It was Thanksgiving, 2006 when then newbie-author Sophie Jordan got her first real dose of "Are you a real writer?"
At a family get-together, a woman came up to Jordan and, with more than a hint of suspicion in her voice, said, "Sooooo, you wrote a book."
"Yes, I did," Jordan replied.
"And you sold this book?"
"Yes, I did."
"And where can I find this b-o-o-k?" the woman said, making quote signs in the air with her hands as she said the word book.
Jordan, now a New York Times bestselling author, laughs at the memory and says she continues to get the "Are you a real writer?" question. Often.
"I should start those conversations with 'I'm a real writer. I'm not imaginary nor am I a ghost.' Dentists don't get that reaction. 'Really? Are you a real dentist? You get paid to be a dentist?' Nobody ever asks them anything like that."
Jordan concedes that her "work" activities don't always look like work. She spends a lot of time watching television shows and movies. ("It's research," she says.) And she spends a lot of time reading and talking about odd things like kink clubs at Ivy League colleges. A kink club at a college is featured in her new title, Foreplay, the first installment in The Ivy Chronicles series, being released in November.
After seeing a newspaper article about a kink club at Harvard, Jordan did a little research. "It's called Harvard College Munch and it's listed among the university-sanctioned clubs. I found out Princeton also had a kink club and was joking about it with my agent. I said, 'Wow, there should be a book series that centers on that.' Suddenly the phone went quiet and my agent said, 'How long until you can come up with that proposal?' I told her, 'I'll call you back this afternoon.' That's what started The Ivy Chronicles."
Foreplay is Jordan's first release aimed at a new adult audience (think readers that have outgrown the young adult genre and are ready for a little more sex on the page).
What She Does: "At my core, I'm an artist. I create something from nothing. I get to make up stuff for a living." Jordan also juggles a variety of other roles as a full-time writer. "The business side takes up a lot of time. I work with a publicist, marketing person, my agent, editors, bloggers, reporters, readers." She sandwiches writing between posting on her various social media sites, ordering swag for readers ("My young adult readers really like swag. I had to have stickers, T-shirts, all sorts of stuff for them."), doing interviews and other non-writing duties. "If I can write two hours a day, that's a good day."
Why She Likes It: "I love coming up with an idea. I have ideas all the time. Inspiration comes easily, it's always the execution that's tricky. When I came up with Foreplay, I went from reading an article about a Harvard kink club to coming up with the idea for a series, to pitching it the following day. It's very fast sometimes. I like having an editor get so excited about an idea. That's my favorite part, the idea phase. I wish I could do that all the time, but at some point you have to write the book."
What Inspires Her: "Everything. It seems so flip, I know, but really everything. It is the easiest part of being a writer for me. It's a faucet that I can't turn off.
"I was joking with my editor about giving a historic heroine a zombie [animal] for a pet. She sent me this article about how one in four domestic cats kills. And not because they're hungry, because they're being fed kitty food at home, but just because. Cats are killers. As I'm reading this article, a cat began to form in my mind, that will belong to the heroine in my book. From that little article, I've created a cat that seems sweet and serene with the heroine but tortures the hero, bringing him dead animals all the time."
If Not This, Then What: "I would to do something with cooking. It's not that far off from what I already doing -- you create something, you give it to people and then you sit back and watch their reaction."
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If Not Here, Then Where: "Somewhere cold. I love our one month of cold weather here in Houston but at the same time I romanticize snow so much. I know it's just because we don't have any. I would love a writers retreat, a log cabin in the woods somewhere. That would be great."
What's Next: Jordan, who writes historic romances, young adult and paranormal novels in addition to her upcoming new adult series, is busy with the Foreplay release and already at work with the next title in that series. She has one book in the revision stage and another that's set to be released in January.
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Jessi Jordan, comic artist, beekeeper and yeti enthusiast Patrick Peters, architect and professor Jamie Kinosian, visual artist Paris F. Jomadiao, mixed-media artist and stop motion animator Shanon Adams, dancer James Glassman, Houstorian historian and artist Lou Vest, photographer Sara Gaston, stage and screen star Rachael Pavlik, a writer mom Ana Villaronga-Roman, Katy Contemporary Arts Museum director Erin Wasmund, actor, singer and dancer Karim Al-Zand, composer Jan Burandt, paper conservator for The Menil Collection Deke Anderson, actor Craig Cohen, hockey fan and host of Houston Matters Mauro Luna, Poe-Inspired photographer Trond Saeverud, Galveston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown Gin Martini, fashion designer Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor Homer Starkey, novelist Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer Erica DelGardo, metalsmith Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter Drake Simpson, actor Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer David Matranga, actor Crystal Belcher, pole dancer Daniel Kramer, photographer Blue 130, pin-up explosion art Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker David Wilhem, light painter Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster Browncoat, pin-up pop artist Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist Vincent Fink, science fashion Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer Sameera Faridi, fashion designer Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana MarÃa Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer