Interview with Jack’s House Author Leigh James
Today I’m thrilled to welcome Leigh James, Jack’s House Publishing’s newest author! Her series Silicon Valley Billionaires debuts Feb. 21 with LAUREN, the story of a billionaire female CEO on the verge of her greatest professional triumph. Tell us more about Lauren’s story, Leigh, especially the part about how she decides that the middle of a tug of war over her company and finalizing an invention that will save countless lives (if she can get it to market without getting killed) is the perfect time to finally lose her V card to a fellow billionaire!
Leigh: Hi Marie! Thanks so much for having me on your blog, it’s an honor! I want to start by saying how much I’ve loved working on this series with Jack’s House Publishing. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve had the benefit of working with a wonderful, talented, truly professional team. It’s been an amazing experience, one that I’m so grateful for!
As for the book, when Lauren meets billionaire Gabriel Betts for the first time, it’s like fate comes out to smack her in broad daylight! She is NOT interested in any sort of a partnership, professional or otherwise. But Gabe is a muscled, gorgeous, brilliant CEO…and he’s nice. I think that’s what gets her the most, at first…that and perhaps his biceps! LOL. He handles her social awkwardness gently and with humor, which is a relief for her.
Gabe isn’t put off by the fact that she’s a high-powered, achievement-driven CEO. I think he’s the first person Lauren’s ever met that is a true peer, someone who can understand the kind of sacrifices she’s made in order to reach that level of success. For someone like Lauren, who is isolated by her own drive and commitment, it’s amazing to be able to connect with someone else at the same level. Lauren’s afraid of getting close to him, but she is also brilliant—so she’s able to recognize that Gabe is someone worthy of her v-card—and her heart.
Marie: I absolutely loved the start of Lauren and Gabe’s story, and I’m looking forward to more from them in Gabe’s upcoming book. I also loved learning more about how medical inventions are brought to market. Can you talk a little about that part of the story and the research you did to make that process true to life?
Leigh: I loved learning more about the biotech industry and what Silicon Valley companies do to protect their intellectual property…fascinating, high-stakes stuff! I read articles about real-life CEOs, and the lengths they went to in order to protect their IP. I also did research into clinical trials, and what American corporations have to do in order to get market approval for biomedical devices. It’s an arduous process! I have a law degree and concentrated on high technology in law school, so I knew a bit about patent applications and trade secret protections. I also researched foreign-based corporate espionage, which is a big business these days.
My favorite research tool: the television-news magazine 60 Minutes. Every Sunday when we watch it, I have to scribble down ideas on Post-It notes—60 Minutes always gives me the best ideas!
Marie: I love 60 Minutes! I’ve gotten some of my best ideas (including the original idea for the Fatal Series) from the news. One of the things I love about LAUREN and the follow up book, GABE, is the absolutely evil villain Li Na, who is after Lauren’s invention and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. I also love that your first books in this series are focused on a female billionaire CEO and a female villain. #GirlPower What inspired you to write Li Na’s character?
Leigh: I really wanted Li Na to be a contemporary of Lauren’s. She’s a powerful figure, and so is Lauren—I thought they were well matched, and in some ways, they could understand each other. They both want the same thing and they want it bad. But they have different gifts: Lauren has special, unique intelligence, and Li Na has the ability to push everything else (including morality and ethics) to the side in order to get what she wants. I thought it would be a fun relationship to explore!
Marie: HAHA, you make it sound as if they are girlfriends when in fact Li Na would happily kill Lauren to get what she wants. I loved their dynamic, and I’m really looking forward to the day when Li Na gets her comeuppance. She will get a comeuppance, won’t she? Please say YES!
Leigh: Oh, she does. And she totally deserves it, which makes it so much more fun!
Marie: I can’t wait to read that! Tell us about your plans for the series and upcoming books.
Leigh: The next book in this series is Silicon Valley Billionaires: GABE and it continues with Gabe and Lauren’s story. I’m actually finishing it today! After that, I have plans for lots more books in this series. I love Lauren’s sister, Hannah, and would love to explore what she does in the future. In GABE, we also get to meet Gabe’s brothers, Levi and Asher, who run a private-security company. There are lots of successful heroines, sexy heroes and suspenseful twists coming to Silicon Valley!
