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Jan O’Hara and Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures

Once Writer Unboxed’s Voice of the Unpublished Writer, Jan O’Hara  is here to celebrate the February 5th release of her third novel, contained within the Illicit boxed set of contemporary romances. Please share in our excitement as Jan tells us more about Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures.

A former family physician and academic, Jan O’Hara left the world of medicine behind to follow her dream of becoming a writer. These days she confines her healing tendencies to paper—after making her characters undergo a period of delicious torture, naturally. She writes love stories (and biographies) that move from wackadoodle to heartfelt in six seconds flat.

Jan lives in Alberta, Canada and is a columnist for the popular blog Writer Unboxed. She loves to hear from readers.

“Five stars. Interesting characters along with family and workplace drama combined with a complicated plot make this an interesting and action packed story.” ~ Pam Brougher, reader

Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?

To protect her sister against a powerful and dangerous local figure, Mia Gibson needs allies. But can she trust Jackson, the man she meets under shady—and inconveniently intimate—circumstances?

Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

I intended to write a light, airy romantic comedy, but it didn’t quite work out that way. The instant a specific scene popped into mind, where hero and heroine meet, I knew it was a keeper but would require stronger motivation than originally planned. Before I knew it, I was writing a romantic suspense that borders on being a romantic thriller.

To be consistent in characterization, it also contains saltier language and a higher level of sensuality than my previous books.

Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

Besides coping with life-and-death stakes, both Mia and Jackson have legitimate issues around trust that they must work through on the fly.

In addition, Mia struggles with the potential consequences of her actions. Sure, she wants to protect her sister, but will the price be too steep for the larger community?

Q4: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

I found it necessary to remind myself I don’t have to stick to writing one kind of story. While marketers say that it’s wiser to have a focused brand, and I’m sure that’s sound advice, this is one advantage of being an indie writer; you don’t have to pick a lane with your first or second book and stick to it forever more.

Q5: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

I learned a lot about how pacing, stakes, and plotlines can be improved by developing a strong external antagonist. I also gained a better grasp of my fiction-writing process, which thrills me beyond belief. It’s taken me years to figure out how to work with my brain, but I feel like I’m getting there. If you’re reading this interview and are similarly frustrated, I hope you’ll persist! It’s worth it.

Thank you, Jan!

Readers, learn more about Jan O’Hara and her latest novel here, or buy your copy today via any major retailer.


Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors–including bestselling authors and industry leaders–and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.