Every once in awhile I'll be asking other authors nosy questions about their writing process and upcoming projects . Today romance author Lashell Collins was kind enough to answer some questions about her newest contemporary novel, Jagged Addiction and talk about the difficulties of writing an unconventional romance. Tell me a little about the Jagged Ivory series.
Well, Jagged Ivory is a fictional rock band made up of five band members - Otis and Noah Ivory, Cory Dutton, Benji Staffon and Buzzy West. And each book in the series centers around a different member of the band. It actually began as just a single story about Noah Ivory, but as I was writing that first book, I realized that what I actually had was a family and each member of that family had a unique story that needed to be told.
Can you give us a little summary of the most recent book Jagged Addiction?
Jagged Addiction is book 3 of the series and it's about the band's bass player, Benji Staffon. In book 1 of the series, we learn that Benji actually has a pretty significant drug problem and he ends up overdosing and almost dying in book 1. So in Jagged Addiction, we get to delve into his life a little bit and we learn what led him to the drugs, how his habit developed over time and how he fared in rehab. We also get to take the journey of wellness with him and see how he copes - or if he copes - with sobriety, and also how he handles adding falling in love to that mix.
What will readers find unique about this hero and heroine?
Well, I honestly don't know if there are too many drug addicted heroes in romance novels, are there? I suppose there might be a few, but it's certainly not the norm for the genre. In romance, we tend to want our heroes to be "perfect." Flawed for sure, but certain things still seem to be sort of taboo, and I think drug addict is one of those taboo areas. So that's certainly unique. In fact, before I began writing this one, I specifically asked a friend who is also a huge romance reader if she could root for a hero who was recovering from addiction. And I wanted her honest opinion before I even started.
As for the heroine in this story, I haven't read too many romance novels where the heroine looks like Fae Miller in terms of being heavily tattooed and pierced. Also working in such a male-dominated field as she does. So, she is certainly unique in her own way as well.
You deal with the really serious topic of drug addiction in this book. How did you balance that recovery and healing process that your hero goes through with the romance that develops with the heroine?
That's an interesting question because the first draft of the book looked very different from the finished product. When I completed the first draft and went back through it, I realized that I was doing Benji a great disservice by glossing over the whole recovery process, and I didn't want to do that. Yes, it's fiction, but I didn't want to be accused of not being real. And I certainly didn't want to offend anyone who has been through addiction and recovery because it is such a huge issue, and recovery is a huge process. I did a lot of online research, and I also happen to have family members whose lives have been touched by heroin addiction. So, I didn't take it lightly.
What motivated you to base a series around a band?
My undying love of music, plain and simple. I am a huge music fan; I love just about all genres of music, but my favorites are rock and 80's pop.
Can you give readers a sneak peek at your next projects?
Well, I just finished writing a holiday novella installment of the Pierced Trilogy, so Pierced By Christmas will be out on December 1st. And I'm also working on book 4 of the Jagged Ivory series as we speak. That one is Jagged Secrets, and I'm hoping to have it out by the end of December, and then book 5 by the end of January.