Elle Jackson writes everything from historical romance to science fiction and fantasy romance. A Midwest girl at heart, Elle was raised in Kansas City, KS. She credits her desire to become an educator to her mother who taught for more than 30 years. Elle has a doctorate in Educational Leadership, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction, and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Working in urban, richly diverse schools, Elle has transitioned into writing stories about the beauty in diversity. She thanks her husband, son, and toddler daughter for keeping her grounded in reality when she goes too far into her imagined worlds.
Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!
Elle Jackson: I’m Elle Jackson, and I love to read and write romance books! I’m married with a five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. I am a professor and editor, and I love to teach others about writing. Reading is my happy place, where I go to learn and live through characters.
H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?
EJ: I love love. I think falling in love is one of the most amazing journeys you can go on in life, and I love that the romance genre makes it possible for anyone to experience that journey through the lives of characters. I have been writing since I was a kid. I wrote about monsters and aliens. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized all the stories I wrote were actually love stories.
H: What were the major steps in your journey to becoming a published author? Was this the first manuscript you submitted?
EJ: My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. Characters had been floating around in my head for as long as I could remember. I would wake up at night and have to write down a story idea or something a character said. I went on to become an English teacher, a literacy coach, and a principal. I enrolled in a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program with Seton Hill University, where I met some of the most amazing writers. I got to escape to a university in the Northeast for two weeks a year where I could just be a writer. When I finished with my MFA, I was determined to do something significant with my writing. I became an English faculty member at a university. I self-published a YA romance novel that hit three bestseller lists. Diversity and the need for diverse stories was becoming a thing. I found out about Romance Includes You from a friend and decided to apply. During that same time, I was offered a multi-book contract for erotic sci-fi romance novellas.
Months later, I learned that I was a finalist in the Romance Includes You contest with Harlequin. Bryony Green reached out to me and we started working on my novel, Blue’s Moon. I received an email from Bryony requesting to do a virtual meeting, you know because of Covid and the fact that she is in the UK and I’m in the US. And she offered me a contract for my book!
H: What one piece of advice would you offer aspiring writers?
EJ: My advice is to find your writing community, study your craft, read all the time, and never give up on yourself. I believe that having a strong writing community can help writers learn and keep going when things get hard. We have to be diligent about improving our writing craft constantly, so that we are putting out our best into the world, which people are going to spend their time reading. Be a lover of reading, as well. Read widely. Read everything. You never know what will inspire you. But, most importantly, never give up because your time could be right around the corner.
H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?
EJ: I didn’t know what to do with myself, honestly. I told my husband, my close friends, and my family. I was in shock because signing with Harlequin had been a goal of mine since I started writing romance. It is on my vision board right now, actually. I’ve sort of been in shock since getting the call.
Now let’s hear from the editor, Bryony Green!
“Elle’s submission was a finalist in Harlequin’s 2019 Romance Includes You Mentorship for diverse voices and really stood out then as an #ownvoices Historical romance set in 1925 Kansas City, with the background of prohibition, mob violence and racial injustice. It’s a dramatic, heart-stopping and emotionally compelling romance with a strong, determined heroine who needs a hero who’s just as strong as she is! It will be a fabulous addition to Harlequin Historical!”Bryony Green, Harlequin Historical Executive Editor
Did You Know?
Elle is an alumni of the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction MFA Program. Harlequin recently established an annual scholarship at Seton Hill to foster diverse voices in the romance genre. Read more.
And stay tuned for more I Got the Call stories from our debut authors!