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Sunday 30 August 2015

ℚ Joni, Underway - Kelly Oram, Jonathan Harrow

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with authors  and  to talk about Joni, Underway (, Bluefields, 269) a New Adult Coming of Age novel.

Authors Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

Hello Kelly and Jonathan, welcome to BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for Joni, Underway?

"The initial spark for “Joni, Underway” began when Jonathan and I were watching “Deadliest Catch”, that show about lobster fishermen.  That whole world is so foreign to us suburban folk, and Jonathan said, “Gosh, what if a city guy like me had to go work on one of these boats?” It would be a life changing experience. That sparked an instant comparison to “City Slickers,” a movie we’ve always loved.

The idea sat in Jonathan’s mind for years—he was developing it as a story with a dad who had to work on the boat after his son died. But then when we were looking for a romance/drama to work on together, he said, “Hey, what if we use the ‘City Slickers on a lobster boat’ idea and change the lead role into a college aged girl.” I was sold on the idea as soon as he said, “She falls in love with the boat’s super hot captain!”"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"Haha, the truth is that this book reflects more about what I’m NOT.  That’s who Captain Reid is to me: he’s the kind of person I’m not, but WISH I could be.  He is totally selfless, devoting his whole life to caring for others, and not because he’s just naturally that way, but because he’s lived “the other way” and seen the difference.  He’s in complete control of his destiny and knows so completely what he wants and what he stands for, that now he is free to forget about himself and focus on helping others."
"Oh the other hand, I think there’s a lot of Joni in all of us, me especially.  I’ve been lost and in need of change and direction so many times I’ve lost count.  I’ve even dropped everything and run before, just like Joni did.  But professionally, ha!  I’ve been sailing only a handful of times, and Jonathan’s never been.  There was a LOT of research involved with this book.

Personality wise, I wouldn’t really say any of the characters is much like either of us.  Though, Star does get her love of Mountain Dew and Gummy Bears from me.  I basically survived high school on that combination."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Joni, Underway - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.

"I’ll answer this one, since I am the book cover designer!  I’ve designed all our covers, and each one presents a specific challenge.  In the case of Joni, the easy part was knowing that we would use the ocean setting and a boat.  That’s a given.  But the difficult part was deciding what TONE to convey.  Should Joni’s cover say, “This is a romance?” or should it say,  “This is a drama?”  For romance, of course, we would want to find some cute couple on a boat or something like that.

Well, I went searching for ocean pictures and found this really great, moody pic of the rolling swells of the ocean.  And when I looked at it, I immediately thought: “A tiny sailboat.”  The image of a tiny sailboat in this vast ocean tells you a lot about this story.  However, that idea is a bit too literal, not very artistic.  So my next thought was, “Oh, how about a paper boat?”  That tells you much more about the story and Joni’s character, as well as being much more artistic.  I put that concept together and we immediately said “That’s it!”  We never tried any other concepts."
"Also, of all of our covers, this one is by far my favorite.  It’s so pretty!  Jonathan is a genius, is he not?"
Agreed - I really do like that cover!  The paperboat makes it.

Why should we read Joni, Underway and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?

"When somebody asks about Joni, the first thing I think of is the unique setting.  Yes, this is a contemporary romance, but it doesn’t take place in the usual places like city, school, work, or home.  The entire story takes place on a sailboat crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  It’s an adventure, but the type of adventure that’s not fantasy—it’s a real world adventure that any of us could experience (but good luck finding yourself a Captain Reid!)."
"Yeah, I think the adventure/romance aspect is compelling.  I compare it a lot to films like “Romancing the Stone” and “City Slickers.”  We’re seeing characters taken out of their element and forced to go on this adventure which changes their lives and makes them stronger, and along the way they also find love.  A little something for everybody!  I personally think that guys could enjoy Joni, Underway just as much as women."
Can you tell us something quirky about Joni, Underway, its story and characters?

