Hi, readers! For those who are still hankering for a good holiday read, look no further! 🎄⛄
I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our twenty-eighth official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.
We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming J.D. Bass to ILRB! Nice to chat with you…
Marie Lavender: Hello, J.D.
Author J.D. Bass: Hi, Marie!
Marie: Hey, such a pleasure to have you on the blog!
I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.
Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…
J.D.: Let’s say that, even though I was writing stories since I can remember, my life path was different at the time, and only by publishing Tale of The Winter Lands I finally felt I could call myself an author. And I like it. It feels like every story in my drawer now stands a chance to get a life of its own.
Am I any good at it? That’s for readers to say. Now that my first reviews came in; I can say I have amazing feedback on the Tale of The Winter Lands.
Oh, I know just what you mean. I remember what it felt like to be published for the first time. It’s almost indescribable, right? 😉
So, tell us…what is your family like?
J.D.: My family lives in Croatia, and they are marvelous people. My parents went through a lot in life, lost it all in a war in the ’90s, but they’ve managed to survive it all, with little two girls – I was barely six at the time, my sister was three – and they went over and beyond to make us feel safe, happy, and loved, no matter the life circumstances. You will find glimpses of my life to a certain extent in Victoria and her past.
Marie: I see.
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
J.D.: Like I’ve said previously, I wouldn’t remember my first childhood home due to war; all I have imprinted in my mind are nightmares to this day – and yes, that makes me sad. However, after my hometown Vukovar, known as The City of Heroes in Croatia, we had to refuge in a beautiful little town of Samobor, thirteen kilometers from Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb. Therefore, I consider Samobor my second hometown, and to describe childhood; I will say – idyllic. And that is no exaggeration. Imagine a little town with baroque architecture, charmingly relaxing underneath the hill range and medieval castle – called The Old Town, with a beautiful Gradna creek running through the entire valley. I think that sentence right there gives it all.
Do you have any hobbies, Jelena? What do you enjoy doing?
J.D.: Yes, I do. Apart from reading books and doing DIY projects, my number one hobby would be baking and cooking – anything kitchen related. Some of the ideas are born while I bake desserts. I have a separate Instagram account just for that; that’s how much I love it. And my bookshelves so far have more than forty cookbooks. Crazy, no?! For some reason, baking is relaxation for me. If I feel nostalgic for home – I start making a pie with intricate patterns to ease my mind. If I’m angry, you’ll definitely see me making pizza, pide, flatbreads, bread; anything related to punching the dough. Some people are paying $300 an hour a therapist, while the kitchen is all I need.
So, what is your greatest dream?
J.D.: My greatest dream is to live off writing so I could turn my attention to creating a non-profit organization for children; sick, homeless, orphans – any child in need of help. They are our future. And although I’m well aware, many of likewise organizations exist, I want to create something that will connect my writing and readers to the organization, to make people happy again to read and, at the same time, to help a good cause. And we will be able to make a difference everywhere in the world, not just in America. I’ve never dreamt of anything else. All the paths are always taking me towards that dream.
Marie: Wow, how admirable! 😀
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
J.D.: I wish I could be fearless. I had courage prevailing in many situations, but then there are others (many others!) that were, and still are, outnumbered by fear. And there’s the catch – fear is stopping me from becoming fearless. Complicated yet so simple. But, I’m working at it. Every day is a new fight.
Marie: Don’t worry, I think we’re all afraid of something.
So…we’re curious, since you did include some romance in your story. Who was your first love?
J.D.: This one I remember, but I cannot call it love. It’d seemed so at the time, but I had a massive crush on one boy from 1st to 7th grade, just to figure out it was more of my projection and not what I actually felt. The real crush was my best friend, who was such a pain with his teen-macho behavior that I refused that feeling and, later, him. What do you expect from a confused teenager? Hope that makes sense.
But my love? That one I met at fifteen, and even with tons of obstacles, he’s to this day happily in my life.
