Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She holds a Masters in English Literature and lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Her family keeps her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. Her passions include horse racing, Scrabble, rescue dogs, Italian food, and wine–not necessarily in that order.
She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, spent 26 weeks on the New York Times. Her work has been translated in over a dozen countries, sold over a million copies, and was dubbed a “romance phenom” by Kirkus Reviews. She is also a proud three-time RITA finalist.
She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.jenniferprobst.com/newsletter for a chance to win a gift card each month and receive exclusive material and giveaways.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
I’m really thrilled to be here with you today to chat about writing! I was truly lucky – I knew I was going to be a writer when I was 7 years old. I even wrote my goal in my diary! Books were my entire world and I was making up stories in my head the moment I learned how to read. Writing is part of my soul. It’s how I make sense of the world and myself on a daily basis – I love absolutely everything about this career and find myself so humbled I finally get to write full-time.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Sure! My newest release is called Love on Beach Avenue. It’s a series about three sisters who run a wedding planning business in Cape May, NJ -a quaint beach town. You can find all my books and fun stuff at my website: http://www.jenniferprobst.com – I just updated it to reflect a fresher, truer vibe and included a lot of extra bonus content.
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
My inspiration is everywhere. I once forced my husband to order two desserts at a diner, because I was eavesdropping on a couple in the booth behind me who were fighting and discussing breaking up. I had to find out what they decided to do, lol! I am always paying attention to the world around me and being inspired for characters. For instance, I was obsessed with HGTV and the Property Brothers. They do these home renovation shows, so I decided to create my own series with three brothers – one builds the houses, one is a wood working master, and one flips houses and does interior renovation. Fun, right? All from watching TV!
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
I write every day. Sometimes I take weekends off if I’m not behind on deadlines or projects. I don’t outline, I just sketch out a very rough idea of the characters, my series theme, a brief write up on what I think I want to happen in the story, and then I begin writing and take off. It takes about 3 months for me to finish a 90K book, give or take. As for new projects, there are so many! I just finished up my newest nonfiction writing book, Write True, which releases this Fall. My first women’s fiction is coming out in January, Our Italian Summer. And I just finished writing the third in my Sunshine Sisters trilogy. Whew!
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
I read voraciously so this is a hard one. It’s probably The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It always made me cry. My favorite author is Susan Elizabeth Phillips – she writes fabulous contemporary romance with lots of humor. AND I’m currently reading her newest release, Dance With Me.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My most significant achievement is being able to finally write full-time and not have to hold down another day job. I will say hitting the New York Times and USA Today for the first time was such a thrilling experience that I will simply never forget. And when new writers or readers tell me something I either wrote or taught made a difference, my heart just explodes with joy.
I hope in five years I’m doing exactly the same as now: writing regularly, keeping my creativity healthy, and reaching readers who love my books. But it would be awesome to be on a talk show one day or have a movie of one of my books made!
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing in terms of traditional and self-publishing?
I have lived with rejection my entire life. I was rejected by endless agents and publishers in the business for many, many years, but I never gave up on my dreams. I kept writing, studying craft, getting better, pushing harder, and eventually, I was published and my book went viral. I think indie publishing is an amazing asset for writers now, where we don’t have to wait for gatekeepers to accept us , we can bring our stories straight to the readers. I think traditional publishing is getting harder to break into, and they are finding new ways to reach readers. I also hope to see greater diversity in books and am happy to see more romance novels with diverse characters.
8) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself?
Yep, me too! I never read my own work once it’s completed. BUT sometimes I’m looking for something in an older book, and have found myself mesmerized by my own story, because it’s been so long since I wrote it. That’s always a nice surprise, but I rarely seek it out.
9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
It is never too late to begin writing. Writing heals us, helps us discover and make sense out of the world, and I think whether it’s a journal entry, blog post, novella, book, poem, the world needs your words. And personally, a later start means you have more to say because you’ve been here longer in the world and are more interesting! Each stage of our lives offer a unique viewpoint.
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
Writing is extremely personal to me. I try to put as much of myself onto the page because my readers and my story deserve it. I find my voice is quite unique. I like to explore big families, strong, kick ass women who go after what they want, and settings that call to me. I love rescue animals so there are many animals in my books, and a good sense of humor because I love to laugh. My books are part of my soul. When my father died and I was grieving, the book I wrote held a lot of my pain and making sense of his loss, and afterward, I had reached a quieter place within myself by being brave enough to share with the world.
I’d love to ask you a question or two if I may? What made you want to create the Write 2 Be Magazine and share it with the world?
Well I created the whole Write 2 Be brand to promote and encourage authenticity and to highlight the power the words have and how much more powerful those words are when you are simply yourself. The magazine specifically was created because at the time of its creation it was so hard for me to get my work seen and to even get it looked at as a newbie writer and as someone who didn’t have an agent backing her, or some major publishing house propelling my work, and years ago if you weren’t traditionally published or a New York Time’s Best Selling author no one looked at you and I just thought it was sad. I felt there were just so many talented authors who don’t get seen because they haven’t had that main stream recognition and it just wasn’t fair to me so I wanted to create something that showcased, not only myself but other not as well known authors (and of course well known authors too lol) and give them the attention they deserve because they’ve worked hard for that.
Okay second question! What is your favorite book and author and why?
My favorite book ever is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott because it was the first author that really made me feel I could be a novelist and it didn’t hurt that the character of Jo (my favorite) was also a writer. My favorite author currently is James Patterson because I just really love how he reels me into every single story he tells.