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Interview with An Author: Jill Shalvis, Specializing in Clueless Alpha...

JillShalvisAuthor Jill Shalvis is a USA TODAY best-selling, award-winning author of over three dozen novels. She's been on the Waldenbooks Bestsellers list, the Barnes and Noble Top 100, the Amazon bestsellers list, and also Ingram's. She's a Rita Award nominee, a three-time National Reader's Choice Award winner, and has been nominated for Romantic Times's Career Achievement Award in Romantic Comedy, Best Duets and Best Temptation. I’ve read four of her books so far and I love her categories. They feature smart women and the clueless alpha heroes that love them. So what does this multi award winning author have to say? Read on. Make it to the end, and we’ll give you a book. Okay, only a couple of you.


Jane: What did you do before before writing and what made you start writing?
Jill Shalvis: I was always a writer, at least in my head. Or at least a story teller. Can tell you how often that got me in hot water. When I grew up and went to college, I majored in journalism while working in accounting to pay the bills (I know, opposite sides of the brain, and yes it hurt). It took me a few years to realize I was meant for fiction, not nonfiction, but once I got there, I never looked back.

Jane: Jayne, my blogging partner, found a fascinating article about what some authors do to jump start their creative juices. Do you do anything special?
Shalvis: I love this article! My favorite part was the eating chocolate as writer medicine. I'm going to start doing this, every day. And when I need bigger sweatpants, I'll just shrug and say it's all the price I pay for my art.

Jane: Any tips you care to share?
Shalvis: Writing tips? Sit your butt in the chair every day and just do it. Don't get hung up on what's going in the industry, or in your writer group or who just got a big contract ahead of you. Write. Write. Write. Oh, and don't ever give up. That's the biggest tip I can give. Here's what I tell my kids. You can do anything you want to do, you just have to want it bad enough to make it happen.

Jane: You often write the sweet alpha hero. By that I mean the guy who would do anything to get his girl and oftentimes that means subliminating his natural aggressive tendencies. Any reason for this?
Shalvis: Huh. Sweet? Really? Because sometimes I think I write them awfully cranky in all their clueless alphaness, lol.

Jane: As a follow up, how would you characterize your writing?
Shalvis: I like to write sexy adventurous funny romances. That's my favorite. Sometimes I add a dead body, or a stalker, or something scary but I always find myself coming back to funny.

Jane: Have you ever written an unsympathetic character? If so, what particular challenges do you face when writing someone that your readers may not initially like? Do you think the rules are different for a male character v. a female character?
Shalvis: I like to do this in secondary characters sometimes. In Aussie Rules, I wrote Dimi, a real tough girl who regularly sabotaged her own happiness. I had fun turning her around, and running the story parallel to the main heroine and her own struggles. I did it again in Smart And Sexy, with a grumpy secondary character, Brody, who is now getting his own story. As for the rules being different for a male vs a female, I guess they are. With Dimi I felt free to make her as nasty as I wanted, knowing I'd turn her around eventually. But with Brody, I found I couldn't make him a complete ass because he was the guy, damn it, and a part of me wanted him to still be sexy and desirable to the reader. Huh. I must be a little biased and didn't even know it . . .

Jane: Do you think that there is a stigma against writing category romances? Or is there an advantage because you are already published and therefore have a proven audience?
Shalvis: Both. How's that for an answer. There's definitely a stigma going from category to single title, at least in the single title world. You really have to prove you can write that elusive thing called a "bigger–? book. But on the other hand, there's that benefit to being already published, as long as your numbers are good. The dreaded numbers … It's all about the dreaded numbers.

Jane Do you want to move out of category writing eventually or will you always write categories along with your "bigger–? novels such as your RITA nominated book, Aussie Rules?
Shalvis: I love writing both, and hope to continue to do so.

Jane: What does it mean to you, having been nominated for a RITA? How many times had you entered before? Do you think that there is stigma against Blaze’s when it comes to RITA judging?
Shalvis: I've been nominated for a Rita three times. Twice in the single title category (with Blue Flame and this year with Aussie Rules), and once in the short contemporary category with a Temptation. As for the stigma, there seems to be lots of different ones within the contest, which is a shame. It's all very subjective, of course, and people somehow end up judging for categories they don't like to read, and I think that's where a lot of the problems come in. I go into that contest knowing it's a crap shoot and hope for the best. I've gotten lucky, that's all.

