Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Guest Author -- Julie James

Write what you know. This phrase certainly applies to bestselling contemporary author Julie James. After graduating from the University of Illinois College of Law, Julie James clerked for the United States Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, Florida. She then practiced law with one of the nation's largest law firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After two of her scripts were optioned by Hollywood producers, she decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time. Attorneys and/or law practice feature prominently in her debut novel, Just the Sexiest Man Alive (October 2008) and her sophomore novel, Practice Makes Perfect (March 2009), both of which garnered rave reviews and were bestsellers. Her newest, Something About You, features another lawyer and released yesterday, March 2! You can check out my review here. Please welcome Julie to The Romance Dish!

How Hitchcock Helped Me Write A Romance
by Julie James

Yep, that’s right, Alfred Hitchcock—the master of suspense—helped me write a contemporary romance novel. Well, not me personally, of course (boy would that have been a neat trick), but through his films.

One of my favorite themes that Hitchcock used in several of his movies is that of an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time who becomes swept up in some kind of murder/suspense intrigue. It’s a theme that works well because everyone can identify with it. We watch the movie thinking, “Hey—that could be me. What if I walked into that bar at just the wrong moment and accidentally saw X that got me in a whole load of trouble?”

This is, essentially, the set-up of my newest book, Something About You. Only instead of a bar, I use a hotel room. And instead of an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s a woman. My heroine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde, to be exact.

Cameron is treating herself to some much-needed pampering at the luxurious Peninsula hotel when, in the middle of the night, she’s awoken by strange noises coming from the room next to hers. At first it sounds as though the couple next door is having some kind of crazy sex marathon, but then the noises change. . . and what Cameron ends up overhearing is a murder that involves a U.S. Senator and a call girl. Watching through her peephole, she sees a man leave the hotel room next to hers and thus becomes the sole witness to the high-profile crime. And just like in Hitchcock’s films, that’s where the trouble begins.

Trouble, that is, in the form of FBI Special Agent Jack Pallas.

Jack is assigned to the murder investigation and—wouldn’t you know it—he and Cameron don’t get along. They worked together three years ago on a case that ended badly with Jack mouthing off to the press about Cameron and consequently getting transferred to Nebraska. And if it’s not bad enough that Cameron has to work with Jack as he tries to solve the crime, things get even worse when it turns out that the murderer may be after her next. . .

I had a lot of fun writing Something About You. Despite the fact that there’s a suspense element, that’s just a subplot—a device that brings these two strong-willed characters who allegedly “can’t stand each other” together. Which is, of course, where the humor comes in. This book was a challenge for me to write at times because I had to figure out when it was okay to be light and funny, and when my characters needed to be serious. In the end, I think I figured it out. I hope. ;-) Here’s a brief excerpt from the book, so you can judge for yourself.

“And then I heard the door open, so I ran and looked out the peephole,” Cameron said.

“Just being nosy?”

The sarcasm seemed to reinvigorate her. “And thank goodness for that,” she said. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have whatever information I know that I don’t yet realize I know.” She smiled ever so sweetly. “Besides, if I hadn’t been so nosy, Agent Pallas, you and I never would’ve had this lovely chance to reconnect.”

Wilkins coughed while taking a sip of his coffee. It sounded suspiciously like a chuckle.

Jack found her sarcasm laughable. Back when he was in Special Forces, before he’d joined the FBI, he’d interrogated foreign operatives, suspected terrorists, and members of various guerilla militias. He could certainly handle one cheeky assistant U.S. attorney. “I’m glad to see the coffee’s put a little fire back in you,” he said dryly. “Now why don’t you tell me what you saw when you were doing your civic duty and spying though the peephole?”

Wilkins held up his hand. “Um, I’m thinking maybe I should pick back up with this.”

Cameron and Jack answered simultaneously. “We’re fine.”

“I saw a man leave the room, which I’m sure you know,” she told Jack.

“Describe him.”

“I already described him to Slonsky.”

“Do it again.”

Jack saw her eyes flash. She didn’t like being told what to do. Too bad.

