Author Pen Name: Jannine Corti Petska
CA: What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
JCP: I write historicals because I love the romantic dreams of living in another time and place. I can travel anywhere and enjoy the flavor of a certain country or town without ever leaving my office. Many of the books I write take place in Medieval Italy. When you think of Italy, you think of romance. Besides, it’s a culture I know well.
I write romantic suspense for the excitement of danger lurking around the corner. It satisfies my adventuresome side, although I’m more cautious than adventuresome by nature. So it’s safe to dream up situations for my characters that I would never place myself in.
CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
JCP: I wrote all my life. English and writing were always my favorite subjects. But it wasn’t until my three daughters started school that I tried writing a novel.
CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
JCP: I have three inspirations. The first was my mother. English was her second language, but she read constantly, whether it was stories in magazines or books. She’d tell me I could do whatever I set my mind to. When I mentioned to her that I was writing a book, she thought it was wonderful. Her support meant a lot to me.
Second is my husband. Not once did he ever say I was wasting my time. His encouragement was exceptional. Even through the times I wanted to quit, he was there asking me if I’d be happy doing anything else. He knew I wouldn’t be. He’s gone through the ups and downs with me. We’ll soon be married 36 years. He’s my ultimate hero.
And the third was Kathleen Woodiwiss. Like many other writers, I fell in love with Shanna and The Wolf and the Dove, which is the only book I’ve read more than once. Her stories and characters were magical and inspired me to put my ideas on paper. I wanted to create my own Happily Ever After.
CA: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
JCP: My schedule is hectic every day. I watch my toddler grandson three days a week. And working at home makes me see what needs to be done around the house. Then I have four dogs, three are extremely feisty Rat Terriers. I usually stop to play with them three times a day or they’ll start climbing the walls, lol.
When I do write, it’s usually when my grandson is napping, or whenever I can fit in some time. I try to write every day, but that doesn’t usually happen. I never realized how full my life was until I tried to carve time out of the day to write.
CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
JCP: One word? That would have to be fear. I worry if all the corrections were made, what if no one likes the cover, what if no one wants to read my story? And if they read it, will they like it? Or will they think they wasted their money? You know, the usual paranoia that comes with publishing. ; )
CA: What was your biggest challenge in writing your book(s)?
JCP: When I started writing, I had a tough time with vocabulary. Growing up in a house where English wasn’t the first language, I didn’t have a vast knowledge of words. I picked up quite an extensive vocabulary from the romance books I had read. Yet, I struggled constantly. The dictionary, and especially the Thesaurus, was my bible and my best friend.
CA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
JCP: I garden almost all year. In Southern California, I can do that. But the spring and summer are busier months because I’m growing a variety of vegetables. There’s something peaceful about my hands digging in the dirt and nurturing the plants to life.
Watching Italian soccer is my other pastime. Of course I was thrilled when Italy won the World Cup in 2006. During the soccer season, I follow my favorite teams, which are (in order) A.C. Milan, Roma and Juventus.
CA: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
JCP: I’ve written over 20 books. Four have been published to date. My favorite is Surrender to Honor, which takes place in 15th century Palermo, Sicily. I love the hero, Antonio, because he doesn’t believe in violence and carries no weapons, yet he’s certainly not a wimp. The heroine, Prima, is a little warrior, fighting to get her home back from the evil Falcone family. She partly blames Antonio’s father for her troubles. After a 15 year absence, Antonio comes home to a dying father and war between three families. This story is about the beginning of the Mafia.
Rebel Heart is another favorite, a 19th century American Western. The hero, Beau Hamilton, lived a hard life. He’s irascible and downright rude at times, but it’s fun to see how the heroine chips away at his veneer and gets to the heart of the man by the end of the story.
CA: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
JCP: My characters are not based on anyone in particular. However, I do cut out pictures of hunky men and beautiful women for a visual. Whether or not I’m successful in describing the hero and heroine from those pictures isn’t important. The reader usually conjures up a different image in her mind. But the pictures give me a constant reminder not to accidentally change the characters’ looks halfway into the story.
CA: Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
JCP: My advice is always: Never Give Up. The publishing business is hard on one’s ego and emotions. You have to grow a tough skin and be able to learn from one rejection to the next. It’s hard not to take the rejections personally. But you can’t dwell on them either or your creativity will suffer. Learn your craft. Take online classes, go to conferences, organize a critique group or find a critique partner. Anything that will immerse you into your writing. And don’t get too attached to your baby (your manuscript). Once you’ve sold, it will be easier on you in the edit process.
CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your books?
JCP: I can be contacted through my website, http://www.jcortipetska.com/. Or directly by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who like writing letters, my surface address is:
P.O. Box 284, San Luis Rey, CA 92068-0824
I have links to purchase Rebel Heart, and my new short story Knight’s Desire, on my website.
CA: Is there anything you would like to add?
JCP: Yes, I’d like to talk a bit about Knight’s Desire. It was the very first short story I have ever written and submitted. I was rather shocked when it sold the first time out. The story takes place in 14th century Piemonte, Italia. I found it interesting to write about an Italian knight because Italy didn’t have the kind of knight system England and other countries had. You can purchase this ebook at
It will eventually be sold at Fictionwise and ARe.
CA: Jannine, I wish you the best of luck in writing! I agree, there is just something special about a historical, they are one of my very favorite genre’s I love Amanda Scott’s novels! Thanks for being here this week!