Jane: If you could change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?
Shalvis: I'd make enough money not to have to worry about filling out that application to go work at Target or Taco Bell.

Jane: Is there a secret to publishing you can share?
Shalvis: There's no magic handshake to getting published. I wish there was. But I really feel the secret is what I said above in the tip section: Sit your butt in the chair every day and just do it. Don't get hung up on what's going in the industry, or in your writer group or who just got a big contract ahead of you. Write. Write. Write. Oh, and don't ever give up. That's the biggest tip (secret) I can give. Here's what I tell my kids. You can do anything you want to do, you just have to want it bad enough to make it happen.

Jane: If you had one marketing secret, what would that be?
Shalvis: Ha! I wish I had a marketing secret. As it is, I feel like I'm a secret, lol.

Jane: What are the three romance books you read in the last month? and why?
Shalvis: I just read INNOCENT IN DEATH, because I love J.D. Robb and will read that series for as long as Nora writes it. I also just read CRAZY SWEET because I love Tara Janzen's writing and wish she'd write faster. And just yesterday I finished SHOPAHOLIC AND SISTER, which isn't technically a romance but I still think the lead character and her husband are adorable and I think of it as a romance.


Jill offered to give away Smart and Sexy in paper format and I will give away an ecopy of Smart and Sexy.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Stacy S
    May 21, 2007 @ 04:45:59

    I recently started reading Jill. I enjoy her books, there are funny plus great story.

  2. Kristie(J)
    May 21, 2007 @ 05:10:12

    Great interview. I’ve enjoyed many of her books. And she is one of the reasons I was so bummed out when Harlequin cancelled their Tempation line ’cause I loved her books in that line. I’m still trying to track down some of them. I haven’t bought her recent books in trade size but I sure hope they come out in MM ’cause then they will be in hands so fast.
    And interesting thoughts on the stigma category to single title. For me when an author I read in category jumps to single title, I’m just delighted. Longer book-more reading.

  3. Anji
    May 21, 2007 @ 05:18:27

    What a fun interview! I haven’t read any of Jill Shalvis’s books so far, but the interview has definitely peeked my interest. Now I’ve got to discover for myself how fun and sexy her books are. Any suggestions/recommendations which book of hers I should pick up first?

  4. Jorrie Spencer
    May 21, 2007 @ 05:27:38

    Yes, fun interview! I read and loved Blue Flame, and must get to more of Jill Shalvis’s books.

  5. Rhonda Stapleton
    May 21, 2007 @ 05:32:15

    What a great interview! She sounds like such a fun person–I’m going to have to check her books out!!!

  6. Susan G
    May 21, 2007 @ 06:11:35

    Weird coincidence! I was just checking out another of Jill’s books, “Get A Clue”, over at Amazon. I have not read any of her books before but the premise of this one sounded so good!! After reading this interview it seems I need to check out several of her titles.

  7. Ellen
    May 21, 2007 @ 08:40:58

    Great interview! I love Jill Shalvis’s books!

  8. Cryna
    May 21, 2007 @ 08:56:44

    Neat interview. I have been reading Jill’s books for years and love her style of writing. If you have not tried her – you are going to love her.

  9. Ashley Danielle
    May 21, 2007 @ 10:53:29

    Another great author to check out! I’ve never read anything by Jill, but you can bet I’m going to check her books out. They look really great!

  10. Jane
    May 21, 2007 @ 10:55:34

    Anji – I enjoyed ShadowHawk which is her June Blaze release. It’s available at the Harlequin website in “e” format now.

  11. spyscribbler
    May 21, 2007 @ 11:19:23

    I’ll just add a little note to say that her books are definitely worth a look-see! If you love her blog, you’ll love her books. And how can you not love her blog?

  12. Lis
    May 21, 2007 @ 11:35:27

    I love Jill’s books :) Great interview!

