I’m very excited to welcome Author Josephine Blake to The Book Corner. I’m so thankful that she took time out from her busy, busy schedule to do an interview with me. I admit I just recently discovered Josephine through the group she admins on facebook called The Rumor Mill, and that led me to her books. ;) I just recently finished Dianna, which is the first installment of her excellent series The Brittler Sisters, and I have to say, I’m now completely hooked on Josephine’s books!
Josephine recently released the third installment in The Brittler Sisters series, Charlotte earlier this month. I was excited to be able to interview Josephine in honor of her new release to ask her a few questions about the new book, her writing process, her favorite holiday, and more…
Me- Hi Josephine! I’m sooo excited that you’re here! To get things started, tell us where you were raised and where you live now.
Josephine Blake- Thank you so much, Liz. I’m honored to be here! Well, I was born and raised in Oregon City, OR. It’s a small town in the Portland Metro area that often gets overlooked. My parents lived on this perfect little plot of land, close enough to the city to be convenient, but far enough away to give it a homey, country feel. There used to be this huge, beautiful vineyard across the street. I remember waiting for the bus at the end of the driveway and looking out over the vines.
My husband and I both grew up in OC, and when we got married, neither of us had any desire to move away. We bought a house on a dead end street beside a massive green space. I used to think I wanted to move farther out into the country, but the longer we’ve lived here, the more I’ve settled in. Now, I don't think you could pry me away from our little house with a wedge. :)
Me- What’s your favorite thing about Oregon, do you have a favorite spot or activity?
Josephine Blake- I love everything about Oregon. Granted, Portland itself might be a bit outlandish for my tastes, but the food there is spectacular. One of my all time favorite things to do is to go caving. It’s like hiking (also a favorite) but underground in the pitch black. It’s just the right amount of thrilling and exerting. We usually have to travel a bit and hunt backroads to find the caves. Bend is the perfect place for it. But I also enjoy wine tasting with my husband. Oregon Pinot Noir is phenomenal, but maybe I’m a little prejudice.
Me- I find that really cool, because I think a lot of us, when we think about Oregon, we tend to think it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer (except interesting history), so to know that it actually offers a wide range of activities is pretty cool! I’ll have to add it to my bucket list. ;)
As someone who has always loved to write, I always want to ask authors, have you always loved to write or did the passion develop over time?
Josephine- I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember.
Me- Believe it or not, out of the handful of authors I’ve interviewed/spoken to, you’re the first to say that you’ve always loved to write!
So taking that fact into account, when did you first start writing stories/novels? I imagine it was fairly early.
Josephine- Around second grade was when things became a little more concrete. I wrote a series of adventure stories about a pencil with extraordinary powers if I recall correctly. :)
Me- Wow! That’s incredible! Second grade… Gosh I’m not sure I was really into writing at that point, I think mine developed more towards 5th to 6th. :)
How did you get started as an author?
Josephine- For a long time I had settled into the idea that it wasn't possible. Then my older brother started a business that let him follow his dreams. He’s very musical, my brother. I’m very proud of him. I watched— and listened— to him growing, and the enthusiasm with which he spoke of his passionate schemes, and something clicked into place. The old feeling…. If he can do it, why can't I?? He’s helped me so much. From tiny, piddly things like helping me figure out a newsletter, to marketing strategies and encouragement.
I started writing, small articles at first on a freelance basis, and then short stories. Before I knew it, I was writing my own. I wouldn’t change the way I got into this, because starting small allowed me to get a grasp of the industry, and pick up things from the people I worked for. Many of my clients were kind enough to add help and advice. I watched how they created storylines for me to work from, and it gave me a foundation on which I could build.
Me- Your story and mine are fairly similar in that we both started out small, freelancing and working our way up through the business. Of course the difference is that I haven’t graduated to writing novels yet. ;)
How many books have you written so far?
Josephine- I just published my sixth. I have a collection of short stories and novellas, and I’m working on completing my first series.