Marie: Ooh…glad to hear to it!
(Sighs.) I just love romance! ♥♥♥ 😉
With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
J.D.: The war. One might say I was too young, but I was almost six, and I will never forget the day my cousin and I played on the, I think it was a football stadium, and spinning on one of those playground wheels, just to see military tanks passing by. A few days after, or weeks, as I cannot recall, it all started. And even when we ran to Samobor, troubles didn’t end there. My father was called into the army, so every day was waiting for him to return home, watching my mom’s teary eyes, and the news was on 24/7. To top it all – a military barrack on the hill above my aunt’s house in Samobor was taken by enemies. I remember the siren go off, my family running down the steep path to the neighbor’s house in the lower level of the hill, and they put us, kids, under the table. Lots of memories are mixed with Vukovar, and those memories transformed into nightmares that haunt me to this day.
Marie: Yikes! 😥 I’m so sorry you went through all that…
Let’s move on to another topic, 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?
J.D.: Apart from being a neurosurgeon, although I have a fear of needles and blood?! Or an astronaut, despite the fact my legs are shaky just by looking over my balcony on the ninth floor?!
A writer. I’ve dreamt of inventing new worlds for people worldwide, as their little private getaways into lands of all things magic. And I am in the process of achieving my dream. It’s scary yet exciting.
Now, who is your role model?
J.D.: I hope it’s not too rude to say I don’t have a role model in the writing world. Yes, I have favorite authors, as we all do, but my role model would have to be apart, from my mom; a Croatian alpine ski racer Janica Kostelic. Although her entire carer is admirable and successful, there is one slalom race – she lost the ski pole right at the beginning of the run, and while the commentators of the event already expressed how sorry they were, she didn’t quit. She continued with the slalom, hitting those marks with her bare hand–and trust me, with that speed, it hurts a lot. She caught up with the result and even made it more prominent. That night she got third place; whereas she either would’ve not finished or come last if she quit due to pain. I was nineteen then, and it just got stuck in my brain.
Marie: Oh, that is impressive! I can’t blame you for admiring her.
So, let’s try another tactic.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
J.D.: No. My nature is pretty cheerful, and I always smile, so if I don’t like someone, that broad smile disappears, and people around me already know. I cannot say I never tried to fake it, because I did – but it never finishes how I think it goes. They can catch it early on.
Marie: All right.
So…what is your deepest desire?
J.D.: Of my deepest desires, I never talk about. If life taught me something already, that is to never speak of it. Think about it – once you do, people form their opinions, and those start to feed your doubts. Soon enough, that desire disappears, disregarded as ‘maybe not as important’.
Marie: Okay, that makes sense. I won’t push you.
Let’s go for a different approach now.
Just curious here, but what is your greatest fear?
J.D.: My greatest fear is to have lived my life, consumed by fear. What is stopping you from telling your crush you like him? Fear. What’s stopping you from getting on that stage to sing your heart out? Fear. What’s stopping you from writing? Fear. What is stopping you from trying again in what you failed for the first time? Fear. There is too much fear inside and outside of us, and that has to change.
Marie: Too right! But at least we’re not alone in that experience, not really.
We’ll switch gears for a second.
If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.
J.D.: If they don’t have to be practical, I’d say a knife (for food), matches (in case I don’t know how to start a fire without them), gauze (I think they are good enough to pull the salt out of the water), my fiancé, and my Beagle. They are my essentials. I think that’s plenty to survive and preserve mental health.
Marie: Sounds good!
Okay, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.
We’ve heard rumors about the heroine of your story – Victoria. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
J.D.: Victoria is a simple 26-year-old girl that loves life, loudly listens to music, loves theme parties, and reading classics. She has a fantastic group of friends, the family she loves, she’s in love with Christmas, Central Park, and snow. In the beginning, you will see her writing a diary, mentioning how she wrote the letter to Santa Claus. Although it might startle you, that’s actually the tradition that I gave to her character. Something I am still doing to this day, and one day my children will inherit those letters.
