An Interview with Detour Paris Author Jack Dancer

When you come to a detour, take it.
When you come to a detour, take it.

Jack Dancer is a Southerner born and bred living in Southern California with his beautiful wife Linda; Lucy Mae a designer dog of infinite breeding and dubious appearance and Cleo the aptly named cat. Two horses, “Prince” Riki and Dusty “Butthead,” also fittingly named, round out the Dancer troupe.

After twenty-five years as an advertising executive and business owner Dancer retired to take up the writer’s life and shake up the female-dominated romance genre with fast-paced action-packed thrillers with large doses of comedy written from a man’s perspective.

Nearly all romance novels are written by women authors for women readers, some by men posing as female authors and virtually all are written from a woman’s point-of-view.

But love’s a two-way street. So where’s the beef? Not the recycled Chip ‘n Dale beefcake of the established mold but the real men who love real women?

And why was the entire genre, created singlehandedly by one male author, William Shakespeare, abandoned to one gender when it takes two to tango?

Finally, one real man has taken the lead to write real romance from a man’s point of view for both men and women readers alike. And so far Jack Dancer’s Detour Paris series is an outstanding hit with both men and women readers because it takes two to make a romance. The reviews are in:

“[Jack Dancer] seems to have discovered solid ground in writing romance novels with the male perspective. Not that women will not devour these hot and steamy romances, but it is refreshing to have them come from a man’s vantage – life from the POV of a midlife divorced man!” Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer.

“Written from the perspective of the divorced man makes an outstanding twist to this delightful adventure.” Cheri Clay, Amazon Reviewer.

“Dancer makes the story transcends beyond a typical relationship because just by reading the intro of the novel, it shows that the novel follows along the lines of a thriller, instead of being a typical romance.” Renee Spicuzza, Amazon Reviewer.

“I definitely liked reading from a man’s perspective, and that’s something that we don’t get too often in the steamy romance department. Being able to read through a man’s eyes was a totally different experience for me, it really helped me relate.” Reinbolt Family, Amazon Reviewer.

“Some days a romance book written from a man’s perspective is all you need to get your heart racing.” S. Follmer, Amazon Reviewer.

“Thankfully, this book has one ingredient that is singularly lacking in Fifty Shades of Gray and that is humour.” Lindavee, Amazon Reviewer.

“Author Jack Dancer has a great skill at creating steamy characters and scenarios, a highly interesting plot, and an insight into the way men and women think about each other that is nothing if not honest.” Reviewed by Tracy Slowiak for Readers’ Favorite.

“The best part of Detour Paris, the first book in the trilogy, is the humor… He’s (Tucker Blue) not the typical dashing and clever main character one finds…, which is actually quite refreshing.” Self-Publishing Review.

“…it’s so refreshing to read something that seems to break away from the established mold and really bring something new to the table.” Laura Clarke, Goodreads.

“I like that this book didn’t feel stale or derivative, but instead like a new niche of sexy suspense and adventure that serves well to help diversify a somewhat cookie-cutter genre (in my opinion).” Brenda Maxwell, Shelfari.

Detour Paris CoverTell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?

First thing you should know is that Detour Paris is a series written for mature readers. Not even my 93-year-old mother is allowed to read this, and no one had better tell her I wrote this stuff.

Second thing is that I wrote these books on the sly over a period of three years so that my wife wouldn’t discover I was writing a story about a little dalliance I had some years ago (before I met her). I especially didn’t want her to read some of the more descriptive scenes. And more especially I didn’t want her to know I was such a schmuck to carry on an affair with yet another woman while on an extended date with my (at the time) girlfriend at the same time. Yeah, I know it sounds bad but hey; the rest is fiction. Mostly.

As you might imagine under the circumstances, the whole writing project was very, uh, tricky.

So how’d I solve the problem with the wife? I brought her in as editor-of-a-sort. By that I mean I got on my belly and slithered like a reptile and begged her to help me edit the book so the main character, Tucker Blue, a cad and womanizer extraordinaire, would be more palatable to women readers. And she did and he is. It was a win-win because now the wife’s an owner and less likely to. . .how should I put it? Well, how she’d put it is: “You gotta go to sleep sometime.”

None of this would’ve worked at all had not the story been a good one in the first place, and it really is. Even she admits the story is very good, and she’s a very big reader and pretty much doesn’t like much of anything I do.

