interview that you would like to mention?
Joanna Wayne: Iíd just like to encourage everyone out
there whoís writing and striving to be published to keep at it. Dreams
are more likely to come true when accompanied by lots of hard work.
Live your life to the fullest. And that includes following your dream.
Suzie Housley: How can fans contact you?
Joanna Wayne: They can visit my web site at http://www.eclectics.com/authorsgalore/joannawayne.
There is a link to send me email directly from the web site. They can
email me at JoannaWayne@msn.com,
or they can write me at P.O. Box 2851, Harvey, LA, 70059-2851. I love
to hear from readers.
Suzie Housley: Thank you for the time out of your busy schedule
to make this interview possible. Good luck in any future novels
that you may produce.
Dr. David Bryson was a scarred recluse who was involved in a horrific boating accident that killed his fiancée five years prior. He is rumored to be responsible for the twenty-year serial killing spree that has plagued the citizens of Moriahs Landing. He hides his hideous face from the residents, and makes nightly visits to the town to seek out justice by finding the real killer. On one of his nightly visits Becca Smith memorizes him. There is something familiar about her that commands her to learn more about her existence.
Becca Smith makes her living as a seamstress sewing elaborate dresses for the citizens of Moriahs Landing. She is unprepared as one night a voice calls out to her and offers to hire her services. The dark voice is filled with so much sadness and loneliness that it immediately captures her attention. She learns the voice belongs to the owner of the castle on the cliffs, David Bryson. She finds herself immediately intrigued by the man of mystery. She is determined to find out his real motive for hiring her to redecorate his home. By doing so will she is placing herself in the hands of a serial killer?
BEHIND THE VEIL is unlike most intrigues you will ever experience.
When you think you have figured out how it will end, Ms. Wayne throws
a curve ball that will knock your theory clear out the window. I was
unprepared at the shocking conclusion, but was very please with the
end result. Ms. Wayne gives the readers the best of both worlds - a
twenty-year serial murder that demands to be solved, and a beautifully
crafted romance that centers on one of my favorite themes (Beauty and
the Beast). It takes a very talented and skilled writer to be able to
combine two entirely different aspects and create a very memorable novel.