"This story has something that to me was very unique and fun, which is that the character of Murray is based on my own grandpa, and several of the stories he tells are copied word-for-word from interviews that my aunt did with him years ago.  He was such a vivid character, and his stories so perfect, we ended up literally copy-and-pasting much of his interview into our story.  So we can’t take credit for much of Murray’s dialogue. That’s my grandpa!  Yes, he really did run away to New York City when he was 12, and yes he really did talk to us while sitting on the toilet with the bathroom door open, and he spent much of his time telling his life stories while carving wooden figures with his pocket knife.  His name wasn’t Murray though. We called him Boompa, which is a whole story in itself!"
"Yes, I love reading Boompa in these pages.  The man was fascinating and I considered myself lucky to have known him for the brief years I did.  I love that a bit of his memory will live on in Joni, Underway . Also, Joni’s love for squeeze cheese is all Jonathan."
Who would you recommend Joni, Underway to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"Joni, Underway is a drama/romance that walks right on the line between adult and new adult fiction.  It deals with issues like love and maturity (of all ages) and death and discovering what’s truly important in life.  I recommend it to women of all ages, and like I said before, I also believe that guys would enjoy it as well."
"As for disclaimers, I would just point out to fans of my other books that Joni, Underway is a bit different for me.  A bit older, a bit more of a drama.  Like Jonathan said, some people would consider it women’s fiction; others would say it’s new adult.  It doesn’t have the snarky banter of my usual work, but I think it will still appeal to a lot of my audience.  I’m very excited to have broadened my scope a little with this book.  Hopefully you all will be able to appreciate Joni for its differences too.

No content warnings though, it’s totally clean.  It’s new adult/women’s fiction based on character ages, and adult themes.  So it’s still appropriate for teens if they’re interested."
If you could / wished to turn Joni, Underway into a movie, who would be your dream team?

"We cast this as a movie before we even started writing, in order to get on the same page about the characters’ appearance.  For Joni Monday we immediately thought of Britt Robertson.

Her personality is the perfect fit, as she is down to earth and smart, but can be fun and quirky at the same time.  As for her look, she can be a stunner, but usually goes for the “girl next door” look, which is Joni all the way.

For Captain Reid we like the look of Jamie Dornan.

He won the role for us because:
1. He’s gorgeous, obviously, but in a way that seems European, if that makes any sense.  As a bonus, he could totally pull off Reid’s “golden boy” look, with honey hair and brown eyes.
2. He’s got a natural accent, so again, easy to buy into the “hot foreigner” aspect.
3. Despite always playing darker roles, Jamie seems to be a great guy in real life, married with a kid.  He’s a dad!  We’d love to see Jamie finally play something light and fun, like Reid’s easy-going-beach-bum-with-a-heart-of-gold."

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like all kinds of genres, but horror/thriller is my favorite, and I’d say that’s “my” genre.  But romance is close behind!  That’s why even my horror stuff also has an element of romance in it."
"I will always be a “teen” reader at heart.  YA is and forever will be “my” genre.  But I’ve had a lot of fun with this project and the few novels I’ve written that toe the line of YA and NA.  I definitely see more NA in my future and probably the occasional chick-lit novel.  Always romance though! No matter what kind of book it is, I need kissing and swooning."
What is your writing process?

"Our usual process had to be modified for Joni, since we wanted to work together on it, which was a first for us.  We knew right away that we couldn’t swap scenes or otherwise try to “share” the writing.  I know some writing teams who work that way, and I just can’t imagine it.  So we decided that we’d plan everything together, then I would take point with the actual writing, just to get a draft out, and then we could get back together for the “real work” of rewriting.  This worked out well (if you ask me).

Not surprisingly, the first draft was a little bit light on the romance for Kelly’s taste, so she got in there and really dialed that up, which made all the difference, in my opinion.

We had some rough patches, some disagreements, some complications that are natural when spouses also try to work together, lol, but in the end, we love this story and feel that it features a perfect mix of both our styles."
What is in store next?

"I’m back to my horror/thriller stuff with a sequel to my first book “Dolls.” Joni is a standalone novel, so there are no plans for sequels right now."
"Next up for me is a sequel/companion novel to The Avery Shaw Experiment titled The Libby Garrett Intervention. This comes out Oct. 24th, 2015 and I can’t wait. After that I have a college contemporary romance coming out in March 2016. And other than that I am just busy working on finishing up my two fantasy/sci-fi series that are in progress. Always busy with lots to work on!"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?

"We do have a pet—a cat we named Mr. Darcy.  Yes, after the Mr. Darcy.  We love the Pride & Prejudice mini-series and are quoting it all the time, so when Jonathan suggested we name the cat Darcy, I immediately said, “Yes, that’s it!” and our four kids all said, “Who in the world is Mr. Darcy?”  When we pulled out our DVDs and showed them who Mr. Darcy was, they thought we were insane and wanted to change his name.  We are mean and wouldn’t let them.  They like his name now though, because they said they think it’s funny when they tell adults his name because the adults always freak out.  HA!"

Bless him! What a handsome lad!

Joni, Underway - available NOW!

UK: purchase from US: purchase from find on Goodreads

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