Day 24 Jill Barnett – Hooked On Romance

 The Treasure of Romance

I was a romance reader long before I was ever a writer.  My introduction to romance novels was rather serendipitous, although the Wonderful - 3 inchhistorical romance novel had only a couple of years before exploding onto the 1970s book market.  A friend of mine who was a big garage sale hunter invited me to go with her one Saturday morning.  So we went from garage sale to garage sale and I spotted this small metal bowl that would be perfect to hold my rings when I pulled them off to do housework or shower.  It was pretty ghastly looking.  I wasn’t even sure of the type of metal because the bowl was so dark and grimy. I bought it for 50 cents, but as I paid for it, I spotted a well-read, green paperback book.

Escapist fiction was exactly what I needed, since I had recently returned to college and had been reading so many textbooks and required reading. I had developed a passionate hatred for television, and other than watching the news, had pretty much boycotted it because they had angered me when the network cancelled my favorite comedy, Soap, for being too offensive and kept happily running the Dukes of Hazzard, which I considered offensive to my intelligence.

When I read the book’s back copy, I saw the story was about a duke, and I thought I would much rather read about a duke than watch that stupid TV show that was about as far away from ducal as anything could possibly be.  So I bought the book for a quarter.

Wicked - 3 inchThe next weekend, I sat down with my coffee, intending to read the first chapter or two.  I could not put that book down.  I carried it from room to room, propping it up as I folded laundry, in the kitchen while cooking, and into my bath.  I was hooked by Lucien (the duke) and Sabrina, our heroine who would do anything to protect her younger brother, even commit a hanging offense like highway robbery.  The book that captured me was Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain.

A few days later I was at a family gathering and I talked about the book with everyone I could because I was so excited I had found such a great story.  One of my sisters-in-law brought a book out from her bedroom and handed it to me.  She, too, was hooked on romances and had passed on to me an early Jude Deveraux historical romance.  Soon I was combing the bookstores and bought and read every romance I could find.  If a new book came out from one of my favorite authors, I would do all my course reading and homework, then order pizza for my husband and devote my evening to the trials and drama of the characters on the printed page.

That garage sale day back in the late 70s changed my life; I discovered the romance genre and the sheer pleasure of losing myself in a romantic love story and closing the book with a smile on my face.   Eventually, my own ideas and characters and plots began to form in my head.  So after years of reading, I found myself writing my own romance novel.

Wild - 3 inchRemember that 50 cent bowl?  It has special meaning for me.  I took cleaner and cloth to it, and when I was done, I had the most beautiful very, very old silver bowl, and to my surprise—after I’d scraped all the dark gunk off the bottom—was stamped Tiffany.
I still have that bowl, which over the decades has gone on to carry a high resale value.

But for me, nothing was more valuable that day than Laurie McBain’s wonderful book.  I have written many stories, and found a career because of that garage sale book.  In BEWITCHING, a book I knew was special when the idea first came to me, I made my character Alec a duke, my own tribute to Lucien– that dark and moody duke who fell for the lovely, innocent young woman who had the audacity to rob him.


 

Questions for Jill:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?  

This troll doll, who sits on my office desk. She looks like me in the mornings. Why keep her? She makes me smile.

 If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The Importance of Being Scattered,  Tina Fey

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

My daughter.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Joy and Alec in BEWITCHING.  Wedding night revelation.


You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are  celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

Jill is generously donating two sets of her classic Medieval Trilogy e-books to U.S. readers (apologies to international readers). To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page  — Or both. (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay do not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 23 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Today is the last day to enter this week’s drawing  for a Nook HD+ and 31 books courtesy of Harlequin.


Jill photo FB

Jill Barnett was born and raised in Southern California, in the kind of idyllic coastal town the Beach Boys made famous. A gap in jobs in her mid-thirties sent Jill back to college and working toward her Masters degree. But the gift of a baby daughter (something Jill had been told she could never have) changed everything.

Four days later Jill quit school to rethink her choices and concentrate on family, something she has never regretted. Always an avid reader, she had been working on a novel. Soon she was writing during downtime and almost two years to the day she quit school, she sold her first book to Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster.

“We women walk such a fine line in our lives, often straddling motherhood and career, and feeling the push-pull between the two, when the truth is: we need both to be fulfilled and each one enriches the other. I discovered I had to redefine happiness away from my own expectations and guilt and especially my demands on myself.  Family, love and relationships all feed my writing. My emotional response and experiences, the grittiness in life, give my work a sense of humanity.

In the years since, Jill has written thirteen novels and five short stories. There are over 7 million of her books in print. Her work has been published in 23 languages, audio, national and international book clubs, hardcover and large print editions, and has earned her a place on such national bestseller lists as the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Barnes and Noble and Waldenbooks —who presented Jill with the National Waldenbook Award.