So you’re asking why haven’t I answered the question above – what the story’s about?

Let me put it this way. It’s a funny, thriller of a romance story with lots of very hot sex and told from a man’s point of view. I guarantee it will keep you turning the pages (even if you’re a woman), and you won’t be bored for a minute. Best of all you’ll be so entertained you’ll wish the thing wouldn’t end. Don’t believe me? Read the reviews. Better still, read the books.

How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?

I’m a new author, and traditional publishers don’t take on unknown authors so self-publishing was the only route to get the book in front of potential readers.

I’ve sent a few inquiries out to agents only because my wife thinks that’s the way to go, but I’ve had no takers as yet and really don’t expect any. I’ll have to establish a track record and get some serious sales behind these books and build a dedicated reader base before a traditional publisher takes notice. If they do fine, but it’d still be a business decision – can I do better with or without a traditional publisher? I’m prepared to go it alone.

My entire career to this point has been in the advertising business. I’ve created businesses from nothing more than air, and I’ve made millions over the years doing it. I’ve lost a lot too, but that’s part of the game.

This whole writing gig for me is not something I’m doing for the simple pleasure of doing it. I’m writing novels with the expectation of putting them in front of readers, paying customers. This is a business proposition, and the first thing that any business needs to succeed is a good product – something people are willing to pay for. And if there’s going to be repeat business customers have got to be happy with their purchase. The Detour Paris series is a good product, and the reviews that all three books are accumulating bear that out.

But good’s not always good enough to make a viable long-term business, and especially one that’ll support me and my family in the style to which we’ve become accustom. What Detour Paris has going for it is what Ted Bates (a famous advertising man) called, the product’s USP – unique selling proposition. I think Detour Paris has a solid one and with the right marketing, I believe the series has the potential to achieve blockbuster status within a genre that is hugely popular and lucrative for a few successful authors but has also grown stale and lackluster. Romance novels.

Detour Paris’ USP is that these are stories of romance written by a man and told from a man’s point of view, something virtually unheard of in a genre dominated by women authors writing exclusively for women readers. And the irony here is that romance is not only not proprietary to women; it’s not even a possibility without men. To have romance you gotta have a man and a woman (notwithstanding gay people).

The trouble with the romance genre today is that because it’s dominated by women what you end up with are stories with male characters created out of some woman’s idea of how men think and end up bearing little resemblance to how men actually think.

Jack Dancer novels take an entirely different approach.Detour Allure

First, male characters are written as real men. They act like men, and they think like men. They’re not all twisted up, and sugar coated to fit into some ideal paradigm that simply doesn’t exist. They’re unvarnished and real. They’re the same men who real women in the real world fall in love with. They come with both faults and admirable qualities. And the one thing that they do not do is presume they know how women think. If they do they’ll always learn the error of their ways and quickly.

If there’s one very transparent theme throughout the Detour Paris series it’s that men are pretty much clueless about how women think and why they do some of the things they do. And it’s that very idea that fuels much of the comedy in scenes depicting the weird and wonderful relationships between the sexes.

To be honest I’m not sure there’s a publisher out there with the wherewithal to take a chance on a genre busting series like Detour Paris but even moreso because it’s written by an unknown writer. There’s also the idea that men don’t read romance novels, and I might not disagree with that notion but I think that’s because they’re written by women for women and in a language that men simply do not comprehend. But from the reviews that have come in so far on the Detour Paris series, it’s clear that these novels are appealing to both men and women.

Reading them is much like listening to focus group sessions – a consumer research technique that I’ve had a fair amount of experience with. I read the reviews very carefully and many times, over and over, and by doing that I’m able to glean invaluable information about what readers like and what they might not care for so much. From there I can make adjustments and hopefully write better books.

The great thing about self-publishing is that you have total control over the product. You can literally make a change in a book that’s already published on Amazon and have a corrected version back on the site within hours in most cases. You could never do that with a traditional publisher or with most any product.

What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?

I didn’t use a service. I designed the book cover myself from scratch. I’m an advertising guy. I know good design, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use a service in the future. I also formatted the book and did the file conversions using Scrivener. I’m still learning about book formatting, but I like doing these things myself if I can. Eventually, I’d like to farm most of this stuff out and spend all my time writing, but that won’t happen until the business can support itself and produce sufficient revenue. Until then, I’ll do what I can on my own.