“Five foot eleven, maybe six feet tall,” she said. “Medium build. He wore jeans, a black blazer, and a gray hooded T-shirt pulled over his head. He had his back to me the entire time, so I never saw his face.”

“Didn’t you think the hooded T-shirt was a little odd?” Jack asked.

“I heard butt cheeks being slapped and walls that were banged so hard my teeth nearly rattled. Frankly, I’ve found this whole evening to be a little odd, Agent Pallas.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Jack could see Wilkins glance up at the ceiling while fighting off another smile.

“Are you certain about the man’s height?” Jack continued.

Cameron paused, thinking. “Yes.”

“How about his weight?”

She sighed. “I’m really bad at guessing that kind of thing.”

“Make an effort. Pretend this is something important.”

Another glare.

Cameron glanced over at Wilkins. “How much do you weigh?”

“Wait—how come Jack doesn’t have to answer that?”

“The man I saw seems closer to your build.”

“Oh, so he’s a smaller guy, then?” Jack suggested helpfully.

Wilkins turned around. “A smaller guy? I’m an inch above the national average. Besides, I’m spry.”

“Let’s try to narrow this down,” Jack regrouped. “I weigh one-eighty-five, Agent Wilkins is about one-sixty. Given that, where would you say this guy falls?”

She looked between the two men, considering this. “About one-seventy.”

Jack and Wilkins exchanged looks.

“What?” Cameron asked. “What does that tell you?”

* * *

With that. . . I think I’ll turn it over to you guys. Let’s talk about other books or movies you like that balance both suspense and humor. Or. . . tell me about your favorite Hitchcock film. Or. . . maybe you have a question about Something About You. Hey, I’m not fussy. One randomly-selected person who leaves a comment below will win a signed copy of Something About You. And I’ll drop by throughout the day in case anyone has any questions.

And thanks so much, ladies, for having me here today at The Romance Dish!


  1. I too am a big fan of Hitchcock. He was wonderful at building suspense and throwing a curve at just the right time. VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST are favorites.
    I like humor in the books I read. Yours sounds just right. Good luck with its release

  2. Hitchcock is one of my favorite suspense author when i was a kid. Remember all of those Alfred Hitchcock & the Three Investigators series ? I love them all !

    - Julie, what's your favorite scene(s) on this book ? did you find it difficult to write ?

    And happy release day to you !

  3. I'm hooked! I tend to focus more on historical romances, but I think I need to give these and try (and not just because I'm a lawyer ;) )

  4. Hi Julie, Happy Release Day, and I'm eager to read this latest. I love the humor and bantering in your stories.

    Another Hitchcock fan - To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Notorious, Spellbound, The Man Who Knew Too Much - all favorite films.

  5. Congrats on the new release, Julie. My favorite Hitchcock movie is "Rope" and is loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb case. Jimmy Stewart never disappoints.

  6. It's been years since I've watched a Hitchcock movie and yet I've never forgot them. They were all great!!!

    Happy Release Day, Julie. Can't wait to read it!!!

  7. Hi Julie and congrats on this new release ! Great ecerpt too ;-)

    I love humour in a romance, in particular contemporary romance (I looooove drama in historicals though ;-).

    I love to lough when I'm reading and I don't really expect it. A few scenes are total classics for me now. Like in SEP's Natural Born Charmer when the hero Dean is trying to seduce Blue and she SEEMS totally oblivious to his charms. He even performs a trip tease of sorts in order to entice her... too funny for words.

  8. YAY, Julie's here!! We are so happy you are joining us today, Julie! I can't wait to get my hands on Something About You. You have become an auto buy for me. I know that I will get a wonderful, fulfilling read from your books.

    I have to say that I have never seen an entire Hitchcock movie. I know! One day I'll have to give him a try. I have to say that the one tv show out now that has suspsense AND humor and for which I really enjoy is CASTLE. It never fails to make me smile.

  9. JWZ1978 -- you really should try Julie's books. You will not be disappointed. I too am a historical girl! That's my favorite genre. But when I read Julie's first book, Just The Sexiest Man Alive I was blown away. I knew then that she would be an author I would follow. Her books are such an easy read. She write each scene so that you can clearly see them in your mind. I hope you give her a try!

