Penelope Ward

Hello Penelope! I’m so happy to have a Q&A with you!! And it’s Exclusive so I feel extra proud!!

So, let the fun begin!!

How does it feel to be such a successful writer, Penelope? Both Gemini and Jake Undone have great sales and excellent ratings! I feel very proud to be on your Tour so I cannot imagine how proud you must feel!!

Thank you, Mia! I am happy you are on my tour, too. You know, Gemini started out as a bedtime story that I read chapter by chapter to my best friend, who lives in London. Her name also happens to be Allison (like the main character in that book). I was never sure that anyone other than she and I would appreciate it. I was immediately floored when I offered the book for free on Amazon and over 40,000 people downloaded it. Then, when it went to back to paid, many people started to review it and buy it. It was and still is all so exciting and unexpected.
Jake Undone was born from readers requesting to see more of Jake, who only appeared briefly in Gemini. So, I thought long and hard about a good storyline for him that would do his character justice. I do feel proud and humbled by the positive reactions to my books and have been overwhelmed by the reaction to Jake in particular.

Did you expect Jake Undone to become so popular on Amazon and the social media?

I honestly never expected Jake Undone to become as popular as it did in its first week of release. I could have never imagined that my book would have taken the number one spot in the romance category less than a week after I hit publish. What more can you ask for? I was hopeful that if people actually read it, they would fall in love with Jake, but you never think so many people WILL actually pick up the book, simply because there are just so many good books to choose from these days. Social media, like facebook and Goodreads have been amazing tools for people to spread the word about books they love and I have been fortunate to have so many dedicated readers who did that after they enjoyed Jake’s story. And so many people are now discovering Gemini for the first time as well, as a result. Of course, bloggers such as yourself, are the biggest ally for independent authors and the best means for readers to find books they will enjoy.

You will release My Skylar next summer that will be about Skylar of course (lol), who is introduced on Jake Undone and played a vital role. To be honest, I thought that you would write Tarah’s or even Ryan’s story…How did you decide to focus on Skylar on your next book?

When I wrote Gemini, I did not intend to write another book based on anyone in that novel until multiple readers asked if Jake would have his own story. So, when I wrote Jake Undone, I knew readers might be thinking ahead to the next book. Because I already had a specific storyline in my head, Skylar’s character was written into Jake Undone to specifically prepare readers for that. Tarah and Ryan were never meant to have their own story, but honestly, if enough readers demanded something, I would always take that into consideration for future books.

Have you thought about writing more books focused on our familiar characters, such as Tarah (yeah I want to read her story, if you haven’t figured it out lol) or maybe a new character from My Skylar?

You really like Tarah, the Persian princess with the pixie cut, huh? It’s interesting that you mention Tarah (another character named after one of my friends). I never thought about her for her own story, but sometimes readers pick up on things and want things that the author never saw coming. You never know. At one point, I had toyed with a prequel story based on Caleb from Gemini (Cedric’s older brother) that would take place during his college years. It’s more about what story I have in my head and which character fits that story. In the case of Jake, he fit the story I already had in my head, so I simply made him the male lead and based the story around him.

Jake Undone was a much more emotional book than Gemini..Both have their own tragic events, but Jake was much more mysterious and complicated than Cedric. We had to do much unraveling to get to the bottom and even then, things got more complicated. Did you want to give your readers a message through all of these emotions? What was that message?

In Gemini, the readers got a glimpse inside Cedric’s head. Even though they didn’t know what he was hiding, they got a pretty good feel for how he thought and could pretty much surmise that he was a good guy. With Jake, I wanted the readers to have to wait to get inside his head. But I also let them know from the description that they would get his point of view eventually. I hoped it would give them something to look forward to. You simply had no concept of what he was thinking for so long and then when you finally got inside his head, you realized he had a lot to deal with. Cedric’s pain stemmed from the past. Jake’s was very much in the present. But all of Jake’s painful experiences made him stronger. So, the broad message in Jake’s book is basically summed up by the old saying, “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” We see that reflected in Nina’s overcoming her fears as well.

