Monday, July 3, 2023

Jessica Martin Interview - The Dane of My Existence

Photo Credit: Bradley Linton

Jessica Martin is a lawyer by trade, a writer by choice, and a complete smartass by all accounts. Based in the suburban wilds of Boston, Jess shares her life with a finance geek, a small sass-based human and a pair of dogs named after Bond characters.

Defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer.
In the fifth grade, I won a Halloween writing contest for the spookiest ghost story. The prize was a pumpkin. I remember thinking, wow, I could make a living at this. Write stories, win produce! That and I was a shy, introverted kid who came alive when I was reading or writing.

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE?
When I was younger, I got a tragic case of chicken pox. To keep my mind off the fact that my body was one big itch, my parents raided our local library and came home with the D’AULAIRES’ BOOK OF GREEK MYTHS and D’AULAIRES’ BOOK OF NORSE MYTHS. These collections sparked a lifelong love of mythology. Miranda Barnes, the heroine of FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD, my first book and sister to Portia in THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE, is the writer of a YA mythology series and works at Valhalla Lit. Coincidence? I think not.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a prolific reader, but my favorite genre isn’t romance; it’s urban fantasy (think Seanan McGuire and Jim Butcher) and Agatha Christie-style thrillers. Give me a dead body, an exotic locale and a shady cast of characters, and I’m all yours.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know while writing THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE?
Portia Barnes. In FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD, we meet Portia through Miranda’s eyes, and it’s not exactly a flattering lens. And with good reason. The sisters spend a chunk of that book working through some unresolved angst. So it was a treat to explore Portia and her alleged allergy to feelings in THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE. She’s an unapologetically determined and driven individual who is prone to salty comments and insights. And in the end, she becomes the reluctant hero of the town of Bard’s Rest.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Don’t worry about getting it right; just get it out. I used to get bogged down in getting the perfect scene description or dialogue just right. That resulted in me spending gobs of time on very few words. Now I just get it all out, and many of my drafts have bracketed placeholders like [GO BACK AND DESCRIBE THIS DEVASTASTINGLY HANDSOME MAN] or [NOBODY WOULD WANT TO DRINK IN THIS LAME BAR. AMP IT UP]. Then I search said brackets and work through them one by one when I’m more in a headspace to write scenery or describe someone delicious.

  • 1. The storefronts in Bard’s Rests are all derived from Shakespeare’s works. My favorites include The Taming of the Shoe, Measure for Measure Hardware and Two Gentlemen of Daytona. New places featured in this book include Parting in Such Sweet Gelato and Midsummer Night’s Screen.
  • 2. I wanted Portia to have an embarrassing celebrity crush, so I gave her mine: Bruce Campbell, “aka” the Chin and star of the Evil Dead movies.
  • 3. My favorite scenes to write are the ones on Will’s Island. I’ve never seen Shakespeare in the Round on an island, but someday I’m gonna make that happen.
  • 4. Rummikub is one of my favorite games to play but writing it into a scene was another story. It’s tough to describe. Next time, I think I’ll stick with checkers.
  • 5. The path to true happiness for the Barnes’ sisters always seems to involve a dog, and Portia’s path is no different. I researched various dog breeds to find her perfect rescue. Hamlet is part Cano Corso, a breed known for its intelligence, strength and watchfulness.
  • 6. FrancisPearl, the firm that Portia works for in New York, is the marriage of my parents’ middle names, Francis and Pearl.
  • 7. Portia and Ben catch a double feature, A Midsummers Night’s Dream and Jaws, at the local drive-in. Even though the two of them poke fun at Midsummers, I actually love this version with Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci and an adorably grumpy Rupert Everett as Oberon.
  • 8. I love coming up with names for Del’s brews. For the Love of the Bard featured “The Prince of Cats,” and Dane introduces “True Apothecary.” Del’s secretly a romantic at heart, which is why both of these beers are riffs on lines from Romeo and Juliet.
  • 9. While Cordy’s baking puns t-shirts are my favorite things (“Beignet, Done That,” anyone), I actually own a “Claw and Order” t-shirt from the Aquarium. Because I’m nerdy like that.
  • 10. I’m not great with titles, but I’m pretty proud of “The Dane of My Existence” because not only is it a play on words, but it’s a Hamlet reference as well. Full circle, there you go.

Here’s a snapshot of the riser between my two monitors (yes, I’m a two-screener). I like to collect small reminders from places I’ve been. There’s a wooly coo from Scotland. A pair of painted cats from the Hemingway House in Key West, Florida. A silver unicorn from The Unicorn in Woodstock, Vermont. And a honu (turtle) bracelet from Maui.

When the history and character of her Shakespeare-obsessed hometown is threatened, a powerhouse lawyer goes toe to toe with a commercial developer in a hilarious rom-com from the author of For the Love of the Bard.

Portia Barnes is the youngest Mergers & Acquisitions partner in her law firm's history, and she and her stilettos are poised to step into the role of her dreams--managing the firm's new Boston office. But first she's taking a summer sabbatical in her hometown of Bard's Rest, New Hampshire, where she discovers something's rotten in the midst of the town's annual Shakespeare festival.

Hotshot commercial developer Benjamin Dane is sniffing around Bard's, and while Portia isn't necessarily a Shakespeare fanatic like the rest of her family, she's not about to let him bulldoze the town's beloved outdoor theater. Yet to Portia's dismay, Ben proves as skilled as she is when it comes to outworking, outmaneuvering, and one-upping the competition. While she's never hesitated to wage war against hyper-successful alpha males, Portia is caught off guard by Ben's openness and lack of arrogance. As her own long-constructed walls start to come down, Portia begins to wonder if he might be more than an archnemesis.

With her heart on the line and the future of the town hanging in the balance, Portia faces an impossible decision--Ben or Bard's?--unless she finds a way to broker the merger of her life, and ensures the curtain falls on a happy ending for everyone.
You can purchase The Dane of My Existence at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JESSICA MARTIN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Dane of My Existence by Jessica Martin.