Author of the sexy Play-by-Play series and the new, heartwarming Hope series
Jaci Burton on heroes, heroines and romance
Have you always wanted to be a writer? What do you love most about your job?
I can't say as I always wanted to be a writer, but writing is in my blood. I dabbled in it as early as a my pre-teen years, then picked it up again as an adult, but didn't settle fully into it until about twelve years ago. Now it is my full-time career and I couldn't dream of doing anything else. The thing I love most about it is breathing life into these characters that I've developed, and creating their story.
When you wrote your first Play-By-Play book, THE PERFECT PLAY, could you imagine that it would become such a successful and popular series? And did you envisage it would run for so many books?
I had no idea. I thought it was a fun concept, and I had some ideas for a few books, but no thought that I would eventually end up contracted for twelve books. What a thrill it's been.
Do you have the most fun creating your heroes or your heroines?
I'd say it's a mix of both. The heroes are typically larger than life, and they're always hot and sexy, so itâ€™s always fun to create them, then figure out who they are. It's not just about looks for a hero. There also has to be some dynamic other than looks that makes them attractive to the heroine, so developing characteristics beyond physical appearance is the fun part of the job. What makes him strong? What makes him vulnerable? How does he react when he's with the heroine as opposed to with anyone else? With the heroine, I like them to be complex. Again, it has to go beyond the looks. What is her career? What are her vulnerabilities and her strengths? And then how do these two characters mesh together? It's a fun dynamic to put the hero and heroine together and see what happens.
Do you have a favourite hero or heroine from your books or by any other author?
My favourite heroine from my books is Elizabeth Darnell from my Play-By-Play books. She has no doubt been the most fun heroine I've ever written. Strong, smart, sassy, can't help but meddle in other people's lives, and very much secretly in love with Gavin Riley, the hero in CHANGING THE GAME, which made her vulnerable. I absolutely love her madly. I think Mick Riley from my Play-By-Play books has been my favourite hero to write. Mick was a very complex hero. Hot and sexy, yes, but also sweet, considerate, honourable, and went after his heroine, Tara, because he knew what he wanted. He was a great character to write.
Are you a fan of sports? What inspired you to write a sports-themed romance series? Have you had any fun research experiences to help create your Play-By-Play heroes?
I was actually looking for an idea for a new series to write, and my amazing friend, author Maya Banks, suggested I write a sports series, so I have her to thank for the idea. I love sports of all kinds, so it was a perfect concept for me.
Oh, the research has been fantastic. While I'm a big fan of so many sports, there are nuances to each sport that required some research. Iâ€™ve done quite a bit of research, not only on on-the field plays, but also the mentality of professional sports players. And besides my heroes, many of my heroines have very interesting careers â€“ an event planner, a sports agent, a physical therapist, a bar owner, and so on, so delving into their careers as well was so much fun for me. In fact, I had a shoulder injury that required about a year of serious physical therapy, so I had the opportunity to do what you could say was some hands-on research for Alicia Riley's profession from THROWN BY A CURVE. It was quite enlightening, and I learned a lot about sports medicine from the physical therapists I worked with during my shoulder rehab. They gave me quite a few tips on how one would rehabilitate an injured pitcher. It was so helpful in creating the rehab program for Garrett Scott, THROWN BY A CURVEâ€™s hero.
You've just started an exciting brand-new contemporary romance series with HOPE FLAMES. What can your fans expect from the Hope series?
I'm so excited about the Hope series. It's night and day different from the Play-By-Play series, in that it takes place entirely in the small town of Hope, Oklahoma. The series is very town-centric rather than focusing on particular family members. This gives me the opportunity to expand the series in multiple directions. However, the first three books will focus on Luke and Logan McCormack, and on Emma and Molly Burnett, and the people who move in and out of their lives. Youâ€™ll also meet many of the people who interact with them.
I have so many stories to tell about the people of Hope, and I sincerely hope everyone falls in love with the town and the people who inhabit it.
Who are the authors you read for pleasure?
Oh, I love so many authors. Jill Shalvis, Maya Banks, Julie James, Nora Roberts, Shannon Stacey, Sylvia Day, Lauren Dane, Vivian Arend are just a few.
There's so much interest and excitement around romantic fiction right now. What do you think romance readers are looking for in the romances they read today?
I think the wonderful thing about romance is there's something for every reader. It's not a one size fits all type of genre. There are so many genres, whether itâ€™s contemporary, paranormal, historical, erotic, new adult, or whatever subgenre a reader might be fascinated by, they can find it on the bookshelves. We donâ€™t all have the same reading tastes, and to be able to browse and find something exciting and new â€“ or comforting and familiar â€“ is what we all look for in our romance.
In my opinion, I think readers want to know they're going to receive a read filled with emotion, with characters that'll take them away to a fantasy world of high stakes emotion, epic romance or day to day struggles. They want to be swept back in time to historical points in the past or live in places we could only dream existed. And in the end, thereâ€™ll be a happily ever after thatâ€™ll leave them sighing with contentment. It's up to the reader to choose their adventure book by book. And isnâ€™t it awesome to know we have those choices in our romance?