Y’all. I am overwhelmed by all the great authors who will be stopping by the blog this month – my blogiversary month! YAY! We’ve already visited with three of my faves – Ruth Logan Herne, Pepper Basham, and Cynthia Ruchti – and today JEN TURANO IS HERE! (In case you’re wondering, I’m trying to keep my squealing to a professional Iaminmylate30s minimum. Non-blogging me of a year ago would have swooned into a fangirl flail right about now… I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since I drooled all over Melanie Dickerson.)
(But still… Somebody cue the celebratory fanfare and confetti!)
Jen Turano is the best-selling, critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, just released in the spring of 2016, and will be followed by a new four-book series in early 2017. When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life.
Jen, I’m so unbelievably tickled to be chatting with you today! Please ignore the occasional “ouch” you might hear from my vicinity as the conversation progresses. It’s just me pinching myself 🙂
Let’s start you off with the usual fast four!
Jen: Apples – but only if someone, usually Al (the husband person) cuts them up for me. I’m not really a big fruit person – veggies are more my thing.
Carrie: You had me until “veggies” …
Jen: Neither – candy gives me a headache – which is a huge bummer because I used to love M & M’s – or…candy corn – now there is a treat I could eat for days.
Carrie: mmm… candy corn. I haven’t had that in years… Probably for the best.
Carrie: Zuzu insists that I remind my guests that she has to approve this answer before you may continue with the interview. It’s not really true, but I let her believe it so she feels important.
Jen: How cute is Zuzu for a name? Love it, and I’m a dog person – although cats are cool, I’ve just never owned one. I have an Australian Cattle Dog by the name of Sasha. She’s fourteen, a complete diva, and to save her arthritic legs, I carry her up all steps. She weighs over forty pounds, but…her legs are doing great these days – my back…not so much. She won’t let Al carry her, which is a real shame since he’s a workout nut and could really put those muscles to work.
Zuzu approves and wags a tail of greeting in Sasha’s direction
Jen: Pepsi if it’s diet, Coke if it’s not – which is a bit peculiar, isn’t it? No idea why I like it that way, I just do.
Carrie: I’m the opposite. Okay, not really. I’m a Coke fan all the way. But I can tolerate regular Pepsi more than diet.
And now for some questions that (mostly) matter…
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Jen: Manipulating time – that way I’d never be stressed about deadlines or being late for dinner with my friends and family when I’m under those deadlines.
Carrie: This is a great superpower to have! Am I allowed more than one….
You are one of my go-to authors when I want to laugh – and swoon – at the same time! Where do you get your inspiration for such delightful hilarity?
Jen: I’ve always just looked at life in a rather unusual way. Most things amuse me, I have a very weird sense of humor, and lucky for me, I finally figured out how to put that sense of humor to good use. My family still finds me to be a little different, but now they can at least explain me away by telling everyone I’m a writer.
Carrie: ha! My family is still trying to come up with an excuse for my weird sense of humor. I don’t suppose “I read Jen Turano’s books” would work?
In your opinion, what is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about Christian fiction that simply isn’t accurate?
Jen: I think people have the misconception that Christian fiction isn’t a smart read. I read a ton of books, both Christian and mainstream, and I have to say, my writer friends who write for the Christian market pen some riveting stories, always with a moral premise, and I find them to be brilliant reads – tight storylines and fabulous character development.
Carrie: I read both markets too, and I completely agree – some of the smartest books and some of the most fabulous characters I’ve read have been written for the Christian market. (Yours included!)
Jen: It’s a fascinating time in history because everything was changing at such a rapid rate, what with the industrial revolution and all. Fortunes were being made at an unprecedented rate, and since there was no personal income tax at the beginning of the Gilded Age (think directly after the Civil War to right around World War I) conspicuous consumption was rampant. Mansions sprang up along Fifth Avenue, department stores lured tens of thousands of customers every week, and scandals were happening at every society event. The New York Four-Hundred was formed to keep society in check for a decade or so, but eventually, the nouveau riche wormed their way into society and that’s when, well, things turned a little dicey –
In Playing the Part, both Lucetta Plum and Bram Haverstein are both playing a part in some form or another. What other quirks or traits distinguish these two characters from the rest of the A Class Of Their Own series?