Look for her new historical romance trilogy set in Medieval Scotland sometime late 2014 or early 2015.

Buy Jill’s Books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
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  • Nancy Huddleston

    I’m glad you chose a book with a duke over the Dukes of Hazards.

    • Jill Barnett

      Wasn’t it a vile show? Soap was so funny. Billy Crystal got his start there. I remember thinking the networks are catering to the viewer who is not me. My life took a whole new path so I suppose I owe the DOH something for insulting my intelligence.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love meeting new authors. Thanks for stopping my and sharing.

    • Jill Barnett

      It’s been a good time for me. It’s lonely in my tower, especially when I’m trying to wrap up a book. I hole up for weeks so I can just live the book to its natural end.

      JB

  • Laurie W G

    Laurie McBain’s books were also some of my first introduction to romance! Devil’s Bride, Chance The Winds Of Fortune, Dark Before the Rising Son , Tears of Gold and Moonstruck Madness. I didn’t discover these books until 1980. I also read Catherine Coulter, Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krenz, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown and LaVyrle Spencer. One of the earliest books read of yours was Dreaming.

    I’ve also discovered several new authors via rummage sales! Your Tiffany bowl WOW! I’m jealous!

    • Jill Barnett

      You read a bunch of my friends! I loved Laurie’s books and was sad when she stopped writing. I loved her titles. Chance the Winds of Fortune was lovely and the book was amazing.

      JB

  • Melanie Backus

    I love your post! Just the other day I ran across one of my old trolls from days gone by so when I saw the picture of yours, I nearly laughed out loud! I love them and I love good books. I know this is my lucky day!

    • Jill Barnett

      She just makes me kaugh. That face is laughable. I like to surround myself with things that make me happy and calm and feeling easy,. There is too much pressure, darkness, pain and anger in the world. I like to keep my little world a loving and fun place to be.

      JB

  • Erlinda Mejia

    My first Jill Barnett book was Wonderful. Since then I’ve read all your books and a good number of them are still on my bookshelves and are reread as if visiting old friends. Guess where I first found Wonderful? At a yard sale for a quarter! Thank you Ms. Barnett for enriching my life with romance and adventure.

    • Jill Barnett

      I love that you found my books that way. Whata lovely coincidence.

      JB

  • Marcy Cordova

    My mom never let me watch the Dukes of Hazard when I was a kid…she thought Daisy was a poor roll model. 🙂 Books are much more entertaining anyways!

    • Jill Barnett

      I adore your mother.

      Jill

      • Marcy Cordova

        Me too. 🙂

  • Sue G.

    My aunt had given me a Beatrice Small book to read. It was Skye O’Malley. I was hooked. The drama, the characters, the sex! It just kept me reading and I was hooked!

    • Jill Barnett

      My first Bertrice was CONQUERER. I ahd the dame response….OMG! She was a daring writer, who wrote in more exotic settings and I like that. I have been really disappointed with the publishers who refuse to give romance writers the freedom to explore settings and period the way they used to. I love a Regency setting, obvious from BEWITCHING and from DREAMING, but not in every book I read. The genre is too narrowed and has been for a long time.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed reading your essay. I look forward to reading your books.

    • Jill Barnett

      Thank you!

      Best,

      Jill

  • Donna Logan Brown

    Have been hooked on your books ever since I read Just a Kiss Away. I’m partial to dukes as well and will pick up most books with “Duke” in the title. So glad you could join the wonderful RARM with all its fantastic authors. Love your troll.

    • Jill Barnett

      People either love that book or they think I’m loonier than she was. She was a special character to create. I still giggle over the chickens.
      thank you for the compliment. I hope you’ll always want to rad a Jill Barnett book. That book was my answer to Romancing the Stone. I loved the adventure and romantic repartee between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in that movie. I wanted to create a true comedy in historical romance.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Patty Vasquez

    I read many, many different sub-genres of romance, but historical romance has always been my favorite. It’s my comfort read when life gets crazy. Alec is a wonderful name for a duke; it’s also my middle son’s name.

    • Jill Barnett

      Alec was a difficult character for Joy. She had so much love to give and he was so repressed. He really needed her in his staid life.

      Jill

  • Britney Adams

    What a beautiful story! Garage sales are some of the best places to find treasures, especially books!

    • Jill Barnett

      I have a friend who furnished her much of her kitchen in her beach condo from garage sales. she the greatest bargain hunter. She’s a writer, too. Sheila Roberts. She writes cozies, warm women’s fiction and romance. Somewhere on my FB author page http://www.facebook.com/jillbarnettbooks is a video of us walking the beach as our goofy selves on the coast,

      Best,

      Jill

  • jcp

    I picked up many a book at a garage sale.

