Romance editor Alyssa Morris spoke with author, and 2014 RITA nominee, Jill Shalvis about her popular "Animal Magnetism" series, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference, and her love of writing relationships.
Alyssa Morris: First, I just finished Then Came You. I loved it. Wyatt is amazing. So I’m excited—can you tell us what’s next in the Animal Magnetism series?
Jill Shalvis: Well next is Wyatt’s two sisters, Zoe and Darcy.
JS: Darcy is next, I just turned her in. She’s a wild one. She’s like a tumbleweed rolling through town and she finds her happily ever after, of course, the hard way. As Darcy does everything.
AM: I was really hoping when I was reading it that that was where we were going.
JS: That’s where we’re going. And she comes out in April, and it’s Still the One. That’s the title. Zoe will come out in October but I don’t quite have a title for her yet.
AM: What in your own life provides inspiration for your novels? Is there a small town you go to or do you live in a small town?
JS: I actually grew up in a very large town, one of the largest, Los Angeles. And a small town to me was always a fantasy. In Los Angeles you can go and never be recognized. You could never see anybody you know. So, you go to the grocery store for days and never see anyone. I always wondered what it would be like, because you read in these small town things how you can go to the grocery store and you see your dentist and you go to the gas station and you see your next-door neighbor. So that was always the fantasy and that was why I started writing it. It’s just a coincidence that now I live in a small town and so, because I grew up in a big town and now live in a small town, I find all these small town idiosyncrasies funny, you know? That’s my inspiration.
AM: You’re kind of more primed to notice it?
JS: Correct. Because now I go to the grocery store and I see five people I know. You used to be able to go to the grocery store in your pajamas and bunny slippers and no one would care, but now you can’t because everybody knows everybody. So I enjoy pulling the humor out of those sort of things.
JS: Oh my god! Can we talk about that for the next three hours?
AM: Are you still catching up?
JS: Yes I’m on season 5, and I resent [the RWA] conference because I haven’t gotten to see a single episode. Are you into it too?
AM: I haven’t gotten quite sucked in yet but I have a feeling it’s coming.
JS: Oh it’s coming. It’s addictive—you just can’t stop watching. Yes, I’m in love with Supernatural.
AM: I feel like I’ve had to put off watching it for a long time because I know that once I start--
JS: It will be all over, trust me.
AM: Do you feel like this will influence your work at all? Is it inspiring you to write a paranormal?
JS: Not necessarily paranormal, although I would love to do that some day very much. I would love to write witches. Or ghosts. But what I am finding is that the characters—at the core of Supernatural what really draws me isn’t the ghost, isn’t the demons, it’s the brothers’ relationship with each other. And that to me is so amazing and so touching—even though they are either beating the heck out of each other or they’re mad at each other. I have daughters and I understand and recognize that relationship. It’s OK to mess with your own sibling, but it’s not OK for anybody else to mess with that sibling. And I love the romance. I just love men and their relationships with each other. I always do that in my books. And I think that is what draws me to Supernatural. And you will see the influence of that.
AM: What’s your favorite part of coming to RWA?
JS: For sure going to the signings and meeting people who read my books. You know, we work alone all day long and you’re alone with your laptop and your characters and you don’t get a lot of feedback unless you go online and read reviews, and I don’t necessarily have the time for that. I have a very full life and I feel very separated from what readers do and think, so when I come to conferences, that’s my favorite part, is hearing feedback.
AM: So paranormal and witches…is there another genre of romance that you would like to try your hand at?
JS: Definitely paranormal, that draws me. That’s probably it. Other than that—I mean I love writing and reading contemporaries so I’m gonna stay there to the end of time. But some day I will dabble in paranormal, I think.
AM: I think it’s interesting now how a lot of people are kind of branching out from their genres and giving their own spin on something else. And I think readers really like seeing that.
JS: I do, too. And also, it’s always a mistake to write to the readers, but I am a reader at heart, so I feel like I have the same taste that readers have.
AM: That makes sense. Is there anything you’ve been reading lately that you really loved?
JS: Well I go through spurts. I’m a pop culture fanatic, frankly, I mean I love TV, I love books, I love magazines, I love movies. But I go in spurts. So either I’m reading or I’m watching TV. Right now I happen to be marathon-ing tv, but I’ll get back to books.
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