  13. Gena
    May 21, 2007 @ 11:46:01

    I’ve read over fifty of Jills books and have never been disappointed. Neither will you. She is a talented author and her men are always HOT! Smart And Sexy is one of her newest and I can’t wait for the next two books in the series. The cover of Shadow Hawk says it all. Yummy. And a great read too.

  14. Maureen
    May 21, 2007 @ 11:57:54

    Thanks for the great interview. I do love her heroes. They are the best.

  15. Karen B
    May 21, 2007 @ 12:12:01

    Great interview! Jill’s Blog is on my must read daily list.

  16. Teresa W.
    May 21, 2007 @ 13:27:58

    I love to read Jill’s blog it usually cracks me up with some of the stuff she talks about. I recently received Get a Clue and I’m looking forward to the read. Enjoyed the interview today.

  17. Barbara
    May 21, 2007 @ 14:12:38

    I have read Jill’s work since her Bantam Lovesewpt days and she keeps getting better and better. Love her recent stories featuring the pilots.

  18. Laurie
    May 21, 2007 @ 14:19:17

    I have loved Jill for years! Her blog is my first stop every morning after logging on; there’s always an abundance of lighthearted fun there! Terrific interview!

  19. Jules Bennett
    May 21, 2007 @ 14:32:16

    Jill, I love your books! I’ve read them all at least two times. I found your blog interesting today considering I just blogged on Dreams on my own site. Our message was pretty much the same…Sit in the chair and get the work done!

    Thanks for all the wonderful heroes and heroines you create. Keep ’em coming:)


  20. Cheryl S.
    May 21, 2007 @ 14:34:51

    I love the humorous aspect of Jill’s writing, whether it’s one of the categories or one of the “bigger” books. I haven’t been disappointed in anything I’ve read by her. Great interview, too.

  21. Judy F
    May 21, 2007 @ 14:42:47

    Oh I love Jill and her books. They are a must buy for me. Her heroes are something special.
    YOu must check out her block its the highlight of my day

  22. Lori
    May 21, 2007 @ 15:08:06

    Lovelovelove Jill’s books! Humor and sexy are two musts for me in a book, and Jill is great at both. And – hey – today is my anniversary (does that sweeten the pot for me in this contest?) – *shameless plug for a contest win LOL! But I’m dying to read Smart & Sexy…*

    And I’m glad to hear that you’ll keep writing category as well. You are one of the authors that keep me reading category. Thanks for years of great reads :)

  23. jenny
    May 21, 2007 @ 17:24:59

    I love Jill shalvis books–thanks for posting this! She’s got a great sense of humor and her characters are always likeable and a little bit nutty. Always look forward to another of her books coming out!

    American Title III winner, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, (Dorchester/Winter 2008)

  24. Lyssan
    May 21, 2007 @ 17:49:30

    Jill’s a great writer! I just wish we got more books from her at our borders.

  25. Miki
    May 21, 2007 @ 20:52:08

    I think I have most of her old backlist, even the ones published as Jill Sheldon :wink: (although, not all the trade-sized books published more recently, since I won’t pay for those new).

    She’s definitely a favorite author of mine!

  26. Sue A.
    May 22, 2007 @ 01:35:10

    Jill’s blog is a favorite of mine. I can see why her books are humorous, it’s just her view point on life. There’s always something going on at her house/blog.

  27. RobynL
    May 22, 2007 @ 10:28:22

    I read about Jill and her life everyday on her blog; very interesting most of the time! I have some of her books and love them. Keep them coming Jill for us reader fans.

  28. Wednesday Web Wanderer « miladyinsanity
    May 23, 2007 @ 10:31:29

    […] talks to Jill […]

  29. Michele L.
    May 26, 2007 @ 19:35:24

    Jill Shalvis is my favorite authur! I check out her blog all the time! I really enjoyed the interview with Jill. I agree with Jill that her books are funny! She is downright hilarious at times! I have laughed my head off in a few of her books. I always enjoy the handsome stud she has in her books. That is a winning formula in my book for an excellent read!

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