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Friday, 11 January 2013

2013 Debut Author Interview and Giveaway: J.K Rock

About the authors of CAMP BOYFRIEND!
PictureJ. K. Rock is the pseudonym for YA writing partners - and sisters-in-law - Joanne & Karen Rock. After years of comparing notes on their favorites books and films, often dreaming up new endings to suit them, they decided to write their own stories. On their own, they’ve each sold solo projects outside the JK Rock name. Joanne Rock is an award winning Harlequin author with over sixty titles to her credit. Karen Rock recently sold her first adult romance to Harlequin’s new Heartwarming line. Together, they look forward to their first Young Adult book in Summer 2013 when CAMP BOYFRIEND is released,the first in a three-book series. CAMP PAYBACK will be a Spring 2014 release, and CAMP FORGET-ME-NOT arrives in Summer 2014. Visit the Camp Boyfriend website at http://campboyfriend.net

Learn more about the CAMP BOYFRIEND series at www.campboyfriend.net, friend Joanne and Karen on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters , follow them on twitter www.twitter.com/JoanneRock6 and www.twitter.com/karenrock5 or on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/JKRockwriters . Also, to view great pictures of camp and what inspires them for each book, check out on their Pinterest boards at http://pinterest.com/jkrockwriters/

CAMP BOYFRIEND (CAMP #1) by J.K Rock - debuting July 2nd 2013 from Spencer Hill Contemporary
Camp Boyfriend (Camp Boyfriend, #1)The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.

They said it couldn't be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren's nerves and she can't wait to return to summer camp where she's valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she's broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn't even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn't giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn't really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she's more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren's friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she's changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?

J = Joanne
K = Karen
(Jana) = Obviously me :P

1. Describe your book in 5 words.
K- Discovering yourself and love @ camp (okay- I cheated with the symbol-thingy… darn)

J- Romance, dreams and tough decisions

2. Your book CAMP BOYFRIEND is slated for release this July. Is there anything more you can tell us about the story or the characters? And what kind, if any, research did you have to do?

K- Let’s see… Someone has  a romantic nighttime swim, someone nearly dies, someone goes missing,  someone gets married, someone gets skunked, someone fights with friends and makes up with enemies, someone falls in love, someone’s heart is crushed… you know… the typical summer camp experience in between beach volleyball tournaments, sing-a-long bonfires, prank wars, mountain hikes, overnight canoe trips, and obstacle courses J. Luckily, as camp-goers, we were able to draw on personal memories of this amazing part of growing up… but we did lots of research in terms of the setting to create an authentic world for the series.

J- Karen and I wanted to recreate the magic of summer camp and young love with a backdrop of friendships that last a lifetime. We feel like there’s something wonderfully universal about summer camp- even if you’ve never attended. We can all relate to that kind of condensed experience.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about you both and how you got started? What was your publishing journey like?

J- I started writing when my kids were little, hoping to marry the desire to stay at home with my love of fiction. I taught college courses on the side until I sold my first adult romance to Harlequin. Writing adult romance has been a fun and rewarding journey that morphed into YA after Karen and I discussed books that we loved. I thought it would be fun to write something different, and I always enjoy undertaking a new venture with a friend. I thought working with Karen would be fun and it’s been that and more! I’m learning a lot by seeing the way our voices blend and complement each other.

K- As an English instructor, I’ve read a lot of Young Adult literature and was eager to lend my voice to my favorite genre. Over lunch one day, Joanne suggested we collaborate and immediately the ideas flowed. Since we are both Harlequin Romance authors, we knew we wanted our first project to be a teen romance and setting it at summer camp- a place of forever friendships, first loves and heartbreaks- was irresistible. We both couldn’t wait to go back to “camp”. We finished the first book in the series, CAMP BOYFRIEND, sent it to our agent and within a few weeks signed with Spencer Hill Press. We were surprised and thrilled when they told us we would be the first book to launch their new contemporary line.

4. How did your main character Lauren Carlson come to life? What was the inspiration behind her and do you have any quirks or hobbies similar to hers?

K- Creating characters is so much fun- especially a character as interesting as Lauren. Joanne and I had fun brainstorming the large camp cast, giving characters lots of details (such as interests, insecurities, habits, motivations, back stories, and home lives) that may never fully appear in the book but shape who they are. Lauren came to life as a girl who regrets trading her individuality to fit into a new school. She can’t wait for camp, and the summers-only boyfriend who understands her, to return to her old self.  The inspiration behind Lauren came a bit from me and Joanne in that both of us travelled as teens and had the experience many share of trying to fit in while maintaining your individuality. Suppressing who you really are…losing pieces of yourself… may seem the sacrifice needed to make new friends. But ultimately, you become a version of yourself you don’t recognize…and that’s Lauren’s dilemma. Who is she now that she’s changed? As for her quirks and hobbies, Lauren is an avid Star Wars fan, loves debating why Batman is the greatest superhero of all time, solves complex math and science problems as easily as she lands handsprings, wishes her father would remember she’s alive, longs to stand up to her bossy older sister, adores her chocolate Labrador, Hershey, and is fascinated by the universe. Someday she hopes to walk on Mars- or at least pilot a space mission there.  