Marie: Your publisher is giddy with excitement for more—and I can’t wait to read the new book! Congrats on finishing it! I really love Hannah, and I’m dying to know more about her relationship with her sexy bodyguard, Wes. Looking forward to much more to come in this series. Tell me why you were attracted to Jack’s House to publish your books. Inquiring minds want to know!
Leigh: I love that you’re giddy! That makes me happy!
I submitted to Jack’s House because of you, quite frankly: as a reader, I’m a huge fan. As a self-published author, I’m in awe of the success that you’ve built. I had previously self-published LAUREN (under a different title) and I thought it was my best book. I wanted it to reach a wider audience. When I read about the Jack’s House team and what you were offering, I felt it was a great opportunity.
That was the initial reason I submitted. And I am thrilled for the opportunity to reach a wider audience, but that’s not even the best thing. You’ve taught me so much about writing, Marie! I can’t believe the individual attention I’ve received, the mentorship. You are incredibly busy but you have given me significant, meaningful time and feedback, and I feel like this is the best professional decision I’ve ever made. It’s been an honor working with your team and your insight has been a gift.
Marie: Awwww, thank you so much for the kind words! I really appreciate hearing that you are happy so far! It’s been a great pleasure to work with you. I love working with someone who is ambitious and hungry to succeed. That’s such a great quality to have in this business, and you have it in spades. I’m also thrilled that you are so focused on the WRITING. That’s what you should be focused on first and foremost. That’s the thing that will make ALL the difference.
Tell us a little about you, your other books, your family and anything else you’d like to add.
Leigh: I wrote my first novel after I was married, had a three-year-old and a one-year-old, and was working as a lawyer. Because geez, what’s a better time to write a book? It honestly wasn’t very good, but I didn’t know that at the time. It was rejected by every agent on the planet and got woeful scores in the Golden Heart contest. Largely undeterred, I re-wrote it and entered it a few years later into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It made the quarterfinals! The people who read it said they ‘loved my voice’ and the ‘characters made them laugh out loud,’ which was all the encouragement I needed! I put that long-suffering manuscript into a drawer, studied the new, joyful horizons of self-publishing, and wrote a new book. (My youngest, who was a baby at the time, accidentally erased 20,000 words of it with his foot. Never a dull moment with kids!) I self-published that book, Liberty Begins, and I’ve been writing non-stop ever since.
About my family: I have three boys—11, 9 and 7. When I’m not writing, I spend a lot of time grocery shopping, putting down toilet seat lids, and picking up tube socks—it’s very glamorous! My boys play every sport known to mankind: swimming, summer baseball, fall baseball, flag football, basketball, track, spring baseball…did I mention baseball? It is a very happy life, and I’m so grateful for my family. They make every day an adventure!
Marie: I don’t know where to start with this. Wait, yes, I do. You actually still feed the kid that lost 20,000 of your words? Haha! OMG! I can’t even imagine. Well, actually I can… There was the time I dropped my laptop. It slid right off my lap (while I was in bed where I do my best work) and fried the hard drive with half of Fatal Deception on it. Gulp. I couldn’t even blame a kid or a dog. It was totally MY fault. Then I had to write the other half without knowing if I’d get the first half back. Those were GOOD TIMES! NOT! Got the first half back 10 weeks later and have since developed an obsessive fondness for DropBox. I’m very glad you didn’t give up when your first book didn’t set the world on fire. Hey, mine didn’t either, but readers sure do love that book now. <wink to Treading Water fans>
Anyway, your life sounds incredibly busy with three mini-jocks underfoot. I am a hockey mom with only one boy, so I feel a portion of your pain. We did baseball for years and I remember freezing my arse off at those early spring games in Rhode Island. Can’t imagine how much colder it must be in New Hampshire!
Thanks for spending this time with us, and I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on LAUREN on February 21. You can preorder it here:
Get Silicon Valley Billionaires: LAUREN in print at Amazon. More print links coming soon.
Leigh: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, and for everything!
Marie: It’s a pleasure to be your publisher!