Hi everyone and thanks so much to The Romance Dish for having me as a guest today! If you don’t know me, I’m Jess Michaels and I write historical romance…very spicy historical romance. And I write a lot of it because my 100th book will be out in just about a month (100 Nights with the Duke). The crazy thing is that I’ve known PJ from The Romance Dish for almost the entire span of that career. So when we started talking about this feature, we couldn’t help but talk about this milestone in terms of how it started and the path it took.
I started writing full-time in 1999 and sold my first two novellas to Red Sage Publishing, a now defunct small press, in 2003. In 2004, I sold my first full-length novels to HarperCollins (Avon) under my Jenna Petersen name, which is when I met PJ. Back then, there wasn’t really a structure for indie publishing (you could sell books from the back of your car, essentially) and none of my first few books even had eBook versions. But Scandalous, my debut with Avon, did really well and I was excited about my career and its trajectory.
Fast-forward to my 30th book. That was A Scoundrel’s Surrender and it was my last book with Avon. I’d published 18 of those 30 books with them, under both Jess Michaels and Jenna Petersen. But it was time to shift. The industry was changing, I had different options and the working relationship there no longer allowed me to thrive. I moved on, first to Samhain Publishing (which closed in 2015) and then to indie publishing.
Which brings me to book 50. The Scoundrel’s Lover (funny that 30 and 50 were both Scoundrel in the title LOL). This was my second book after I’d gone completely indie (I’d dipped my toe in before but this was all in). This book is really special because I introduced my sexy Regency underground club, the Donville Masquerade and it features a fan favorite hero, Marcus Rivers. I felt the turn in my career right about here. The realization that indie publishing was a much better place for me as an artist and human. And I hit the USA Today with the next book in that series (The Widow Wager).
By book 75, I’d hit that same bestseller list 10 times. The Last Duke marked the end of my most popular and well-loved series, the 1797 Club series. When people ask me where to start on this very massive list of mine, I always point them to The Daring Duke (1797 Club 1) because this is the series I seem to be most well-known for.
And now we’re here, or almost here. 100 Books. And I have to tell you, I’m so excited for this one to come out on May 10. 100 Nights with the Duke was something I wrote very intentionally to speak to the roots of my Jess Michaels career. It’s very sexy, it features a courtesan heroine who is extremely sex positive and a duke hero who absolutely worships the ground she walks on. I wrote all the desperate longing, all the “it can’t be” goodness that I think people like about what I do. And if it’s the only book people ever read of mine, I think it will be a good punctuation point on who I am as a writer.
And so now I look forward to the future. I’m not young in my career by any stretch, but I’m still pretty young in my life (46 this year). I have a long time to keep writing and creating. And I’ve already got the next 50 books and ten years planned…some of it written down, some of it just floating around in my head. Seeing that path laid out before me and turning around to look at the long and lovely path behind me…well, that’s just icing on a delicious cake. Thanks to all of my readers who have taken and keep taking the walk with me.
Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Jess. I'm eager to read 100 Nights with the Duke and wish you continued success with your next 100 books!
Readers, have you read Jess's books yet? Do you have a favorite?
Two randomly chosen people who post a comment before 11:00 PM, April 8 will each receive an e-book copy of The Daring Duke.
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited