JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst.
Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books and sign up for her newsletter at her website.
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First off, can you tell us a bit about you?
I’m from the stunning east coast of Canada, now living in Toronto with my Viking husband and young Viking in Training. I’ve spent fifteen years working in the journalism and PR/marketing industries before writing my first book for Harlequin/Mills & Boon’s Presents/Modern line. Two of my favourite things are traveling – luckily I got to do a lot of that in my PR career - and hanging out with my girlfriends the first Wednesday of every month in our eleven-year-strong book club. I love that we read books I sometimes never would have picked up, many of which I’ve loved!
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes! I wrote my first manuscript for Harlequin when I was nineteen and I knew then that that was what I wanted to do. But I didn’t have enough life experience to write those types of deeply emotional books. So I took my very nice rejection from a senior editor and carried it with me through a career in journalism and PR. But I always came back to the love of writing. When my bosses would ask me in performance reviews “What do you want to be in five years?”, I would say, “A novelist…” Not career limiting… really.
What kind of writer are you? Panster or Plotter?
I’m a bit of both. More of a plotter I’d say. I need to know my characters inside out before I begin a book (at least as much as I can know about them before I start writing because you never really know that deeper essence of your characters until you start writing them I think). I also need to know the rough framework of my story and my turning points. Often things change as I write and that’s fine, I adjust as I go. I don’t have to know the end, because it often changes when the book takes over. But I think if I started a book without a rough outline I’d end up with a sagging middle and a good case of panic. I need to know what I’m building to.
Where do your ideas come from?
Often from the news – The Divorce Party was about the story of a real-life society couple in Manhattan throwing a million-dollar divorce party which blew my mind and I had to write it. The heroine for my sixth book for Presents, The Magnate’s Manifesto, coming out in Dec was inspired by a Las Vegas stripper I’d seen interviewed on TV who’d bought multiple properties and set herself up for life dancing. My heroine, Bailey in the Magnate’s Manifesto, put herself through college dancing and becomes a high-powered marketing executive. Just when she thinks she’s put her old life behind her, it comes roaring back. I was really fascinated by these ultra-strong women who get up on stage every night, who are very business-minded and become very successful. And after I interviewed a former Las Vegas stripper myself I was hooked. She was amazing.
A la Twitter style, can you describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.
NYC reporter has the hottest one-night-stand of her life only to find the man of her dreams has become her next big story.
What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Family sagas, romance (of course – any and all), contemporary women’s fiction and mysteries.
Do you have a favorite book and if so what is it?
I’ll give three since they’re so different – Judith McNaught’s Whitney My Love (heavenly historical romance), The Disobedient Virgin by Sandra Marton (simply one of my all-time fav Harlequin Presents) and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (an amazing book about a fictional South American country and a hostage taking – a book club favourite)
What are the scenes that are the hardest for you to write?
The big turning point scenes where characters have to change in front of your eyes. You have to have the groundwork laid and even then you have to do them so well for them to be believable.
If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why?
Sandra Marton because I have loved her Harlequin Presents novels so much, Nora Roberts – is there any need to say why? And can I include a screenwriter for my third? Robert McKee, because he is brilliant
Last question, are you working on anything right now?
Yes! I’m working on my seventh book for Presents about two Long Island automotive magnate brothers about to have their lives turned upside down by the women I’ve matched them with.
What’s your favourite book and why?
One kiss couldn't hurt, could it?
Alexios Constantinou is notorious for his lethal charm, so when the exquisite Isabel Peters is—literally—dropped into his lap during a hellish elevator ride, he doesn't waste the opportunity! With tensions sky-high after their near-death experience, an insatiable desire ignites between them, and all bets are off.
But when Alex discovers that reporter Isabel's next story is him, he's furious…yet determined to use it to his advantage. He's calling the shots, but the closer Isabel gets, the closer she comes to discovering his carefully concealed secret. Now, with everything at stake, he'll need a whole new game plan….
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Izzie focused on forking the small amount of food she thought she could consume into her mouth at the small candlelit table Alex had set on the terrace. The herbed pasta was delicious, but it was hard to eat when her heart was still pounding and her hands trembling so much negotiating a fork seemed like a new and highly complex activity. And why wouldn't it when she had literally jumped into the deep end and invited the most spectacularly good looking man she'd ever met to kiss her--and he had! Not to mention the fact that the kiss had been the most incredible of her life and all she could think about was experiencing more of the bone-meltingly delicious heat that had coursed through her veins. It was like every nerve ending in her body had been switched on for the first time and she wasn't sure whether to revel in it or be completely terrified of what she was feeling.
She swallowed hard, forced down the food. The fact that she'd been right--that Alex was attracted to her--made her head feel like it was going to blow off. Maybe Jo was right. Maybe it had been her defensive attitude that had turned men off in the past and not the fifteen extra pounds she'd been carrying. Which had always been her excuse.
She took another sip of the rich, full Cabernet that was going a long way to mellowing her out. But the wine didn't seem to be having the same effect on Alex who'd glowered at her throughout the entire meal-as if she'd committed a crime rather than simply kissed him.
She risked a quick glance at him. He was still watching her with that same, implacable frown on his face, that penetrating blue gaze of his impossible to read. And it occurred to her she hadn't fully thought through her plan. She had the mind numbing confirmation he was attracted to her...the question now was what was she going to do about it?
Her heart pounding in her chest, she set her fork down with an abrupt movement, and the sound of metal clattering against fine china echoed in the still night air.
He gave her half-empty plate a narrowed glance. "That's all you're going to eat?"
"It was delicious, thank you. I think that's about all I can handle.'
"All right." He laid his fork down with a deliberate movement and pushed his plate away. "Let's talk about what happened."
Gladly. She took another sip of her wine to fortify herself and set the glass down.
"That kiss shouldn't have happened."
She was ready for that one. "Why not?
"I'm much more experienced than you, Isabel. I'm not interested in relationships, in fact mine never last longer than a few months, and the women I date are well aware of that."
He did a double take at the belligerent note in her voice. "You're also probably still in shock from what happened today."
"I'm absolutely fine," she countered. "In fact I feel like I have more clarity right now than I've ever had in my life."
He sat back in his chair, his gaze on her face. "What kind of clarity?"
She twisted the stem of her wine glass on the table, watching the blood red liquid shimmer in the candlelight. "That was my worst fear today. Facing it-getting through it-" she paused, looking up at him, "--it's made me realize how much of my life I've lived in fear...how many times I've not gone after what I wanted because I was afraid I wouldn't get it or it would explode in my face."
He gave a wary nod. "That's a good realization."
She shook her head. "I'm not looking for a relationship, Alex." A husky laugh escaped her. "In fact, that's the last thing I need right now."
His eyes narrowed. "Then what are you looking for?"
"I don't want to live with any more regrets."
He shook his head, a wry smile curving his lips. "You're twenty-five, Isabel. How many regrets can you have?"
She took a deep breath, meeting his gaze head-on. "I will regret it if I walk away from tonight without exploring the attraction that's between us."
A muscle jumped in his jaw. He sat there completely silent, staring at her. "I'm not sure you know what you're doing."
She shook her head. "I know exactly what I'm doing."
A long moment passed, it might have been four, five seconds, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she was holding her breath, sure at one point he was going to reject her. The warm night air pressed so heavily against her lungs she thought they would burst. And then something shifted, morphed on the air between them. And she got her answer in the darkening of his eyes.
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- 1 print copy of Changing Constantinou’s Game
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