In my mind, Victoria has chestnut brown hair with gentle waves, just slightly over her shoulders, and caramel-colored eyes, but you cannot read it out of the book. I wanted this story to be unique for a reader, for her/him to have complete control over the imagination of the character. So, apart from the front cover purpose, it’s on a reader to imagine her. Anyone can be her. You don’t even know that she is pursuing her dual degree in English and Psychology. So she is intelligent and career driven. That will be revealed later in the sequel. 😉
And what are Victoria’s greatest strengths?
J.D.: Victoria’s greatest strengths are persistence, kindness, empathy, and belief. She firmly stands for what she believes in.
Any weaknesses of which we should be aware?
J.D.: Yet she is also hot-headed, or let’s call it impulsive. She was in few situations that required a calm head; instead, she let emotions run her actions, so she chose the most difficult one. It got her in trouble. Although she had ‘colpo di grazia‘ (blow of mercy), she understood the situation could’ve been resolved differently.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are your character’s favorite foods?
J.D.: Anything sweet. Like everybody these days, Victoria is a foodie, she likes to eat all, but her favorite go-to is desserts: crepes, brioche, apple pie, Linzer cookies,… I cannot forget the hot chocolate!
Marie: Yep, that’s a weakness of mine too! (Chuckles.)
What’s a positive quality that Victoria is unaware that she has?
J.D.: I’d say mental strength. You will see that Victoria is constantly doubting herself, always thinking she is not good enough, or cannot do this or that alone, or that she’ll forget about Winter Lands when she comes back to New York. Yet, she possesses an incredible inner strength that will allow her to help others in more than one way.
Marie: All right.
So, will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
J.D.: So far, all of the readers like Victoria and how she grows through the book. Maybe one reader said that she considers Victoria’s inner thoughts a bit immature for her age, but that’s okay. It’s all about a different perspective. I know personally, myself included, a lot of people having those moments “oh, boy, I still feel and think like I’m sixteen …” ( and some are in their thirties, some in their fifties, some actually in their seventies.)
Marie: I see.
Well, now that we have a real taste of Victoria, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.
What first gave you the idea for Tale of the Winter Lands?
J.D.: That would be my utter adoration for Christmas, winter, and children. I still don’t have children of my own. One day, as I was scrolling through Christmas movies to watch (at the time I was living in Italy), and I was saddened with the choice. Either we have classics – which I love!! – or we have horrors, dark comedies, or completely childish movies with no particular message of all. Now, there’s Netflix that’s stepping up in the Christmas genre, films, and animation. And I grew up watching and re-watching Grinch, Miracle on 34th Street (my fav), White Christmas, et cetera. Those movies made your heart warm. Afterward, I’ve Googled books with the Christmas theme, and I didn’t see anything like it at the time. If nothing, I read forums and comments that weren’t so optimistic about books to the general audience.
You cannot imagine my happiness when more than one review said this book can be read by anyone or to anyone, no matter age, religion, or season.
Marie: Wow! Well, you know what they say…Write what you’d want to read.
Um, let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, J.D.? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
J.D.: I’m definitely a plotter. I have piles of paper that can prove that. I like to lay out all the details, the skeleton of the book. Later I might get more creative than what was planned, but yeah – plotter.
I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Tale of the Winter Lands or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Oh, like the ‘Love Story’ song goes: Where do I begin?
I’m joking; I’ll try to be brief because I can write a book about this.
Tale of The Winter Lands is my first published book. Let me rephrase it – self-published book. And although I wouldn’t change the process of publishing it, I’m definitely doing things differently next time. I thought I was prepared – I wasn’t. I thought it’ll run smoothly – it didn’t. But at least the process itself taught me a lot. I had this romantic view of the entire publishing process that burst like a bubble with a first proofreader. You see, English is my second language. My native language is Croatian, my second is English, third Italian, fourth Spanish, and the list can continue. And I had many marvelous (and other not so incredible) people working on the book with me. But I didn’t prepare the social media platforms, nor had an established blog or audience. Now I know. I got my hand around editors, this great platform Reedsy, I’m building the audience, my engagement is higher. I guess going through everything the hard way taught me a lot of this stuff I naively overlooked.
