Making Magic: Author Justine Dell

By Madelyn Ritrosky

Justine DellLittle did I know that my son’s horseback riding lessons would lead to this. 
A great read – that’s a heart-tugging romance.  A new acquaintance – who’s become a helpful friend.  And an author interview – that’s now this feature article about two recently released romance novels.
It was our mutual friend the riding instructor who alerted me to the fall release of Justine Dell’s Recaptured Dreams.  Published by Omnific Publishing, it’s a contemporary romance with strong, likable lead characters and a couple of despicable supporting characters. 
I bought.  I read.  I turned page after page... 
The accidental reunion of the hero and heroine, Xavier and Sophia, starts Recaptured Dreams.  Given their strong feelings, the long-overdue untangling of the path to their permanent togetherness takes only about 6 weeks – that is, not counting the 10 years, tragedies, and amnesia that involuntarily separated them before page 1. 
That’s the kind of heartache I can enjoy. 
Justine now has a brand new romance, All-American Girl.  It’s another contemporary romance that, like Recaptured Dreams, seems to fit perfectly the type of stories that Omnific puts out:  “Smart romance for smart women.... without formulas, without guilt, without cliché.”  Or, as they put it, “romance... without rules.”
Sounds great to me. 
All-American Girl features another strong heroine who has to deal with some pressing problems and a hero, with his own struggles, who has a past with her – and is the catalyst to her future.  Samantha and Lance are, of course, each other’s catalyst, sparking the way to new outlooks and thus a renewed togetherness that can now last.   
Justine Dell crafted these characters and these stories, so let’s hear more about them from the author herself.  I’ve asked her a number of questions about her writing...    
Justine Dell 1. How did you get started writing fiction?  
I’ve always been a storyteller, meaning I like to tell people all sorts of stories (true or not).  They can be happy, sad, funny, heroic, but I always put my special storytelling spin on them, which is what makes them fun!
Writing, however, was something I never considered.  One day someone told me I should write down my stories. I shook off that thought, thinking I didn’t have what it takes.  Then I watched a movie about four years ago that made me think otherwise.  After that, I decided to write down the crazy things in my head.  The rest, as they say, is history.  
2. Can you elaborate on getting inspired from that movie?
I’d been toying around with the idea of writing a story flopping around in my head for a year but never thought I could.  I watched that movie, spawned from a wildly popular book series written by a very normal mother who just had an idea she wanted to write.
I thought to myself, “If this average, non-writer mother can discover a passion from her love of stories and a simple idea, why can’t I?”  So I did.  I wrote my first book, which actually wasn't Recaptured Dreams.  That first book will probably never be seen. 
3. What kinds of research did you need to do for Recaptured Dreams?  For example, how familiar are you with the fashion world?
I knew nothing about the fashion world, besides perhaps what I learned on one of my favorite shows, Project Runway.  I’m more of a yoga pants and t-shirt kind of girl.
I wanted Recaptured Dreams to be colorful and moving with both the romance and the fashion aspect.  I wanted it to feel real, of course.  Therefore, I had to do lots of research, both for the fashion itself and the story’s overall sequencing.  Since the book revolves around fashion, the dates of the fashion shows mentioned needed to fit in with the story’s timeline.  Hence I had to learn when New York Fashion Week was so I could get the season right!
4. How many novels have you written?  How many romances?  Are romances your favorite type of story?
Seven novels altogether:  four romance, two young adult sci-fi thriller types, and one middle grade fiction story about horses co-written by my horse-obsessed daughter.
Romances are my favorite type of story to both read and write.  There’s something so magical about the developing relationship between a man and a woman. And the happy-ever-after that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy is important, too. 
5. What’s your latest novel that just came out in February?   
All-American Girl is my second release, and it came out February 26, 2013.  My third book, Until Next Time, will be out late this coming summer. 
6. You described Xavier in Recaptured Dreams as the least “alpha male” of the leading men in your romances.  Can you talk about Xavier and the new one, Lance, in All-American Girl? 
Xavier is the perfect man.  He’s patient, kind, and willing to go to extremes to recapture the heroine in the story.  He’s soft and passionate without be overbearing, which can be a quality of an alpha male.  
Personally, I LOVE alpha males, because even though they are a pain in the neck, they will go to any length to protect their woman.  So will non-alphas, but the way an alpha man looks at the world – and people – makes you step back and think, Wow... that man has it all together.
Alphas are strong and powerful and don’t take any crap from anyone (except maybe the heroine).  They know what they want and they go after it – no holds barred.  Non-alphas are a little more careful and sensitive.  In my latest release, All-American Girl, Lance is quite alpha. 
Justine Dell7. How would you describe your romantic heroines?  That’s Sophia in Recaptured Dreams and the new one, Samantha.  
My heroines, as my publicist once called them, are no “empty-skirts.”  They tend to be strong women, who have their own life problems to contend with, but they don’t let it beat them down. They aren’t wallflowers, and they aren’t shy.  
I like to think that each heroine is different depending on the story – and depending on the hero.  Each hero needs his own heroine to save him as well, and that’s what my characters are born to do.  Each is set to perfectly complement the other, to push the other where each needs to be pushed, to comfort the other in that perfect, special way.  Each is strong where the other is weak.  Of course, there are hiccups along the way... everyone does make mistakes.
8. How did you find Omnific Publishing?  What was it about Recaptured Dreams that enticed them? 
When I originally finished Recaptured Dreams, it was somewhere around 55,000 words.  Now that's short.  But I believe you shouldn’t add words to the story just to get to a certain word count for a publisher.  Sometimes a story is meant to be short.  Sometimes a story is meant to be long.  Recaptured Dreams was written (and meant) to be short and sweet.  
Because most publishers require 80,000+ words for romances, I was in a tight spot.  I didn’t want to add unnecessary baggage for the sake of the word count. So I went in search of publishers who accept romances of the shorter variety.  That’s when I found Omnific.  I researched them and really liked what they were doing and the stories they were publishing.  My story was still 5,000 words shy of their required word count, but I gave it a shot anyway.  The gamble worked!  
I think several things about Recaptured Dreams enticed them.  For one, there was the fashion aspect.  I have never read a romance that revolves around the fashion world, not to mention the hero is a head fashion designer.  Two, there was the overall setting.  The story plays out in London and New York, with characters from both sides of the ocean.  Three, they are from very different social ladders.  
It’s a recipe for some wonderful family drama and, of course, earth-shattering love. 
Thank you so much for the interview, Justine!  Happy writing.  Until next time... when it will indeed be Until Next Time!  Can’t wait. 
You can check out Justine Dell’s blog at
And you can check out Omnific’s line-up of “Romance... Without Rules” at

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