People fascinate the psychologist/author (psycho author) known as Jennifer Lane. Her therapy clients talk to her all day long about their dreams and secrets, and her characters tell her their stories at night. Jen delights in peeling away the layers to scrutinize their psyches and emotions. But please rest assured, dear reader, she isn’t psychoanalyzing you right now. She’s already got too many voices in her head!
Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is the author of The Conduct Series—-romantic suspense for adult readers—-and recently completed the third and final installment: On Best Behavior. Streamline is her first foray into writing for young and new adults, but she’s found this sort of writing even more fun. A former college swimmer, Jen was able to put a lot of her own experiences into this book.
Time to chat with Jen!
What is your latest book?
My September, 2013 release is On Best Behavior (The Conduct Series #3): the conclusion of a romantic suspense trilogy. In the first novel With Good Behavior, former psychologist Sophie Taylor and former Navy lieutenant Grant Madsen meet on their parole officer’s doorstep and strive to make a life outside. This recent installment finds Grant going undercover to infiltrate the Russian Mafia—not his smartest idea ever—and Sophie has to use her knowledge of human nature to try to save him.
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
It’s a tough balance deciding how much background information to include for each sequel. I don’t want to bore readers who have just completed the previous book, and I don’t want to confuse readers who have waited months for the next book.
I like to feature favorite side characters in each sequel (like potty-mouth ship captain Roger Eaton) but sometimes it’s a challenge to find meaningful ways to include them in the story arc.
Finally, this hasn’t been a challenge in a trilogy, but I can imagine authors who write long series with the same characters might find it difficult to keep the plot fresh.
If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?
What else have you written?
Besides The Conduct Series, I’ve written a New Adult swimming romance: Streamline. I swam and played volleyball in college, so it’s a blast writing about college athletes. My WIP is a NA volleyball political romance titled Blocked.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I wish I could learn how to crank out a messy first draft, but alas, I edit as I go. Still, my editors find SO MUCH to correct before publication! 🙂
How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?
Choosing fitting character names is essential, in my opinion. I like to select meaningful names that lend themselves to fun nicknames.
For Streamline, I chose to name my swimmer hero Leo, indicating strength of character and physique. He needs plenty of both to survive the torture he endures.
Leo and his brother have fun coming up with nicknames for their abusive father Commander Scott, like Cruel SoB, Crusty Slimebucket, Constipated Stool-Sample, and Cat’s Sandbox.
Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?
Sometimes I set out to create despicable characters but inevitably I find some redeeming value in their personality. Perhaps it’s my psychology background forcing me to search for character motivation that resolves to find the greyness of characters. I believe we all have excellent reasons for doing what we do—including villains.
Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?
I’ve written psychology research articles and book chapters, which are nowhere near as fun as writing novels. I also write progress notes for my psychotherapy clients every day.
Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?
I try never to respond publicly to negative reviews. Privately, I cope with particularly “ouchy” reviews by venting to a group of author friends. I understand that readers feel angry and disappointed when a book doesn’t live up to expectations, and it’s certainly true that an author can’t please everyone. Reading is so subjective. Still, some negative reviews really sting, especially if they don’t offer constructive feedback. Occasionally I laugh at a critical review, like when one reader called my beta hero a “wuss”.
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I live in Columbus, Ohio. I like experiencing all seasons and the low cost of living, but I’d love to live right on the beach one day. Water is soothing and spiritual for me.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My oldest sister lived in Tokyo for a year, and she bought a plane ticket for me to visit her there. What a fascinating culture! We stumbled upon a hidden garden that mesmerized us, near Asakusa.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Intelligence, honesty, humility, physical fitness, and most importantly, a kickbutt sense of humor!
What’s the move valuable class you’ve ever taken?
I think the Psychology of Women class in college was most valuable for me. When I told the professor I thought about getting a master’s degree, she responded, “Of course you’ll get your Ph.D., won’t you?” Suddenly a doctorate was an option in my life. I love my career as a psychologist—I feel called to be a therapist—and I have her to thank.
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