Author Feature: Interview with J. Kenner (Say My Name, On My Knees)

On My Knees - coverWhere do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?

I grew up in Austin, Texas, and now live in a small town just north of Austin.  I absolutely love Austin and the whole area. It’s not only beautiful, but it has an amazing diversity in population, and something to offer to everyone.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

A writer!!!

Seriously, my earliest memories are “writing” a book by banging out “words” on my dad’s old typewriter—even though at that point I didn’t yet even know how to read!

Tell us about your latest book. 

My current trilogy centers around the world of Stark International and is a spin-off series. The story focuses on Jackson Steele, an architect, and Sylvia Brooks, who was Damien Stark’s assistant in the original series. But despite the connection, readers don’t need to have read the first trilogy to enjoy the story; it stands alone.

In the book, Sylvia is working hard to advance in the company and develop a high-end island resort. But when the architect she had hired quits, she’s left in a bind, and the only one she can turn to is the world-famous architect Jackson Steele—the man she walked away from five years ago after a brief but intensely passionate love affair.

Sylvia’s departure just about killed Jackson. But he has a dark past laced with secrets, and ultimately agrees to take the job—at a very sensual price. But the question remains: is he doing it because he wants the resort? Because he wants Sylvia? Or is he looking for revenge?

In the first book, Say My Name, Sylvia and Jackson reunite after five years apart, with their dark pasts and secrets testing and challenging their nascent relationship. In the current book, On My Knees, Sylvia and Jackson face even deeper challenges and share long-kept secrets that just might destroy everything they’ve built …

Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

Next up is the final book in Jackson and Sylvia’s trilogy, Under My Skin. And I’ve just finalized the details for a new trilogy for 2016, the first book of which is Dirtiest Secret. Readers can get a sneak peek at it in the back of Under My Skin.

Dirtiest Secret is the first book in Dallas Syke’s trilogy, who readers briefly meet in the Jackson/Sylvia trilogy. This 2016 trilogy, however, is a stand-alone story. It’s dark, edgy, and incredibly sexy.  There’s lots of emotion and drama, along with complex characters with deep-seated issues. Dallas is an incredible hero, multi-layered, sexy, and powerful and complicated. I think readers are going to love him—I know I do!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing? 

It’s all a challenge, but in the best possible way. For me, the most challenging part is time management. Fortunately, I’m not homeschooling my two girls anymore, but it’s still so easy to let the day get away with house or business-related activities (hello, social media!). And if you work a full-time job, it’s even harder.

I also find it challenging to put it away in the evening. I write full-time, so my office is my house, and I’ll write at any and all hours. Since a mom with her eyes on a screen and fingers on a keyboard isn’t that exciting, I try to wrap up around five, then stay up after the kids are asleep if I need to accomplish more during the day.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out? 

Read, read, read!

And write, write, write! (And don’t just hone the first chapter over and over and over. Finish the book and move on to the next. You can’t hone your voice without putting new words on the page.)

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? 

Not really. Writing is a full-time business for me. When I was practicing law, I certainly couldn’t kick back and be “blocked” and unable to make an argument for a client. The same is true with writing; I can’t just not do it. So when I’m stuck I call on friends to help me talk through whatever has me stumbling at that part of the story, or I talk it through with my editor, or I skip that scene entirely and jump to a different part of the story.

Who is your favorite author and why? 

I couldn’t choose a favorite author in a million years, but I can say that my favorite series is J.D. Robb’s In Death series. The characters are so fabulous—and even after thirty-some-odd books, they are still changing and growing. Love, love, love it!

What books have most influenced your life? 

Another hard one, but I’ll have to go with one of Julie Garwood’s medievals (I don’t even remember which one!). Because it’s what got me writing romance.

I’d always wanted to be a writer, but for a long time, I couldn’t find the path into it. Even when I was working as a lawyer, I tried to squeeze out time to write, but I was floundering on what to write. I tried legal thrillers, but wasn’t getting any traction in the story. Then one day, I was in the break room for lunch and a friend was so engrossed in a book that she didn’t want to chat. Instead, she lent me a Julie Garwood medieval romance. I devoured it that night and was hooked. I started writing my first romance that night!

So I have to credit my friend for handing me that book one day when I was bored in the lunchroom! And that Julie Garwood romance that sucked me in!