Me- As a writer myself, I’m always curious about how authors go about writing. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Josephine- My writing process is a little of this and that. Half the time, when I draw up a plot line, my characters grab hold of it and yank me in another direction. I try to start with some sort of outline, but mostly, I just write and go where the story takes me.
My characters aren't based on real people. In fact, they are rather… themselves. Sometimes, I’ll overhear or see someone in a crowd and think to myself: “That reminds me of Dianna.” or Charlotte. Even Little Rose. Samantha Brittler is a tough cookie. I see her in everyone. My characters tend to invent themselves. They are already present before I see their qualities in someone else.
I often listen to a combination of classical and rock music, preferring instrumentals for the quieter bits of story. Occasionally, the flow of the words will change pace with the music.
At the moment, I write whenever I have time. I’m a busy girl. I don't do well standing still. I seem to feel my best when I’ve an overflowing plate of tasks to accomplish.
Me- I love what you just said about your characters being themselves, and not inspired or based on anyone. I’m currently working on my first book and I feel the same way about my two main characters so far. They are definitely their own personalities, existing all on their own.
Another question I really love to ask authors is about their love of reading. Have you always loved reading or did you learn to over time?
Josephine- I’ve always loved to read. My dad used to read to us out of this giant book called “Uncle Remus Stories.” He’d do all the voices. I loved it. My mom and my brother read to me too. My mom was always a reader. Still is. Reading was big in our family when I grew up. I’ve always had a book in my hand.
Me- What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Josephine- Oh man, that’s a toughy. Well, all of the authors that I’ve met, whether in person, or online, they’ve been supportive, wonderful people, especially the other authors of The Rumor Mill. They’re always ready to jump onboard whatever crazy project I’m coming up with. In all honesty though, I love J.K. Rowling. I listen to the Harry Potter books on audio almost daily.
Me- Lol, I have to make a confession: I have never read the Harry Potter books, and I’m not even sure why because they were HUGE when I was in school!
What are a few of your favorite authors?
Josephine- Agh! Don't tell me that. HP is amazing! Favorite authors? Well, J.K. Rowling. But, generally my favorite is whoever I’m reading at the time. The same goes for my favorite books. ;)
Me- What are you currently reading? Any recommendations? ;)
Josephine- Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You. It’s great so far. As for recommendations, I highly recommend any of the authors in The Rumor Mill. I love those ladies.
You recently released your third book in your excellent The Brittler Sisters series, Charlotte, on March 1st. I admit that I’ve come late to the series and just finished Dianna (the 1st in the series), but I have the rest of the series and am currently working my way to Charlotte!
Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Josephine- Well, Charlotte wrote her own story. I felt like I was just along for the ride. She prides herself on being levelheaded, and quite different from her elder sister, Dianna. Come to find out, she inadvertently finds herself in the midst of chaos, and decides she rather likes it.
Her beau though… you’ll have to decide for yourself. Forget reformed rake. Try to reform the son of a con artist.
Me- Oh boy, sounds like it’s going to be another page turner! ;) I can’t wait to read it!
What made you decide to write this series?
Josephine- Well, again, with blatant honesty, I’d had enough of writing for other people. I had this one idea locked away in my head since I was about… oh, I don't know.. fifteen? Boom. Dianna was conjured into existence.
Me- What was the inspiration, if any?
Josephine- My dad and grandpa, they’re the cowboys in my life. Rough and tumble types. My husband, he’s the overprotective sweetheart who takes me on adventures. He’s also my encouragement, my brain, and the influence for the love in all my books. I didn’t know love until I found him. I’d seen it, between my parents, my grandparents, even my older brother and his wife, but the good kind of love is the kind that is your own. Trust me, without him, I’d be writing horror novels.
Me- Lol now THAT’S an interesting thought…. Dianna with a horror twist ;)
Could you tell us a bit about the process of creating and developing the characters?
