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Hello Romantic Suspense Author Debra Jupe! Welcome to Coffee Time Romance and More!

Hello, Coffee Time Romance! Thank you for hosting me today. I’m excited to join you and eager to meet your wonderful audience.

Thank you! Tell us about your latest release, Toxic.

Toxic is my third Wild Rose Press release. This story’s roots are loosely stemmed from an episode in my personal life. It is set in a small town in Texas, similar to where I lived. A nursery and the employees are a central location. I worked at a nursery when I wrote this book, and my fellow employees were an ensemble of crazy, but fun bunch. A similar cast is included in the book, although my characters are not my former co-workers. I couldn’t do them justice!

Here’s a blurb:

Landscaper Gracie Desoto is too busy building her business to worry about her love life. Until she receives news her ex-husband is getting remarried, and she meets the enigmatic Ethan McCarthy. Despite the warning bells, Grace can’t deny her attraction to the much younger man.

Ethan McCarthy is a man on a mission. His job keeps him on his toes, plus he’s dealing with personal issues he can’t figure out. He doesn’t have room in his life for a romance, until an encounter with the adorable Gracie changes his mind.

In a whirlwind weekend of missing plants and a murder with Ethan as a possible suspect, Gracie is determined to solve the mystery and clear her man. Together, they head down a darkened path into an unknown where they may not survive.

Is their love toxic, or is it worth the risk?

That sounds good! What made you pick that title?

Wow! Great question, although my answer is a bit complicated. As I said, Toxic is my third release, but it is the first book I wrote. I call it my starter book. The initial title was Don’t Ask Questions of Fairytales. I created this manuscript in 2004 and completed it in 2006. It was submitted to many publishers and no one was interested. I became way too acquainted with rejection letters.

 

Weary of no’s, I set the story aside to work on another manuscript. From time to time, I would go back and revise. In 2014, I was ready to give it a major overhaul. I deepened the plot and rounded the characters. I added in some places and deleted in others until I felt happy with the results.

Before I submitted to my editor, I read my daughter the synopsis to ensure everything sounded cohesive. Once finished, she told me the title didn’t fit the story, and I should consider a title change. Reluctantly, I agreed. I came up with Murder among the Verdures. I emailed the manuscript to TWRP. A couple of months later, I received my answer. Yes, to the book, but they hated the title.

At this point, I was out of ideas and told them I had nothing. They responded by sending me a list of options. Toxic is the title that stood out and was the best fit.

How did you come up with your hero and heroine?

The heroine, Gracie’s been with me for a long time. Since the story was based on a true incident, she was semi-autobiographical. I removed the personal aspects and allowed her to shine, although her personality is closer to mine than any of the other characters I’ve written.

Ethan, the hero was created because I needed a counterpart for Gracie once I decided to turn the story into a manuscript. I needed him to be a strong, but an enduring match for Gracie, who has stubborn, determinedness qualities. I ended up rewriting him several times. I also had a difficult time with his name. Ethan is the third name I used.

It sounds like this story is very personal for you. What message would these characters have for you, their creator?

What message would they send me? Hmmm. They’d tell me to keep moving forward and to never give up on my dreams. They would also remind me to listen to my gut. It never lies.

What do you love about romantic suspense?

I love to read romantic suspense because I want to be intrigued. Give me a page turner, and I’m a fan forever. The fun part is to see if I can figure out the ending before I finish the book. I also enjoy reading about couples who meet in the midst of conflict and watch their passion grow from unwilling partners to lovers.  I’m a big softy for happily-ever-after’s.
 
What draws you to write this genre, and what do you think it takes to write a really great story for suspense?

What draws me to the genre is I enjoy putting the suspenseful puzzle pieces together while weaving those dynamics within a building love story. Creating tension is fun, but I also like to establish a shaky trust. It’s exciting to incorporate those twists and turns and finally wrapping the elements into a satisfying ending.  

I am also a huge fan of this genre. What do you think makes a great suspense?

The best suspense is keeping the reader guessing until the last page. I used to cheat and read the ending before I finished the book. Those days are over. I want to figure out the bad guy. My goal is to give readers the same thrill.

What is your greatest challenge in writing?

