Today I have the pleasure of having Jennifer Taylor, another mermaid as we call us in SSRA, in an exclusive interview. I know Jennifer for a few years and she was the first person to read through and critique the first chapter in Aries. Jennifer has a love of music which comes through in her debut novel “Mercy of the Moon,” that was released by The Wild Rose Press in October, 2014. She is working on the sequel, Heartbeat of the Moon, release date TBA. I’ll be sure to talk with Jennifer about how she incorporates music into her writing.
Me: Thank you so much Jennifer for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. I loved your hero and heroine in Mercy of the Moon, as well as your setting. What inspired you to write in the historical romance genre? And how did you decide your characters’ careers and setting?
Jennifer: Thanks for having me, Ronnie. My fictional town of King’s Harbour was inspired by a visit years ago to the ancient port town of Rye, England. As I stood on a cobbled street one windswept night, I found myself swept into the mystery of another century, and that connection with the past has stayed with me. I knew I had to write a historical romance after that.
A few years ago I discovered that midwifery is in my blood, so Maggie Wilson had to be a hardworking midwife: I discovered a few years ago that my great grandmother was a midwife/postwoman in the mountains of Idaho. Ah! That’s why I have had this knack of telling when friends and family are pregnant. True.
Me: Oh, that could probably work against you, at times. I know about your love of music. How does music inspire you? How do you use music in your daily life?
Jennifer: Music has always been a huge part of my life. My two older brothers are both excellent musicians, and my mom was a dancer. Music was always playing: my older sister loved the Beach Boys, and my brothers played the Beatles, Herb Alpert, and Frank Zappa. Most dramatic of all was my mom’s favorite album, Goldfinger (remember Shirley Bassey singing that?). It always gave me chills.
So at first I just loved the music, and then the lyrics mesmerized me—the way they fit together in a good song like a key into the ignition—vroom! I have songs playing in my head all the time. This is why my heroes will always be musical, I think. Ian, my hero in Mercy of the Moon, is by trade an apothecary, but a musician at heart. He tries to charm and amuse midwife Maggie with his music. I have a lot of fun composing sea shanties (risqué sailor ditties) for him to sing in the books.
In my Rhythm of the Moon series, I enjoy combining romance, humor, music, and the macabre into the story. I use music on a daily basis to inspire, uplift, and motivate me. I was (and always will be!) a singer and dancer. I spent a fun summer in college performing in a show at Boblo Island, an amusement park in the middle of the Detroit River. What a blast!
So with my background, it’s natural to turn to music. I listen to songwriters like Sting, Basia, and Michael McGlynn, the composer for the Irish Choral group, Anuna, to inspire me. Their music drives me to try to create something as beautiful and timeless in my novels. The fact that they’re mere mortals just like me makes it possible for me to strive to create something that readers can escape into and enjoy. Listening to their music has kept me going in times of difficulty.
I have an “Energy” playlist for those days when I’m dragging myself to my desk. I crank up the music, dance myself awake and sing a bit. It gets my blood going, and I’m able to focus and settle on the story.
I have playlists for my characters, particularly Ian, who is a complicated man of many moods. Listening to the music helps bring out new aspects of his personality. I’m always surprised at what it brings forth.
Mercy of the Moon begins with Maggie discovering her sister has been buried alive and survives—barely. So naturally, I have a playlist called “Underground” that got me into the mood for those scenes.
Speaking of getting into the mood, I have a “Passion” playlist. This one was so successful that one afternoon while writing a love scene, I set my desk on fire. True. You can read about that on my website, www.jennifertaylorwrites.com
Me: Fascinating. When I’m writing I could block out an atomic bomb, but music, for me, interferes with my concentration. Goes to show how everyone’s process is different. Like your novels, mine is a series using astrological signs as the titles and clues behind the murders and other crimes. How did you create the title and the premise behind your series? The word Moon is in both titles. Are you going to carry that through?
Jennifer: Maggie is a midwife in the 18th Century. Her life is ruled by women’s cycles and the rhythm of the moon. Like many women, throughout history, she meets others’ needs before her own. And she pulls against the tide of her attraction to Ian, not wanting to be at the mercy of the moon and a man’s desires.
I find the moon to be very mysterious, as is the act of childbirth in some respects, and since my books have supernatural elements to them, it seems fitting to continue to use it in the title.
Me: As a debut author myself, with the release of Gemini sometime next month, I learned so much about myself in my journey to publication. I’ll write a blog about that upon my release. It definitely was a journey with many twists and turns. First, what did you learn about yourself in your journey?
