Welcome, today we are talking with Jennifer Bokal! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, I think it’s important for readers to get a little insight on an author that they don’t necessarily get from your professional bio. You’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.
Can you share a little something about Jennifer Bokal that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?
What is your favorite:
Animal – I love dogs, and in particular my Chihuahua, Prada.
Food – That depends, am I stressed? If I am, then I love chocolate. And wine! If not, I love soups. Seafood bisque is probably my favorite!
Movie – “Gone with the Wind,” or “Snatch.” Very diverse, I know!
TV show – At the moment, I love Hulu’s series—Harlots. It’s super racy, but very entertaining.
Actor –Melissa McCarthy is very talented and supremely funny!
Singer – James Taylor or Johnny Cash.
Author –For recent novels, I like Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn. The author who made me want to become an author myself was Victoria Holt. I discovered her in middle school and enjoy her novels today.
What are your pet peeves? People taking credit for work they didn’t do.
Who is your hero? My husband is the best person I know. I admire his honesty and integrity. For him, I want to be the best me that I can be. Does that make him my hero? Also, all of the heroes in my books are based on my hubby!
Give us one thing on your bucket list. I’d love to visit the birthplace of my grandfather, Balmoral, England.
What would readers find surprising about you? I’m a former beauty queen and even competed at the national level!
If you could go to heaven, who would you visit? My dad.
Any bad habits? I’m not sure if this is a horrible habit, but I need caffeine in the morning or I’m no good for the rest of the day.
Now that our readers know a little bit more about Jennifer Bokal, let’s get down to the business of your book, Rocky Mountain Valor. How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?
A few years ago, I attended a writer’s and had a vague idea for a romantic suspense set at Christmas. I also wanted to set a book in Telluride, Colorado—a place I knew well from my childhood. I thought the holiday theme would be a good fit for HRS, so I took the opportunity to chat with Susan Littman, an editor with Harlequin. She was super gracious and helped me expand my idea. More than that, she asked for a proposal. That first proposal turned in to three books, which became the Rocky Mountain Justice mini-series. Rocky Mountain Valor is the final book. It took about 7 months to write the book from beginning to end, with a few weeks for edits from my editor.
As far as the title: To be completely honest, I am not a great title generator. But, my editor asked me for several suggestions. The other books had “Rocky Mountain” in the title, and I knew that we wanted everything to be cohesive. After a little back and forth, with a focus on the hero’s story, it became obvious that Rocky Mountain Valor fit the book perfectly!
Please tell us a little bit about Rocky Mountain Valor. Like I said, Rocky Mountain Valor is the third book in the Rocky Mountain Justice mini-series. The heroes all work for Rocky Mountain Justice, a private agency that is one-part law-enforcement, one-part mercenary, and three parts modern-day Robin Hood. As soon as I started the series, I wanted to give the founder of RMJ his own story. As a former MI-5 operative, Ian Wallace, moved to Colorado to be with Petra Sloane. That relationship ended, but he stayed in the US. I wanted to give Ian and Petra a second chance, so when Petra is accused of murder, she goes to Ian for help.
Is Rocky Mountain Valor part of a series, and if yes, what series and how many books? RMV is part of a mini-series. Although the books are linked, each novel is a stand-alone.
Can you give readers a little more info about the other books in the series?
Her Rocky Mountain Hero: When security expert Cody Samuels finds fugitive Viktoria Mateev in hiding, he can’t believe his luck. Turning her in will be the perfect revenge on the crime family who destroyed Cody’s DEA career. But to his surprise, Cody is just in time to rescue Viktoria from assassins. He soon finds himself tracking her son’s kidnappers—and trying to resist his deepest desires…To keep her son from her ruthless in-laws, Viktoria went on the run. Now she’s teaming up with a man she can’t trust. Cody’s courage and bold gambits are a temptation Viktoria can’t resist—even as a risky sacrifice guarantees they may not survive to see another holiday.
In Her Rocky Mountain Defender, while searching for her missing sister, Madelyn Thompkins, stumbles straight into the path of danger…and Roman DeMarco. Wounded physically and emotionally, the undercover agent hardly needs this distraction. When the two collide with a Russian gang, they go on the run—and are drawn together. Their priorities don’t align, but when Madelyn falls victim to a murderous criminal, will Roman sacrifice everything to save her?
What was your hardest challenge writing Rocky Mountain Valor? Each book, including RMV, has its own antagonist. But, there’s an over-arching mini-series bad guy. I struggled with how much to reveal about the main bad guy at different parts of the story. I want to surprise the reader, not confuse them. For me, that was hard balance to find!
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters? I like my h/h to have opposite goals. But because of the thriller element they are drawn in to world of danger and intrigue. As they work together, their relationship becomes more important than what they originally wanted.
Any other works in progress? Yes! The Rocky Mountain Justice series will continue. There are four books with the hard-working men and women of RMJ. This time, they’re set in Wyoming. No release date yet.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Whenever I teach a writing class or do a workshop, I always make sure to share this fact: It takes 10,000 hours to gain mastery of any skill—writing included. If a person works 40 hours a week and receives 2 weeks of vacation, they will work 2,000 hours/year. If a person made writing their full-time job, they would need to work for 5 years to become a master writer! I don’t share that detail to scare people in to not writing. In fact, I hope that writers become kinder to themselves and realize that this is a process and they are learning. Far too often I see new writers upset that careers are not taking off as they hoped. Or frustration because works in progress are stalled. So, I encourage everyone to keep in mind that they are on the right path but traveling at their own pace. I also point out that I had publishing success before I reached 10,000 hours. Finally, the only way to reach 10,000 hours of writing is to write.
Final words? Thank you so much for the interview. The questions were thoughtful and fun to answer!
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