Josephine- Yeah, maybe Dianna and zombies?! ;) As far as character development, like I said, they do that on their own, at least for me. :) Sometimes I’ll look up a certain skin tone so that I don't get their coloring wrong in my head. Ex: olive tone. Lol. But other than that, my heroines and heroes, and even the side characters, they pop into being as they are. I’m convinced that I have very little to do with it.
Me- Was the development process easier this time around due to the fact that this is the third in a series, therefore some of the characters and background details have already been introduced in earlier installments?
Josephine- Maybe in a way, but I still had to battle my way through the storyline. Re-capping is really not my favorite way to write.
Me- I would imagine trying to recap enough so that the reader isn’t lost but not too much so you’re not retelling the whole story could be a bit tedious.
I HAVE to ask, will there be more installments in The Brittler Sisters series?
Josephine- Definitely, I've got three more books planned for these girls. I can’t leave stories untold.
You’ve been a busy lady! On top of releasing Charlotte, continuing that series, you also recently released a Valentine’s Day novella titled Two Hearts One Stone, which by the way, has an absolutely beautiful cover! Given that both Charlotte and Two Hearts One Stone were released around the same time, with only a few weeks in between, I assume they overlapped in the writing stage. Did they indeed overlap?
Josephine- Not exactly, I waited until Charlotte was in the editing stages before I let myself jump into writing Two Hearts One Stone.
Me- How did the novella come to life?
Josephine- I love Valentine's Day. I LOVE it. What can be more fun to celebrate than love? It doesn't have to be between you and your significant other either. My parents and I exchange Valentine’s gifts. There’s not a thing wrong with reaching out to those around you and telling them how much you care. So I took my love of Valentine’s Day and I let it explode into a town called Churchgrove, and as I started writing, Henry sidled into the frame and scowled. The rest is history. ;)
Me- I also love Valentine’s Day but for a different reason. Though I do agree that it’s not just a day for couples, but for celebrating all kinds of love, my main reason for loving the holiday is because it happens to be the day I got my fur-baby, Sophia (she’s a rescue). So for the last 5 years I’ve called it Sophia Day. ;)
Was it tricky writing two different stories around the same time?
Josephine- The only difficult part about writing so much is that occasionally my fingers will type the wrong person’s name. I still type DIANNA sometimes on accident.
Me- Tell me a bit about Two Hearts One Stone.
Josephine- I love this story so much. The idea of this grouchy ‘ole guy being tossed into the middle of one of the most frivolous celebrations ever. Man, Henry was a hoot. I loved writing him. I never knew what was going to come out of his mouth next. The dinner scene with Miss Hadisham, I thought she might have to tell him to stuff a sock in it.
Me- Lol that sounds hilarious! I can’t wait to read it!
Now for a Few Fun questions from the fans ;)
I also really liked What if, V for Vendetta. How to be Single. I’m obsessed with Downton Abbey. Although I know that’s a show, not a movie. I can watch any period drama and fall apart at the seams. I love them. Pride and Prejudice. Becoming Jane. Reign…. Really if it's Historical, I’m gonna watch it. I could go on forever, too hard to pick favorites.
Me- Well, I suppose I have to bring this to an end at some point, lol. But I do have one last question for you. As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently working on my first novel, and the heroine’s name is actually Josephine, but everyone calls her Joey. So I was wondering, do you have any nicknames? :)
Josephine- Nicknames. Hmm. Occasionally, I get Jo or Jojo. Sometimes people just abbreviate my name. “Hey, J.” Lol.
Me- I’ve had a blast! I’m so glad and thankful that you agreed to this interview! I truly appreciate it! Do you have any last words to add before we sign off?
Josephine: Only that I’m incredibly excited for you!! I can't wait to read your first book, and if you ever have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out! Thank you so much for having me here!!!
I want to thank Josephine one last time for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me. Y’all be sure to check her latest release, Charlotte, along with the rest of her catalogue. ;)
Keep up with Josephine Blake through her website: http://www.awordfromjosephineblake.com/
Also check out The Rumor Mill on Facebook!: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Finest.Historical.Romance.TheRumorMill/?ref=bookmarks&qsefr=1
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....