Interview with Kris Jayne, Author of Cross My Heart | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Cross My Heart?
I’m a big fan of old-school soap operas, and I loved the idea of the fun, wild family drama and money and romance all rolled into one. Cross My Heart started out as book five in my previous series with a hero who finds out he’s the secret heir to an oil billionaire’s fortune.
As I started trying to connect the book into the world of my first series, it didn’t work. The landscape and backstory expanded beyond what I could fit into my previous series. I gave Carter Cross, my hero, siblings and newfound cousins. The heroine’s story arc kept getting deeper because Nisha Donovan starts off as a woman who is up to no good. She’s a tabloid reporter digging up dirt on Carter’s family and lying about it.
I realized what I had wasn’t book five, but book one in a soapy family saga entirely about the billionaire’s grandchildren—half from his family with his wife and half from the children of the son he never knew.
From there, I knew one of the families—the Crosses—would be black and the other family—the Stars—would be white. I wanted to create a multiracial world from the start, which I didn’t do in my previous series because it began with a book I was going to submit to a traditional category romance publisher.
I fell in love with the idea of creating romances for the grandchildren woven into the unfolding secrets of their parents and grandparents. I wanted to create the kind of series that needs a family tree.
What’s your favorite scene from your new release, Cross My Heart?
If I had to choose one (and the other scenes won’t get their feelings hurt), I’d pick a scene in the last third of the book where Carter and Nisha connect after a crisis.
Carter’s father died when he was seven, and he’s the oldest. He feels responsible for his brother and sister. Nisha is the younger sibling, but she’s the responsible one. She’s had to raise herself in many ways, and now she’s taking care of her teenage niece. Neither one gives themselves room for crying or falling apart.
Carter gives Nisha something super sweet that shows he listens and that he’s learning to forgive her for what she does in the first half of the book. They have a moment that allows her to accept his forgiveness and give in to her attraction. The sweet leads to heat, which is my favorite thing. I also like the last scene of the book, which is naughty and fun. That’s all I’ll say
If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?
It’s hard enough to write blurbs for my own books. But I can write a logline for the last book I read: A billionaire London playboy convinces a financially struggling interior designer to be his fake date at her ex-boyfriend’s wedding to her (now) ex-best friend in Scotland. Romantic hijinks and spicy sex ensue.
I hadn’t read any Louise Bay books before Mr. Mayfair, and I really enjoyed it.
What romantic couple from literature makes you swoon? Which one is over-hyped?
This is where I incur waves of wrath. I’m not a Jane Austen fan. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are by far the most over-hyped romantic couple. Maybe ever. I’ll stop before I get thrashed.
As far as a couple that makes me swoon, there are so many. One couple that stands out is in Stacy Reid’s Accidentally Compromising the Duke. I loved Edmond and Adeline’s journey.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
These days, I read mostly steamy historical romance and cozy mystery even though I write steamy contemporary romance. I find it hard to read my own genre when I’m writing, and I’m nearly always working on my next book. I have an idea for a cozy mystery series that I’ll start in the next year or two, so I may read less cozy mystery and more contemporary.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write Cross My Heart?
Like everyone, I’ve been stuck at home for most of the last two years. I usually travel several times per year for my other freelance writing work and meeting with writing friends at retreats or conferences. I got very sick of my house.
So I bought a giant tent and set it up in my backyard. Until it got too hot to be outside all day, which it definitely does in the summer in Texas, I would head to the backyard and write in my tent. Now that it’s fall, I’m doing that again. I love it. There’s nothing out there but my writing and a tumbler of tea or coffee. I’ll even sleep outside. There’s something about being in the fresh air that helps you follow the sun—getting to bed early and waking up to chirping birds. I feel more rested when I do that
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I don’t think this counts as advice, but I saw a saying from George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” That has stuck with me ever since. I love the idea that you can reinvent yourself and live different lives. We’re not locked into one way of being because of our circumstances or personality traits. We can evolve. Also, I think as authors, we do some of that through our writing.