Marie: Oh, I hear ya…it is certainly a lot more difficult to navigate the publishing and marketing waters than most writers imagine.
Hallie: Thank you for this opportunity of letting me visit you today.
Marie: Of course! Well, it was a total pleasure having you on the I Love Romance Blog!
And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Tale of the Winter Lands appears to be… ♥
Readers, let’s learn more about this book.
Title: Tale of the Winter Lands (The Sons of Neptune, Book 1)
Genre: Family Holiday Fiction, Magical Realism, some romance
Publication date: December 24, 2019
We wish you so much success with your book!
Here is the blurb:
Do You Believe? New York City. On cold October day, twenty-six-year-old Victoria writes a letter to Santa Claus, nothing unusual, something she did from a young age. All she wants from life is a little mystery to break her everyday routine—and she didn’t have to wait long for her wish to come true. After a fantastic ice-skating dance with her mysterious Flash on Columbus Day, Victoria receives an invite to her cousin’s wedding in Italy. But when her flight to Europe takes the wrong turn—one can only dream of—Victoria will find herself with a responsibility upon her shoulders that will not only test her relationship with family and friends but will also change her life. How can she find a man who disappeared twenty years ago, start a new relationship, and show that people are still good—all without revealing the existence of the Winter Lands to her loved ones? How can she prove that the Christmas spirit is very much alive and more significant than the material aspect of the holiday? ❄︎ The author’s upbringing in Europe, with delightful old-fashioned Christmas traditions, inspired the creation of Tale of The Winter Lands. After six years of writing, JD Bass is ready to share a heartfelt story that will spread the happiness of the holiday cheer, and inspire kindness in the readers.
Let’s take a look at the story…
Love the mystery in this one! ♥♥♥ I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3Rnjqv
Add it to your Goodreads TBR shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55781951-tale-of-the-winter-lands
What are people saying about Tale of the Winter Lands?
“Beautiful gift for any book lover or someone to become one! In its own essence this book contains the wisdom of life itself!” — miroslav, Amazon
“What Christmas is truly about. I borrowed this book from a friend of mine who told me it was a must read. I was never too big on reading, but the storyline of this book is absolutely beautiful. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I recommend 10 out of 10 for anyone who wants a heart felt story to bring up during the holidays. Lord knows we have all had a tough year and could use a bit of joy in our lives.” — Avantage P., Amazon
“A charming and authentic story, well told. There is a little bit of magic around Christmas that we lose when we get older and grow up. This book gave me the wonderful feeling of returning to that age when Christmas was full of wonder and everything about it was colored by magic. I wish I could re-read this book over and over and relive that feeling again and again. There are too few books that evoke happiness and magic.” — Douglas Richard, Amazon
“I enjoyed this book. It’s a sweet story with a lot of fantasy in it. The element of friendship and family love are very present and precious in the storyline. I recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a Christmas tale for fun!” — Verna Coy, Amazon
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this family holiday book with some romance! ♥♥♥
About J.D. Bass
The author’s upbringing in Europe, with delightful old-fashioned Christmas traditions, inspired the creation of Tale of The Winter Lands. With Croatian as her first language and English as her second, after six years of writing, J.D. Bass successfully published a heartfelt story that will spread the happiness of the holiday cheer and inspire kindness in the readers.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Hallie Alexander, here are some author links…
Newsletter Sign-up: tiny.cc/hallie_sm
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/J-D-Bass/e/B0833JGHKH/
Once again, I want to thank J.D. Bass, the brilliant author of this magical, heartfelt, family holiday novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