J- Whew! Karen answered this so well and so… thoroughly J. I will just add that I’ve found a little piece of myself in every heroine I’ve ever written. I think it needs to be in there- even if it’s just as small as that you relate to the way a heroine thinks, or to something she fears. Bringing a character to life requires that connection in the same way an actor needs to “get into character” to play that part on stage. If you find that piece of you character in yourself, you can do a much better job conveying the emotions. I related to Lauren’s feeling of being unsure who she was or what she wanted- nerd or popular girl? Science fan or cheerleader? Not that we have to be one or the other, but as teenagers we really seem to struggle with blending the various aspects of our growing interests. I think we all felt a bit “pigeon-holed” as teens, didn’t we?

5. I'm really into books with strong romantic elements, is there anything you can tell us about the romance in your book?

J- Karen and I wanted a romance in our book because we both love a romance in the stories we read and we felt like it was one element that we could definitely do well! It’s good to start from a point of strength, right? I will say that the CAMP BOYFRIEND romance is dramatic, tense and a strong point of anxiety for Lauren, even while it provides some of her most memorable camp moments.

K- No matter the genre, if there is a romance that is true and deep I’m all in. For CAMP BOYFRIEND, Lauren identifies the two boys in her life with the old and new versions of herself. Reconciling her feelings for each helps her understand herself and who she really is and what she really wants. Matt and Seth are definitely crush-worthy, and couldn’t be more different from one another. Matt is a gifted and popular athlete with a sensitive side who fights for what he wants- namely Lauren. Seth is a biology enthusiast who knows the genus and species of every plant and animal at camp, loved Lauren before she lost her braces and glasses, and is the strong, quiet leader and defender of his cabin’s nerd herd.

6. What made you decide to write a Young Adult book? And why camping?

K- What a great question! I love writing YA because it doesn’t back down from the real issues that matter to teens. Every adult says growing up is the best time of your life… and I always think, “Ummm- weren’t you a teenager once or were you born forty-years-old with a beer gut?” Honestly. Yes some of the most fun happens in those years… but so do some of the hardest times as well. Figuring out how to navigate all of that is what inspires me as a YA author. Camp is like this speeded up version of life in which friendship, boyfriend, family, and identity issues happen in a short amount of time. As Lauren thinks at one point in the story, “Secrets at camp have the life span of a fruit fly.” And she’s right. Camp experiences are set on fast forward because of that countdown to the end of summer. Another example of this is when Lauren’s cabin mate, Alex, defends wanting to take her one week relationship to the next level. She says, “A week? That’s like practically engaged in the real world.” And it is… according to camp time.

J- YA has been so fun to read in the last ten years because it feels like the genre is growing so much and taking on new kinds of stories all the time. For a writer, that’s exciting because we like to think we can tell any story we want and find a home for it! I think there’s something really relevant about YA because we’ve all felt marginalized as a teen in some way or another. It’s a rite of passage growing up. And no matter your age, you can read a YA and be right back to that time in your life where you felt like no one understood you. As for camp, I liked the idea that it was a different kind of “beach read.” Instead of a summer at the beach, it’s summer at camp! It’s a setting that’s relatable but different.

7. As a reader, what is the most important to you, the characters or the plot? And as a writer, is it different?

J- Balance is key! I would say I get more attached to the characters and the plot reveals the character. However, I’ve started writing some books because I have character in mind, and I’ve started others because I had a story set-up in mind. I like working both ways- finding the right character to slide into a story situation and / or finding the right plot to test a character’s goals/flaws/strengths. Both situations are fun for a writer.

K- I’m a character-driven writer and reader all the way. I’m not a fan of stories where nothing ever happens… so there has to be balance… but I’ll only turn pages for someone that fascinates me, a person I like and may even grow to love. This is especially true in romance because the conflict is so personal. Relatable characters make me care about their story. I want them to get what they want- what is right for them. With romance, if there’s lots of chemistry, I inhale a book to find out if the couple makes it- despite the odds. That’s why love stories like Titanic, A Walk to Remember, Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, The Notebook, are tragic. I became so involved in the characters and wanting them to find happiness that when things didn’t work out- ummm… okay- I need a tissue now… Next question…

8. Aside from CAMP BOYFRIEND coming out in July this year, what else can we expect from you two? New books, new projects?

