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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Guest Author: J.S. Nichols

Alexis: Hi Jess. Thank you for joining us at Happily Ever After Thoughts and for giving away a copy of your new book, to be released next month, to one of our commenters. I noticed you write romantic suspense “with a twist of humor and a dab of paranormal.” Can you elaborate a little on what that means?

Jess: For as long as I can remember, I’ve written stories with three common traits, humor, suspense and some type of paranormal element. While Come Back to Me is a romantic suspense, there’s a bit of quirky humor in it. Plus, there’s a psychic who lends a helping hand to the hero.

Alexis: Oh, I see. That sounds fun. Why did you start writing?

Jess: To silence the voices in my head? :-) Seriously, I started writing because I couldn’t not write.

Alexis: I completely understand. So tell us, what is Come Back to Me about and how hot is it?

Jess: I’m so glad you asked. Come Back to Me is about a security specialist who boards a ship determined to win back his former fiancĂ©e and discovers that a singles cruise is the hunting ground for a human trafficker. When Erin and Ryan get together, the scenes are hot…about 3 flames out of 5.

Alexis: What a great plot! Where did you get the idea for this story?

Jess: I imagined a single scene—two lovers sharing a private tryst beneath a flight of stairs on a cruise ship. I wondered how they got there, who might be watching, and what could happen to them. The story grew from there.

Alexis: Hmm, I think I’ve interrupted something like that once :-) So what are your favorite character traits of Erin and Ryan?

Jess: Erin is a survivor—tough and strong, she can handle whatever is thrown her way. Ryan is a never-ending optimist—an unusual trait considering he’s a former police officer who’s seen the darker side of life.

Alexis: I like an optimistic cop. That’s very unusual. Now, I know you didn’t come visit me here in the Caribbean. So what kind of research did you do for this novel?

Jess: Actually, I spent three weeks in Puerto Rico in 1998. I loved the culture, the rainforest, the weather, and the different wildlife down there. As for research, a friend of the family lives in Belize and sent home pictures. The fictitious island of Ballena Azul in Come Back to Me is a conglomeration of Belize and Puerto Rico.

Alexis: Ah, so firsthand knowledge to get the feel. That’s always helpful. On a different note, I have to ask, because I saw that you wrote an article about 9/11, what was your role in that disaster?

Jess: It wasn’t glamorous by any means. I was the Disaster Services Coordinator at the time of the attacks. My job meant I needed to keep the office running on a daily basis while recruiting current volunteers to go help out in NYC and Washington, DC. I answered phones from concerned citizens and sometimes family members of the victims. As volunteers returned from assignments, I worked with mental health workers to ensure they were debriefed. While doing all that, I also screened hundreds of potential volunteers who wanted to help anyway they could. It was a humbling experience.

Alexis: I can only imagine. Let’s get back to happy thoughts, since that’s what we specialize in here :-) Do you have any other romance novels in the works?

Jess: Yes, I have two more novels in progress right now. The first is the sequel to my current book and it follows two characters introduced in Come Back to Me. In it, the hero and heroine are trapped in a homeless shelter with a serial killer during a hurricane. With no way out and the storm raging outside can they unmask the killer before anyone else dies? The second, is a bit lighter. To get rid of the ghost haunting her, a directionally-challenged psychic must team up with a cop to solve a murder in the jewelry district.

Alexis: Now that does sounds intriguing. You have great plots! Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the wonderful people who write them :-)

Jess: Thank you for having me. It’s been a wonderful experience.

Alexis: Check out this enticing excerpt from Come Back to Me available next month from Sapphire Blue Publishing.

“I’ll tell you all about the case.” The words were said in a rush.

Erin held the doorknob in one hand as she turned around. Ryan faced her but remained on his knees by the bed. Anyone else, the position would be that of a supplicant.

“What did you say?”

“We can work the case together. Think about it, you and me, solving a mystery. Like you’ve always wanted.”

Her heart actually fluttered. Jeeze—she was a fool. She pressed her lips together and drew a deep breath through her nose before leveling her haughtiest glare. “Nice try. But I have a feeling working together will entail me either going home or being left in the dark.”

