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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Joshilyn Jackson will also be on the page.)
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Joshilyn Jackson – The Magic of Life Underwater
I have a magical power; I can breathe underwater.
Okay, so I have to strap on a BCD and a nitrox tank to make it work. But still. I’ve spent hours 120 feet beneath the waves, exploring reefs and shipwrecks. I’ve swum with with eagle rays and sea turtles, sharks and lionfish, squid and sea horses, and eels that ranged from pinky-finger-sized to longer than I am. I’ve had an adorable 18 inch remora mistake me for a dolphin and try to attach to me and clean me. He followed us all the way up to the boat.
You can’t tell me that’s not magic.
As a kid, I was obsessed with Jacques Cousteau; I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a writer or a marine biologist when I grew up. Even as an adult, I wished I knew how to dive, but I was afraid to try it. I am mildly claustrophobic, moderately unathletic, and extremely uncoordinated.
Then I got the idea for NEVER HAVE I EVER. I knew I wanted the narrator, Amy Whey, to be a dive instructor. Scuba seemed like such a perfect metaphor. As anyone who has ever dropped their sunglasses off a boat can attest, the ocean is large enough to hide anything, and Amy is hiding a very dark past.
I thought I could learn enough via interviews and YouTube videos to make it work. About three months in, I realized I had to learn to dive if I wanted to write this book properly. My husband and I started taking lessons. The first time I sunk down into the ocean and found myself breathing and buoyant, all my fears were insta-drowned by wonder.
When I am on scuba, all my clumsiness drops away; it’s the only place on earth where I am graceful. I can’t tell you how much this means to a woman who is famous for knocking over drinks and who is constantly bruised from tripping and ramming into things. It’s also impossible for me to feel claustrophobic with the ocean so huge and blue and bright open all around me. Best of all, I am an animal person, and many marine animals feel curious divers. Creatures like this little turtle come right over to see what we are doing.
Diving is the closest thing to flying. It is very close to yoga, actually. It is so much about breath and being present in your body. Everything Amy says about scuba in the book is absolutely my experience. It is prayer, it is meditation, it is peace. It is the closest thing to magic I have ever experienced. It is also an unearthly level of beautiful and so much fun. If you can possibly work it out to learn, you should.
NEVER HAVE I EVER:
It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.
But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.
Roux promises she will go away. She will take herself and her son, who is already growing dangerously close to Amy’s teenage stepdaughter, and she will go. If Amy plays by her rules.
But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything she’s built—especially her husband and their newborn son. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.
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Helen Hoang – www.helenhoang.com – @Amazon
She writes layered, smart, funny love stories, neuro-atypical style, and I am here for it. Many people on my father’s side of the family (me included) are on the spectrum, so reading a book with an autist as the romantic lead makes my heart go pitter-pat.
Lydia Netzer – lydianetzer.blogspot.com/shine – @Amazon
She is probably my favorite living writer. In her stories, you can fall in love all over again from as far away as the moon, crowd-source a baby, or swim with Narwhales in Lake Michigan. Funny, literary, love-soaked, brilliant.
Meg Mitchell Moore – www.megmitchellmoore.com – @Amazon
I only just discovered her when The Islanders came out in June, and now I am working my way through her backlist. Her books are page-turners for sure, but also very character-driven.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
The moment when my husband and I first kissed.
He’d been my best friend since we were teenagers, but we never dated. I was in Atlanta and he was in Chicago, both very seriously dating other people, when we were called back to our small town, me to a wedding, him to a funeral. It was an emotional time.
By the end of those two days. I realized that if he married someone else, I would be devastated. At three in the morning, sitting in a ratty gazebo behind my childhood home, I said, “I don’t want you to marry her. In fact you are not allowed to marry her. You are only allowed to marry me.
He shrugged and said, “Well, ok. I’ve been waiting for you to say that for seven years.”
We sat blinking at each other and then I said, “Well. We should kiss.”
Reader, it was a great kiss.
Then we broke apart because we didn’t want to begin our life together by betraying people we cared about. We each went home, broke up, and we’ve been together ever since.
All of the best adventures of my life came from this moment. He makes good things excellent and bad things bearable. The moment we decided to be an us was powerful magic because all my other happiest moments grew from that one.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
SHINE SHINE SHINE by Lydia Netzer. It’s the only book I have read as an adult that I keep going back and rereading with endless fervor, the way I still do with all the books I loved most as a child. It’s the love story of Sunny, who is on earth, and her husband Maxon who, when the novel begins, is on a rocket to the moon.
(Well, okay then! I’ll be reading that one right away! ~ Bobbi
It’s here at Amazon, if you want to take a look.)
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
So, I have a BIG Jack Reacher problem. HUGE. Strong feelings about Mr. Reacher. I love the women he meets. No damsels/ They are tough and vibrant and never really lovelorn about him, either. It’s never been this REACHER BREAKS HEARTS thing. They cross like super-hot ships in the night.
I buy each Lee Child book the day it comes out, in print and audio. I TRY to listen. But most of the time I get too hungry to know what happens next. and have to go to the book and gobble.
For this book, my first foray into a thriller, my editor asked Lee Child to read it. AND HE DID> AND HE LIKED IT.
His blurb is on the cover! it says, “”Wonderful—suspense and surprises, real characters, and a scary, ominous black beat. This feels like the novel Jackson was born to write.”
I still get all giddy with disbelief when I see that absolute, written proof that one of my forever bookly heroes read my book and said those things.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I have long called myself a “redemption obsessed novelist.” All my books, in some way or another, look with varying degrees of hope and cynicism at how far we can walk into the black and still be saved. What are the tiny lights that turn us and call us home, and why do some people see those faint, glowing calls, while others walk straight off the edge of the world and are lost?
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
This will sound dumb, but it’s my cats. For me, a dog is a luxury item, but cat is a necessity. I often write in bed with them draped over my legs. When I sit at my desk, my little tuxedo cat comes and lies on my lap. I find purring to be the best, most calming sound of the world, and their little heartbeats in the house keep me happy in a job that almost never gets me out of pajamas and into the world where humans are.
My kids are close to grown and have their own lives. My excellent husband works long hours—without catly company, I think I’d go nuts!
DRAWING – Joshilyn is hosting The Romance of Reading page, and her giveaways will take place there.
However, all comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 4 participating authors. You may enter by commenting on this original blog post and/or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here.
Each first unique comment at each space offers an extra chance to win, so check in with each author. Must comment by 9/05/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of nine books, including gods in Alabama, The Almost Sisters and Never Have I Ever. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She writes page-turners that revolve around women’s issues and faith and justice issues.
Jackson lives in Decatur, Georgia with her family.
Discover all of Joshilyn’s books:
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