Last September, not long before the Vagabonds broke up the caravan and headed in different directions, I blogged on my wish list of new books by authors whose names had disappeared from new releases lists. I didn’t include Jill Barnett in the list because I kept seeing references to new books by her, but Hellion, the Cap’n on the Romance Writer’s Revenge, mentioned in her comment how much she missed JB and suggested that her absence might be attributable to the untimely death of her husband.
I haven’t really thought about the wish list blog since the Vagabonds said our goodbyes, but our words—mine and those of all the commenters—caught the attention of Jill Barnett, who sent me the following message:
I scoured your website, Vagabonds, but could find nowhere to post. I just now discovered a conversation in 2009 about me, my books, or lack thereof, and the death of my husband.
I would love to post or have you post this info. I loved that you and Hellion missed my books. As for Chris' death affecting my output, not so much. His death has affected every moment and single grain of my life. I was so scared. Our daughter was only 11. I had to raise her alone. It was not easy. Then my father and my MIL died, two months apart and a year after Chris. Still I was writing.
I was in the middle of CARRIED AWAY when Chris died, and had stupidly patterned a character after him. Can you imagine? Finishing that book was so difficult, but I did. After that, I wrote WONDERFUL, WILD, WICKED, all historical romances, some of my bestsellers, then SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, THE DAYS OF SUMMER, and another women's fiction book.
And I have three new historical romances coming out all together in 2011.
Here's a short version of what happened. I was urged by my publisher to go hardcover. They wanted to take WICKED hardcover. That bothered me. Romance readers read so much. They want paperback, so I agreed instead to do hardcover fiction and write something else after WICKED, which I asked them to keep as a mass market ppbk. Then during one year, everyone who supported me at the publisher left and my agent left my literary agency. I had been at my publisher since 1988, with my first book. This was what was difficult.
Eventually I slogged through and finished my contract; this was not easy, I admit, and took me forever. I left and have gone over to my old team who are now at Random House/Ballantine. We proposed three new historical romances, which they wanted to hold and publish all at once, and I still had to write the books, so I expect they will be out sometime in 2011.
There is a 4th book they don't know about yet which will probably follow those. Had I written these books faster, they would have been out this year. Blame me for that. I was never a speedy writer. It takes 2-3 months to physically write a book, but 6-9 for me to 'think a book.'
But I adore these books and hope readers will, too. Set in medieval Scotland, they are about three sisters who I believe readers will not forget, and the men who fall in love with them, though that is not an easy task for our heroes. I promise you these books are different, and that readers will read them and find many surprises. They are emotional, sometimes funny, and meant for readers to close the book happy. I want these women to be remembered, and think they will be, although I'm still writing number 3, so we'll see.
I have another idea for a trilogy, so I would like to write that, and further into the future, I swear I will write the two spin offs of BEWITCHING and DREAMING I am still getting mail about.
A revamped Jill Barnett website will up in the late summer. All of my older romances are being released in e-Book form and will be available in a couple of months, if not sooner at all the eBook stores.
I am sincerely flattered that readers miss my books. I will try to make certain they have Jill Barnett books every year in the future.
Yes, there are times and were times when writing a happy, joy-filled love story was difficult, especially in the early days of Chris' death, when I was floundering so, and terribly wounded. But my husband loved that I wrote these books. To stop writing would feel like a slap in his face. I was lucky to have had him for 27 years, and I would have loved to have had him for 27 more. He is missed greatly by my daughter, his brothers and sisters, his friends, his employees, and me.
I do post on a private (not fan site) on Facebook, talk about books and life, family and him, home and writing, and I have little Twitter acct, Jillbooks. I will eventually set up a FB fan page, but anyone is welcome to befriend me on the one that is there now.
So new books are coming, and I hope you will still want to read them, that readers will laugh and cry, and read the last line and close the book on a satisfied sigh.
If you’ve never read a Jill Barnett book, do yourself a favor and look for those ebooks right now. Bewitching and Dreaming are my favorites, and I was delighted to read that Ms. Barnett is planning spinoffs of these books. Anytime the subject of epilogues comes up, I cite Bewitching as having one of the best epilogues ever written. Just thinking about it makes me smile. I know some of you share my fondness for control-freak meets free spirit plots, and, trust me, this tale of the proper, rational Alec Castlemaine, 15th Duke of Belmore, who wants to control everything, and Joyous Fiona MacQuarrie, a one-quarter witch who can’t even control her own magic, will have you laughing, crying, and sighing at some great love scenes. I don’t know of another book where the H/H’s lovemaking is accompanied by a shower of pink rose petals. A cast of wonderful secondary characters, including Beezle, Joy’s familiar, an ermine weasel, add to the delight. Some of the secondary characters get their own HEAs in Dreaming, which Hellion actually likes even better than Bewitching.
I read very few Medieval romances, but I have read JB’s trilogy: Wonderful, Wild, and Wicked. The latter is one of only three Medievals on my all-time top 100 romances list. Even my bias against the period setting couldn’t hold out against the humor, the pathos, and the heart-capturing H/H of this book.
I also love Sentimental Journey. It is a World War II book that is a novel with strong romantic elements rather than a romance, but both the men and women are strong, active, and deeply human characters whose stories will engage your mind and your heart. I have to add a novella to my list of Jill Barnett favorites. “Boxing Day,” one of four stories in the Christmas anthology A Stockingful of Joy, is a one-of-a-kind tale featuring an older heroine and a professional boxer in Victorian New York. It’s been a part of my annual Christmas rereads since I first read it. (Mary Jo Putney’s underrated “The Best Husband Money Can Buy” is in the same anthology.)
Perhaps you are beginning to understand why Hellion and I missed Jill Barnett books and why I think the news that “new books are coming” is an announcement worth celebrating.
What’s your favorite Jill Barnett book? From what writers do you most long to hear a new-books-on-the-way announcement?