How did you deal with rejection letters? 

As a challenge!

My first rejection letter was from Brenda Chin who told me the book I submitted to Harlequin’s Temptation line didn’t have a sexy hook. I spent half a day thinking what would be a sexy beginning, then started a new book the next day, knowing only that the first line would be “You need a man.”  From that came my first published book, Nobody Does It Better.

Seriously, rejection is part of the process.  If you’re being rejected, at least you’re writing and learning and honing your craft. Look honestly at the work and try to read between the lines to see what the problem is. Then either revise or move on to the next project!

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers? 

That depends so much on the writer! Nabokov wrote his brilliant books on notecards that his wife typed up. So I suppose you need something to type on (or someone who will type your scribbles!).  Personally, I find it hard to compose without my fingers on a keyboard; I can type faster than I can handwrite!

Someone who will honestly read and critique your work is vital. And the key there is “honestly!” Praise is lovely, but it does you no good without constructive criticism.

And, with regard to that criticism element, you need a thick skin and a certain level of self-awareness; learn to be your own sharpest critic.

Finally, a love of words and of stories!

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

That’s a hard question to answer because the real answer is that I don’t know. It depends entirely on the book, the characters, and the way the story is told. I did pull back a bit in Say My Name in one scene. The original version of one of Sylvia’s dreams was very graphic about what happened to her in her past. It wasn’t necessary to the story to go that far, and my editor and I knew that the scene might make some people very uncomfortable, so I rewrote it. The reader still understands what happened to her and how it made her feel, but reading the scene is more palatable in the final version.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research? 

I can’t think of anything weird (though I will say that I clear my browser history before taking my computer to the shop)! But the coolest research I ever did was for a book I wrote that had a theater theme … and I got to go backstage at Spamalot!



A Stark Novel


New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author

J. Kenner

A Bantam Trade Paperback Original • On Sale June 23


Praise for J. KENNER:


“Revenge, passion, and secrets make Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks’s romance unforgettable, as they meet five years after a brief affair that changed both their worlds.”

BookBub Blog, on Say My Name


“Kenner may very well have cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them”

RT Book Reviews (4 stars), on Heated


“An erotic, sexy and exciting ride.”

Fresh Fiction, on Claim Me



“I never thought I’d lose control, but his desire took me right to the edge.”


Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks continue to thrill in the second novel of a scintillating, emotionally charged new trilogy that returns to the world of J. Kenner’s beloved Stark novels: Release Me, Claim Me, and Complete Me.


ON MY KNEES (A Bantam Trade Paperback Original; On Sale: June 23, 2015) features Jackson Steele, a strong-willed man who goes after what he wants, and Sylvia Brooks, a disciplined woman who’s hard to get—and exactly who Jackson needs.


*            *          *


Powerful, ambitious, and devastatingly sexy, Jackson Steele was unlike any other man I’d ever known. He went after what he wanted with his whole mind, body, and soul—and I was the woman in his sights. One touch and I surrendered, one night together and I was undone.


Jackson and I had secrets, dark pieces of our pasts that threatened to swallow us both. We couldn’t outrun our demons, or the people trying to tear us apart. But in our passion we found salvation, and in each other’s arms we found release.


I was scared to trust Jackson fully, to finally let go. Yet no matter the dangers that lay ahead, I knew I was his—and now that we’ve laid claim, there’s no more holding back.


*            *          *


ON MY KNEES loses no momentum in the continued story of Jackson and Sylvia’s tumultuous romance. And there isn’t a long wait for the final installment of this series—keep an eye out for Under My Skin (On Sale 9/1).

About the Author

J. Kenner is the New York Times bestselling author of Release Me, Claim Me, Complete Me, Wanted, Heated, Ignited, and the novellas “Take Me,” “Have Me,” and “Play My Game.” She spent more than ten years as a litigator in Southern California and central Texas, using her rare free time to indulge in her passion of writing. She lives in Texas with her husband and daughters.



A Stark Novel

By J. Kenner

A Bantam Trade Paperback Original • June 23, 2015 • $16.00 • 978-0-553-39521-1 • 304 pages




Connect with J. Kenner:

Facebook: • Twitter: @juliekenner

Pinterest: • Instagram: juliekenner