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An Interview with J. Rose Black, author of Losing My Breath

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J. Rose Black weaves stories about obsession, redemption, and the transcendental power of love. From her early days writing fanfiction for a passionate following of international readers, to crafting novels with her own characters, Rose has always been drawn to broody protectors and plucky, no-nonsense women ready to fight for what they believe in.

When Rose isn’t deeply immersed in her latest manuscript, she’s working in cyber security and thwarting the next generation of internet bad guys. Out of the office, she’s #Shipping with friends over her favorite, swoon-worthy couples, heading to the gym to battle the great evil that is Unmovable Baby Weight, or complaining about her husband’s addiction to 3D printing. Also: nagging her children to eat something other than cheese.

To learn more about Rose’s stories and the characters and worlds visited in this book, check out her website.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Interesting question. I read all the time as a kid. I just did. My school would have us read A Wrinkle in Time, and I wasn’t satisfied until I’d read all the sequels. Rinse repeat for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I read so so many Nancy Drews, and my parents bought me a couple of sets of abridged classics for children (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, War of the Worlds, Sense & Sensibility, A Tale of Two Cities, just to name a few). Historical romance to science fiction; mysteries to fantasy.

In third grade, we had creative writing assignments every week, and my teacher actually submitted one of my stories to a kids magazine. My parents started getting phone calls from the school. Apparently, my 3rd grade assignments were being sent up to 4th and 5th grade teachers for review and comment… I was 8, so some of this escaped me at the time.

I just remember I became “a writer” then. Somehow, some way, it just became part of who I was, and something I was meant to do…some day.

To this day, some of my all-time favorite works were things I first read in my childhood.

I don’t know that any one writer’s work influenced me in the sense that I wanted to write because they inspired me. It was more like: someone wrote these and if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to read / enjoy them. So I want to create stories worth telling and sharing with others.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I started off doing telecom switch testing. I documented several processes and turned that into a career as a technical writer. Eventually, as my life underwent a reboot in 2008, I moved into cybersecurity, which is my day job.

Something readers wouldn’t know…I love those old logic problems we had to do in school way back when. I don’t play many phone games, but on the rare occasion I do, I have a logic problem app. For fun.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Just hit me one day. I was about 2/3rds of the way through the first draft and this song was making a real nuisance of itself. Just, there was something about it that felt like it had something more to it. I had added it to a general, inspirational Spotify playlist, but it was just bugging me. So I looked up the lyrics, And there was this one line: I’ll never stop losing my breath… I knew that was it.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

The book cover was a progression, but it was definitely exciting to see the finished version. I thought the designer did an amazing job.

Holding it in my hands was pretty cool because I had someone make up a custom design this time—and it turned out so well! It’s definitely an emotional time seeing something you’ve worked on for so long solidify into something physical, touchable, and complete.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Funnily enough I make soundtracks for my book and so Spotify has one. “Limit” by Citizen Soldier and Lo Spirit, “Where We’re Going” by Elijah Woods, and “What’s Left of You” by Chord Overstreet are a few worth mentioning.

I also hired a musician to write and record a song specifically for Losing My Breath, called “Until I Found You,” which I hope to figure out how to share with people in early 2024.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

All in all, my book is a romcom, but one that tackles a particularly difficult mental health issue. I mostly write to entertain, but Losing My Breath is a bit different. I’d like people to know that while we all have our personal journeys and hardships, we’re not alone in them. Seeking help from time to time is necessary. Being vulnerable in the face of pain—is a strength not a weakness. We as humans can’t connect to one another through walls.

My perfect reader is one who reads stories in multiple genres, appreciates dialogue & character-driven narratives, and wants a healthy dose of realism as part of the skeletal fabric of the storyline. I’m not good at “every problem is solved in the most perfect way” stories. I write: “life is messy and imperfect and so are the humans living it. But these two characters are committed to each other through all that mess. And they want to face the future together.”

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I absolutely love it when the reviews mention the “twist” in the storyline and what they felt and how it showed up for them. I had no idea when I was writing the first draft, tbh. And I can’t talk about it without crying.

It means a lot to me when someone else connects with the story on that level.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

My new project is Chasing Headlines, book one of my new college sports series—it looks back in time on the characters (Breslin & Olivia) from my story Off the Record. I’m planning for an early autumn release date.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.