    • Jill Barnett

      I don’t anymore, especially with the electronic age. I adore my Kindle. slips into my purse and I can take my whole library with me.

      Best,
      Jill

  • Deb Hinshaw

    Thank you for your post today, Jill! I enjoyed it. I, too, have found great books, as well as old books, at garage sales. Keepers to me….one man’s junk is another’s treasure, so to speak.

    • Jill Barnett

      Garages sales are an author’s friend. You buy it, then it’s our job to make you want to read more.

      Best,

      Jill

  • CherylR

    Bewitching is one of my all time favorites..one that always goes in my top 10 list. I am looking forward to your new trilogy.

    • Jill Barnett

      Thank you for the kind praise. I was a special book when I was writing it and the interesting thing is: I’ve had different feelings and moods after writing each book, but never what I felt about BEWITCHING, until I finished the first book of this new trilogy. Same feeliong. It’s very different, like B, but squarely romance. It’s a bit of a Medieval adventure.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Kareni

    I too love a good yard sale. I walked past one yesterday without stopping though as there did not appear to be any books. Who can imagine?

    • Jill Barnett

      But you might have found a Tiffany bowl! LOL!

      Jill

      • Kareni

        While that’s always a possibility; it looked more likely that I’d find a toilet bowl ….

  • Vonda M. Reid

    Those are beautiful new covers. Wonderful story about your introduction to romance books. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jill Barnett

      You are welcome. What a pretty name you have.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Meredith Richardson

    You’re a new author for me and I’m looking forward to reading your books! I love books that take place in a medieval setting and that troll is adorable, brings back memories!!

    • Jill Barnett

      I wish I were new. Unfortunately, I’m an old warhorse of a romance writer.

      Jill

  • Janie McGaugh

    That was a great story. I don’t go to too many garage sales (not an early morning person!), but the first thing I look for is books!

    • Jill Barnett

      I think I’ve only been to a garage sale a few times since the late 70s. I downsized and that forced me to only buy things I have room for or really need. Smaller is better, especially when you sell the bog place and have to wade through all the junk you’ve collected or horded

      Best,

      JB.

  • Cindy A

    I read my first book of yours on my ereader – it was free (I think I won it). You not only hooked me on your stories, but also on ereaders. I now have a Nook and I use my husband’s Kindle. I love to hold books, but to travel, I Iove the ereader.

    • Jill Barnett

      I have an iPad, but’s it’s too heavy to read comfortably. The eReaders are light and my Kindle is readable in the sun. I’m so glad you liked my books!

      JB

      • Cindy A

        Oh, yes! Buying more all the time – Bridge to Happiness, The Days of Summer, Imagine.

      • Cindy A

        I like my ereader better because it is not backlit. The iPad puts too much strain on the eyes.

  • Nicole Fortuna

    You never know what you will find at garage sales! I still love to go to used book sales even though I have a kindle now. I haven’t read your books but I will definitely look them up for my kindle. Thanks for such a great post!

    • Jill Barnett

      You are welcome. Aren’t Kindles great? Mine is always with me. But I live on an island so the ferry is a great place to read a chapter.

      JB

  • mariannewestrich

    Escape from textbooks and bad tv was a great reason back then to read romance — and they are still great reasons today! 😎

    • Jill Barnett

      Yes they are!

      Best,

      Jill

  • Jill Barnett

    I forgot to send poor Bobbi my new author recommendations. I discovered a couple of new historical romance authors a few years back. I loved Vicky Dreling’s Bachelor Regency. Laughed out loud at the way she captured the young women chasing after the hero. I remember reading Sherry Thomas’ PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS and being blown away. She is now an instant buy for me. I’ve read every book and look forward to the next.

    Best,

    Jill

    • Thanks so much, Jill! I didn’t want to bother you with one more thing, but I appreciate the recs here. I’ll add them to the regular post at some point in the near future.

      So glad you took part in this! Love your books, and can’t wait for your new trilogy!

  • Elizabeth Gray

    One of the first authors I read back in the day was Jude Deveraux. She is the only person for a long time that I read who wrote historicals. I’ve been reading more historicals now. Sometimes, it only takes a second to pick up something like a book that will change your outlook on life.

    • Jill Barnett

      And make you feel good when you close the book.

      JB

  • Glenda

    So lucky for you your first romance was a good one. I avoided the genre for years after reading what has to be the worst novel ever written that I borrowed from my mother. Luckily I have discovered quality romances! Love your novels!!

