Sandy Pride, you are Jane’s winner! Jane will be in touch with you soon to get your prize package to you! Congratulations and thank you for visiting and commenting here! Thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk to Jane!
Okay, I confess to squeeing with delight when Jane Porter asked to be in the Author Spotlight! I mean, Jane Porter!! She is one of my writer heroes and I’ve been fan-girling for a whole month in anticipation of featuring her on the blog. I’m beyond delighted to have Jane in the Spotlight today.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 70 romances and fiction titles, Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award six times and won in 2014 for Best Novella with her story, Take Me, Cowboy, from Tule Publishing. Today, Jane has over 13 million copies in print, including her wildly successful, Flirting With Forty, which was made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear, as well as The Tycoon’s Kiss and A Christmas Miracle for Daisy, two Tule books which have been turned into holiday films for the GAC Family network. A mother of three sons, Jane holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband and three dogs.
Jane also has a fun giveaway for anyone who leaves a greeting in the comments today–a tote bag with goodies that include a copy of Flirting with Forty and an Amazon gift card. So say hello in the comments for a chance to win this fun prize! (Continental US only) We’ll pick a winner randomly on Saturday, May 28, at noon.
Jane’s here today to talk to us about her newest book, Flirting with Fifty, which is available now at all book retailers. Take it away, Jane…
Flirting with Forty, written when I was forty, was loosely autobiographical, inspired by events that happened before and after my divorce, making me a single mom with two young boys. I lived in a lovely suburb of Seattle, but as it turned out, it wasn’t divorce friendly…at least, not for single moms who could be viewed as a threat to the establishment. That story poured out of me. It wasn’t supposed to be a romance, rather a women’s fiction novel with strong romantic elements, but for most of my readers, it was a romance, and they loved that story.
Over the years dozens and dozens of readers wrote me asking for a continuation of Jackie and Kai’s story, and a couple years ago, I had an idea for a sequel, set ten years apart. I wrote a hundred pages of Flirting with Fifty and my agent shopped the partial. However, the publishers in NY weren’t interested in a sequel but wanted a fresh story from me.
I’ll be honest—I didn’t have a new story idea. And to be even more honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to return to New York publishing. I’ve been happy and successful with Tule and love my Christmas and cowboy romances. But my agent kept nudging me, and my film agent was nudging me, and so after six months of failed starts, I had a concept I liked. My agent sold the book, and then two more, to Cindy Hwang at Berkley, who was my editor for a women’s fiction series. I had three due dates for books 6 months apart and I should have been thrilled, but I secretly was panicking.
Between us, I wasn’t sure about the story I’d sold. It was *fine* but it was missing something, and so I reached out to my talented author friend, Barbara Ankrum, who has edited several of my recent Tule romances, and asked for input and she helped me find the magic in the story. What is the magic? It was a trope…readers love tropes, and so do readers, and once I had that hook, I was a lot happier with my writing.
That didn’t make this an easy story to write, though. I once again chose to write about a heroine opposite me. Jackie, in Flirting with Forty, reflected me in many ways. However, the heroine, Dr. Paige Newsome, in Flirting with Fifty is far more cerebral, and disciplined, and controlled. She doesn’t give in to impulse or emotion….unlike me!
Paige was inspired by a close friend who is smart, successful, hardworking, loving, and quite youthful for fifty….but she isn’t interested in romance, or love. My friend decided years ago, after her tough divorce, that she would never remarry. Nor would she date. And yet men are drawn to her, intrigued by her, but she has sworn off men. Over the years I’ve had conversations with her asking, what would it take for you to want to date again? She’s never had an answer I liked, and this became a mystery to me, and being a romance writer, I’d create scenarios–and heroes–in my head where she’d get swept off her feet. And that’s how Jack, my hero in Flirting with Fifty was born. I created a hero I knew my friend would fall for…a hero equally smart, equally outgoing, interesting, adventurous, loving, as well as loyal, and a great single parent to his adult children. Dr. Jack King, my sexy Australian professor, who looks like Hugh Jackman, would be the perfect man for my friend, and of course, for my protagonist, Dr. Paige Newsome.
I’m not sure why I wanted to write about a university environment, or a romance between professors, but I come from a family of academics. My dad was a professor, my brother is a professor, my mother’s grandfather was a professor, and my East Coast cousins are science professors just like Jack—so tapping that academic background, and pairing Professor Paige Newsome, my math whiz, with Dr. Jack King, my science whiz, was fun, especially as they are such opposites, and I do think opposites attract.
This isn’t a story about “feisty, silver haired seniors,” or even about a woman rediscovering her sexuality, but rather about a woman finding a true partner for the rest of her life, someone who appreciates her for who she is right now, not who she could be, or who he’d like her to be.
But the story was a challenge, and in terms of craft, I must remember that writing a self-contained, emotionally reserved heroine isn’t necessarily the best choice for a romance novel. A reserved heroine works in women’s fiction, but getting her to open up on the page fast enough for the romance reader isn’t easy, and had me in knots at different points. In the end, I was really happy with the story, and it’s the story I wanted to tell. I wanted to respect Paige as a mature woman, and not minimize her experiences, or her wounds from an emotionally exhausting marriage, and so her happy-ever-after, was hard earned, and hard won. I love where we leave Paige at the end of Flirting with Fifty, and believe in her new future, a future she gets to share with someone who adores her.
Now—not to diminish the release of Flirting with Fifty, but I’m so excited already about the second book in the series, Flirting with the Beast, out in late November. That story is all me. Emotion, passion, tough alpha hero, heartbreak, and then of course, love, love, love and a very happy ending!
I’m hoping readers will embrace this series about wonderful mature women who get to have their fairy tale after all!
Flirting with Fifty
Paige Newsom is finally at a place in her life where she’s comfortable. She loves her job as a college professor in Southern California, lives close enough to her mother to visit her regularly, and has three daughters who are flourishing in their own careers. Paige has no plans to upend her life again after her divorce eight years ago, but she’s about to embark on a new adventure: co-teaching a course that includes a three-week international field study.
Paige can think of a dozen reasons why she shouldn’t go, one being a dazzling Australian biologist who will be teaching alongside her. Professor Jack King is charismatic, a world traveler, and more like Indiana Jones than Indiana Jones, all of which unsettles Paige, who prides herself on being immune to any man’s charms. As the two co-professors lead the rigorous program together, first on campus, then in beautiful Tanzania, Paige’s biggest challenge will be working closely with Jack while resisting the undeniable chemistry she feels when she’s with him.
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