Today I am so pleased to welcome Dani Hermit and Curtis Star to Joyfully Jay. Dani and Curtis have come to talk to us about their latest release, Measuring Up. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
Dani and Curtis have written some questions and answers to share!
What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
(Both) We usually write darker stuff, paranormal romances with dubcon, villains, epic magic battles, that kind of stuff. But we also very much love fluffy cute rom-coms like you see on Hallmark. Monarch Springs is our version of the kind of holiday romance movie series that you see sometimes. We’re planning at least five books in this series with Measuring Up being the introduction to the town and characters while we’re still telling the love story between Brett and Aiden.
It was a challenge to keep the darkness out. We even talked about going back and rewriting it as a town full of vampires and evil immortal overlords more than once! But in the end, we fell in love with the town of Monarch Springs and the odd little cast of characters much the way that Aiden does over the course of the story.
When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
(Dani) I figured out I wanted to be a writer when I was around 12 or so. I’ve told this story a few times, but it gets me emotional every time. I was in the public library trying to pick out a new set of books to read and for some reason that was the moment when my little brain went “HOLD UP! Wait a minute! All of these books were written by people! Real people like me! FUUUUU~~~ I’m going to be a book writing people when I grow up!!”
My skill set at the time was… Let’s not talk about it. It was what you’d expect from a 12 year old who was obsessed with X-Men and Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony. But I kept at it, kept making up stories and creating characters and dabbling in fan fiction. I got better and better as I got older. Every horrifying creation that I have stashed in a storage tub somewhere made me better. I’m still riddled with anxiety and impostor syndrome but I feel I’m good enough to politely ask people to pay for my words, so that’s something.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
(Curtis) I avoid reading them unless Dani specifically points out a good one. And that’s for 2 reasons. Firstly, I have severe anxiety. It keeps me from interacting very much on social media or even doing interviews like this on the fly. Even good reviews can get in my head and freeze my ability to write for days on end, which is crippling to our career.
Secondly, I very much believe that reviews are for the readers. If reviewers are concerned about authors seeing them, they might not be as forthcoming with their honest opinions, which are very important to the art of reviewing. I have beta readers and a writing partner to discuss the books with and help me through edits and rewrites. Once it’s out there in the hands of reviewers, there’s nothing more to be done. For good or bad, it’s a finished product and I need to move on to the next story.
What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
(Dani) I have a notebook I write them down in. I’ve filled several over the years and some of our best ideas have come out of those pages. But, I have learned that what feels like a brilliant idea in the moment might not be if given some time to age.
(Curtis) I will scribble stuff in a journal, but for the most part, Dani’s the idea guy. The initial idea and rough draft of the first chapter for our completed series Burn Outs came from them, so did the start of our newest “secret” project. I’m great at filling in details once we land on an idea, but most of the Ah-HA moments are Dani’s and they are always writing stuff down in that idea book. Sometimes two or three times a day.
What advice do you wish you’d had before releasing your first story?
(Dani) Honestly? “Don’t do it.” Our first release back in 2013 was the best we’d written to date but it wasn’t ready for public consumption. We still needed another year or two of polishing our craft and learning the publishing industry before we should have been out there publishing. We ended up going through two major rebrandings and pulling an entire series.
(Curtis) We discussed changing our names and moving to Canada at one point LOL. But we ended up learning while doing and I think we’re better for the experience. We released our first full series in 2020, and that wouldn’t have happened without our trial by fire.
What’s the funniest or creepiest thing you’ve come across while researching for one of your stories?
(Curtis) So I was writing a zombie character for one of our unreleased books and was trying to figure out if he could remove a heart without a bone saw. I asked Dani if they knew and they were all “I have no idea but Google knows all.”
What we found was this very creepy cartoon doctor showing how to remove the ribcage to get at the heart using gardening shears and I have never been the same. That was insanely helpful with the CSI style scene I was trying to write, but it definitely scarred my brain. Also, Dani won’t look up things for my anymore.
Monarch Springs is full of hot guys… So why is Aiden determined to be in love with the only one that he can’t stand?
Up-and-coming interior designer Aiden Hart came to Monarch Springs for an intriguing job and an escape from his old life. Redecorating the tourist trap that is the Monarch Mansion in a small town in Pennsylvania sounded like the exact opposite of his trainwreck of a life in Miami. Not to mention a way to jumpstart his DIY celebrity career.
Aiden didn’t want to think that his new start was cursed. But being assigned to work with the disgraced former TV carpenter Brett Jeffries at the last minute and breaking down by the side of the road not two minutes later made being cursed sound reasonable.
Things started looking up when a hot mystery man in a beat up truck stopped to rescue him. This flannel-wearing angel was not the kind of hot that happened in Miami. This was salt-of-the-earth, lumberjack, bearded, knows how to change a tire, H-O-T hotness.
Of course, his hot savior turned out to be none other than Brett Jefferies.
And that was only the start of Aiden’s problems. From a traitorous cat to exes showing up at the worst possible times, he still has to somehow get this remodel done before Christmas.
However, falling in love with the job, the town, and, worst of all, Brett, was not on Aiden’s Christmas list.
Universal Buy Link: https://hermitstarbooks.com/monarch-springs/
Dani Hermit & Curtis Star are a married pair of writers who have been perfecting their craft even longer than they have been perfecting their marriage – over 20 years for both! It was a mutual love of slash fic and writing deep, angsty stories that lead to their love for each other.
It has been a rocky road full of pitfalls and potholes that has lead to the current format of writing boy’s love serials that are becoming the bedrock of the Hermit & Star brand.