USA Today best-selling author of over 80 novels, and five-time winner of the coveted RITA Award including for being inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame, Justine Davis has been featured on CNN, in several local newspapers and nationwide by Associated Press. She has spoken at several national and international conferences, at the UCLA writer’s program, and is featured in North American Romance Writers, an academic reference. Along with many other awards, she is a fifteen time nominee for RT Book Review awards, has won four times, received three of their lifetime achievement awards, and had four titles on the magazine’s 200 Best of all Time list.
After years of working in law enforcement, and more years doing both, Justine now writes full time. She lives near beautiful Puget Sound in Washington State, peacefully coexisting with deer, bears, a pair of bald eagles, a tailless raccoon, and driving her prized ’67 Corvette roadster with her beloved dog as passenger.
The amazing author, Justine Davis, is here with us on A Slice of Orange. Sit back and enjoy!!
Jann: Published in 1991, an award-winning author of over eighty books—what has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Justine: Reader response and having fans who await every book is probably the most rewarding. More personally, I’m stunned that it’s still going! I’ve survived in this crazy business for almost three decades. A long way from that twenty-something with a dream. Or the kid who wrote her first story at about age six! Perhaps even more amazing, I’m busier now than ever, writing for three publishers and getting ready to put out some Indie projects I’ve been working on.
Jann: Your books are filled with amazing characters that pull the reader into your stories. In just three days, May 5th, your romantic suspense, Operation Second Chance, will be available for readers. What is the premise of this story?
Justine: Thank you! This is the 11th book in the Cutter’s Code series. I never planned on it going this long, because in other series I would be ready to wind it up after about 6-8 books, maybe 10. But darn, I love that dog and how he leads his humans around! Operation Second Chance is what I call a “loose end” story. Back in the beginning, I’d set up the Foxworth Foundation and its founder, Quinn Foxworth, with a backstory. Part of it involved a convenience store robbery where a police officer was killed and Quinn and another officer wounded. But I’d never actually told that backstory, or explained what happened to the other people involved. But it was always in the back of my mind, the curiosity about them. And so this book was born.
Jann: What challenges did you set for your main characters, Adam Kirk and Amanda Bonner to overcome?
Justine: Sheer hatred? Kidding, but Amanda is the daughter of the officer who died, and she blames his rookie partner for what happened. Who is, of course, Adam Kirk. Who blames himself as well. They have a long journey to make to get to the truth about what happened that night and their feelings about each other.
Jann: Lone Star Reunion, Texas Justice Book 4, debuted this past March. What would you like readers to know about this story?
Justine: The idea for the book—specifically the hero’s backstory—came out of a real life situation I encountered, back in my law enforcement days. It broke my heart then that there was so little I could do back then, so I decided to at least give my fictional character a happy ending. Many of my stories are born that way, out of the desire to give happy endings that I couldn’t give in real life. It’s probably why I write what I write.
Jann: Are you working on something now that you can share with us?
Justine: Absolutely! At the moment it’s a long list. I just finished the 5th and final book in the Texas Justice series, Lone Star Homecoming, the story of the long missing Highwater brother, Kane. That will be out on June 11th. Also just finished final proofing on another Coltons continuity, Colton Storm Warning, to be released in October. I’m midway into the next Cutter’s Code, lucky number 13 (as yet untitled but scheduled for December), and just agreed to a new contract for another series set in Last Stand, Texas. I’m also readying a five-book series set in the fictional northern California town of Wild Oak, to be released soon. Plus, I’m about to release one of those “books of the heart,” entitled Dark Roads, a story I’ve been writing for over a dozen years. It’s a different story from my usual, and I hope readers will give it a shot.
Other than that, I’ve been goofing off…
Jann: What Kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?
Justine: Fairly disciplined. Minimum pages per day. A lot less than in the beginning, though! Back then when I had all those stories bottled up I thought anything less than 25 pages a day (6250 words, for those who have been able to shift to word count calculations!) was dogging it. And that was when I was still working full time. Now it depends on deadlines, of course, but it’s also divided up between projects, depending on how many books I’m writing at once. (which was a transition in itself, from writing one book at a time and linearly to writing up to three at once, and not always in story order—all these years, and I’m still learning and changing!) Right now, for example, I’m working on both the next Cutter and the Indie series, and my schedule is 5 pages on Cutter and 3 on the other. Plus brainstorming my next Last Stand, Texas series, and edits on two other books. Let’s just say I stay busy!
Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?
Justine: Oh, this is a good one. Yes, I have things up all over. Besides my deadline schedule, visual boards and pub dates, I have an excerpt from a reader letter that was particularly inspiring. A boyhood picture of my late husband, with the most mischievous grin I’ve ever seen, to remind me of the heart all my heroes have. A phrase I borrowed for my hero Shane Highwater in Lone Star Lawman, which I turn to when the day’s work seems overwhelming: Start where you stand. And an old Andy Capp comic strip I’ve had for years which ends with the wisdom: “Marriages might be made in heaven, but you have to do your own maintenance.”
Jann: What are you dying to try next?
Justine: I’m dying to—and am about to—dive into the Indie pool, as I’ve mentioned. I’m starting with a 5-book series that’s almost ready. The entire series was inspired by a wood sculpture I saw in a hotel lobby, of horses swirling up out of a solid base. I was entranced by it, and knew that someday I would simply have to write it into a story. And when that beautiful hotel was sadly lost in the horrific wildfires that hit the California wine country, I became even more determined. My fictional sculptor is the hero of the first book, and it turned out he had some fascinating relatives and friends…
Jann: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Justine: Jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Hang glide off a cliff? Barrel race an unruly horse? Ride a motorcycle for years? Truth be told, it probably wasn’t any of those, but rather quitting my day job (which was really a night job most of the time) to try to be a full-time writer. That was scary, and crazy. But I was seriously tired of doing both on six hours sleep if I was lucky. Taking off the badge was hard, but I love what I do, so I have to say it’s been worth it. And as I always say, I know how lucky I am to have had two careers I love; many people don’t even get one.
Jann: Thanks for sharing with us today Justine. I really enjoyed hearing about what you have been doing these past years. I so glad you still have your red Corvette Roadster. Good luck with the debut of Operation Second Chance. It’s in my cart to purchase!!
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