Monday, October 24, 2011

Jeanne Guzman: You Can't Play Around If You Want To Write

Jeanne Guzman
 Born and raised in Maryland, Jeanne Guzman got to Texas as fast as she could. Mother of 4, Mimi to 9, and Keeper of the Zoo, Jeanne and her husband/best friend enjoy life to its fullest. When they’re not traveling around Texas in their motor coach, you can find Jeanne sitting in her home office typing away at her computer. She is here to talk about her book DRAGON LOVER , how she got published, and her intricate life as a new author. So grab a drink, relax and join in the conversation. Jeanne, thank you for joining our blog to talk about your first book, and your writing career.

Jeanne Guzman On Her Journey…

What is this journey like for you?
Honestly, Tiring, exhilarating, frustrating, and so worth the sleepless nights.

People often think of writers as having “overnight success.” How many years have you been working toward “overnight success”?
I’ve been writing now for 20 years. But it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I finally said, “enough playing around” and got down to following my heart.

What galvanizes you to keep writing?
My family and friends. The closer I get to publication, the more supportive they are. The more supportive they are, the more I want to write.

On her Book And Characters…
Could you share a bit about your book and characters?
What can I say? Hummm, imagine a world where dragons have evolved, just as the apes, into upright walking, human looking entities with wings and the ability to breathe fire. A world where a crossbreed between human and dragon, called Sparrows, guard the identity of said dragons. Now plop them in downtown Austin Texas in the middle of tourist season and you’ll have the first in my Dragon Hunters series. Let me tell you, it’s hard to hide a dragon in flight in the capitol city, but it can be done.

What inspired you to write romantic fantasy with dragons?
Simple, my youngest daughter. I was sitting in my office, struggling with “Writers Block” and she came in and said, “Hey, mom, why don’t you write a book about demons. Or better yet, Dragons.” And the rest, as they say….

If you had to choose, which scene from Dragon Lover is your favorite?
 If I had to pick just one, it would be when Kimball (she’s a Sparrow living in Austin) and Dmitri (he’s a dragon from North Texas) have first contact. (end of chapter 4) Trust me, seeing a little thing Like Kimball flip a dragon the size of Dmitri, I laugh every time I read that part, and I wrote it.

On Her Writing Process…
As someone with a large family, how has this helped or hindered you in planning/writing your books? I’m sure this is true for most everyone, but my family always comes first. I know this, and they know this, and in the beginning they took that fact for granted, but as my writing developed and they could actually SEE that writing really is hard work, they began to learn to do for themselves. Now, instead of getting interrupted millions of times a day to help with this or that, requests for my undivided attention have dwindled. My husband has even been known to wash dishes. *gasp* I know, shocking.

You’ve written a book about dragons. How much world building is involved? Would you care to share how you do this? World building, believe it or not, I hadn’t given much thought to building that world until I’d submitted to an editor. She loved the book, but couldn’t bring the world into focus. Needless to say, I got a crash course in building my world, developing towns, (picture a city like Austin, but underground) and making the editor believe there was such a place. I now have maps, diagrams, pictures, and notebooks strewn all over my office. I keep a profile on every character, (yes, even a house can be a character) I have a Dragon-Sparrow dictionary that I’ve created. A lineage Tree (names get added as they’re introduced into the series) There is so much involved in building a believable world, in my own opinion, a person has to live there in order to write about it. So in short, I live in a world I created.

How do you give your dragon characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them on?
I really don’t think I can take credit for that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this issue, but as I start to write, my characters come to life and tell me how their story should go. If I try to make them do something they normally wouldn’t do, they tell me about it. They’ve even woke me out of a sound sleep to fix what they believe is an issue.

Was it difficult to “get into character” for heroes/heroines from another realm?
Not at all, because really, a dragon is just like anyone else, if you take away the wings, breathing fire, and flying.

What challenge or struggle do you face when you try to build emotional bonds between the characters?
That would have to be their personalities. For instance, Kimball has been hunting demons all her life, then she’s told they’re not demons, but dragons. Then she finds out that not only can she NOT kill the dragon who comes to her aid, she’s basically married to him. As you can imagine, she’s not too happy about this, and she lashes out.

How do you, then, go about addressing the part you struggle with?
I put myself in their shoes. I know where they need to be, and what their goal is, if they refuse to listen, I’ll take something away. Another for instance. Dmitri is not only a Hunter (form of law enforcement for his race of dragon) he’s also extremely protective of Kimball. Kimball is a fighter, but Dmitri tried to prevent her from fighting. Simple, I took away his status as a hunter. He’s listening better now.

On Her Personal Life As An Author...
What do you find most rewarding about your writing career?
Personal satisfaction. No more doubts that I can, because I did. Most disappointing? That I can’t answer yet. Every moment has been a learning experience for me, and I’m still learning.

If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?
Never give up on yourself. Believe in what you’re doing. If one book, one way of writing isn’t getting you the results you want, stick it in a box, store it in your closet, then get back to work on something new. You can always go back.

What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?
Thinking they have all the answers. You can’t just wake up one morning and say “Hey, I think I’ll write a novel today” and honestly believe it will happen just like that. Writing is a constant learning experience. It’s work. It’s blood, sweat, tears and hours and hours sitting in front of your computer or typewriter.


