Person of the Week
Turning Up the ‘Heat’: Guilford Author Jamie K. Schmidt
Guilford native and USA Today best selling author Jamie K. Schmidt is ready to share some fabulous insight on her work as a romance writer when she joins the authors’ panel at “Anatomy of a Romance” on Saturday Feb. 13 at Branford’s Blackstone Library. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Schmidt)
When she’s not conjuring up the likes of erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances, USA TODAY best-selling author and Guilford native Jamie K. Schmidt might be found doing a few of her other favorite things—but probably not what you’re thinking.
Like many romance writers, Jamie’s everyday hobbies don’t stand out in a crowd. She enjoys knitting, making jewelry, and playing games of just about any type, from board games to strategy card games to MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games).
In 2015, as the author of Heat, Jamie burned her name into the roles of modern romance writers by making it onto USA TODAY’s bestseller’s list. Readers are also snapping up her other stories, mostly as eBooks, authored for Penguin Random House’s “Loveswept” line, which published Heat as part of Jamie’s “Club Inferno” series. The series also features the books Longing and Fever, and the titles have hit both Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s top 100 lists. Her newest series for the line, “Hawaii Heat,” debuted this month with it first book, Life’s a Beach, set in Maui.
It’s also worth noting that Jamie partnered with New York Times bestselling author and former adult film actress Jenna Jameson to create Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE (which continues Jameson’s trilogy, FATE).
Many of Jamie’s torrid tales are woven right here in Guilford, where she’ll often sit at the computer with a mug of tea, joined by her “little dogs and fluffy white cat,” she says.
“You’d be surprised—some of the best writers of erotica are church-going ladies!” says Jamie, laughing.
She adds that most folks she knows, know what she writes.
“I don’t cover it up; I don’t hide that at all.”
A past president and continuing member of Connecticut Romance Writers Association, Jamie values the great connections and friendships the once-monthly gathering of like minds offers.
“When I went in for my first meeting, I didn’t know anybody,” recalls Jamie. “I came home and my husband said, ‘How was it?’ I said, ‘I’ve found my tribe!’”
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Jamie joins four other members of her tribe to turn up heat during a free panel discussion, “Anatomy of a Romance,” set for Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. at Branford’s Blackstone Library. More information and advance registration for the authors’ panel/book signing program can be found at www.blackstone.lioninc.org
Jamie has also self published books, as well as some 30 short stories she’s published with small press and “ezines.” The lion’s share of Jamie’s book sales occur as eBooks, but the stories are available as print, too. On Feb. 13, she’s bringing along copies of the first two book titles in her new, self-published erotic adult series, “Truth & Lies” as well as the first two books in her paranormal romance series, “Emerging Queens.”
So what exactly is paranormal romance?
“If you’ve heard of Twilight; that’s paranormal romance. It’s a romance novel, except the paranormal part is the vampires,” says Jamie.
In Jamie’s fertile imagination, her twist on paranormal romance plays host to dragons. Her Emerging Queens series includes book titles The Queen’s Wings and The Queen’s Flight. Jamie’s shorthand synopsis for the series is “courts, queens, and sexy dragons with wings.”
A fulltime technical writer at Northford’s Honeywell Life Safety, Inc., by day, Jamie has been immersed in reading and writing for most of her life. The Guilford High School Class of 1988 alumna wrote her first novel at age 16, and it was—you guessed it—a romance.
“No one who went to high school with me is at all surprised that I’m writing books,” says Jamie. “They always knew that I was writing. I had notebooks with me in high school and I was always scribbling in them.”
Jamie and her husband, Tom Schmidt, are both Guilford natives with family ties to town. Jamie grew up a Kleinkauf.
“My grandmother and grandfather ran a produce stand at the end of Long Hill Road; she’d sit there knitting—a lot of people remember that. My father, James, is a Mason and has been a plumber in the Guilford area for the past 40 years,” says Jamie. “My mother, Suzanne, worked in the Guilford Town Hall for several years in the Tax Office as well as the Town Clerk’s office. They’re also Guilford High School graduates, but back then the high school was Adams Middle School.”
One of Jamie’s favorite memories growing up was visiting a popular used-book store where she’d buy her own copies of dog-eared Harlequin paperbacks.
“The Book Swap was where you could get the most bang for your buck—books for 10 cents! For a dollar, you could get 10 Harlequin romances.”
Jamie took her first shot at writing romance with a story she titled “Sweet Southern Revenge.”
“I wrote that book at 16 and it was awful!” says Jamie, laughing. “I wanted to be a Harlequin writer. I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about!”
In 2013, things changed dramatically for Jamie. That’s when her book Heat was accepted for publication by Random House (it was published June 2014).
“It took over 100 query letters and two years,” to find a publisher for Heat, says Jamie.
In the end, the timing was awesome, because it appealed to readers hooked by New York Times bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey by author E.L. James, she says.
“When Heat hit on USA TODAY’s list, I was floored,” says Jamie. “When I made the list, I wrote ‘USA TODAY Best Selling Author’ in green marker on my forehead!”
She’s not kidding—a February 2015 photo marking the occasion is posted on Jamie’s Facebook page (find Jamie K. Schmidt). Her Facebook page also shares updates on her books and events, with plenty more on the author and her work covered at her website www.jkschmidt.com. In addition to the excitement over launching Life’s a Beach this month, Jamie’s also posted the news that Heat in Kindle edition is available to download for just 99 cents via Amazon (search by author or look for Heat: Club Inferno) through the end of January.
It may sound difficult to balance a burgeoning writing career with managing a full-time tech sector job as well as being a wife and mom, but Jamie does it by setting aside several hours a day to keep up with a prolific writing schedule.
“I actually have six more books to write for Random House in the next three years,” Jamie says, adding she’s also growing the number of books in her self-published series, “and I’m considering doing a serial type of story in a pen name, to see how that will go. I will never run out of ideas!”