    • Jill Barnett

      Luckily for us, back in those days, almost all the books were really good. Things like good strong conflict have kind of deterriorated over the decades. Sad. I certainly have found historical romances that are very talky and thin on their world setting and human experience. But I expect there are many readers who want a quick read. I like to feel and mentally see the story I’m reading. I like the writer to paint a picture for me so I can see the characters moving in their worlds.

      Thank you!

      Jill

      • Glenda

        Sadly, the book of doom I borrowed from my mother was written back in the 60s or 70s (I know I read it on the late 70s). It was NOT one of the quality novels. 🙂 I for one do prefer the richly detailed novels. Thanks for writing that type to feed my addiction!

  • Pamby50

    When leaving to go away to school one of my friends bought me Jude Deveraux to read . She bought it because my last name was spelled almost the same way. I enjoyed all her books and I look forward to reading yours. I love the troll.

    • Jill Barnett

      Thank you!. Jude’s always a great read. I loved her historical romances.

      Jill

  • MaryC

    The first story of yours I read was Daniel And The Angel, a short story in A Holiday Of Love anthology. When I relocated, I was not able to keep my book collection. It’s lovely being able to reread your backlist in digital format.

    • Jill Barnett

      Thank you. When I left my original publisher after 21 years, I took most of the books with me and all the digital rights, so it was up to me to get them up. Belle Books offered and I’m so glad I gave them the books. Debra Dixon designed the covers. We had some glitches, errors in conversion which are part of this digital conversion. But I think most are corrected now.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Ann

    Once we find the romance, nothing else hits the spot!

    • Jill Barnett

      I’m a little different because I love a good romance, but I also love great stories. Some of my all-time favorites books are outside of romance. Colony, Prince of Tides, Shadow of the Wind and I adored the Harry Potter books. I love losing myself in a great big grand story of almost any kind..

      Best,

      Jill

  • Marcy Shuler

    The covers are beautiful, Jill.

    • Jill Barnett

      Well, I had nothing to do with those. I just approved them, and who wouldn’t? Now what’s between the covers, that’s something I’ll take credit for!

      Best,
      Jill

  • rebecca moe

    What a great post! Love your troll doll–and I used to love watching Soap! Never did warm to Dukes of Hazard, though. Plus, my parents wouldn’t let me watch it 😉

    (The Vulcan neck pinch! It really works!)

    • Jill Barnett

      LOL! Remember Invisible Burt in the bathtub? Brilliant writing.

      Jill.

      • rebecca moe

        Seriously! That show was fabulous!

  • leah g

    I love your story. I have a great affinity for used books from garage sales and used books stores. My dad would always take me around when I was a kid. My mother and siblings were all avid readers but my father and I were much more selective. I had a hard time learning to read and didn’t enjoy it much. He would take me around and look for little hidden gems and anything that I might like, I loved having time with just him and I. Eventually I fell in love with reading because of his willingness to not only help me learn to read but also to learn to enjoy it!

    • Jill Barnett

      That is a lovely story. Bless your dad for sticking with it. I had a very special dad, too.

      Best,

      Jill

  • BookLady

    I love historical romance and look forward to reading your books. The covers are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the wonderful story about the garage sale.

    • Jill Barnett

      Those books have had more than one or two covers. They’ve all been lovely. These were done by my eBook publisher, who handled the eBooks for me. Belle Books. Very talented ladies there.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Brenda E

    Great post, Jill. Love your books. I remember Laurie McBain’s Moonstruck Madness, and right after that one read Laura Parker’s Silks and Sabers. I was hooked.

    • Jill Barnett

      I loved Laura Parker. She wrote a great series of Irish set historicals about the heroine with the birthmark, right? Thank you for your kind praise. I hope you’ll alway want to read a Jill Barnett book.

      Best,

      JB

  • These books sound so good! I am in love with the covers!

    • Jill Barnett

      I hope you’ll give one a try.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Larena Hubble

    I enjoyed reading how you got started. That is a great story. I love the humor in your books.

    • Jill Barnett

      Thank you!

      Jill

  • Mary McCoy

    Thank you for your books and your recommendations.

    • Jill Barnett

      You’ll get good reads from these women.

      Best,

      Jill

  • Jen C

    That sounds like great book!

    • Jill Barnett

      Thank you. I hope you’ll give it a try.

      Jill

  • Fran Colley

    Love all your books–and am so glad you found that romance way back when to inspire you to write. 🙂

    • Jill Barnett

      Hi Fran!

      I know you’re my reader. Love FB for allowing me to meet you.

      Best,
      Jill

  • Fern Martin

    Bewitching is my very favorite Jill Barnett book. I have said many times that it should be made into a movie. You will appreciate roses so much more and will smile every time you think of this book even if it’s years later. Sigh, smile, sigh, smile.