Here’s Joleen James, whose A Wilding Point Romance series covers the lives and loves of people in a small town in the Puget Sound region. Her Story Behind The Story has a basis in her own emotional journey. (I was the copy editor for this story, so I had a first look!)
What’s the theme behind the story?
Love heals all? I know this sounds so basic, but when you put two wounded people together, and their love helps them move forward again, toward happiness—Love Heals All—works.
What’s the log line?
Secret Summer Romance.
What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?
I had the idea for the Wilding Point Romance series a while before I wrote WILD ABOUT RAND. My idea for the series centered on the area I grew up in, a town on Puget Sound in Washington State. In the book, I call the town Wilding Point. The core of the story centers around the three Wilding siblings, with each sibling featured in their own book. Their internal conflicts stem from the relationship they have with their toxic father, a hard, unloving man. The father’s illness and subsequent death brings these three estranged siblings home to Wilding Point over the course of the three books (the series has since evolved into five books). Of course, each sibling will find love, and have a happy ending.
How did the original idea change as you went along?
At that time, prior to when I starting writing WILD ABOUT RAND, my mother got very sick and passed away. As her main caregiver and advocate, I went through her end-of-life journey with her. Helping someone die is a life-changing experience—at least it was for me. I felt honored to be with her at the end, and treasure those memories now. Those memories became a driving force in WILD ABOUT RAND.
I always planned for the father in WILD ABOUT RAND to become sick and pass away. However, my own life shaped this story. In the book, the father’s illness and death mirrored what I went through with my mom. I poured my heart out and walked through my grief while writing the book. Writing the end of life for Lucas Wilding through the lens of my own grief was definitely not planned! However, WILD ABOUT RAND is not a book about death. In fact, it’s about living! The story centers on the secret, summer romance between Kristine Wilding and Rand Bell, two people who are both moving on from different, emotional pasts. Their relationship is about bringing romance and joy back into their lives!
How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?
I knew I wanted three Wilding siblings: Kristine, a struggling single mom, who is in the first book; Lucky, her brother, a man with a dark past who feels unworthy of love; and a secret sibling, Cam, a local boy, who suddenly finds himself part of the twisted Wilding family. I’m not sure how the stories changed. I always start my books by writing the back-cover copy (a super-short synopsis). I’m always surprised by how I stick to my original story. The synopsis usually follows the book pretty closely when I’m finished.
Are you pleased with the results, or would you have done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?
I love this series and all the characters that populate Wilding Point. I am pleased with WILD ABOUT RAND. I think most of us have suffered loss, and I hope we’ve managed to move forward and find happiness. This is a story of hope we can all identify with.
Who would play the leads in the movie if (when) you make the deal?
I think the couple on the cover of WILD ABOUT RAND would be great!
What else do you want readers to know?
I want readers to know that this series is an ongoing labor of love. I feel more connected to this series than any other I have written before. Some of my strong connection has to do with the location, some to the personal tragedy I suffered, which made its way into WILD ABOUT RAND. If you like secret, summer romance (WILD ABOUT RAND), a wounded bad boy (WILD ABOUT LUCKY), secret babies and first lovers reunited (WILD ABOUT CAM), a little mystery mixed in with your romance (ONE WILD CHRISTMAS), this series is for you! Wait, I forgot about book 5…ONE WILD KISS—a story of forbidden love, coming soon!
Joleen James is the author of The Wilding Point Romance series, The Hometown Alaska Men series, and several stand-alone contemporary romances, including the award-winning UNDER A HARVEST MOON. Currently, she’s working on ONE WILD KISS, book 5 in the Wilding Point Romance series. LOVE UNEXPECTED is her first romance short story set in Wilding Point and the story is included in the SUMMER VIBES ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY. Visit Joleen at www.joleenjames.com, or look for her on Facebook and Twitter.