Jan Irving on Sylvan ~ Interview

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Jan Irving for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.


Title: Sylvan
Author: Jan Irving
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: DWS publications
Genre: Western
Release Date: 08/27/2016


Sylvan Collection

Return to small-town Sylvan in Jan Irving’s bestselling series—reimagined and re-edited with an all-new bonus novella.

The small Western town of Sylvan is a place for new beginnings for those who won’t settle for anything less than true love. These sweet tales of slow-simmering romance and the old-fashioned values of commitment and pulling together when times get tough prove that sometimes the best matches are also the most unexpected.

With the help of a storm, a washed-up Olympic swimmer and a carpenter cracking under the strain of caring for his Alzheimer’s-affected father learn that opposites sometimes really do attract.

A likable cowboy called Happy Nate is determined to help a mute boy speak again—and to help his father move beyond the repression of the Mennonite community to find the love he deserves.

When a hard-partying cowboy is suddenly saddled with a surprise baby, he’s at his wit’s end. Luckily the local doctor is available to help, and if the two men can find the courage to accept themselves and step into a new life, they might just make a real family. They’ll need to lend each other strength when an unspeakable tragedy strikes—and when it’s time to pick up the pieces.

We are here today to talk about Sylvan.  What can you tell us about it?

Sylvan is a special collector’s editon anthology of four novellas all set in the same western small town. The overall theme is finding yourself, finding a new life and a new love. They are very healing books because I was going through a rough time when I wrote them. My mom had just been diagnosed with dementia and I knew life would never be the same. I was going to lose my best friend. She actually recently passed, so working on these stories became even more meaningful for me. For example, the first novella, Sylvan, has a care giver, Leif, who has a father suffering from memory loss.

Please tell us more about our main characters.

I have three sets of heroes in the books. Sylvan features Mal, a washed up Olympic swimmer and party boy and Leif, an earnest and hard-working carpenter who is holding out for an old fashioned romance. They are complete opposites, and yet they find what they need in each other.

Luke and Luke’s Baby feature Luke, a cowboy who wakes up from a hangover and finds a baby on his bed and Morgan, the town doctor who offers Luke a home for himself and his new baby daughter. In taking care of this baby, Jessica, the two form a family.

Nate features Aaron and a young cowboy nicknamed “Happy.” Happy helps Aaron and Aaron’s mute son find healing after the loss of their former life.

What do you want to tell those who may be new to the series?

These books were ‘solace’ books. I wrote them to make myself feel better dealing with my mom’s diagnosis, so I have been told they are also very healing for readers. Escape but with feel-good vibes. I took the original novellas, rewrote them adding lots of additional content and then wrote an entirely new and wrenching novella which is Luke’s Baby. We see what happened to our heroes a few years down the line.

What about Sylvan  makes you the proudest?

I’m proud to write a story that I know offers a good vibe. We all have problems in our lives. Sometimes it feels like we can’t bear them. Like we’re lost. These stories show that there is always a way out and a way to see we are stronger than we think.

What is next for these characters?  Is there more to this series?  If so who will we hear from next?

Luke’s Baby really was the answer to that question. We get to see Luke, Morgan and Jessica again in pretty rough circumstances—Jesse is actually near death as the story opens. But what happens? How do her fathers deal? I leave that to the reader to discover.

What part of a new story comes to you first? Characters? Plot? A scene? A theme? Or does it vary from book to book?

I tend to just get a spark of an idea, like a flash. It grips me emotionally. Like, with Luke’s Baby, I saw Luke at the bedside of his beloved daughter, and he is thinking he is going to lose her. So I took it from there, just wrote it out. I tend to ride story like a wave. It involves a lot of trust in myself and the universe for sending me ideas. I may not know what they will be, but they always come.

If you could rewrite your first published novel what would you change?

Well, in a sense, I have with Sylvan. They aren’t my first book, but they are from that era. And I didn’t really ‘rewrite’ them as much as add to them. After editing many books, I’ve learned that a story has it’s own integrity. If you mess with that too much because you’re in a different place now, you risk losing it. So I am highly respectful of where a story goes. In the case of these stories I didn’t really take anything out, I added content that felt organic. It was a really beautiful experience, actually, as if I was writing them now.

What book do you keep by your bed?

Aside from fiction books, I have The Complete Works of Florence Scovel Shinn that I often reread. She is one of the original writers about the Law of Attraction, a teacher of Louise Hay. The book provides a way of seeing and living life that keeps you in a good place.

Do you remember a character talking about a particular food and it made you want to eat it RIGHTNOW? and if yes, what was it?

I’m pretty sure it was tiramisu and it was in a Nora Roberts book. When I read about something I love, yep, I have to go and get some.

What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?

I am reading Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong. Next up, probably finishing Divine Magic by Doreen Virtue.

Rapid Fire Time

  • Batman or Superman? Batman.
  • Salt or Pepper? Salt.
  • Neville or Ron? Who?
  • Pickup Truck or Sedan? Sedan.
  • Hawaii or Colorado? Hawaii.
  • Hot air balloon or blimp? Blimp—more comfortable.
  • Top or Bottom? I have to choose?

What are you working on?  What is next?

I’m actually working on four books right now. Two are young adults, one an urban fantasy and I’m writing a non-fiction book about writing.


Sylvan on Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

About the Author

Writer and artist, I’m happiest living in both worlds. I paint, weave, quilt, create ceramics–recently replaced all my every day ware with my own handmade dishes–now that was a project!

I love writing romance. I try to bring in all the drama and color I love to play with in fiber or paint into my books. You can follow the tales of my art projects and upcoming books on my facebook under Janice Irving or find me at my website, www.janirvingwrites.com


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