Rosalind James – Featured Author Interview
Welcome to Rosalind James, the first author to be featured in our new interview series with bestselling authors I really think you’ll enjoy meeting.
Rosalind is a much-loved author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. Read on for intimate insights into Rosalind’s journey as an author and other juicy tidbits from her personal life. (There’s a great dog story in the interview!)
And thank you to Michele Walsh for putting together this great interview with Rosalind James!
How old were you when you started writing, Rosalind?
I was in my fifties. The only fiction I’d ever written was a story about Betty Bacillus for a class assignment when I was nine. I’m the analytical type, and the most unlikely novelist ever.
What inspired you to become a writer?
The New Zealand All Blacks (the country’s international rugby team). I’d always made up daydreams in my head—long, elaborate ones full of dialogue and romance—but I just thought of them as, well, daydreams, a distraction and a waste of time.
But I was living in New Zealand during the buildup to the Rugby World Cup (which was held in New Zealand in 2011), and I became as entranced with the sport as I already was with the country, and especially with its players. They’re the ultimate national heroes and New Zealand’s most famous export, but they’re also expected to be “regular Kiwi blokes” and to behave well at all times, on and off the field. They say, “You’re an All Black 24/7,” and they mean it.
As the World Cup went on and I saw how invested the entire country was in the team’s success and how proud the people were of “our boys,” I started having one of the daydreams I’d had all my life, about this fictional captain of the All Blacks, and an overworked American woman who comes to New Zealand for a much-needed vacation and finds the love of a lifetime—and a new life.
(By the way—Google “All Blacks haka.” Short shorts, strong men, and enough testosterone to power a battleship.)
With that inspiration, I somehow—still not sure why—started writing my first novel two days after the Rugby World Cup final (which New Zealand WON), and within a week, I was possessed. I was working 30 hours a week remotely (marketing), but I was staying up into the wee hours every morning writing. I knew that this was all I wanted to do. I finished the book within six weeks, and then I, the most risk-averse woman in the world, quit my job and wrote two more books in the next six months. I never intended to write a series. I just thought of two more players I wanted to write about, and I wrote their stories. It was like writing came and chose me and carried me away. That’s the only way I can describe it. I had no reason to think I could make a success of it, but somehow, I did.
How do you balance your personal life with your writing time?
Ha. Ask my husband. I don’t.
Do you have a family? How big is your household?
I have two grown sons. Very grateful to them and my husband for letting me know what makes men tick! I love writing men.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
It’s Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ fault that I write. She didn’t put out new books fast enough. I couldn’t find enough of the kind of book I enjoyed most, so I made up my own story, and then I wrote it down so I could read it. That’s still what I do. Something with some humor, some heart, and maybe even a few tears, but always a happy ending.
Which is your favorite work of your own and why?
First book where I actually thought: this is good: JUST FOR NOW (Escape to New Zealand), my third book. About a tough rugby player, the team’s “hard man,” who’s a widower with two kids and a soft marshmallow center, and his temporary nanny. It’s my most feel-good book, and I fell in love with Finn! Book I’m proudest to have written: HOLD ME CLOSE (Paradise, Idaho). Similar in some ways, in that it’s got a kid (I love writing kids) and a heroine who’s a widow. A more serious book, about loss and recovery and picking up the pieces of your life and going on. It’s a book about courage.
Which of your books would you recommend that new readers start with?
I write different kinds of things, because I need to challenge myself. If you like feel-good escape: JUST THIS ONCE, first New Zealand book. If you like suspense: CARRY ME HOME, the first Paradise, Idaho book, and my first real-deal romantic suspense. If you like sexy: FIERCE, my first Not Quite a Billionaire book (which was a total kick to write and also features a New Zealand Maori hero, just because they’re about the hottest thing going.)
Which novel was most difficult to complete? Why and how did you overcome the difficulty?
Probably HOLD ME CLOSE. I had to go to the hard places for that book. The way I overcome difficulties is just to keep going, which is what Kayla does in the story.
Where else have you traveled that had an impact on your writing?
I grew up in north Idaho, which is the setting for the first book in my Kincaids series, WELCOME TO PARADISE, on a historical reenactment reality show. (I know—weird, huh? So much fun), as well as the setting for my Paradise, Idaho romantic suspense series. I’ve also lived in Australia, most recently in Sydney, and Australia is completely awesome, too. Sydney’s going to make an appearance in the second Not Quite a Billionaire book, up next.
Tell us about your Labrador Retriever, Charlie? Is Charlie featured in any of your books?
Funny you should ask. I’m actually writing a book right now (TAKE ME BACK, Book 4 in my Paradise, Idaho series from Montlake Romance) that features a thinly disguised Charlie. His name is Cletus and he’s a golden retriever rather than a lab, but he’s Charlie.
The funniest thing about Charlie is that he LOVES FRUIT. Apples and carrots (OK, not a fruit) are his favorite foods in the world. He can hear you taking an apple from the bowl on the kitchen counter all the way from the living room, and he’ll be right there hoping for the core. We have an apple tree in the back yard, and we noticed that it didn’t have any fruit on its lower branches. Then we caught Charlie jumping up on his hind legs and picking apples! He does the same thing with our fig tree, and when it’s plum season in Berkeley, he’d go for four walks a day if you’d take him, just to sidewalk surf.
How did the experience of living in New Zealand contribute to your success as an author?
New Zealand is the whole reason I started writing. I was that typical American woman—overworked, overstressed, working mom. When I went to live first in Australia and then, especially, in New Zealand, it was like this whole different way to live opened up to me, where “quality of life” wasn’t just a phrase, where people spent their weekends with their families, on boats or at the beach, living life. Where who you are as a person matters more than what you do for a living, and where humility and integrity and hard work and teamwork really are the most prized virtues. I guess you could say I love New Zealand! Living in that beautiful country inspired me to start writing my first book, to finish it and quit my job, and to change my life completely. I can almost literally say that I owe New Zealand my life.
After I’d written JUST THIS ONCE, when I was about to leave New Zealand after 15 months and so sad about it, I went to dinner with a good friend, one of the first people to read my book. She asked, “Say you make fifty thousand dollars from writing next year”—which I thought was IMPOSSIBLE—“What will you do with it?” And I answered, without any thought at all, “Come back here.” I’ve been able to do that, two to three months out of every year, because of my writing. And that’s magic.
I’d just say, to anyone reading this—you never know what will happen when you follow your dreams.
Thank you for having me! I appreciate the chance to share what I love to do best in the world.
Thank you, Rosalind, for taking the time to give us a peek into your writing life! Wonderful readers, please visit Rosalind’s website. And don’t forget to download a free copy of Just For You by joining her mailing list here.
If you’re looking for your next great escape, see a list of my books here.