Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed K.C. Sprayberry’s character on March 1st and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Jill Marie Denton, the author of Emmi’s Pride, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Emmi Vendetta, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Jill Marie in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Emmi!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Emmi. Please have a seat.
Character Emmi Vendetta: Thanks for having me here.
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Also, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Emmi: I’m the vocalist, manager and agent for Second, a rock band my friends and I formed eighteen or so years ago. Fortunately for us, we’re well-received by the media and our fans, and have a few awards to back up our skill set, so I can claim to be good at it, yes. It’s been a whirlwind but I can’t imagine a better way to spend two decades.
Marie: Wow, that’s great! 🙂
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Emmi: I do my best to shield my family from the mayhem. My childhood was fairly normal, and based on their preferences and my own, I prefer to not answer questions about them.
Marie: All right. I can respect that.
If it doesn’t bother you too much, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Emmi: It was suburbia in its purest sense. I’m the all-American middle-class girl you imagined living next door in your cul-de-sac. I just took a more publicized route in my teens, but the house and the people inside were as typical as they come.
Marie: I see.
Do you have any hobbies, Emmi? What do you enjoy doing?
Emmi: Hobbies are a hard thing to find time for, but I spend a good majority of my time with music on in the background. It’s essential that I stay on top of trends and what’s prevalent in music, but it keeps my mind on track, too, while I’m pushing paper around. I’ve been writing lyrics most of my life, and I’m constantly writing phrases that might become lyrics on any paper within reach. I don’t enjoy the treadmill but I lean on it pretty fiercely. Being fuller-figured in the media is always a source of antipathy, so I just shoot for ‘healthy’ and let the chips fall where they may. Other than that, I just enjoy every moment of this life and all the beautiful opportunities our hard work has provided.
So…what is your greatest dream?
Emmi: If you’d asked me this a few years ago, I’d have told you I wanted time off. I’m a little wiser now, and know I’m glutton for punishment in the form of work. Nowadays, I just look forward to having a home base, someplace where I can sort my work and start more memories. Being on the road, touring endlessly since my early twenties has made me crave a bed and home of my own.
Marie: That’s understandable.
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Emmi: I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve become the person I was meant to be. I knew that I needed more than a calm, steady and domesticated life and I went out and achieved it. While the success is a little overwhelming at times, I know in my heart that I took the right path with both my education and Second. I always have other skills to lean on, but for now, I love being Emmi, with all the pros and cons rolled in.
Marie: Lovely to hear that! 😉
So I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Emmi: Other than music icons, I assume. Those are always the first men that pop into my mind when I think back on love. In truth, love’s always been second in line behind some other duty, but I think the boy that made me realize what love was and how it felt to have my heart sputter was Robert. I wish I remembered his last name. In any case, he sat in front of me in some trivial computer course in middle school. I always wanted to touch his long hair or wear his flannel shirt. Ah, the nineties.
All right. Let’s try something else.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Emmi: Professionally, I’d invested some hard earnings into a band a few years back, forming them from a group of talented misfits and naming them like a set of quads I’d birthed personally. I spent so many hours of my time coaching, producing, and finessing only to have their tour cancelled due to the lead singer’s inability to commit. I lost quite a bit, both monetarily and in reputation, when that happened, and had to eat crow with quite a few club owners and venue organizers to rebuild relationships I’d meticulously built. Personally, I had to accept that sometimes, no matter how much money you throw at it or how hard you try, some people will never understand and never support your ambition. Sometimes those people are close to you, and you have to let go of the toxicity before it destroys your dreams. Accepting that truth was devastating, and is still something I live with every day.
Marie: Yikes! Sorry to hear that.
[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Emmi: Well, I think I achieved the dream of many, not just myself, but it certainly wasn’t the glorious, laid-back road I dreamed of as a child. There’s a reason that bands break up, a reason that so many friends end up hating each other once they’re forced to work, live and eat together for years. I’d anticipated rocky roads, bitch-fests, and attitude because I’m always pushing for better, but I’m fortunate to have partners in crime that understand how hard it is to maintain fame and how fleeting it can be. They, for the most part, are patient with their perfectionist, workaholic boss, but they also know how to deal with me after two decades of friendship. I didn’t expect to have to tour as much as we did, to lose as much sleep as we have, but in retrospect, it’s been worth it.
Marie: The good dreams always are…;)
Okay, let’s try something else.
Who is your role model, Emmi?
Emmi: It’s likely you won’t know this gent, but the first name that I thought of was Ian MacKaye. I’ve been a fan of his music since childhood when I discovered punk rock and realized it was a great outlet for me. Ian succeeded where others failed, starting a recording label, producing some top-notch talent and continuing to record unique songs by his own set of guidelines. So many in this industry have to do what they’re told, conform to some set of commandments set by their labels or the media. He never accepted their money to do what they wanted. He always set his own rules, let the fans decide, and it ended up serving him well. It was wonderful to have such a talented, headstrong and inventive idol over the years.
Marie: He definitely sounds amazing!