  10. Hi Julie! Congrats on the release of Something About You! I loved Cameron and Jack. In fact, I enjoyed their story so much that I blew off everything I was supposed to do and read the entire book in one day. :)

    Hitchcock was a master of his trade. I grew up watching his movies and they terrified and fascinated me simultaneously.

  11. Hi ladies :) Julie, you wrote a fabulous book, and can't wait for more :) So please don't enter me in the contest. Let someone else get a chance to enjoy the book.

    I also like Hitchcock movies, though it's been years since I've watched them. There was also a movie out within the last 20-25 years called...House of Games? Joe Montagna was in it. Very intriguing movie.

    Do you have any modern movies that you really love along the same lines? It seems they just don't make movies the way they used to...

  12. Hi, Julie! I loved both The Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect. Something About You has been on my TBB list since you first started tweeting about it. I can't wait to read it.

    It's a toss up between Rear Window and To Catch a Thief for my favorite Hitchcock. IMO Jenny Crusie is the gold standard for balancing humor and suspense. I'm also a fan of Christie Craig's Divorced books.

    A question I'm longing to have answered: Do you have any plans to revisit secondary characters from your first books in later ones?

  13. Congratulations on your new book, Julie! Sounds awesome!

    I'm a huge Hitchcock fan. My all-time favorite Hitchcock film is 'Notorious'. But I also love 'To Catch a Thief' and 'North by Northwest' as they had a lovely combination of intrigue and humor.

  14. Good morning, Julie! I have SOMETHING ABOUT YOU in my ever-growing TBR stack, and I may just have to do what PJ did--blow everything off and read it! My favorite way to avoid my to-do list. *g*

    Hitchcock was a master. I watch his movies when they come on TV, and I just happen to have NORTH BY NORTHWEST in my Netflix pile.

    Like Buffie, I love suspense and humor, and CASTLE is one of my favorite shows! Of course, the fact that Nathan Fillion is adorable adds to the appeal of the show. LOL

  15. Hi, Julie, and welcome to The Romance Dish!! We are thrilled to have you with us today. Congrats on the release of SOMETHING ABOUT YOU! As you know, I loved it. ;-) Soooo looking forward to your next book. And speaking of which, can you give us any hints about it?

    I am a HUGE Hitchcock fan. Seriously huge. My all-time favorites are Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief. (I'm also a huge Grace Kelly fan!) No one did suspense better than Hitchcock.

    I'm off to set up the Book Fair at my kids' school, so I'll be back in a little while!

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  17. I think my favorite Hitchcock movie is "Strangers On A Train" and ironically, I just saw on Masterpiece Theatre a re-make of "The 39 Steps" starring the lovely Rupert Penry-Jones...ahh, British men with their sexy accents BUT I

    Kudos on all the great reviews!

  18. Hi Julie,
    Congratulations on your new book! Did your hero and heroine have a romantic relationship back when they first met?

  19. Hi Julie!
    Glad to see you here today, and I'm excited about your new release! :)

    I loved Practice Makes Perfect, I love books that are a bit battle-of-the-sexes and Something About You seems to be along those veins, so it should be right up my alley. Plus, as a law student who just finished taking the bar exam, reading your book would be a great way to treat myself, lol.

    The only question I have so far is, obviously, you would be experienced and knowledgeable about the legal aspects of the story, but did you have to do any research into the FBI/police procedure part? And did you have a consultant that helped you out to make the details authentic? Did you also consult anyone in the U.S. Attorney's office as well?

    As for Hitchcock, the only movie of his I ever saw was The Birds,and I have to confess I wasn't a big fan, though I admire Hitchcock's skills. Maybe I just wasn't a fan of Tippi Hedren?

  20. I always found it interesting that Hitchcock always filmed such strong heroines. Many have mentioned his best films, but an interesting bit of trivia is that he tried to cast Princess Grace in the movie, Marny. The subject matter was too racy, however, so her subjects wouldn't allow her to take the role. The leading man was Sean Connery.

