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Monday, November 5, 2018

Interview with JoAnn Ross, Author of Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane + Giveaway (cont. US only)

Today I'd like to welcome JoAnn Ross to the blog to celebrate the exciting release of Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane, the latest installment in the Honeymoon Harbor series from HQN Books, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, JoAnn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

When New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross was seven-years-old, she had no doubt whatsoever that she’d grow up to play center field for the New York Yankees. Writing would be her backup occupation, something she planned to do after retiring from baseball. Those were, in her mind, her only options. While waiting for the Yankees management to call, she wrote her first novella—a tragic romance about two star-crossed mallard ducks—for a second grade writing assignment.

The paper earned a gold star. And JoAnn kept writing.

She’s now written over one hundred novels and has been published in twenty-six countries. Two of her titles have been excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine and her books have also been published by the Doubleday, Rhapsody, Literary Guild, and Mystery Guild book clubs. A member of the Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of best-selling authors, she’s won several awards, including RT Reviews’ Career Achievement Awards in both category romance and contemporary single title. In addition, she received RWA’s national service award and was named RWA Pro-Mentor of the Year.

Although the Yankees have yet to call her to New York to platoon center field, JoAnn figures making one out of two life goals isn’t bad.

Currently writing her Honeymoon Harbor series (set on Washington State’s Olympic peninsula) for HQN, JoAnn lives with her high school sweetheart, whom she married twice, in her beloved Pacific Northwest.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves last week:

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Wells is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor.

Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible... maybe even a second chance at first love.

The hero of this novel is Aiden Mannion, an LAPD officer who’s returned to his hometown of Honeymoon Harbor, Washington, after losing his partner in the line of duty. Can you tell us a bit about Aiden and where the inspiration for his character came from?

Redemption stories are one of my favorite themes, and I enjoy the dichotomy of a bad boy character who’d landed in trouble when he was younger, ending up on the other side of the badge. Aiden was always a good guy at heart, and it’s possible that if he’d been born first of the brothers, he might have been the Boy Scout overachiever. But since Quinn had already claimed that role, Aiden chose to be the exact opposite. For all his youthful digressions, he’s a caretaker, a fixer of the broken: animals, people, kids in jeopardy, which made his transition from the military to law enforcement a natural choice. So, since Honeymoon Harbor needed a police chief, he was the perfect guy for the job.

When Aiden returns to Honeymoon Harbor, he soon crosses paths with his old flame, Jolene Wells, who has had a successful career as a Hollywood makeup artist in the years since they both went their separate ways. Jolene is such a wonderful female character with such an interesting backstory—how did you go about writing and shaping her character?

I once spent a week on a jury. The defendant was a career thief. He didn’t seem to be a very bad guy, but for some reason, he’d chosen burglary as his day job. As it turned out, he wasn’t very smart or good at it, because the last day of the trial, the prosecutor showed a slide revealing years of arrests for petty crimes. Never any against people. Then a police officer testified how, when the defendant had been captured after a car chase through three counties, he’d explained that he’d only had to steal that car because he’d hurt his leg running from the initial cops who were after him, and couldn’t keep running with a twisted knee while carrying a TV. He’s stayed with me for years, and when I knew Jolene would be a subject of bullying, I needed to give her a less-than-model family. And there he was again.

I also grew up in a small Pacific Northwest town not much larger than Honeymoon Harbor and know firsthand that there aren’t any secrets. Once my high school boyfriend, now husband, was driving from my house to his, which took about twenty minutes. By the time he got home, three people had called his mom to tell her he’d been speeding. High school can be a gauntlet for many people, so I could imagine how difficult it would have been for Jolene, with all the gossip about her family, and having to wear clothing the mean girls couldn’t resist pointing out had been theirs, donated by their mothers to the thrift shop. Which is how she’d come to take on her vintage style that serendipitously started her on a road to Hollywood success.

I knew she’d have to be a very strong person. I also wanted her to have a close, almost sisterly relationship with her mother who’d gotten pregnant in her teens. I’ll willingly admit that Gloria and Jolene’s relationship is a great deal like Lorelai and Rory’s from Gilmore Girls, which has always been one of my comfort TV shows to watch. And re-watch. Part of Jolene’s strength comes watching Gloria overcoming so many obstacles and managing to support their small family during some very hard times. When it came time for Jolene to support Gloria, she was right there, as her mom had always been for her. Both women managed to overcome hardships and create successful lives on their own terms, making it a joy to write their scenes together.

I have to ask, what’s next for you? Are you working on more Honeymoon Harbor novels? If so, can you give us some hints about what readers can look forward to next?

Yes! Thank you for asking! I’m writing Summer on Mirror Lake, which will be out next summer. This is Aiden Mannion and Chelsea Prescott’s story. Aiden has been working on Wall Street, making millions, when an sudden life event sends him back home to Honeymoon Harbor, where, despite his efforts to hide out as a hermit on Mirror Lake outside town before returning to Manhattan at summer’s end, Chelsea, the town’s unrelentingly optimistic, enthusiastic librarian, keeps dragging him into community projects. These two opposites are great fun together.

There’s also a very special secondary character that I’ve been wanting to write for years, and this book finally proved to be a perfect fit for Jim Olson. And yes, that’s what he named himself. ☺

How exciting! Where can you be found on the web?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, JoAnn! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Have you ever been close with anyone who has or had cancer?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. JoAnn and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Both my great-grandmothers on my mom's side passed away from cancer. I only knew one of them well.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends November 19th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!