What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?

I’ve spent most of my “marketing time” collecting reviews because being an unknown quantity; good reviews are essential for success. Once enough of those are in place then I can turn to other elements. I have a web page and author platforms, but none of that has been utilized to any effectiveness. Right now, I’m just getting things in place. It’s a “foundation building” process. Hopefully, soon I’ll be in a position to execute an actual marketing plan but not until all the fundamentals are there.

This is the problem with doing everything yourself, but if you’ve ever built a business from scratch as I have, you know it’s just part of the game.

detour amourWhat drove you to write this particular book?

I thought that of all the dates during my bachelor years – and I had a lot of ‘em – this one was right up there as one of the craziest, so one day I decided to write it down and from there the thing just kept going and going like the EverReady Bunny and took on a life of its own. I wrote it initially out of pure pleasure, and I can honestly say that I’ve never enjoyed anything more.

The book is based on a date that I had with one woman on a trip to Barcelona and, which turned into a crazy detour woman traveling with another woman traveling through France. Just about everything after that is fiction. But the most fun was writing a fictional account expanding upon that one event.

To be able to let your imagination go to the point where the characters and the situations take over the reins and tell the story is an incredible experience. You can hardly write fast enough to keep up with where the creative side of your mind leads you. It’s the greatest trip imaginable, a raw creative experience that’s a turn on like nothing else, at least for me. If nothing at all came of any of this, if no books came of it, the experience alone is worth effort. I doubt many people have had the privilege to experience such a thing but those who have know exactly what I’m saying.

Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?

It’s a romance novel and all the things that come with romance – thrills, adventure, mystery, comedy, erotica; you name it. This book, this series, has been described as all of those genres.

And yes, they’re all familiar to me in real life, and as a reader because I read everything. As I describe the main character in the beginning of the book:

I’m no neophyte when it comes to life and all its trials and tribulations. I’ve not only been around the block more than once; I’ve been kicked around the block, a couple of times. Been married more than once, raised children, more than one. Even created businesses. Destroyed ‘em too. You might say I’ve seen it all, and had you asked me even yesterday, if I believed in love at first sight I would’ve told you, of course, but those are miracles reserved for the young – those naive little creatures still virtuous and deserving of such wonders.

Who are your greatest writing influences?

Every writer influences me to some degree. I like writers as diverse as Carl Hiaasen and John Updike. More important to me is finding and writing in my own voice, to write, “Jack Dancer.” I think I’m getting there, but I still have a way to go. I think the important thing is to relax and let it flow as natural and comfortable as possible. I want the reader to feel they’re in the conversation.

One thing that helps me is to read the reviews for reader comment about the writing. Do they like the style? How the story flows? Pacing? The dialogue? I’ve had a fair amount of positive comment here. Readers seem to enjoy the style and particularly writing from the first-person. The best comments I’ve had are those where reviewers have said the writing makes them feel like they’re “in the book,” almost as a “participating character” if you will (I’m paraphrasing of course.) There’ve been no complaints to speak of except a few editing issues, but that’s not writing style, and I’m talking style.

I read Harper Lees, Go Set A Watchman recently, and thought it was one of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I’d like to say she influences me, and she does but only as an example of excellence. I could only dream of writing at such a level. She’s a Southerner, and the South has produced some of the finest writers anywhere. I think Southern writers have a particular knack for telling stories in a way that anyone from anywhere can easily connect, and that’s the kind of writing I hope to achieve in my own meager way.

What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?

I have no regimen. I write whenever I can, day, night, wake up in the middle of the night, whatever. I write something everyday. For me to focus, I need to be undisturbed or heavily self-medicated. I am the poster child for ADHD.

Would you self-publish again?

Of course, I have no other choice at this point, and even so, I’d probably still self-publish. However, if a publisher can guarantee me a million bucks a year, I wouldn’t bother with any of it except the writing part. I’ve been a one-percenter so I know of what I speak. Hired help and room service are two of the finest things in life.

Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?

Yes, don’t. I don’t need any more competition than the half-million would be authors already out there.

Detour Paris Trailer #1:

Detour Paris Trailer #2:

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