What is a little known fact about you?
I can tell you, because I know my grandbabies are not going to read this, but I hide candy in my nightstand. I allow myself one a day, no more, and then no more sweets for me.

What book are you reading right now?
Ummmm, just bought a few from Borders (their final days) and haven’t decided what I’m going to read first. No, I lied. I’m about to read Treachery In Death, by J. D. Robb. (Nora Roberts for those who didn’t know)

If you could have a beer, wine, coffee, or tea with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?
It would be Nora Roberts. The woman is the goddess of writing. Through the years, I have come face to face with many a published author, but never have I been as tongue tied as when in the presence of her greatness. Just to be in the same room with her would be enough. (Okay, I got a girl-crush, I admit it freely)

What's next for you?

Book 2, The Dragon Within. I’m in the final edits before sending it off to my editor.


Where can we buy your books and find you on the web? You can find me on the web at and to buy my book, go to

Jeanne’s question for readers.

As I outline future books in my Dragon Hunters Series, what location would you, the reader, like to see most? (So far, I’ve written about Australia, Texas, Oklahoma, Southern Chili, and I’m about to take a few of my dragons to Scotland)

Don’t forget to leave a comment. I’ll be picking a winner at the end of the week who will receive a signed copy of Dragon Lover.


Jerrie Alexander said...

As someone who's had the pleasure of reading Dragon Lover, I can honestly say it's a great read!

Baltizar is my favorite, and I'm happy he's getting his own book!

I think a tropical island would be a great location. Antigua or Barbados.

I understand the release date is October 31st...good luck and many sales!

Jeanne Guzman said...

Tropical Island? Hummm Something to think about.

Anonymous said...

I loved your comment about putting away the book that's not working. I finally discovered why I'd been putting away so many first chapters-I was like the airplane pilot who said to his passengers. "Ladies and Gentleman, we're lost but we're making good time." I really had no destination, just an idea, and was writing, writing, writing, but not getting there.
Really great interview.

Jeanne Guzman said...

Thorne, Tuck those ideas away as much as you need to, just don't forget they're there. Take them out every so often and try to recapture the feelings you had when you first started writing.

Denise Bartlett said...

Good advice for aspiring authors, Jeanne. I would say the old adage about writing what you know is also a good one when it comes to writing location. If you haven't spent some real time in a place, you're going to have to do lots of research before you can be convincing about the place, even in fantasy.

Chalaedra said...

Nope, that comment was from me . . . Charlotte, not Denise. She used my computer this morning, so I guess my computer still has her signed in. I'll try this again and see if I can comment as myself!

Jeanne Guzman said...

More good advice, Charlotte,Thanks

Marsha said...

Also, having read this book as Jerrie above, I gotta concur. It's a great read. Can't wait to buy it. Jeannie, I love your comments here. I LOLed that "dragons are just like everyone else except for the wings, breathing fire, and flying." Too funny. Good luck with sales, Jeannie. People are in for a real treat. Marsha

Marsha said...

Forgot to suggest a location. I'd go somewhere cold--New England or the northwest. It appears to me to be fair, you'll have to do an island thing for Jerrie and a cold place for me. :) Marsha

Jeanne Guzman said...

Thanks Marsha, And that makes two locals. I can do that. LOL

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks for visiting our blog. You made some great points about working hard to write. As far as a site to have the next book, why not try a castle on the Rhine River or a temple in Greece?

Jeanne Guzman said...

A castle. Ohhh, that gives me an idea for book 4. I'm taking my dragons to Scotland and...well, you'll have to wait for the rest. Thanks for the idea, Ruby!

Bryan said...

Jeanne you freakin' rock! I can totally relate with the busy family, having 3 little girls all 6 and under. It's hard enough to find time to breathe. Especially since I'm in charge of dishes/laundry/mopping... how did all of that happen?

I have to admit that I rolled my eyes at the cover and was completely turned off until I read more about the book series through your blog. It sounds fascinating and I can't wait to start digging through it. How does cover art work? Is it something assigned by the publisher or do you get some say in the final product?

I was a bit pressed to suggest a good location. I finally decided that it would be pretty cool to see some rural Asian area. Mostly for the reason that I'd love to see if there's variation in oriental dragons/sparrows.

Thanks again for all the great information!


Jeanne Guzman said...

Bryan, thanks for taking the time to read more about the series, it really does "Rock" As for the cover, I know you rolled your eyes, but I did have a say in the cover. My publisher came up with the idea, send me a few pictures to pick through, but in the end, I love it. There is a scene in the book where the two main characters are training in a remote location and the picture I had in my mind was almost identical to the Picture my publisher found.

As for location, funny you should mention Asia. One branch of the dragon collective are Asian, so we'll be going there in the near future.

And last but not least, take hart with the kiddo's, you still have the teen-age years to get through!

Caroline Clemmons said...

What an intriguing concept, and of course I love books set in Texas. Best of luck with sales. Thanks for sharing with us.

Jeanne Guzman said...

Thanks for stopping by, Caroline. I have to say I love writing about Texas. There's no other place like it. *grin*

Dawn Colclasure said...

Great interview! And I'm glad you have been able to work things out with family members about having time to write. That is important. I like reading Nora Roberts, too. Good luck with your books!

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