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Emmi: The media, especially the paparazzi, but that comes with the territory. Without fan interest, there’d be no clandestine photos taken and no gossip in circulation, so it’s par for the course. But I could live without their hounding, assumptions and speculation, as could a few other celebrities, I’m sure.
Marie: All right. I can’t blame you there.
So, can you tell us something? What is your deepest desire, Emmi?
Emmi: Secretly, I hope that one day, heaven deigns to send me someone to share my passions with. For the moment, I’m fine being the solitary wolf, the headstrong female with the career, but I hope I realize when he comes along that not every relationship is a burden and not every love is destined for despair. When he comes along, I hope I’m smart enough to realize it and not be skeptical, like I’d normally be.
Marie: You’re right. It does take courage to let someone get that close to you. I have no doubt you’ll find him. (Sighs.) I love romance. ❤
How about another question…
What is your greatest fear?
Emmi: That all we’ve accomplished as a band will fade before we’re ready to say goodbye to it. Success is so fleeting, so elusive, that if we look away or lose focus, it’ll be gone before we can argue. I believe that success is a measure of effort, so we’ll keep pressing forward, going for broke, until we’re ready to hang up the instruments for good.
Marie: Sounds like a plan, but I think you have nothing to worry about.
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Emmi. It was so interesting getting to know you!
Emmi: Thank you for having me here, Marie!
Marie: My pleasure!
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Marie: Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Jill Marie Denton on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Jill Marie!
Author Jill Marie Denton: Hi, Marie! A pleasure to be here.
Marie: The honor is mine.
So, we just got to talk to a female character of your story, Emmi Vendetta. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Jill Marie: She’s the epitome of career professional, just in an occupation that usually ends quickly and tragically. During the course of her rise in Second, she achieved a doctorate in general medicine and a law degree. She’s intelligent, witty, and undeniably charismatic, though the media browbeats her about her curves and blondness, insinuating she’s an over-eater and loose in morals. Having to rise above, to reshape their opinions, has brought out the prideful, self-reliant side she shows to the world.
Marie: She sounds awesome!
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Jill Marie: Emmi is a go-getter in every sense of the word. She’s built her successes and wealth through years of living on a tour bus, studying the industry, passing the bar exam in various states and not compromising to make life easier. She’s the first in and the last out, the type of worker that makes those around her step up and follow suit. And she’s lovely inside and out, once she accepts you and drops the barbed wire fence around her heart.
And what are her greatest weaknesses?
Jill Marie: Her unwillingness to compromise, to accept second best, often puts her at odds with those who won’t step up. Untrusting and unwilling to let a task be done imperfectly, she carries the workload herself. She’s also emotionally distant from those outside her circle, afraid to show vulnerability to the critical and judgmental media. With her band mates, she is a true, loyal and expressive friend, but outside that group, she is guarded, suspicious and overly careful.
Marie: Well, I think we can all be somewhat protective of ourselves…
Let’s try something else.
What are some of her favorite foods?
Jill Marie: Emmi is a vegetarian as much as her life permits. She prefers to “save animal meat for the other animals,” to quote her directly. She loves Italian food like her family prepared growing up, heavy on tomato and herb. She also loves ginger, including drinks and treats. Her ideal meal is iced mint tea, vegetable lasagna and bread so garlicky, it scares off the undead.
Marie: (Laughs.) All right.
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Jill Marie: She’s selfless in ways she doesn’t realize, and she has a maternal streak that makes her insistence easier to handle. She manages the band of friends like a den mother, though she considers herself a despot.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Jill Marie: My hope is that readers will enjoy her, though at times her reasoning and considerations can be illogical. Women are tricky, especially the headstrong and dedicated ones, and Emmi is no different. I love writing strong women, the kind that younger generations can relate to, and in time, I’m sure readers will enjoy the compromises she makes in pursuit of love.
Marie: I’m sure they will too!
Now that we have a real taste of Emmi, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Emmi’s Pride?
Jill Marie: I’ve had these characters, Emmi and her Second mates, in my head for the better part of twenty years. They’re based on bits of me and friends I’ve had. Their stories were begging to be told, and once I realized that a handsome, persuasive and passionate actor she crushed over would be a perfect antagonist for the careful musician, the book practically wrote itself.
Marie: Great! I love how the muse works.
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Jill Marie: I’m a little of both, to be honest. I think conversations in books need to be “pantsy” in that they should flow the way a normal chat would. Planning it too carefully makes it sound contrived. I enjoy having a rough path in mind before beginning a story, though. Having an idea of where to start and end is crucial in managing a novel’s length and flow, but adhering too closely to an outline makes it easy to disregard new ideas as they come.
Marie: Oh, I fully agree. I dance around in both realms as well.
