The Literary Spotlight with Jayci Lee
In the world of romance fiction, Jayci Lee is a name that resonates with readers seeking stories that blend heartwarming emotions with sizzling chemistry. With a talent for crafting tales that are both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, Jayci Lee has captured the hearts of romance enthusiasts far and wide. Hailing from sunny California, she shares her life with her husband, two boys, and an irresistibly fluffy rescue companion whose cuteness often competes for attention.
Jayci's journey as a writer is a testament to her dedication and passion for storytelling. While living a life as a defense litigator for fifteen years, she found solace and inspiration in the realm of books. Her love for literature led her to create compelling characters, both drool-worthy heroes and badass heroines, who refuse to be confined to the pages of her mind. As the voices of these characters grew louder, Jayci embraced her true calling and transitioned into a full-time writer.
Her books not only entertain but also take readers on culinary journeys, exploring the world of food, wine, and travel, mirroring her own interests. Just as books have played a profound role in Jayci's life, she hopes her stories will help others grow, dream, and heal. As we delve into her creative process and the world she's built, join us in discovering the magic behind the words of Jayci Lee.
C.A: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your writing background? What inspired you to become a writer, and how did your writing journey begin?
Jayci: I write poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romances featuring Korean-American main characters. My books have been on O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, E! News, and Women’s World. After graduating magna cum laude from UC Berkeley, I went to receive my J.D. from the University of Southern California. I’m retired from a fifteen-year career as a litigator because of all the badass heroines and drool-worthy heroes demanding their stories to be told. Food, wine, and travel are my jam as I’m sure you can tell from my books. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was fourteen but never thought seriously about pursuing it as a career. As the daughter of immigrant parents, I thought I needed a job that provided more financial security. However, after 15 years of practicing law, I decided to follow my passion and write my first novel.
C.A: Could you share a glimpse into your creative process? How do you approach developing ideas and turning them into stories? Do you have any specific rituals or habits that help you get into the writing zone?
Jayci: I focus on getting to know and understand my characters before I start writing. Once I have that
and the skeletal structure of the plot, I start writing and let myself be guided by my intuition and
creativity. I like to write in the morning after a cup of tea once my kids have gone to school.
C.A: Who are some of your favorite authors or literary influences, and how have they shaped your own writing style? Are there any books or works that have had a profound impact on your writing career?
Jayci: I’m not sure if my writing style was shaped or influenced by any specific authors but by reading
voraciously across all genres. I don’t know about a profound impact but I love Jane Austen. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice countless times, but my favorite book is Jane Eyre.
C.A: What challenges have you faced as a writer, and how did you overcome them? How do you handle writer's block or periods of self-doubt?
Jayci: Writing is a challenge every day. Finding the discipline and courage to pour your heart out on
paper every day is probably the greatest challenge as a writer. I push through. Once my fingers are moving across my keyboard, it’s easier to push aside the self-doubt.
C.A: How do you approach developing compelling and relatable characters in your stories? Are there any strategies or exercises you use to ensure your characters feel authentic and three-dimensional?
Jayci: This is the part of my process I spend the most time on. I think about who the characters are now and what made them who they are. And who they were before. What do they want to accomplish in their life? What obstacles lie in their path and how will they overcome them? By the time I start writing, they are often fully fleshed people in my mind. I think my characters’ imperfections make them more relatable.
C.A: Where do you find inspiration for your stories? Are there any specific themes or topics you enjoy exploring in your writing?
Jayci: Everywhere in life. I see or hear something and a random storyline takes root. I have to remember to write it down right away or else I forget all about it. I think storytelling comes first for me and the themes and topics brought up in my books are organic to each story.
C.A: Is there a particular book or project you are most proud of? Could you share the story behind it? What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer for you?
Jacyi: I love all my book babies but “Booked on a Feeling” is special to me. As I wrote about Lizzy, a
burnt-out litigator, I finally realized how ill-fitted being an attorney was for my personality and temperament. I had this vague notion that I might return to law one day until I wrote “Booked on a Feeling” but now I know that I want to focus on my career as a writer till I’m a little old lady. The most rewarding aspect of being a writer for me is sharing my books with my readers and hearing how they find joy, comfort, and hope in my stories.
Editing and Revision:
C.A: How important do you think the editing and revision process is for a writer? Could you share your approach to editing your own work? Do you have any suggestions for writers on how to improve their editing skills?
Jayci: I enjoy revising and editing my work. I write linearly and don’t stop to edit while I’m drafting the book. So when I finish and go back to read the story, it always surprises me. I also can see what needs to be tweaked, added, or taken out to make the story flow better and just polish it until it shines. Take your time and don’t get hung up on ego. There is always room for improvement.
Publishing and Marketing:
C.A: What has been your experience with the publishing industry? Any advice for aspiring authors on finding agents or publishers? How do you navigate the world of book marketing and promotion? Any tips for authors looking to build their audience?
Jayci: I cold submitted my first manuscript to publishers and agents, so I discovered the old-fashioned way. I think it just takes hard work and the ability to shake off rejections to try again and again. In terms of book marketing and promotion, that’s an area that I need to constantly research and learn more about. I honestly don’t have it figured out yet.
Advice for Budding Writers:
C.A: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who are just starting their writing journey? How do you handle rejection and criticism in the publishing world?
Jayci: This isn’t very original, but you need to finish your book. If you have a finished book you can
polish and start submitting (if you’re going the traditional publishing route), then you are taking real steps toward becoming a published author. You just have to roll with rejection and criticism. It’s an integral part of the profession.
C.A: Could you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or books you're currently working on? Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers and aspiring writers?
Jayci: I have my next rom-com, That Prince is Mine, coming out in July of 2024. It’s a book inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma. I wouldn’t call it a retelling but more of a fanfic. It’s about a love-averse Korean royal court cuisine instructor looking for a perfect-on-paper arranged marriage, and a prince in disguise searching for the love of his life to avoid an arranged marriage. Readers and writers belong to an amazing community. Lean on each other and pay it forward.