Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Janna Yeshanova, the author of romance stories set in Russia. Love is Never Past Tense, the first in the series, on the Black Sea where a couple meets and falls in love. A speedy courtship led to a quick marriage, then the world showed up. A divorce inspired by outside forces sent them on separate destinies, always wondering “what if…” Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
Welcome, Janna. I’ve been impressed by your biography and your stories, so tell me when did you first discover your voice as a writer?
Approximately twenty years ago when traveling with my husband and my daughter through North Carolina, we decided to stop at a fruit market. Suddenly, a strong smell of peaches brought back a memory of my childhood: my six year old friend and I are sitting on the grass and consuming a huge box of furry peaches one after another… Two carefree kids in a world of blue sky, lilac, sunshine and juicy peaches… I captured those memories on a piece of paper that I found in the car. Later, I edited the story, but it was lost when we were moving to a new house.
Somehow you made your way back to writing despite that loss. You’ll either recreate it or it wasn’t meant to be published. One of my heroes is Rachel Carson the author of Silent Spring. In one of her last interviews she said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.
A scene from In The Land of Scarabs (the second book in this series), describes a problem with customs in Egypt. This actually happened to me in Bucharest, when I stepped in the Romanian airport several years ago. After being held in their basement office for two hours I had to call the American Embassy in order to leave safely. In this case the subject definitely chose me! Love Is Never Past Tense… is based on a true story. So, it seems that subject chose me as well.
It does seem to happen that way–it’s the great thing about being a writer. We can always say something happened to give us an idea for a novel! What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?
I try to convey the message that my Mom left for me. Once we talked on the porch sitting in the chairs facing each other. I was sad. My mom looked at me and said: The most beautiful thing in life is life. I thought a minute, and then, asked: Mom, what if it becomes so ugly that you do not want it anymore? She looked at me attentively and replied: Janna, the most beautiful thing in life is life.
What a beautiful message. Sometimes we have to hear it several times before it hits us. Write a paragraph as if you were a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.
Janna Yeshanova’s life is a lens that looks back at recent history and forward to a happy future. When ethnic and political turmoil overwhelmed her homeland, as is currently happening in Crimea, she led her mother and daughter out of the collapsing Soviet Union to America, with $126 in her pocket and nobody at all in her address book. As a life coach, she reveals the value of optimism in creating the future you want. As an author, past and present meet and intertwine through her contemporary romance novel Love Is Never Past Tense…
If anyone can attest to the importance of remaining positive and moving forward it is you. You are doing your work as a life coach and spreading your message through fiction. That’s excellent, Janna. What’s are you writing now?
I am finishing up and launching a series of sequels to Love Is Never Past Tense. The first, In The Land Of Scarabs was released May 26. I rewarded myself with a trip to Israel on the same date! The next, Zebra Fish, has just been released.
Congratulations on both books and your trip to Israel. I’m impressed that you reward yourself. We sometimes forget to do that. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?
1. Do not give up!
2. Do not share with anyone who may rain on your parade!
Excellent advice. I believe and follow both of these. You mentioned the message from your mother as finding its way into your fiction. Does this mean all your books have a common thread?
All my books involve the same main heroes. The first book, Love Is Never Past Tense, is based on a true story. The sequels are fictional, but based on the premise set in the first book. Because my name is in the books, I was debating how to deal with sex scenes: to cut them out or to keep. Couldn’t quite decide… Just to let you know, if I keep them, please know that all is fiction. If I do not, please know why.
OK, we’ve been forewarned. Great teaser! Why did you chose to write about love?
How can you not write about love that keeps the world alive?
How does setting play a role in your books?
Love Is Never Past Tense is set mostly in Ukraine. Odessa, Crimea, some other parts of my country… Half of this book was written in Crimea near my favorite Black Sea, under my favorite blue sky… Crimea is generously described in the book. In The Land Of Scarabs and in Zebra Fish are set in other locations where the story itself depends on the setting.
How is the current situation in Crimea and Odessa, Ukraine affecting you?
I was thinking about visiting there this past spring, but given the events that are happening there I can’t. If you are interested about my recent visit to Crimea, click here to read my blog article about it.
What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
Love Is Never Past Tense… was as much of a cultural experience for me as it was an enjoyable read. The novel did an excellent job of immersing me (an American reader) in Russian culture, through the eyes of a character experiencing extremely turbulent times for that region. It is a sensual love story set across contemporary Russian culture. It is inspiring as a reminder of passionate love beyond early youth.”
That’s very nice and especially gratifying that you brought another culture to the reviewer’s world experience. What’s your one sentence pitch for Love Is Never Past Tense…?
“This intriguing and often painful love story spans for decades of life-altering years, and life-altering events, but proves that true love will endure as long as the human heart beats.” I saw this on Amazon reviews. I agreed with it.
I love the title. How did you choose it? Has it been the title from the very beginning?
The title is representative of the underlying message of this story. The title came momentarily as soon as the book was finished.
Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?
The book is self published. I wanted to publish it as fast as possible.
Who is the antagonist in the book?
Serge’s inner daemons are antagonists. His character is very colorful, smart, handsome, and controversial. Sometimes he is afraid to make decisions, and sometimes he gives in on his innermost values and then regrets it. You tell me what you think about him!
Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.
During their first three days together, Serge (as they called our hero at the time) was the quieter of the two, once in a while muttering some insignificant phrases. The first time he saw her, he silently followed her for a long time. She walked along easily, shifting her long, rather well-proportioned legs. Her thin leather skirt swung from side to side, barely hiding her shapely hips. A green blouse tightly covered her beautifully straight back. All the while, Serge followed her like she was a vision, lacking the courage to come closer or to back away. He knew that making her acquaintance was a long shot; she was simply out of his league. How could he possibly know that she, a complete stranger, would inexplicably impact his life and be with him forever, whether she was at his side or not?
What else do you want readers to know about your book?
Anyone who’s ever pondered the eternal question, “What makes life worth living?” can find the answer within the international romantic saga of Love Is Never Past Tense.
About Janna Yeshanova: Originally from the former Soviet Union, Janna Yeshanova, M.A., M.Ed., escaped to the United States when persecution became violent during the crumbling of her country. Arriving in the United States with her mother and daughter in tow, $126 in her pocket and knowing not a soul, Janna’s talent, experiences and education have helped her become a high end organizational training and development professional. Her exodus story is included in the book.
Founder and principal of Life-Spark, LLC, Janna is a dynamic and powerful life coach, premier trainer and motivational speaker. She leverages her passion and engaging style to help others to overcome adversity and spark the possibilities of their lives.
Love Is Never Past Tense… was published first in Russia and Ukraine in 2009, and is now available in English. It is a fascinating adventurous romance based on a true story. The two fictional sequels In The Land Of Scarabs and Zebra Fish were published in 2014.
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