Joanne Dannon is an Australian Writer who has self-published a number of Romance novels to great success. She writes Romance novels because she loves it! Writing the dashing hero, the sassy heroine and their Happy Ever After, especially when they weren't expecting or wanting to fall in love.
Joanne began her new career when she started writing the books she wanted to read. With no novel writing experience to speak of has published 12 novels and has become an internationally renowned romance novelist – in fact one of the world's most popular. Late last year Joanne won the coveted (and reader voted) AusRom Today Romance Novelist of the year award for 2017 with a readership worldwide.
Question: What inspired your passion for writing books?
Joanne Dannon: I've always loved writing, in fact, I still have my notebooks from when I was in primary school with poems, stories and ideas for books.
Once I finished school, went to University and started working, I never thought or considered fiction writing as a career or something you could do full time. And then in 2006, I kept thinking of ideas of books I wanted to write. I wrote down everything but had no idea what to do. And that leads me to the next question!
Question: When did you begin writing books?
Joanne Dannon: To be a writer, you have to be a reader. The two are intertwined.
As an avid romance reader, I wanted to write romance and since I had no idea where to start or how to go about writing romances, I wrote to some of my favourite Australian romance authors (Annie West, Trish Morey and Helen Bianchin) and they immediately replied with encouragement and strongly recommended I join Romance Writers of Australia (RWA).
Perfect timing. I joined RWA and a couple of months later attended my first conference in 2007, which was held in Sydney. It was incredibly daunting walking in to a room with over two hundred writers and not knowing anyone. However, everyone was so encouraging and it's been a wonderful becoming a part of the romance writers' sisterhood (although, I shouldn't say this since there are some very talented male romance writers out there).
I'd found my tribe. With RWA I found writers, like myself, who were learning the craft of writing, and it was very empowering.
When I started writing romance novels I had a toddler, a baby, a husband who travelled a lot, and a corporate job. I didn't have much time to write but I made the time and it took me over nine months to finish my first manuscript. I sent it to Mills and Boon and while waiting for their reply I started my next book.
For the next few years, I read many books on the craft of writing, went to workshops, attended RWA conferences and tried to learn as much as I could. I kept writing even though all my books were rejected.
And then I had an epiphany. I'd been trying to fit my 'voice' and the plots so they were suitable for the Mills and Boon Sexy/Presents line. I loved reading these books but realised what I was writing wasn't the right fit.
I decided to write what I wanted, and worry about targeting the right publisher later. It was a bold move and was cautioned against it, but I forged ahead and wrote the manuscript that would become Kissing under the Spotlight which featured a superstar falling for his physiotherapist. This is one of my most popular books and I have since written three more linked books and created a series, the Kissing Down Under series.
My advice is to write what you love. You need to find your voice because when you do, your books are so much better.
Question: Do I have a structured writing schedule?
Joanne Dannon: No. I'm fortunate that I am a full time author but I'm very busy with all aspects of my career including marketing, brand development, maintaining my website, social media, newsletters and sales.
I aim to write 4-6 books a year but this year due to home renovations and family events, I'm launching 4 books and 1 boxed set.
I also made the decision to spend more time with my family so I don't write on the weekends. I only write when my boys are at school. Each author has to work out the right balance for them, and I feel this is right for me now, especially while my boys are still young.
It used to take me nine months to write a book, now I can write a novella in four weeks and a novel in two months (including all plotting and character development). But it took me years to develop my writing skills and ability to do this.
Question: Can you tell us about your books?
Joanne Dannon: I write contemporary romance and spend much time in plotting, to keep the reader glued to the book when reading. I hope at the beginning the reader will think to themselves that there is no way that these two people can come. And by the end, I hope they have that happy sigh as they read the happily ever after (HEA).
Question: Where do you find inspiration, when writing?
Joanne Dannon: I don't get inspired to write, it's something I do. It's my job.
I feel blessed to have a job that I absolutely love but it's still a job. I sit down and write.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Joanne Dannon: Most of what I write comes from real life and my new favourite method of finding inspiration for my books is from the heart-warming videos people post on Facebook.
I love these videos! There is so much beauty in the world and I love to grab it and use it in my writing.
For example, in A Magical Chanukah in New York my hero successfully runs 20 men's grooming salons in Manhattan and the suburbs. After meeting and talking with a homeless man, he decides that his salons will provide free haircuts and grooming to the homeless once a month.
This idea was inspired after watching a video of a young man (a barber) who spent his weekends grooming the homeless, ensuring they would look neat and presentable when they went for a job interview.
I just loved the humanity of people helping others, and had to include this in my book.
I have countless of other examples, especially for my Christmas reads where my readers want inspiring stories that focus on kindness, compassion and family.
Question: How did it feel to AusRom Today's Author of the Year?
Joanne Dannon: It was very special, and it meant a lot to me to be not only nominated but in the finals.
What's great about these awards is that there is a level playing field amongst all authors (irrespective of being self published, traditionally published, print or digital books). Everyone has the same chance to win. And with readers only being able to vote once for an author, it is a very fair and well-run contest.
It was an honour to receive so many votes by readers, and I was truly humbled and thankful.
Question: What books/authors do you like to read?
Joanne Dannon: Romance, of course! Over the past couple of years, and thanks to social media, I've met some awesome authors in the US, Canada and New Zealand, and now have even more authors whose books I love to read.
I also read non-fiction books on writing, marketing and sales. And do love the occasional book by Daniel Silva and James Patterson.
Question: Would you ever write a book without a happily ever after?
Joanne Dannon: No. Without a HEA, the book is not a romance. For example, Titanic is not a romance because Jack dies.
I have more ideas than I have time to write, so in the foreseeable future, I can't see myself writing anything but romance. But that may change. . .one day, perhaps.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?
Joanne Dannon: 1. Know that it's not easy to write a book.
2. Surround yourself with people who support you and want you to achieve (family and friends).
3. Find your tribe! Spend time with like-minded artists like yourself.
4. Keep writing.
5. Remind yourself that overnight sensations take years of hard work to accomplish.
6. Write what you love. Don't write to market.
7. Don't let rejections stop you from writing.
8. Learn your craft. Read "how-to" books, go to workshops and conferences.
9. Find a writing partner or group who supports you, and wants you to do well.
10. Read! As Stephen King says, "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write."
11. Every author's road to publication is different. Don't compare yourself with others.
12. Keep writing (purposely added a second time).
Question: What's next, for you?
Joanne Dannon: I'm leading two boxed sets with a number of other authors. I love working with my author friends, and think boxed sets are wonderful opportunities for readers to find their new favourite author.
In August 2018, I'm launching Kiss Me: An Asian hero boxed set featuring my sweet romance, An Unexpected Forever.
And in November 2018, I'm launching Romancing the Holidays featuring my holiday romance, Christmas Kisses, in London.
I also have a new steamy series planned for 2019, revolving around a sexy rocker and his entourage.
Thanks for inviting me to talk about what I love: romance, writing and reading.
I give away a copy of my sexy romance, Bidding on Love to those readers who sign up to my newsletter - http://joannedannon.com/free-offer-for-bidding-on-love/. This way readers can see if they like my books, for free. The book is for keeps, even if they choose to unsubscribe.
I love to hear from readers. All my social media links are on my website, www.joannedannon.com.
Interview by Brooke Hunter