Featured Interview With Jolyse Barnett
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I grew up in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, where I spent a good part of my childhood summers swimming, riding my ten-speed bike on winding country roads, and playing with a horde of cousins at family picnics. Winter was another kind of adventure, with skiing in the Adirondack Mountains, trips to the library to feed my voracious reading habit, and skating on a frozen pond near our home. After graduating from high school, I earned a degree in writing and moved to Long Island with my husband where we continue to live our happily-ever-after with our two active kids and pampered feline today.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I was an avid reader from an early age, then discovered the thrill of storytelling in fifth grade after my teacher encouraged me to put pen to paper. Soon, I had notebooks filled with poetry and later with stories about teenage angst. Although I continued to write creatively throughout college and into adulthood, it wasn’t until my first child headed off to college and a BIG birthday loomed over me that I began to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a published author. It has been six-and-a-half years now, and I’ve yet to regret taking that leap of faith.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Ah, such a tough question. I enjoy so many authors and I read a great variety. Due to my day job as an elementary educator, I’m well-versed in children’s literature, and among my favorite authors and poets are CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, EB White, JK Rowling, Lauren Tarshis, Kate DiCamillo, Patricia Polacco, William Steig, Mary Pope Osbourne, and Edgar Allen Poe.
Aside from my work as a teacher, I enjoy reading primarily romance but also gravitate toward mainstream women’s fiction and commercial fiction such as those written by Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and David Baldacci. Two of my favorite reads this year so far—among many other stellar stories that brightened my life—are Emily Bleeker’s When I’m Gone and Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s The Way We Wish Things Were.
I have to credit my curious nature and overactive imagination with inspiring much of my writing, along with my admiration for all those wonderful authors who wrote stories which in turn impacted my little world in a myriad of ways. You know, I kind of view writing as my way of showing gratitude to those who gave me respite in troubled times by paying it forward to other readers seeking a romantic escape.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Years back, I’d shared with my husband my dream of crafting a series with magic and travel similar to Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House Series, but with romance for adults. A few days later, we were traveling upstate for Labor Day weekend when he asked, “Hey, how about a magic suitcase?” That must’ve been all the spark I needed because five hours later, we arrived at our destination and my journal was filled with notes. Later, those notes became the outline for this romantic suspense/magical realism series set in exotic locales, which I’ve named Mystic Escapes. I adore blending reality with the mythological/magic element because I believe there’s an element of the supernatural, the unexplained miracles or happenings that occur in our everyday life that gives us hope for something beyond our existence.
Mystic Escapes Book 1 is One More Sunset, releasing on Monday, October 3rd. This story took me about seven months from idea to polished version, although I wrote the bulk of the first draft in eight days at my sister-in-law’s house following Hurricane Sandy.
In One More Sunset and subsequent Mystic Escapes books, Lysis and Elpida are the two ancients who provide clues for their kori, or young woman, in the hopes she’ll use them to earn her freedom from that which traps her in life. When the magical suitcase appears at her door, Abby eagerly escapes her past—in the form of an ex-boyfriend-turned-stalker. Soon, she’s on a fast-paced adventure from New York City to Key West where she falls for a kind, sexy stranger while staying one breath ahead of danger.
I chose Key West as One More Sunset’s primary setting because I view the romantic paradise as my home-away-from-home. I’ve traveled the Overseas Highway dozens of times, explored Old Town by bike and foot countless hours, learned the lore of Hemingway, and skimmed the island’s tropical waters by boat and Jet Ski. To me, Key West is the perfect destination to heal from a troubled past and start over. Of course, the past eventually catches up to Abby, and it’s only a matter of time before the red suitcase disappears…
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