Greatest challenge? Whoa, easy. Finding the time to write. I work at an elementary school teaching special needs children. The job is challenging and rewarding, but the work can try me. I also have day-to-day responsibilities which keep me busy. Another challenge is I write slow. It can take me a year to write a book. I’m not good at writing multiple manuscripts either; I need to focus on the story I’m writing and it makes my release time lengthier than other authors.

What is a typical day like in your life?

A typical day: I get up at 6:00 a.m. My kids are grown, married, and in their own homes, so I live alone. However, I do have numerous rescue fur babies I must tend to before my day starts.
I arrive at school at 7:30 a.m., and my day flies. I’m very busy. I leave school at 4:00 p.m. If I have errands, I’ll run them before going home. Once home, I take care of the furs again, grab a quick snack, change, and I go to the gym. I attend a yoga class several times a week. After class, back home, more fur time, eat dinner, do whatever housework or work that needs doing. On a good night, I get to write or edit my latest WIP. Most weekends are dedicated to writing.

You sound very busy! What misconceptions do you feel like most people have about romance writers?

If our books are published, then our bank accounts are huge—I wish! Nope. Some are lucky enough to make a living writing romance, but for most of us, the concept is still a dream we’re hoping to achieve. Competition is fierce, and it’s difficult to find and sustain an audience unless writers can produce a large amount of quality work quickly. Even then, it’s still hard.
Another is we do not have a life. We’re boring and lonely. We sit in dark houses writing about unfulfilled, unrealistic fantasies. Okay, the day I just described sounds similar, doesn’t it? Seriously, I wish I was less busy and had more “free” time. I do limit my contact when I enter my “writing zone”. No matter what I’m doing, I’m never lonely, and hopefully, people don’t find me boring. Plus, my house isn’t dark!

Lol! Do you have something you say to yourself when things get tough for you?

I don’t know if I have a motto. Pain is a part of life and keeping a positive attitude is the key. Sometimes it’s difficult, but I remind myself I am in control. Adverse experiences helped me grow and become a better person. I’m lucky because I have a lot of strong support from family and friends. I also rely on faith to keep me going.

Was there ever a time you thought you might give up writing?

Probably after I received my first critiques. That was a major wake-up call. I thought I’d turned in a jaw-dropping chapter and instead my pages bled from every corner. I decided I was done. My self-imposed retirement lasted three days. I’m happy about the incident now, because I learned a lot.

What is your biggest accomplishment in writing so far?

My biggest accomplishment was getting a book published. Getting that “yes” was a long hard road traveled, and absolutely a dream come true. Every “yes” since has been meaningful. I’m thrilled to be a multi-published author. Honestly, I never imagined I’d gain the confidence to share my work with one person, much less put it out there for the world to view.
 
Congratulations on your success. What moment sticks out to you most that made you feel proud of your writing?

What sticks out as my proudest moment so far? Hmmm.
It may seem small, but it’s when I stood up, faced my fears, and announced to the world I was a writer. I hid my true self from everyone, including myself until I reached my early 40’s. I received many different reactions. Most were supportive. My closest friends and family weren’t surprised, realizing I always had an active imagination. I also received a few eye-rolls and had a couple of doubters. My work isn’t about non-believers, it’s about pursuing my dream and sharing a gift I’d hidden far too long.

What would it surprise readers to know about you?

I love boy bands. To this day, I enjoy performances by the groups, their harmonies, and cool dance moves. Cheesy, I know, but I think they’re fun to watch, and make for great listening.

My first book, Echoes in the Wind’s hero is a former boy-band member who was struggling to become a legitimate rocker. After research, I found that this is a common thread. Many boy-band members are talented singers, musicians, and songwriters but are pigeonholed into teen idol status and can’t escape the stigma. So my secret enjoyment was beneficial for me when crafting my debut novel.

Do you have any upcoming events or news you wish to share?

Of course! I am in the process of writing a sequel to my first novel, Echoes in the Wind, titled Echoes in the Storm. I have a third in mind, which will conclude the storyline. I have two completed manuscripts. A Lethal Affair needs to be sent to an editor and a cover designed. This book will be my first self-pub, and I’m very excited. The other manuscript, Afraid to Breathe will be revised this summer. I want to write a three-book series, and this is the first installment. I’ve yet to decide how I want to publish this series.

Do you have a message you would like to leave with readers?

I’d like to thank everyone for making it this far in the interview. I hope book lovers will check out my current releases and enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy creating them.

Debra, thanks again for dropping by! Please come back again!

 

 

 

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