K- CAMP BOYFRIEND is the first book in a three book, three novella series. We’re thrilled to return to the wilderness of Camp Juniper Point for all of these works and explore more characters’ stories and more fun facets of camp life. Our first novella, CAMP KISS, is a promotional prequel novella that will be in eBook form only and best of all- it’s free! It’s such a great way to join the campers at Juniper Point and get a taste of their life before camp really begins July 2nd when CAMP BOYFRIEND is released. Joanne and I have also written another series that is more suspense driven and we’ll keep you posted on what happens with that!

J- The next two books will be out in 2014- CAMP PAYBACK in April ’14 and CAMP FORGET-ME-NOT in August. We’re knee deep in the camp world right now, but be looking for us to tour schools and summer camps over the next two summers, sharing the camp world and sharing our love of writing.
(Jana - Karen told me that the other books in the series, Camp Payback and Camp Forget-Me-Not, will be about different characters that we meet before in the first book. But now they each get their own story and love lifes. Yay! :D)

9. I'm very picky about love triangles in books, but from CAMP BOYFRIEND's book description I think I'm going to like and enjoy the love triangle in it. Why did you decide to do a love triangle and how did you make this a really strong love triangle?

K- Another terrific question! Lauren’s love triangle is, in some ways, symbolic of the two different sides of herself: the girl who used to gaze up at the stars instead of in the mirror versus the popular cheerleader she became after her Texas move. Each boy reflects a part of her and the questions is, which person does she want to be… which boy does she want to be with? To make it a really strong love triangle, it was all about the boys! There had to be two very distinct choices- incredibly good ones. I fell in love with Matt and Seth as much as Lauren did and felt her anguish when she had to let one go. I think that’s important as a writer- to experience your character’s emotions so that they are authentic, genuine, and real. I don’t like predictable love stories because life never works that way. Joanne and I decided not to choose between the boys until much later into the writing of the novel. Our first reason was that we just couldn’t make up our minds between these two awesome boys! The second reason was that we needed to see how much Lauren, Matt, and Seth grew and changed over the summer. They are different people by the end of camp and that had a big impact on who made the perfect match.

J- Karen and I also wanted to explore the why behind a love triangle. How do people get caught in that emotional web where they can’t sort out their feelings? We refused to write a story where a character simply waffles between two hunky choices. We insisted that our heroine hold herself accountable for her mixed feelings and wade through the difficult emotions to discover the heart of her uncertainty.
(Jana - I know this may sound crazy, but I already pick my boy! Even though I haven't even read the first book yet, I already know who I'm backing! :P)

10. And finally, what message would you want readers of CAMP BOYFRIEND to take away from the story?

J- While you are following your dreams, don’t forget your friends are trying to follow theirs too. Sometimes your paths veer, and sometimes they intersect, but if you respect the friendship- and the love- you come through the journey stronger.

K- I believe that, like all creative things, readers take away different messages, experiences, and feelings from books much in the way we do when we listen to music, movies, or look at art. When I write, I don’t have a specific message in mind and, instead, hope my readers will find characters or experiences that speak to them. For me personally, this book is about accepting others and yourself. By judging or labeling people, our view becomes too narrow to see others for who they are. If we let go of preconceived notions, people will often surprise us in the best possible way. Fitting in makes the world monochromatic; standing out transforms it into Technicolor. That’s the world I want to live in. If I’d been Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I never would have gone home to her dust bowl of a life. And those color-morphing horses were fabulous! Thanks so much, Jana, for this wonderful interview and featuring us on The Book Goddess J It’s been a pleasure.  

J- Ditto that last part!! Thank you, Jana! Readers are cordially invited to visit the Camp Boyfriend website to learn more about the series and explore Camp Juniper Point.
(Jana- EEEP! I don't know about you guys, but I'm so crazy excited for this book to come out! It's the first ever Spencer Hill Contemporary imprint to come out, and you guys know how much I love Spencer Hill Press! And plus, I've always wanted to go camping! :) )

And now for the:


Pinned Image
Yes, Joanne and Karen are kind enough to give away 2 friendship bracelets, one for YOU, and one for your BFF :)
Rules! It's sooo simple:
1. Just comment on this blog post about anything at all! Could be why you're so excited about CAMP BOYFRIEND, or what you think about camping? Anything relevant, please :)
2. Open to US and UK only.
3. You don't have to follow my blog but I'll give you a big hug if you do.
4. Please leave either your email address or your twitter handle, so I can contact you if you win. :)

Giveway ends 2 weeks from now.

