Interview by Nicole Melanson ~
Juanita Kees graduated from the Australian College QED, Bondi, with a diploma in Proofreading, Editing and Publishing, and achieved her dream of becoming a published author in 2012 with the release of her debut romantic suspense, Fly Away Peta, from Eternal Press.
Under the Hood (Book 1 in the Tag Raiders series) followed in 2013 as one of the first releases from Harlequin’s digital pioneer, Escape Publishing.
In 2014 Juanita was nominated for the Lynne Wilding Award (Romance Writers of Australia), and was a finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year and the Australian Romance Readers Awards.
She escapes the real world to write stories starring spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I started writing romance at the tender age of sixteen but it was only once I was married and my children were a little older that I pursued my writing career seriously. It took almost thirty years before I signed my first publishing contract. That’s a sobering thought!
WHAT IS YOUR LATEST BOOK OR CURRENT PROJECT?
My latest project is my first serious foray into self-publishing. Thirteen other authors and I have created the small rural Australian town of Bindarra Creek. Home to Bindarra Creek is the 6th book in the Bindarra Creek Romance series and is scheduled for publication in mid-December.
When fate brings together two lost souls, it’s time to leave the shadows behind and come Home to Bindarra Creek
Park Ranger Alice Pritchard lives with the ghosts of her past. As long as she has her rescued wildlife to rehabilitate and Bindarra Creek parks to care for, she’ll never need a man again. Now, with rejuvenation of the town in the pipeline, she has no choice but to let go of the past.
Dan Molyneaux roars into her life in his high-powered V8 and reopens the Riverside Pub forcing her to face her ghosts, his possum problem, Curly the cockatoo who swears like a sailor, Old Man Jake who’s appointed himself caretaker of the property, and Grandad Charlie who’s determined to find her the man he thinks she deserves. Alice would love to ignore them all and keep living in the cocoon she’s created for herself in sleepy Bindarra Creek, but fate has other plans for her.
Dan isn’t looking for love or the friendship of the two crazy old men who appear to have “adopted” him. All he wanted was the peace and quiet of the country, away from the city highways. Soon he’s swept along by renovations, fundraisers, hell-raisers and the problems of a small town coming back to life. But it’s the park ranger he’s curious about. Why would a girl as beautiful as Alice bury herself in a backwater town so far off the main highway it’s merely a blip on the satellite map?
What Dan uncovers raises his own ghosts from the dead.
Other titles available on Amazon: Fly Away Peta, Under the Hood, Under Cover of Dark
WHAT IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?
It depends on what I’m working on at the time. If I’m doing a lot of research, I have photos and notes stuck on every available surface and things can get a little messy. I can’t work without my annual firefighter calendar though! There’s always one of those in my office.
WHEN DO YOU WORK? WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
I work whenever the muse strikes which is often in the early hours of the morning. Then my miniature Daschund and I retreat to my office and work until the sun rises. I work in an office job part time so on my days off, we’ll take a stroll around the lake near my house before we settle down to writing or editing.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I’m a pantster, so I generally let my characters do the talking. When an idea strikes, I do a very loose chapter plan to keep things on track but that usually changes a few times as the story develops. I use a lot of visuals via Pinterest, Facebook and Google in order to build worlds and characters. Turning off my internal editor is the hard part. I find it hard to move on with the story if the previous chapters aren’t near perfect. It makes writing very slow.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
Because I can’t not do it. Writing and storytelling is an addiction, a way to escape the real world for a while.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
It might be a snippet of news or a personality I meet in the supermarket. Sometimes it’s a bit of scenery. I recently finished writing a paranormal romance series based on three Greek myths which I brought into the future. I have no idea what sparked that idea except that I’d love to see mythical Greeks come to life in the 21st century!
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
The hardest part is not getting distracted by social media. It’s easy to procrastinate when the muse isn’t playing the game and before I know it, my whole writing day is wasted and it’s time to cook dinner. It’s also hard to have to put the story down when the words are flowing and real life is calling intervention.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YOU STARTED?
I wish I’d known I was going to be a slow, methodical writer! I would have prepared a little better with a backlist behind me to take advantage of the many opportunities that arise from competitions and conference pitches.
WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC OR PROFESSIONAL VISION?
I’m blessed to have been published with my dream publisher, Harlequin, in their digital first division, Escape Publishing. The only thing that could top that is a print deal. I’m working hard to achieve that dream.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE AUTHORS?
That’s a tough one. I love discovering new favourite authors so my list is endless. If we’re talking authors who’ve inspired me, I’d have to say Nora Roberts. She’s one talented lady!
WHICH FEMALE AUTHORS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE INTERVIEWED ON WORDMOTHERS NEXT?
Thank you, Juanita Kees!
— Nicole Melanson
* Author photo by Katrina Wall from Online By Design
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