Ok Let’s focus now…Bring both books in front of you..And tell me how you feel about both of them..What is your first thought about both of them? For instance, Gemini<-Allison’s goodness and Jake Undone<- complicated events…

Gemini makes me sentimental and appreciative of the good in people. I think about writing it for my friend chapter by chapter. I think about reading it to her over the phone and hearing her cry when I read her the scene where Allison was on the train reminiscing about her dead mother. Allison’s goodness in many ways was reflective of my friend’s personality and her constant need to help people and also her encouragement and enthusiasm for my writing. Gemini also makes me think about my daughter who has autism and how much I love her, because the character Callie was based on her. It also makes me happy because I received so many emails from parents of autistic kids who were never expecting to see autism featured in one of their romance novels.
The first thought when I think about Jake Undone is challenge. The challenge was creating a story that was funny, sexy and deeply emotional all at the same time. I felt more prepared to take on that challenge the second time around because I felt I was growing into myself as a writer.
I have to include some pain, some shock value in all of my books, because it’s what excites me and what makes me want to read further in the books I enjoy reading. I also like sexual tension in books, if you didn’t figure that out from Jake Undone.

I’m sorry Penelope but I can’t seem to help myself..Another hard question..What character is closest to your heart? I know you love all of them; That’s a given..But what character makes you smile and melt while thinking about it?

Two characters! The character closest to my heart is Callie from Gemini because she is based on my daughter almost exactly, although my daughter is younger. Jake is the character that makes me smile because from the moment I created him, I wished he really existed. In Gemini, I wished he was my brother and in Jake, he was older and I wished he was…well, you can imagine. In Jake Undone, I got to bring him to life even more and am amazed at the amount of women who have claimed him for themselves and have fallen in love with him. Even I swoon over him and I created the character!

What’s the most interesting or amusing thing that has happened to you while writing?

Often times, funny words or ideas will pop into my head as I am writing and then they end up part of the book. For example, in Jake Undone, the scene where Nina’s ex-boyfriend Spencer pops in and is verbally attacked by Jake was just a fleeting thought that was never originally supposed to be part of the story. But the thought made me laugh, so I added it in. Also, sometimes you unknowingly make something up that happens to be someone else’s actual reality. I have heard people say they grew up in Brooklyn and went to Long Island University for nursing just like Nina and one of the readers asked me if I knew her because her name is Nina, she lives in Brooklyn, she shops at King’s Plaza, she’s curvy and she likes dark-haired men with tattoos. That made me laugh!

Mmm I just had an interesting thought..When you hit the very precious button named Publish, what’s the first thing you do? I would probably open a bottle of white wine…

I love your questions! When I hit publish on Jake Undone, it was late. I walked into the t.v. room and said to my husband, “Well, that’s that…it’s off to the world now. There’s no going back.” Then, I went to bed and slept like crap because I kept wondering if it had gone live in the middle of the night. And it had. In the week that followed, I have been a complete zombie checking the internet constantly, attacking the Halloween candy, watching television (I really like this show Betrayal on ABC and started watching it On Demand) and have been giving my brain a rest from the creative process of writing. For four months, every early morning and every evening after my kids went to bed, I had been lost in Jake and Nina’s world. While I miss that, I need to spend some time in Penelope’s world for a bit before venturing into Mitch and Skylar’s.

And last but not least..Tell us something about you that we don’t already know..A celebrity/book crush ,a guilty pleasure, a hobby..

Ok…I have a massive crush on the actor Matt Bomer. In fact, he was completely my muse for Cedric and I had a hard time writing a book where I didn’t imagine him as the lead character. He was not the inspiration for Jake, so I was proud of myself for branching out. Not only is Matt Bomer my Cedric, but he is my Christian, my Professor Emerson, my Kellan Kyle, my Gavin Blake etc. I just can’t get him out of my head. Those eyes!

Well here we are..Thank you for the Q&A!! It was a pleasure to getting to know you more!

Thank you, Mia! I am so happy you really enjoyed both books and look forward to stopping by again someday.


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