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED. The winner has been contacted. (25th Jan)


  1. Hate to camp - but don't mind reading about it.

    1. Hi Renee! Agreed that some parts of camp... not so great. Like sharing a bathroom with a bunch of mirror-hogging girls, counselors on a fun-sucking mission, and assorted varieties of spiders and moths... ummmm... not the best scenario. But the cool parts- being away from your parents, the boys, the beautiful outdoors, canoe trips, fudge pops slathered in peanut butter, and boys (wait- did I mention them twice?)- make it all worth it. Hope you come along for the journey in our book!!

  2. Can't wait to read this and I have recevied my two bracelets, thanks so much.
    Being the crafty person I am, are the instructions in the book to make these. If not, how bout something on the web page stating free instructions or something?

    Wish all my grandkids would go to summer camp :}

    1. Super suggestion, Julie!! Can't wait to add this to the camp site.

      Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. We've been so excited about our first author interview together :-).

  3. That's a great idea! We do have a link on our pinterest www.pinterest.com/jkrockwriters that has boards for camp accessories, the books and what we love about camp. In the camp accessories board, we have lots of fashion and there is an instructional on making these awesome bracelets! We will definitely put a "how to" on our http://campboyfriend.net website as well. Thanks for the fun suggestion :)

  4. Great interview! It sounds like Camp Boyfriend is so involved, and I like that it'll be about more than just the romance, but the friendships and self-identity. I've never been to camp but it already sounds like I'll know just what it's like after reading this series!

  5. Friendships and self identity... yes! That's it exactly. I think that's part of the magic of camp. You learn so much about yourself by surrounding yourself with different people. Kind of like holding up a new mirror and seeing what gets reflected back. That definitely happens for our heroine.

  6. Fantastic interview ladies! Really insightful and has given me a better idea of the book,which btw does sound simply intriguing and I for one cannot wait to read it. Look luck in the giveaway everyone!

  7. This sounds like a really cute series! DD isn't quite old enough for this yet, but I love knowing that in a year or two, she'll be able to pick these up! Would have loved reading these as a teen; I imagine I'll still enjoy them now!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  8. Hi Desere! Am having a little issue with the Reply feature, so my apologies for responding out of turn! But thank you, thank you for stopping by the blog. It is nice for us to sit down with readers informally like this to share thoughts on the book since we can convey more of the *heart* of it than what we can in back cover copy. Of course, the Pinterest boards show a whole other side too, if anyone wants to peek...

  9. Hi Fedora! Thank you so much for checking out the blog today! You're going to love sharing books with your daughter. I know Karen buys her daughter lots of YAs and I have a secret suspicion that - not only is she a generous mom- but she gets to read them too!

    1. You don't really think I buy all those books just for Danielle- lol... YA is such an amazing genre because it's universal- we all have gone through, or are going through, that special time in our lives where we change and learn and grow so much!

  10. i definitely had one of thee greatest english teachers ever! can't wait to read your book!!! (:

  11. That is so kind! Thank you, Anna :) You have always been such an amazing student but even more importantly- an incredible person to know. I feel so lucky to have been your teacher and now friend!

  12. Aww!! That is so awesome. I was just commenting on another blog about how influenced we are by writers whose work we admire (I was saying that authors make the biggest fan girls since we *adore* books)... but this comment makes me remember that there's another HUGE influence on our writing and love of reading. English teachers!!! Woot! Woot! (my shout out for them) I sent all my high school English teachers copies of my first book when I sold it, BTW, with a letter explaining how much I learned from them. So... you definitely have some influence as a teacher.

  13. All I can say is that I'm super excited for this series. The plot line sounds terrific, and I hope everybody gives it a try! It's going to be loved! It's going to be fun!!!

  14. Cody, you are so good to us to stop by the blog :-). Thank you so much for sharing our enthusiasm for this series. Having readers and book bloggers spread the word is the best promo we could ever ask for!

    1. No problem you guys! (:

  15. Hi Joanne and Karen, a bit late, but I'm here :) Lauren sounds like a great character and the conflicts she will face are ones that I can relate to already. I am an emotional reader, and based on what I read here, it looks like this is going to be one for me. I love books like that.

    Oh my goodness, I can't wait to read this book. I want it out like yesterday. I love the responses to the questions as well. I scanned some answers, those dealing specifically with Lauren and the love triangle...I want to be surprised. I have always wanted to go away to summer camp, but that was never in the cards for me. I wanted that experience of summer romance, friendship...the whole shebang.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  16. Hi Paula! Thanks for stopping by and for the wonderful comments your shared :) Lauren is a relatable girl and many will recognize our own experiences in her path to self-discovery- the victories and the failures alike... but that's part of growing up... the magic of it really. I'm thrilled that you are excited to read the book! We had so much fun with the camp setting and it will definitely give our readers a great, virtual experience in this very unique world!

    1. You're welcome Karen :) I'm looking forward to immersing myself into this world you and Joanne created. Love both voices, and I think it will be a fun read :)

      Peace and love,
      Paula R.


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