Today I’m talking to Janey Chapel who is a relatively new M/M author. Janey has written the very successful romances — Maritime Men, a love story between two Navy SEALs, followed by TLC 101, both of which are reviewed on the site. The sequel to Maritime Men, Anchors Aweigh, was released today by Dreamspinner Press, and Janey talks to us about why she wanted to write a sequel. She also gives us a few insights about herself.
Hi Janey and welcome. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about Janey, both personally and as an author?
Hi Wave! Thanks for having me today — I feel like I got invited to the cool kids’ table at lunch. About me… let’s see… I grew up in a wordy family that valued verbal precision and pith — my dad taught journalism and my mom was an editor — which may explain why I still write short compared to many other authors. I’m a Southerner; I lived in North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and southern Ohio (or, as we called it, “Northern Kentucky”) before my husband’s job brought us to a place that describes its winter weather events with suffixes like “–pocalypse” and “–mageddon”. Writing about hot men keeps me warm!
I loved Maritime Men your first book. Why did you write a book about men in the military? The characters seem so authentic – did you consult with someone in the Armed Forces about the characters and the plot?
I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, Wave. It’s near and dear to my heart! I read a lot about SEALs while I was in the planning stages, including Chuck Pfarrer’s amazing memoir, “Warrior Soul,” which gave me both inspiration and a lot of nitty gritty details, and Hans Halberstadt’s gorgeous, photo-heavy guide, titled “U.S. Navy SEALs.” I even got “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to U.S. Special Ops Forces,” which details the training required not just for Navy SEALs, but for Army Green Berets and Rangers, Air Force Special Ops, and Delta, the elite counterterrorism force. The more I read, the more impressed I became. What these guys can do, in the conditions in which they do it, just floors me.
I have tremendous respect for the men and women who serve in the armed forces — ALL the armed forces around the world, not just here in the States. According to the Wikipedia article on The War On Terrorism, the following countries have committed troops to aid in the effort: Albania, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Do you know what that list reminds me of? The global hit parade you’ve got listed on the right side of your web site. When you get right down to it, I think we all — men and women, wherever we come from — yearn to find that special connection with someone, even big, tough Navy SEALs. These men (there are currently no female SEALs) come across as larger-than-life, and I wanted to explore what’s behind that “bullets bounce off me” image. It helps that I have a good friend who’s a Naval Intelligence Officer. He’s great at his job and committed to the Navy and its goals, but in his off-time he wears tie-dye shirts and Birkenstock sandals, and zealously follows women’s college basketball. These guys are just people, like you and me, and that’s what I wanted to show with Maritime Men.
I really love the cover of Maritime Men. Who designed it and what was your reaction the first time you saw it? I think it’s really ballsy. 🙂
Mara McKennen, the art director at Dreamspinner Press, designed the cover, which I love more than words can express. I like my covers like I like my men: strong and straight-forward. I wanted a cover that was respectful of the military, and I wanted readers to be able to “cast” the characters with their imaginations rather than being shown any particular faces. I filled out the Dreamspinner Press cover spec sheet with all my wishes, and Mara made them come true! From a practical standpoint, since Maritime Men is only available as an ebook, most people see the cover in relatively small form, and I like the way this simple image retains its clarity in smaller sizes.
I found the image I hoped to use for Anchors Aweigh and sent it off to Mara to see what she thought. It turned out that she had found the exact same image while working on the cover for Maritime Men, and had saved it, just in case! Sharing a brain with her felt pretty great, and the final cover came together over the course of an evening.
You have just released Anchors Aweigh, the sequel to Maritime Men. Can you tell us why you decided to write a sequel to a story that seemed pretty complete to me? What’s the premise of this new story with Eli and Cooper?
Since I’ve yet to master the ability to write on demand, I try to leave stories tied up with what I refer to as a loose bow. I would never leave characters unhappy, or hanging off an emotional cliff. My feeling is that there’s enough uncertainty in life without introducing it into romance novels. But I also try to leave room to tell more about the characters if the planets align and I get inspired. In this case, I just couldn’t stop thinking about what might happen next, once the crew members completed their initial training and earned their “Budweisers” — the Navy SEAL trident — and I liked the idea of exploring the relationship between Cooper and Eli in a little more depth: Anchors Aweigh is almost exactly double the length of Maritime Men. The core premise of the sequel is a test of strength: their strength as individuals, their strength as soldiers, and perhaps most important, the strength of their connection.
Your other book is TLC 101. I thought that the characters of Sports Psychologist Kip Rigsbee and Coach Greg Browne were not only realistic but a lot of fun. Are these characters patterned after real people and should your friends hide when they see you coming in case you’re taking notes? Are you thinking about writing a sequel to this story as well?
HA! My friends are safe. I get a lot of my inspiration from watching sports. There’s nothing I love more than a “clutch” player — the guy who wants to be on the free-throw line with seconds to go in the game because he’s confident he can make the shot; or the running back who manages to power his way through three defensive linemen and drives across the first down line on 4th and 2. I love coaches who keep their heads, and I love players who take a leadership role on the field or on the court. I realize I’m casting a rosy glow; believe me, I’ve seen the seedy underbelly, too, but to me that somehow makes the rare moments of grace shine even more brightly. In my mind, Kip is a clutch player: he responded — he “manned up” — in a difficult situation. I find that really sexy!
Another reviewer actually planted a seed of an idea for a sequel in her review of TLC 101, when she said she’d love to see Kip take Greg home to meet his sprawling family. It’s a great idea, and I hope, someday, to write it!
You have released three books in a very short time. How difficult is it to come up with ideas and characters?
That’s the easy part! It’s finding time to work on them that’s tough. I’m a harsh taskmaster with myself: when I’m writing, everything else falls by the wayside (including sleep and laundry!) and I submerge into the writing zone. I tend to write relatively slowly, so finding a big enough chunk of concentratable time is always a challenge.
What’s next for Janey? Do you have any new projects planned?
I have three ideas that I’d like to work on when I have time available to commit to them. I have NO idea when that will be, though!
JANEY CHAPEL UNPLUGGED
As you may be aware sometimes I ask the interviewees to step into the hot tub with the boys for a brief chat. The boyz want to know – what does Janey do when she’s not writing?
Hi, boyz! How’s it hanging? I’m probably the most ordinary person you will ever meet, which may explain why I’m so drawn to the badass competence of elite fighting forces and top-level athletics. I volunteer time at my daughter’s school, I work on scrapbooks, I sing with a community group, and I feed a wicked TV addiction. And, of course, from November to April, I watch a lot (I mean, a LOT) of college basketball. Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but for me, it’s the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week!
They would love to entertain you sometime. “What’s that Guys?” They’re trying to figure out what’s your favourite massage oil so that they can lay you out and get to work if you decide to return. <g>
Wow, they’re quite forward, those boyz… I’m pretty easy to please, actually, in the massage oil department. As long as it comes slathered on long, strong fingers, I’m good.
Thank you Janey.
A copy of Anchors Aweigh will be given away to a lucky reader who comments on Janey’s interview or on the post for the free book.
* Anchors Aweigh is reviewed here.*
Janey Chapel’s Contact Information