Q&A with Jaci Burton

Posted by Goodreads on December 6, 2016
No one needs help in the romance department like a professional athlete. Whether or not this is true in the real world, it's a truth portrayed in Jaci Burton's beloved Play by Play series, which charmingly finds happily ever afters for one lovelorn all-star—or former all-star—at a time.

Rules of Contact is the much-anticipated 12th installment by the Oklahoma native, who can't get enough of sports…and the men who play them. This time the man in question is Flynn Cassidy, retired defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers. Set to open a new restaurant, he's thrown off his game by his newest employee: head chef Amelia Lawrence, who's both sexy and purposefully single. As the kitchen becomes a playing field, Flynn and Amelia struggle to fight off their sizzling chemistry.

Burton answered your questions about which romance authors inspire her, how she would write herself into one of her stories (a hairdresser of questionable qualifications and a local firefighter in need of a haircut are involved), and who's her favorite Play by Play character.

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Amy: I love reading your books! I'm a big sports fan, so I have really enjoyed your Play by Play series. Were you always a sports fan, too, or did you really have to research each of these sports when you wrote them?

Jaci Burton: I've always been a sports fan! My dad loved sports, so back in the day (a really long time ago) he used to listen to baseball on the radio while simultaneously watching football on television. And then there was hockey, too, so my father's love of all these games ingrained a love of sports in me. I've enjoyed many sports all my life. I enjoy football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and everything having to do with any Olympic sport—winter and summer!

Oksana: Are any of the characters from your books based on real people?

JB: Not at all. All my characters come strictly from my imagination. I never base any of my characters on real people.

Sally: What's your favorite part of the writing process?

JB: Starting a new story. It's so exciting to breathe life into my characters, to figure out who they are, what their background is, and where they're going in the story. This is where the magic begins for me, where I can see the whole picture of my story. I tend to do a loose plotting process to give me an idea of where I think the story will go, but I don't plot out the entire thing. At the beginning I don't really know the characters. I let them lead me, and as I get to know them better, the story fleshes out for me in greater detail. That's why the beginning is my favorite part: It's a discovery for me of who these people are and what they're going to find out about each other. Fun stuff!

Cass: Who are your romance author role models?

JB: Oh, there are so many. I've been reading romance since I was a teenager. I learned to write romance from reading romance, so my love of romance authors goes way back. From Kathleen Woodiwiss and Jude Deveraux to Elizabeth Lowell and Julie Garwood, I couldn't get enough of everything they wrote. And, of course, there's Nora Roberts, whom I've been reading for so many years. She's truly a master at her craft and the way she writes such amazing and compelling characters. I'm also a fan of Jill Shalvis, Julie James, Shannon Stacey, Maya Banks…and so many more. I could go on a long time about this.

Michele: How do you juggle writing with everything else in your life?

JB: I'm very fortunate to write full-time, and my kids are grown, so there isn't a lot of juggling going on for me. Though I often wish for a full-time chef and a laundry fairy. ;-)

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Rebecca: I have all your books, and I truly love every adventure you take me on! (Still hoping to win that Play by Play calendar!) My question: Who is YOUR favorite character from the Play by Play series?

JB: That is such a tough question. I'm writing book 13 in the series at the moment, so as you can imagine, there have been a lot of characters. I love every one of them. But if I had to choose, I'd probably say Liz, mainly because she was so contentious and hard to like in The Perfect Play. She manipulated both Mick and Tara, and everyone hated her. Even I hated her. But at the same time I loved her, too. I knew she was secretly in love with Gavin. Deep down she was screwed up, had a loving heart, and I wanted redemption for her. Which is why I wanted her to be the heroine in Changing the Game. And I knew it was going to be a tough sell to my readers to accept her, but they did (you're all so awesome). She's smart, saucy, and a bit of a smart-ass, and I love her so much.

Bonnie: When you sit down to write, do you have a plan for a story outlined on paper? Or do you just let the characters come to life in your head as you write?

JB: A little bit of both, actually. I do a partial outline of where I think the story is headed, especially the first half of the book. But I don't really know the characters all that well until I start writing them. I'll write a full first draft of the book; then when I'm finished, I'll go back and do a deeply layered edit where I flesh things out I might have missed. When I get to the back half of the book, the characters have truly come to life for me. I know them very well. They know each other better. And I might have to add things in the front half of the book that weren't there before to fully flesh out the plot and characterization. It's actually kind of a hot mess doing it this way, but it works for me. ;)

Stacy: I'm a huge fan of your brilliant writing! I also live in Oklahoma—and love when your home state is included in your books. What do you love most about Oklahoma?

JB: Hey, fellow Okie! I live in a small town, and I love that I can get anywhere in 15 to 20 minutes, including the city. I've also lived in California, and you cannot get anywhere you want to go in 15 to 20 minutes. Slow pace is everything to me. The feeling of calm, the wide open spaces, and the fact that my nearest neighbor's house isn't right on top of mine. Everyone is friendly here, and it's generally a great place to live.

Tammy: I love that your characters are not always "innocent" 18-year-olds. Have you considered writing about even older characters, like the 40-plus set?

JB: My holiday novella, Hot Holiday Nights, featured characters in the 40-plus set. And yes, I'd love to do more books like this!

Bebe: If you could write yourself into one of your wonderful stories, what kind of character would you be? Who would you fall for?

JB: A tough question—I like it! It would have to be someone in the Hope series because I love small towns. I'd like nothing more than to hang out at Bash's bar after work and become best friends with all the women I've written in the series because I love them all so much. I think I'd want to open a hair salon somewhere on the same street as Megan's bakery, Sam's floral shop, and Loretta's bookstore. Not that I know how to do hair…. I definitely know nothing about that! But I'm sure there's some hot dude who's going to open a hardware shop—or maybe he's a local firefighter—and he's going to wander into my salon in need of a haircut. And voilà! We fall madly in love. Or maybe we went to high school together, and he's back in town after being gone all these years because he has a few things he needs to settle. And hey! Suddenly there's a story I need to write. ;)

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Rhenna (new)

Rhenna Morgan Great interview, Jaci! Thanks for sharing!

message 2: by Stacy (new)

Stacy Baglio So excited to be included in this! Thank you for taking your time to answer your fans questions. We love your writing!

message 3: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview.

message 4: by Faith (new)

Faith Ebere I love your response

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