Saturday, 1 September 2012

Author Interview - ‎Jessica L. Degarmo

Shah Fazli
Jessica L. Degarmo, We are so delighted. Historically Yours, why do you think people enjoy reading your book, you may want to say something about your main character, and tell us what do you like about your book?

Jessica L. Degarmo Hi! Thanks for having me. I'm delighted to talk to you today about Historically Yours, my latest release. I hope people will enjoy reading it because it's a good romance, filled with angst, drama, tension, attraction, and a cast of real, lovable, flawed characters. Chloe, my main character, is an amazing woman who is trying to bounce back from a nasty divorce. She's trying to forge ahead in a new place, to create a new life for herself. She heads to Johns Creek, NY, where her great-grandmother has left her the family mansion, to turn the house into a museum and art gallery. She's a spitfire and a very strong, determined woman.

Shah Fazli Thanks. There might many sad moments, can you explain one moment that you wrote or read it and you nearly cried, or cried?

Jessica L. Degarmo Hmmm, this is hard without a spoiler alert! There is a spot in the book right after Chloe is forced to walk home from a not-date with her arch nemesis, Chase Landry, and she allows his callous treatment of her to get her down. She's on the floor of the mansion, trying to sand the hardwood floor in order to refinish them, and the task becomes a metaphor for her life. She has a sort of cathartic moment there, crying and trying to purge the old and ugly from her life, to give value to the house, and to feel like she has value again. It's pretty poignant, and I think it's something that a lot of people could relate to our sympathize with. It struck a chord in me.

Shah Fazli How do you compare Historically Yours to The Storm Within, what are the differences and similarities, it can be anything, tell us something please?

Jessica L. Degarmo The Storm Within is the first book of my Johns Creek Second Chances Series. The idea behind the series is to tell the stories of those who live in Johns Creek, a lovely small town filled with second chances. All of the people who will have their own books have already had love, but for whatever reason, lost it. The books tell their stories while they find their second chance. The Storm Within features Amanda and Raif, and they do make cameo appearances in Historically Yours. Historically Yours deals more with the history of the town whereas The Storm Within started with a natural disaster that struck the town.

Shah Fazli Who else is there in Historically Yours apart from Chloe, as your characters?

Jessica L. Degarmo Chase Landry is the owner of the hardware store next door to Chloe's mansion, and he's her biggest problem. He wants to knock her building down to make a parking lot for his store, and he doesn't take her arrival in Johns Creek very well. Logan Landry is Chase's younger brother, and he helps Chloe get her house in shape despite the direct order from his brother not to. Lydia Grace is the head librarian and town historian who befriends Chloe when she arrives, and Justin Delaney is the young mayor of the town who supports Chloe's endeavors, much to the chagrin of Justin's best friend, Chase. There are other supporting characters like Sherman Stewart, the loan officer at the bank, Greg Bartow, Chloe's lawyer, Paul Elliott, the principal of Johns Creek High School. A lot of the people I've mentioned will go on to have their own stories in the series.

Shah Fazli Thanks a lot. Why did you start writing these series, what motivated you, is it related to what kind of books you like to read, or there are other reasons behind it?

Jessica L. Degarmo Well, my husband said I should write a series, and I decided to listen to him for once! LOL! I do like reading romances that offer more than just light and fluffy escapism. I like to dig deeper and get into the heart and soul of my characters. And while I was writing The Storm Within, I fell in love with the town. Since that book wrapped up Chloe and Chase's story and I didn't feel like there was a lot more I could do with those two, I decided to write my series about the town itself, and do a different book for each set of characters. It's challenging, and I have a fictitious family tree for the founding members of Johns Creek right up to the present day, as well as a huge spreadsheet with places, names, descriptions, street addresses, etc, so I can make sure to be consistent while writing. It's challenging and fun. Do you know a cartographer? I'd love to insert a map into the front of the books so people can feel like they're really there, but I'm a horrible artist!

Shah Fazli Do you want to tell us a little bit more about Chloe and the town in your story, it is fascinating to hear?