Jennifer: I have learned some interesting things about myself upon reaching the goal of publishing my first book:
- I’m way more stubborn and determined than I gave myself credit for.
- I really enjoy dreaming up macabre scenes and my dark side is darker than I ever imagined. It frightens my family a little.
- I have a short attention span (but see #1).
- The company of fellow writers (like you, Milady) is crucial to a writer’s growth. The wisdom, support, and encouragement of the Sunshine State Romance Authors, my local RWA chapter, made it possible for me to realize a lifelong dream of authorship. I will strive to pay it forward.
- I really enjoy writing love scenes, and have way more of them in Heartbeat of the Moon.
Me: Yes, the darker side. I could identify with that and all of your points. Every writer has someone or something that keeps us motivated and writing. We writers call that our Muse. For me, she’s my spirit guide, Loda. What about you?
Jennifer: I have an imaginary friend. Her name is Pheasant Marie, and she’s from Idaho like me. Pheasant is a handful—she has a problem with volume control, is completely uninhibited, and tactless. But she makes me laugh, and reminds me not to take myself too seriously. When I’m upset about an aspect of writing, she always tells me to save the drama for the story. She’s a gas.
Me: Yes, our muses certainly are! I always like to give my readers something they could learn from by reading the blogs. What advice would you give to budding authors that they can’t find on a google search?
Jennifer: When you sit down to write that first draft, don’t expect it to be a flawless work of art. Just get those words down, and you will learn as you go, discovering the jewels hidden in the rubble. Keep your sense of humor. Congratulate yourself for every page you write, and expect to work hard. You will revise, you will redraft, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing that story emerge. Seek the company of a writer’s group. RWA, Romance Writers of America, is where you will learn the business of writing as well as the craft. It’s an amazing organization.
Me: I totally agree. What events do you have coming up where our readers could come to meet you and chat?
Jennifer: I will be joining my fellow SSRA Mermaids at a book signing for National Library Week at the Homosassa Library on April 16 from 10:30a.m. to 2:30p.m. I am looking forward to meeting some folks.
Me: Thank you so much, Jennifer.
Thanks for having me, Ronnie. It’s been fun! Congratulations on your upcoming release.
Please read more about Jennifer below.
Jennifer Taylor spent her childhood running wild on an Idaho mountainside. Although she’s lived across the United States, she’s still an Idahoan at heart and a notorious potato pusher. She has a background in Human Services, but has been a roofer, a hoofer, a computer data operator and a stay-at-home mom.
Music has ruled her world since birth. She shimmied out the womb with a bad case of boogie fever, but soon fell in love with the lyrics and how they fit together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle. The love affair only grows stronger as the years go by.
Jennifer has dreamt of writing historical romances since reading Wuthering Heights at the tender age of twelve. Now she lives that dream, using music on a daily basis to uplift and inspire her writing. It’s no coincidence that Ian, the hero of Mercy of the Moon, uses music to win heroine Maggie’s heart.
Jennifer lives in rural Florida and enjoys the comings and goings of her three grown children and three grandchildren. She lobbies feverishly for the return of breeches and would really love to see her husband of thirty-five years in a pair.
The door swung open, and Mr. Pierce, the singer from the kirkyard, thrust himself into the room. He carried a body in his arms, covered in a cloak. Blue-tinged, slender feet dangled from the tattered, mud-soaked hem.
Samuel stared in slack-jawed shock and backed away. “Why have you brought this body here?”
To Maggie’s astonishment, the body began convulsing in great spasms, and the singer struggled to hold it. The cloak fell off, revealing a shroud-wrapped body, only the face exposed. The eyes, ice blue, stared wide and unblinking and blank with terror.
Sarah’s eyes. Her lips blue, dirt-encrusted eyelashes, cleft chin. “It cannot be,” Maggie whispered, and shrank back. Coldness enveloped her, as if she had slipped into a frozen lake, cold water surrounding her, and could hear only muffled voices, echoing urgent and sharp. She saw only shapes above the icy water.
A voice, masculine and hoarse, broke through the ice, and she stared into the singer’s eyes. They steadied and warmed, pulled her out of her daze.
“We must move her by the fire and rid her of this shroud,” Ian urged.
She took a deep, shaky breath. Yes. It was Sarah, yet the eyes stared unseeing in a blue-mottled face covered in dirt.
Samuel’s voice escalated in panic. “She was buried, she was dead. I saw her. How can this be?” He turned his head away.
Maggie grabbed him by the shoulders. “Samuel, you must look at her. Somehow it is our Sarah.”
Please feel free to leave Jennifer questions and comments.
The Sign Behind the Crime.