Jen: Miss Lucetta Plum has always been the most level-headed character of the three ladies in this series, but I think she’s actually the most damaged of the three. She’s been holding hurts from her past for far too long and is certainly reluctant to address those hurts.
Mr. Bram Haverstein was a really interesting gentleman to write, especially since he turned out nothing like I planned. I originally plotted him out to be a rather brooding, surly type, but instead, he wanted to be more on the charming side. And, compared to the two other gentlemen in the series, I think he possesses the kindest heart, especially since he’s a collector of misfits.
Carrie: That’s one of the things I loved most about Playing the Part -getting to know Lucetta better, seeing her level-headedness suffer a bit thanks to Bram’s charms, and discovering those insights into what makes her “her”. Bram’s heart melted mine.
Playing the Part is the final book in its trilogy. Of the three heroines – Harriet, Millie, and Lucetta – which one has been your favorite to write and why?
Jen: Well this question is certain to get me into some deep trouble with the ladies, but…I have to admit that my favorite was Miss Millie Longfellow. She was a complete delight to write, didn’t cause me a smidgen of trouble, and she made me laugh.
Carrie: I loved each one… but Millie was my favorite too. And I was equally delighted by her guest appearance in Lucetta’s story!
Jen, it is SUCH an honor to have you on the blog today. I love how books connect people – especially books that make me laugh as a bonus 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what’s coming up next for you!
Jen: Thank you so much for having me, Carrie. It’s always great talking with you. As for what’s up next – a new series – “Apart from the Crowd.” It’s a wallflower series, following four ladies through society. The series will be introduced with a prequel novella that will be released for free – a thank you if you will for all the support readers have given me – it’s titled “At Your Request,” and will release Jan. 3, 2017. Then, the first full-length novel in that series, “Behind the Scenes,” will release in April of 2017. It centers around Miss Permilia Griswold, a young lady who has a very unusual occupation, one that’s not public knowledge. While pursuing that occupation, she might just happen to overhear a plot centered around…murder, and murder in regard to Mr. Asher Rutherford, owner of Rutherford & Company department store, and one of the most eligible gentlemen of the day. I’m now working on the first draft of the second full-length novel, but it’s not titled as of yet, and since the story will certainly change by the time I write the end, I’ll leave it at the heroine’s name is Miss Gertrude Cadwalader while the hero is Mr. Harrison Sinclair. He’s color-blind and has no appreciation for fashion, and she’s employed as a paid companion to a lady who seems to be a bit light-fingered with possessions that don’t belong to her.
Again, thanks for having me, and keep on reading!
~ Jen ~
Carrie: Ok, I’m already hooked! P.S. – I adore your character names! I’ll save the question of how you always manage to find such delightful ones for another day…. 🙂
I reviewed Playing the Part back in March but since Jen and I were just chatting about it (fangirl squeak cannot be squelched here), I wanted to reprint part of it for your convenience. Stay tuned for giveaway info!
Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan’s interest turns threatening. Lucinda’s widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta’s life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson’s estate to hide out.
Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there’s much more to him than society knows.
Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail’s matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can’t ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it’ll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.
SERIES: A Class Of Their Own #3
GENRE: Historical Romance, Christian
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2016
That’s the new term I’m coining for Jen Turano’s books.
Always a delightful mix of humor, romance, history, and suspense, her novels never fail to have me in giggles, smiles, and swoons.
I am happy to report that Playing the Part is no exception. As the former Millie Longbottom (heroine of book 2 and my personal favorite character of the series) remarked, “I was privy to a thrilling tale, one where madness ruled the day…” And not just the madness of the villain. But the sort of madcap mayhem that only Jen Turano can bring to life on the page.
Take, for instance, the meet-cute between Lucetta and Bram. Actually… meet-hilarity might be a better description. I’m not going to spoil it for you but you will find yourself laughing out loud and shaking your head in disbelief at the antics of Bram’s rather motley crew of staff attempting to rid the castle grounds of the trespassers (namely, Lucetta and Abigail). A couple encounters with the moat, a pack of rascally dogs, a cannon (yes, you read that right), and even pitchforks factor in to this guffaw-inducing first encounter. Followed by Lucetta’s faked & on-cue swoon… and Bram’s first inkling that she may in fact not be the fragile, delicate creature he’s built up in his infatuated mind.