Jessica L. Degarmo The town itself was founded in 1787 by Arthur Johns, a wheat miller from England. He brought his family to upstate New York and found the lovely little valley, buffeted on all sides by large hills. It was there where he started his wheat mill. The creek that runs through town eventually ends up being called Johns Creek, which is where the town took its name. the master carpenters of the Landry family followed close behind the Johnses and they were responsible for the construction of a good majority of the lovely Victorians in the town. Chloe herself is a direct descendant of Adelaide Johns, and she is the last of the Johns family. I had a lot of fun writing the history of the town. I wanted to give the books the air of authenticity, so I tried to give it a colorful history, such as the story about the naming of one of the hills that surrounds the town. Rumor has it that the little big-city school marm came to Johns Creek to teach and took a walk in the woods one day to acquaint herself with the local flora and fauna. She ran across a little woodchuck, but mistook it for a vicious badger and ran screaming down the hill that there was a badger on the loose. the townsmen humored and went looking, but all they found was that little woodchuck. So, the hill became known as Badger Hill, but no one had the heart to tell the school marm what she'd really seen that day.

Shah Fazli Fascinating. What kind of a writer do you consider yourself to be, what do your family and friends say about your series, and what do other people say?

Jessica L. Degarmo I really don't know what kind of writer I am. I guess you could say that I'm a romance writer, but I have some edgier literary fiction out there, and I'm working on something in an entirely new genre that will probably shock and surprise a lot of my romance readers. My family and friends don't really say much about my books in general, because the novelty has worn off, I think. As far as what other people say, I've had some good reviews and some bad reviews, but the readers who get what I'm trying to accomplish are very positive, so I'm grateful for that. When someone who doesn't know me finds out I write, the reactions I get are all over the place. I have copies of my books on my desk at work, and when people compare the book covers to my nameplate, they ask, "Did you write those books?" And when I tell them yes, I get all kinds of reactions from "No way. Nuh-uh! Really?" To "Cool. You know, I've always wanted to write a book." Others proceed to tell me their life story in hopes, I think, that I'll write it down for them. It's funny, really. The feedback from the series is a bit sparse at the moment, but I hope that will change when more people find out about it.

Shah Fazli You may want to read from your book for us?

Jessica L. Degarmo

The old noisy door monitor buzzed again and Chloe walked into the
store, glancing this way and that, as if to make sure he wasn’t around.
He strode out of the office and told Wilma to take her break. He’d
handle this customer.
As he approached her, she twitched a little and squared her
shoulders, no doubt readying herself for the inevitable battle ahead.
She waited until he’d reached her, held her head high and said, “I need
to place an order for sheetrock. I’ll need it in about two weeks. Can I
buy it and have you hold it?”
“No, I don’t have room to do holds. If you buy it, you take it with
you,” he said flatly.
“But I don’t have a place to put it yet.” The color was rising in her
face and he could all but feel the crackle of energy build betweenthem. He watched in fascination as her cheeks grew hot and her eyes
turned exasperated. If he was being completely honest with himself,
he’d admit he enjoyed riling her up. She had a temper that rivaled his,
and he sort of liked the way she attempted to put him in his place.
“So maybe you should come back and order it when you do.” He
shot her a smug smile, indicating he’d won this round.
“But I want to make sure you’ll have enough on hand so I can get
my work done on schedule. I can’t afford to wait for ordering delays,”
she protested.
“Not my problem. Go see Mark Frankfurt in Boseman. He’ll order
you some.”
“But he’s an hour away and I don’t have a truck.” Her voice rose,
precariously close to a wail.
“Again, not my problem.”
“So you don’t want my money?” she asked hotly, cocking her hip
and raising her brow to glare at him. He was getting used to that pose,
had started expecting it every time they spoke to each other, had
almost started enjoying it.
“Nope. I’d rather have your house.”
“Well, to quote the Rolling Stones, ‘You can’t always get what you
“Yeah, sucks, doesn’t it?” he rejoined, motioning to the slip of paper
she’d printed her order on.
“Ooh, you’re a real bastard, Chase Landry.”
maybe it's too long?

Shah Fazli What have you learnt from your writings that you may want to share it with those who are new to writing?

Jessica L. Degarmo Wow. Good question. I think the biggest thing I've learned is that whatever the genre, whatever the story line, you need to write from your heart. Feel it, live it, breathe it, dream about it, and be passionate. Readers will feel the emotion you pour into your work, and if you feel it, they will too. It's different than excitement. It's deeper, I think. You can be excited about something but ambivalent at the same time. If you really, truly love your subject, it will show. And don't give up! It's hard. I know it. It's not as glamorous as people might think. But the rewards are great. Live it, breathe it, love it, and others will, too. Hey, and thanks for posting the clip. I couldn't get the darned thing to work for me!

Shah Fazli It was a real pleasure, Jessi, thank you very much for your time. Visit:

ShahSight Literary Book Shop: Historically Yours & The Storm Within by Jessica L.

Jessica L. Degarmo Thank you so much for having me! This has been wonderful! And thanks to everyone else, too. I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. You're all great!

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