Jackie Weger did a lot of interesting things in her life, such as starting university at 62 and traveling the word, living in tiny jungle villages. As she has found too many romance books are serious with poor, orphaned heroines, her novels are filled with humor and buzzing with family life. As our Author of the Day, Weger chats about how the Alabama Raised cottages inspired her latest book, Persimmon Road, reveals why she included a Civil War era ghost in the story and much more.
Please give us a short introduction to what The House on Persimmon Road is About
Persimmon Road is a romance story, mostly inspired by the house, which reminds me of the Alabama Raised cottages often built along rivers and estuaries in the South. These homes are built with grand halls as entries. It's where folks did their entertaining, dining and dancing: shut away from private family rooms. Most had a butler's pantry from which the food was served from kitchens built separate from the house. We now call those summer kitchens.
What inspired you to write a book about an eccentric family?
So many of the early romance novels were about an orphan heroine. I rebelled and had my heroines have a family, an extended family or children. I had no idea the family in Persimmon Road was eccentric until readers began commenting in reviews. I thought the family was right on Southern, like mine. I had one divorced grandmother with eight children who was a 'martyr personality' and another, widowed, with three children who was an early feminist. Arrived home in a cab one evening from a meeting, barefoot, wrapped in a fur coat and not another stitch. Gave all of her clothes and money to a poor woman at the meeting. She sashayed up the porch steps and told my aunt to pay the cabbie. Mortified the whole family.
Why did you include the Civil Ware era ghost. Lottie in the book? Tell us more about her character.
I had no earthy idea there was a Civil War era ghost in the house, until Justine parked in the yard. I cannot tell you how she came to be, but she took over the book. Lottie is just fine. Readers still ask about her and I have conversations with her. http://jackieweger.com/the-ghost-who-wouldnt-be/
How much have your travels by foot, boat, plane and Walmart inspired your work?
Actually, my travels don't inspire my books. I go to get away from my keyboard and have adventures. I travel on the cheap. I've lived as the natives do in a tiny jungle village and on off islands. Tourists abound, but I go into the back streets and meet locals. There's an expat community in every country around the boat yards, boat clubs and yacht clubs. That's where I head--and with a bag full of new English language books which are always in demand in these communities. I did start university at aged 62. Graduated summa cum laude. Most useful experience was summer semester at Queen's College, London University...I spent every free minute out of the classroom in live theaters, on buses and trains, the Channel to Paris, visited museums and palaces and small villages.
Your books contain a lot of humor. Why do you take that approach?
I like humor between characters because I enjoy humor. I am not funny. I don't know jokes. But I love to laugh. My characters say things I would or couldn't get away with.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve a clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
I know people want writing to be magic. Here's the skinny. Writing is a craft. I taught myself craft. I tore pages out of books and typed them exactly as on that page. I learned to indent, spacing, punctuation. I counted how many times a character's name was used on a page. I typed articles out of newspapers and magazines. I was teaching myself how to type, too. I didn't teach myself to write 1st person, so I'm stuck with 3rd person. I learned how to open and close a chapter. That's about it. I may need to keep learning. I write old-fashioned love stories. No apologies. I love what I do, enjoy what I write.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I have no secret skills. I don't even have any good secrets.
What are you working on right now?
I just published The Sheriff's Woman. I don't talk about WIP...I get it done or not. No pressure unless the characters are pressuring me to finish their stories. I was under contract with Harlequin books for years. Now, I'm indie. I love indie authorship. I Ate Stupid for Breakfast the first six months...backed up and learned how the industry worked. Learned to stick to the basics. I don't listen to hype and I don't jump on bandwagons that promise fairy dust and glory.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?