    Julie, do you have a favorite hero in your books or do you love them all equally? Also, while practicing law, what made you try your hand at screenwriting?

    Last, you mentioned on another blog that you've never watched Castle. You have to give it a try. The whole premise is what you write about: love/hate relationships.

  21. Buffie - I think I'll have to download one of Julie's books to the Kindle for my trip this week. And then enjoy it on the plane and do a Hitchcock movie marathon this weekend (I think it's time my husband learn to appreciate the pre-Birds Hitchcock movies I have stashed away in the cupboard...)

  22. *waving* It's Julie! I know, it must seem that I'm stalking you all over blog land. I'm *totally* not. Except, maybe I am.

    Well, you know I loved this book. And Hitchcock films are some of my favorites. My all time fave is Rear Window. How can you resist the fabulous chemistry between Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly? And those glorious, glorious Edith Head costumes? The black and white dress that Grace Kelley wears is just sublime. Fashion perfection, even! Oh, the mystery/thriller aspect is pretty good too. :wink:

    No need to enter me. Thanks!

  23. Hi,
    I've keep hearing so many wonderful things about your book. Congrats on it's release! ^^ My favorite Hitchcook film has got to be "Rear Window" with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. I love the suspense in the movie and you can't go wrong with Jimmy and Princess Grace.


  24. Hi Julie!! Reading Andrea's review of Something About You made me really want to read the book and after reading the excerpt you provided, I will most definitely be picking this one up!

    My favorite Hitchcock movies would have to be Rear Window and Dial M For Murder. They are fantastic suspense films.

  25. librarypat, Vertigo is a great choice. And if you like humor in your books, Julie's are perfect!

    Great question, mariska. Thanks for stopping by!

    JWZ1978, I promise you will NOT be disappointed!

  26. Pam P, I have all of those on tape and am slowing getting trying to get them all on DVD. And of course, by the time I do that, I'll need to buy Blue-Ray or something. LOL

    Jane, Rope is another good one!

    Mitzi, the great thing about a Hitchcock film is that once you see it, you never forget it.

  27. Emmanuelle, I really need to read an SEP one day. If you love humor, you need to try Julie's books!

    Buffie, really?!?! Girl, you need to watch Rear Window. Seriously, it's the best!

    Oh, PJ, I long for the day when I can just blow off everything to read a book! LOL!

  28. *waving* Hey, Stacy!! Thanks for stopping by!

    Janga, it feels like I've had SAY on my TBB list forever, too! Enjoy it!!

    MicheleKS, Notorious is a good one, too!

  29. Hi everyone!!

    Thanks for all the congrats on the book release!! And thanks so much, ladies, for having me here today.

    So many Hitchcock fans... very neat to hear. I think my favorite two films are North by Northwest and Notorious.

    Okay, so let me catch up on the questions...

    Mariska: There are a lot of scenes in this book I really like, but one of my favorites has to be one of the love scenes... I slipped in an homage to another one of my favorite older films, "It Happened One Night." It was an interesting scene for me to write, because I was my first full-on love scene. So I cracked open a bottle of wine, sat down at the computer, and said, "Okay, let's do this." ;-)

    Stacy: Modern movies that blend humor and suspense... hmm... Beverly Hills Cop? The Lethal Weapon movies? Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Those are more action-y, though.

    Janga: Yes! For the first time, I'm using recurring characters. Jack and Cameron from SOMETHING ABOUT YOU both have small roles in Book 4. And I think a supporting character in Book 4 may be my hero in Book 5...

    L: Yes, I did have to do research for the FBI parts of the book. Luckily, my father-in-law used to be in the investigative field, so he helped out a lot. And for the heroine's profession, I have a friend in the U.S. Attorney's office who filled me in on a lot of the day-to-day details.

    Penfield: All my heroes are my favorite heroes. ;-) Seriously, I like different things about all of them. Jason cracked me up, plain and simple. He was just so funny with the way he simply couldn't comprehend that Taylor wasn't falling all over him. J.D. was fun because he was slightly devious and flawed and arrogant yet so secretly devoted to Payton. Jack is... sigh. Jason Bourne in a romantic comedy is how I'd describe him. ;-) Tall, dark, sexy, tough, yet with a soft spot for just the right woman.