Now, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Emmi’s Pride or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Jill Marie: I’ve had issues with writer’s blocks during the novel writing, and found myself utterly unable to form sentences with any sort of cohesion or develop dialogue anyone would relate to. I had to take a few breaks to read, re-imagine and reinvigorate before writing again. I also felt the constant need for feedback during the writing process, unsure if anything I wrote was worthy of publishing. In doing this, I realized a lot of writers have anxiety over the same issue, and end up giving their books away to willing readers simply to exploit reviews and encouragement. Finding a publishing deal is incredibly difficult, takes thick skin and many hours of labor, potentially resulting in decline after decline. If all else fails, for your first efforts, create an eBook and price it reasonably. Market yourself around that eBook, create a name for yourself and never give up!
Marie: Thanks for the tips!
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Emmi’s Pride appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this wonderful book by Jill Marie Denton, a very talented author! This contemporary romance debut novel just released on April 8th!
Here is the blurb for Emmi’s Pride:
Emmi Vendetta is the charismatic lead singer of Second, a rock band on an unstoppable trajectory. Blonde and curvy, she captivates on stage, forming a powerful and sultry image for the five-female group. But as the band manager and agent, she is Second’s professional face, and offstage, she takes that role, and her dedication to it, seriously.
One night, she stumbles into the man of her dreams, dark and handsome British actor Simon Piers. Suddenly, the safe, cold wall she puts between her heart and the speculative media is threatened. Her body craves what her steadfast and cautious mind fears most; media critique, dismissal of her proficient image and Second’s downfall at the hands of outside interests. But their gravitation is inescapable, and her desires cause her resolve to falter.
Will Emmi’s pride stand in the way of the happiness Simon promises, or will she find room in her life for a chance at true love?
Jill Marie is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
Her ear came alive with voices not in the room as two of their guards were discussing an incoming paparazzi blitz. The word was out on their attendance. Both were asking them to retreat with as much dignity as possible and to cut their evening short before the reporters burst through the paltry line of security the benefit had hired.
That was her cue. No one hated invasive paparazzi more than Emmi, and Deis was quickly whisked from the circle of thanks by her manager’s fierce grip.
“They’re coming,” Emmi said hurriedly, moving with Deis to the front entrance, where the limo would be waiting.
Not needing to be convinced, Deis hurried out the door and down the grand steps to the guard, poised at the car door. She knew not to argue with her manager about avoiding undue publicity.
Emmi was a few steps behind when she ran fully into a black-garbed wall of man.
The movement into her path was so sudden, so unanticipated, that she couldn’t catch herself. Heeled feet slid on the granite as she toppled into the figure she’d nearly bowled over. She didn’t have the chance to be embarrassed, to say a single word in defense. He was holding her biceps before she could regain her footing, kept up right by his warm hands. Fortunately for them both, his body was poised to catch her forward momentum. She gasped as he held her steady.
He was silent as she lifted her head and met his intense yet concerned gaze.
Holy hell. It was him.
Simon Piers, in all his dark and dangerous glory.
He was dressed in a flawless black suit, classy in a white shirt and matching tie. When he finally released her arms, all she could do was try to recover. No words would come.
For the first time in her life, she was caught utterly and foolishly unprepared. She’d seen him for months, on her tablet screen or when she closed her eyes. Her band mates all teased her about her infatuation. His chestnut hair cut modestly, eyes like molasses, body firm like she’d seen on Netflix, and that smile that crossed from one cheek to the other coyly. She’d imagined smiling charmingly and being he confident rock star she could be when she met him. But now, with his body pressed to hers and in his grasp, she was wholly undone.
She finally caught her breath, which had whooshed out violently at contact, pulled herself together and met his gaze with as much pride as she could muster. How long had she been out of sorts?
It felt like minutes. She feared her look came off as panic, or even amazement, instead of the quiet confidence she willed herself to portray.
Deis raised her voice from the backseat of the limo. “Come on!”
She glanced over his shoulder at her band mate, then back at him. He was smiling now, his eyes narrowed slightly at her torn expression. His breath was soft, slow, compared with her embarrassed panting. He had to recognize her, but didn’t bother to add to her shame by asking for a thing. She managed a polite smile, averted her eyes hastily and continued down the steps without looking back.
As the limo drove away, he stood near the door, eyeing its escape down the narrow street. They were long gone and his mind was pouring over their momentary encounter, a grin on brazen display, when he finally ducked into the white-collar crowd.
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01E0ZGIVK
Book Locker: http://booklocker.com/books/8508.html
About Jill Marie Denton
Jill Marie is a long-time fan of women’s fiction and rock music, marrying her two interests in Second Saga. She is also a classically-trained French chef, Human Resources professional and Master’s student in her home state of Delaware. Aside from reading, writing and cooking, she is also a dedicated contributor to women’s websites and online magazines, such as BE, for romantic fiction and culinary development. Above all, she delights in creating strong-willed, relatable characters for her audience in her novels, and continues to write to help women realize their inner strength and the power of their passion.
Jill Marie’s Book:
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Jill Marie Denton, here are some author links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jill-Marie-Denton/e/B01D3HTLVA/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Emmi Vendetta, a female character from Emmi’s Pride, and Jill Marie Denton, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so much fun to have you here!