This week Jo Richardson is celebrating the release of her novel ‘Cookie Cutter’, a NA Romantic Comedy. Jo is one of my gal pals from Romance Weekly, our blog touring group, which has taken Facebook by storm, by the way. As a group of writers in varying genres and heat levels, we have so much in common, mainly that we love to write. And we support each other, majorly!
Me: Thank you so much Jo for spending time with me today. I know how busy and excited you are celebrating the release of ‘Cookie Cutter’. That’s such a cute title! How did you come up with it?
Jo: Hi Ronnie! Thanks for having me today. It’s definitely exciting. This story was so much fun to write. I like doing play on words type titles. Cookie Cutter not only describes the neighborhood that Iris lives in, but Iris herself. She loves to bake. She especially loves to bake her famous (in Spangler) sugar cookies for any and all of her daughter’s school events. It might also be said that Cookie Cutter is what Iris’s life is beginning to feel like, following her divorce from a major douche bag. But that’s before Carter shows up in town. *smiles*
Me: Even though you and I write different genres for different age groups, we both include paranormal, mystery and suspense in our novels. My readers have heard about me over the past month of interviews, but how do you?
Jo: Cookie Cutter has a tingle of mystery behind it, but I have to say, not nearly as much as I would normally include. I wanted this to be a fun trip through two people, unexpectedly falling for each other. Simple as that.
Cursed be the Wicked however, yes. I cannot help myself most of the time, from including a little bit of murder, mayhem or mystery. Sometimes all three. Cursed is about Cooper Shaw, and his mother, a “famous” witch from Salem, Massachusetts, who died recently. Coop has avoided his home town since leaving it at about 18 and he’s in no hurry to return, but of course, by a twist of the fates, he’s sent exactly there by his boss at the travel mag he works for, to do a write up on the town’s Festival of the Dead, and to get the scoop on Crazy Maggie Shaw (his own mother). The sizzle in this story occurs when Coop meets Finn, a girl who moved in to town just as he was leaving, years ago. She has a bit of a quirky personality, and seems to know more about Coop, than Coop himself. She acts, not only as Coops “tour guide” through Salem (since he’s given a false name to hide who he is, much like he’s done for most of his life) but a guide to finding the truth out about what really happened with his family so very long ago. She might even guide his heart to trusting again. And falling in love.
Me: When I was reading your bio, I was totally in sync with a quote you stated. “Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.” What does that mean for you and how did that affect your drive to succeed? Any personal experiences that you’d like to share?
Jo: Ah. Well, when I was younger, much like a lot of my author friends, I adored writing. English was my favorite subject. I was into poetry and journals mostly. Some short stories, in High School. And I wanted to be an artist. As college approached, and I fell into more of a Business major, with English in the background, I lost my way with most of that. I continued writing journals for years but didn’t actually complete a story until I fell into the wonderful world of fanfiction, some years ago. (ahem, not giving away my age just yet) – then, with some encouragement from my husband, I finally took the time to sit down and write a story of my own. That was Cursed be the Wicked. It took almost a year to write, plus a few more months to query and get an offer. I might not have ever written it, thinking I was getting a little too old for dreams like getting published someday, had it not been for my readers and family telling me, “why not?”.
I’ve been a smiling ever since.
Me: ‘Cookie Cutter’ is targeted for the NA genre. Can you explain what that is and why did you decide to categorize your novel as such? Also, what made you choose the genres and heat levels you write?
Jo: The story just kind of turned out that way. I am slightly older (again, ahem) than the NA age group, but my mind connects with them right now. I would even say it’s more, somewhere between NA and Adult. The fact is, I enjoy writing people who may have thought they knew love when they were “younger”, or maybe just never believed it was for them. I like giving them this gift and going, hey, buddy, guess what, THIS is love. It’s what you’ve been missing. It’s what makes life better. HERE.
As far as heat levels, I’m probably at the mid-range with that currently. I’m trying to write things my family can read, (maybe even my girls someday), and not blush at. Things they can read and I don’t blush at. I believe sex is part of the adult experience. That’s why I write adult novels. For now though, I’m exploring more of the relationship side of things, and the conflicts people experience from day to day. I want to write stories about people. That includes sex, but it’s not all about sex.
Me: I always like to give my readers something they could learn from. As a mom with children still home, what is your writing process and how to you work in family and your writing success? What tips would you give writers with young children so that they’re not deterred from following their dream to publication? Hence your quote.
Jo: I work full time. I have a husband, two girls, miscellaneous school activities and out of school activities, a house to upkeep and an unlimited amount of other things that go on in our lives. Family always comes first. I don’t care how excited I am about a story, the things I want to remember when my girls are grown, is how much quality time we spent together, not how many books I wrote. I might be in the minority with that line of thinking as a writer, but that’s where my heart is. I absolutely love to write. I write when I can, I make the time, I go out of my way to make the time. But I don’t want it to end up being a wall between me and the people I love, either.
The girls are both so different, but a lot alike too, and the one thing I always try to remind them of is that nothing they love is too silly to do full time. Explore it, pursue it, and worry about the rest later.
Me: Right up front, you wrote, ‘lover of movies.’ How has film affected what you write? Any fav movies that impacted your writing, re plot, setting and characters?
Jo: Wow. I’ve been a film lover since the first one my dad took me too as a kid. I would say it has definitely affected me as a writer. When I write a story, I see it all play out in my head, much like movies. Which has been a driving force in the way I write as well. It’s not perfect prose, or grammar, it’s having a conversation with a friend, or a voice over for a film adaptation.
Favorite movies? There’s so many. But in general, a great plot with laughable lines and heart stealing scenes, yes please. Even those action packed films I tend to love have tender moments here and there. That’s what I shoot for.
Me: Thank you so much for your time with me today. Please continue reading and learn more about Jo and her books!
Genre: NA Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Little Bird Publishing
Iris Alden and Carter Blackwood couldn’t be more different. Change-averse Iris likes her life neat and organized, while Carter’s itchy feet mean he doesn’t plan to stay in the same place for long.
I wouldn’t say he’s angry. He doesn’t exactly laugh, either. And his eyes gleam as he stares at me. I hate his eyes almost as much as I hate his teeth. Maybe more. Dammit, I’m staring, again.
A movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.