    Maureen: In their past Jack and Cameron had an attraction, and they were moving toward something happening between them, when the case they're working on (and everything else) falls apart and separates them.

    And you guys are killing me with all the recommendations for Castle! Every time I see I commercial, I think, "Why am I not watching this show?" I wonder if Season 1 is available on DVD so I could catch up...

  30. Alright, Gannon, between you and Buffie I suppose I'm going to have to break down and watch Castle one of these days. ;-)

    *gasp* Kirsten! If I could recommend one Hitchcock for anyone who hasn't watched one, I'd recommend Rear Window. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly were perfect together!

    Scorpio M., I didn't realize they remade The 39 Steps. Thanks for the heads up!

  31. L, I love battle-of-the-sexes books, too. Enjoy Something About You!

    Penfield, I have heard that about Marnie. It was a good movie, but I think it would have been better with Grace!

    *waving* Hi, Kati! I couldn't agree with you more about Rear Window. Love it.

  32. Yay, Melissa! Another Rear Window fan!

    Trisha, you WILL be reading Julie's books when you come home this summer. As for Dial M for Murder, how many directors could make a great movie that basically took place in one setting? That's why I love it so much. ;-)

  33. Julie said And you guys are killing me with all the recommendations for Castle! Every time I see I commercial, I think, "Why am I not watching this show?"

    You really need to watch the show, Julie. It is fabulous. And like Gannon said, Nathan is definitely nice to look at ;-)

  34. JWZ1978 -- once you finish reading your first Julie James book, be sure to stop by here and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your opinion!

  35. I've seen a lot about your book, and have it on my TBR list!

    Your questions made me think of the fact that the only horror movies I like are the ones that crack me up. If I don't laugh, I tend to get upset, especially if there is a lot of suspense and blood...

    Humor is always great! I think books become favorites if they make you sign and laugh.

  36. I just downloaded "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" to my Kindle and will dive in at the airport this Friday...can't wait!

  37. Julie - The first season of Castle is out on DVD. You can also watch it for free on your computer at

  38. Hi Julie

    This book sounds fantastic and yes I love Hitchcock's films so I have added it to my must have list and look forward to reading it.

    I love reading a romantic suspense I love all of the intrigue added to the adventures to a HEA.

    Have Fun

  39. I like the take on Hitchcock. So, do you insert youself into your books, like he did with his movies? To Catch a Thief and Rear Window are my favorite Hitchcock movies. Thanks for visiting today.

  40. Karyn: Woody Allen is a good example of someone who has mixed light suspense and humor. Agree with you on Rear Window, and Psycho, too-- that one is great, but just too creepy to be my favorite Hitchcock film.

    Jessica: I have a hard time watching horror films. I'm too much of a wuss. ;-)

    JWZ: Yay! I'll keep my fingers crossed that you enjoy it!

    Helen: Thanks!

    LSU: I think I probably insert myself a little bit into each of my heroines. They tend to be short and like shoes... hmm... wonder where that comes from...? ;-)

    All right, all right, you've all convinced me. I'm going to pick up the first season of Castle.

  41. JWZ1978 said I just downloaded "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" to my Kindle and will dive in at the airport this Friday...can't wait!

    Woohoo!!! I'm so excited for you.

  42. Andrea- I'm very much looking forward to summer so that I can FINALLY catch up on all the romance novels I've missed since August, including this one. I imagine it's quite a few...

  43. Julie, I really enjoyed your first 2 books! I appreciate the humor and the wonderful dialog that you have in your stories.

    I think it is great that this new book has some suspense in it, too. I love the TV show Castle because it has just the right mix of drama, suspense, and humor.

    Congrats on the new release. I just know that it will be another winner for you! :-)

  44. Julie,
    What can you tell us so far about your next book?

    I've been getting suggestions on how to reward myself on surviving the bar exam. Having taken and passed the bar exam yourself, any suggestions? ;) lol. Thanks!

    Just FYI, I placed an order for Something About You with my local bookstore, and I hope they get my copy in soon! I'll be diving in first thing.