“No, I mean it.” Ryan rose to his feet and crossed to her. He stretched his hand out as if to stroke her face, then seemed to think better of it and dropped it to his side. “I’ll tell you everything I know. I need a woman’s perspective on this. Your perspective. Plus, I can’t be in two places at once, you can be my eyes. Think about it. Wouldn’t solving a mystery be the ultimate way to spend your vacation?”

Oh, she was tempted. Erin nervously tapped her toe on the carpet as she considered his offer. Folding her arms over her chest she said, “I want a 50/50 cut of the profits.”

Ryan gaped at her then chuckled. “Seriously?”

Alexis: Sounds great, doesn't it? Don’t forget, for a chance to win a copy of Jess’ Come Back to Me, be sure to leave a comment for her. The winner will be announced on Wednesday. Check the side column for your name and email me.

To buy Jess' book  next month, go to

For more information on Jess, go to


  1. Hi Jess! Your book sounds terrific. And I love your heroine - tempted by the hero, but sold with the mystery... She's my kind of girl.

    Your WIP sounds fantastic as well. I love closed settings for mysteries. And a homeless shelter? Think of all the cool donated stuff that could be stored there... just waiting...


  2. Hi Jess,
    Congratulations on the new release! I always enjoy novels with a touch of humor too, no matter what the genre.
    Thanks for all you did during 9/11 - that must have been a life-changing experience.

  3. Lynn & Cathy,

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    @Lynn--I've volunteered in shelters and worked with some during disasters. The stories I've heard! But none involved a serial killer, so I thought that might be an interesting one to write.

    @Cathy--Humor is so important, being a disaster worker taught me that. My service during 9/11 wasn't as much as I'd wanted to do, but I know I helped. Best of all, my husband, who was a disaster volunteer at the time, worked with me.

  4. Congrats on your releases!! I hope to read your books soon^^

  5. Hi Jess,
    I love that you got the idea for the story from one scene of lovers beneath a staircase on a cruise ship. That's so cool. Can't wait to read it when it comes out!

  6. H iJess,

    Love the idea of having a main genre wixed with a touch of others that just can't be left out!
    Your volunteer work is very commendable. My second thought is your experiences could give you a lot of ideas for black moments and how to get out of them. Did this happen?
    Your writing sounds fantastic and I'm looking forward to reading it!

  7. Hi Valerie & Dawn!

    @ Valerie: That scene doesn't happen until about halfway through the book! So once I wrote it, I had to go back and build up to it.

    @Dawn: You're absolutely correct. My experiences in disaster services taught me to think my way out of bad situations. That training definitely spills over into the story.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  8. Hi Jess, great interview. Have you ever been on a cruise? Is that where you got the idea of lovers under a stairway?

  9. Hi Laura,

    So far, my personal experience on cruise ships has been limited to short day and evening sails. I relied on accumulating research from friends and colleagues, who've taken week-long cruises in the past two years.

    Not going on a big cruise myself, wasn't from a lack of trying. But my husband has finally agreed to take me on a week-long year. :)

    As for the stairwell scene, I never witnessed anything on the cruises as bold as what happens in my story. I'd probably still be blushing if I had.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  10. Congratulations on the release. It looks like a great read. A tropical island would be a nice escape right about now.

  11. I love the excerpt of the book! Sounds like a great read and I can't wait to meet Ryan!
    Nice interview!!!!!!!

  12. Hi Aislinn and Dijana,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  13. Jess, your story sounds so exciting. I love how the story came about. I CANNOT wait for this book to be released and I plan on buying it and reading it RIGHT WHEN IT HAPPENS.

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  15. Yikes! All I wanted was to edit the last post. :)


    Your post made me smile. As soon as I have the release date, I'll slash it across the web via, my blog/web page, Twitter, FaceBook and Alexis has promised to post it here on, Happily Ever After Thoughts, too.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Hi Jess!

    Congratulations on the new release. Sounds like you have a winning combination of romance, mystery and paranormal. I'm certainly going to add your book to my TBR pile.

  17. Hi Linda,

    Thank you!

    And thanks for stopping by.☺