  45. L said: I've been getting suggestions on how to reward myself on surviving the bar exam. Having taken and passed the bar exam yourself, any suggestions?

    Totally do something to pamper yourself! If you can get away on a vacation, fabulous, but if not, an afternoon doing a mani/pedi, a massage, or set up your own "beach" day reading (either inside or outside depending on your location) to just relax with fruity drinks and books to catch up on :) Anything that makes you happy, big or small, that's my suggestion!

  46. Thank you, Cheryl--that's so nice to hear!!

    L: Great!! I hope you enjoy it! And sure, a little bit about Book 4.... it's about a wealthy wine store owner who agrees to pose as the girlfriend of an undercover FBI agent (as part of a sting operation) in exchange for her twin brother’s release from prison. Another contemporary romance, with some slight suspense mixed in. Ooh--and some characters from SOMETHING ABOUT YOU make an appearance in it, which is the first time I've done that with one of my books.

    As for tips on how to reward yourself, I echo what JWZ said-- go somewhere fun, or just take time off to do nothing but fun stuff. You've earned it!! And congrats on having finished that!

  47. This has got to be one of the most talked about books of this year, at least in my circles. I think the combination of a strong heroine coupled with a good bad-boy hero makes the story very tantalizing. Sometimes I get tired of the regular gallant lover, but this book, makes the story seem one that will keep you constantly guessing. As for my favorite Hitchcock film is a toss up between Vertigo and Spellbound. I know that Spellbound is not as popular, but my favorite artist, Salvador Dalí, collaborated on the film to create the dream sequences, which made the film even more special to me. I'm not exactly a sucker for suspense, but seeing Dali's work in motion was worthwhile.

  48. I'm a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and love his films. My favorites are "Shadow of a Doubt", "The Birds" and "Marnie (seriously who wouldn't love a young Sean Connery)". I love humor in books and your book sounds great plus I love to visit Chicago.

  49. JWZ1978 said: I just downloaded "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" to my Kindle and will dive in at the airport this Friday...can't wait!

    Yay!! You're going to love it!

  50. Welcome to the site, nunah!

    Maria, i love Shadow of a Doubt, too!

  51. Julie James said:'s about a wealthy wine store owner who agrees to pose as the girlfriend of an undercover FBI agent (as part of a sting operation) in exchange for her twin brother’s release from prison. Another contemporary romance, with some slight suspense mixed in. Ooh--and some characters from SOMETHING ABOUT YOU make an appearance in it, which is the first time I've done that with one of my books.

    Woohoo!! Can't wait for it, Julie! Thank you SO much for visiting with us today. I hope SAY flies off the shelves!

  52. Julie, thanks for the bit about the 4th book.

    JWZ, I agree, you'll love Sexiest Man Alive and then want to read more. I'm so caught up in historicals and paranormals so don't get to many contemps, but I sure don't miss Julie's books ever since I read this one. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  53. Congrats on the release. I have been hearing really great things about Something About You and I am looking forward to reading it.

  54. Hi everyone! Just thought I'd pop in one last time to say thanks to the ladies of The Romance Dish for having me here today. And thanks also to everyone who came by--I had a lot of fun hanging out!

    Happy reading!


  55. My favourite Hitchcock film is The Birds. Very creepy film,but I loved evry second of it.

  56. Thanks for spending the day here with us, Julie! :)

  57. I devoured Just the Sexiest Man Alive today and LOVED every minute of it! I immediately downloaded the remaining two Julie James books and will read them both this weekend, guaranteed :) So glad you were a guest here, Julie, and getting me to try something new! Loved your first book and can't wait for the next one I dive into

  58. Yay!! Glad to hear it JWZ1978!! Be sure to let us know how you like PMP and SAY!

  59. I finished all three books in two say I was hooked is an understatement! Fun, witty, and with good underlying stories, I'm a definite fan and will be following another author now :) Even as a long time Spartan, the story was entertaining enough the U of M references didn't make me cringe TOO much! Thanks for having Julie on this week, I'm glad to have tried a new author and enjoyed the books immensely.