Confession Time: At first sight, I figured Mr. Romance contestant Jimi Gaskin would be one of those totally-full-of-himself hotties. I mean, tall, well-built guys with a beautiful face and gorgeous eyes are only softies at heart in the romantic world of fiction, right? Wrong!
When Steph and I accosted--er, approached him after the Vampire Ball at last week's Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, he was totally sweet. After posing for several pics with us, I asked for his email addy so we could let him know when they went up on the blog. And he totally gave it to me!!! Then, my critique partner Sharie Kohler suggested we have Jimi as a guest on the blog. And he totally agreed!!! As soon as I got home from the conference, I emailed him my questions. And he totally answered--even though he should be on a mega ego trip after taking runner-up in the Mr. Romance contest at the convention and WINNING the online competition!!!
Suffice it to say, he's currently on my list of favorite people. After reading this swoon-worthy interview, I bet he'll be on yours, too.
TLC: How did you get nominated for the Mr. Romance competition?
Jimi: My sister asked me if I wanted to be 1 of 10 guys surrounded by 2,000 women, Jo Carol would sponsor me. I said yes before she could finish.
TLC: A huge thank you to your sis! Congratulations on winning second place at the convention and taking first in the online contest! Had you ever considered a career in modeling or specifically as a cover model?
Jimi: Never. I always liked having scars, and that doesn't go so well with modeling. If I was a car, I would be a Land Rover. They're classy, elite, and can go anywhere, but ultimately look better when they're scratched and dinged up.
TLC: I'll bet there's a good story to go with every scar. This was your first Romantic Times convention, right? (Mine too!) What did you think?
Jimi: I went into RT believing it was going to be total chaos. But once I was there, I had an incredible time. Every single person I met was so passionate and nice, that you couldn't help but enjoy yourself.
TLC: Agreed--barring the occasional life-before-the-eyes moment. Steph and I got trapped in an elevator for an hour with a crazy bellman. What was the craziest/scariest/nastiest thing that happened to you at the convention?
Jimi: Craziest--Being randomly marched into "Wet and Wild" and having to answer any intimate questions that arose from a hundred women. I still wake up in the middle of the night shivering.
TLC: Therapy might cure that.
Jimi: Scariest--Being trapped in an elevator for an hour with some crazy women who thought I was a bellman.
TLC: We didn't know it was you, swear! If we did, we'd have sent away the Otis repairman!
Jimi: Nastiest--The food at the convention. Good thing I was on a diet.
TLC: Yeah, convention food always leaves something to be desired. Truth time. Dish on your fellow Mr. Romance contestants. Who was your best bud? Who was a total diva?
Jimi: This is tough. I went in expected it to be like a women's beauty pageant, where everyone was cutthroat. But, nothing could be further from the truth. We actually helped out each other throughout the whole competition, fixing each others outfits and what not.
TLC: (picturing scenes from Miss Congeniality, with less lip gloss)
Jimi: Every contestant at the Mr. Romance competition brought something valuable and unique to the table. Honestly, the whole competition was anybody's game.
TLC: Brilliantly diplomatic answer. (But I think we all know the truth! Haha.) All the girls will want to know ... are you taken?
Jimi: Unfortunately, no. It's tough to find a girl who loves the water or likes traveling as much as I do. I probably spend about 6 hours a day in water, whether its from surfing, diving, or sailing. And when I say traveling, I don’t mean going to another country just to stay in a 5 star hotel. I mean, actually traveling and getting to know the culture of another country. Staying with a host family and only eating what that unique culture eats. Traveling for me is not just about going to a different location and looking at buildings, it's about becoming a different person by experiencing new experiences.
TLC: After that answer, you're going to get plenty of volunteers! (nominates self) Since you're Mr. Cyber Romance, do you have any thoughts on cyber-dating? Ever tried it?
Jimi: Having a relationship is all about trust and finding a connection with another person. I believe it is possible to trust and make a connection without seeing the other person or even hearing what the other person sounds like. Just ask my vision and hearing impaired friends, they date all the time. Having said that, cyber-dating does make it tough to trust what the guy on the other end's real intentions are, and that can be dangerous.
TLC: Or if it even IS a guy! There is danger in anonymity.
Jimi: Have I ever cyber-dated? No, but I'm definitely open to the idea. Cyber-dating allows me to share my creative side easier with someone else. Like being able to share photos, favorite songs, and other kind of media in an instant.
TLC: BuzzReaders will be relieve to hear that, considering your current locale. You're from Hawaii, one of the most romantic places in the country. What do you love most about living on the Big Island? And (because my blog sister Tina will want to know) have you visited any of the LOST filming sites?
Jimi: What I love most about the Big Island are the daily tropical warm showers, diving in crystal clear water, swimming with wild dolphins, listening to the whales sing as I spearfish, being able to watch lava flow into the ocean, gazing up at the Milky Way under the clearest skies in the world. I love the freedom, the islands give you.
TLC: Sounds dreamy! The Milky Way bit did it for me--I'm an armchair astronomer! (Note to self: plan trip to Hawaii)
Jimi: Have I ever visited any of the LOST filming sites? I have been to a couple of the places that have been used in LOST and I have actually met a couple of the LOST actors. Hawaii is made up of islands in the middle of the biggest ocean. Eventually, you will see and run into everything and everyone. :)
TLC: (Note to Tina: no you may not stalk Jimi) What is your definition of romance?
Jimi: Romance is passion, love, wonder, exhilaration... it can be epic, blazing, even dangerous, but yet, is so often sweet, fumbling, and pure. For me though, more than anything else, romance consists of those little details--the way she twirls the ends of her hair with her fingers, or the way she smiles when she is asleep--the simple gestures that strike you still with the realization that the world would not be worth anything if she were not in it.
TLC: Let the swooning begin! Have you ever read a romance novel? If so, which ones? If not, now that you've met so many romance authors, will you?
Jimi: I have to be honest, reading romance was the last thing on my list of "things to read." But, after meeting all these writers who are so passionate about writing romance, has motivated me to. Currently, I'm half way through with "The Scorpion and the Seducer," by Bonnie Vanek. :) After, I plan on reading a vampire romance by J.R. Ward, and then....
Show of hands, who's ready to swoon? (raises hand) Seriously ladies, Jimi's the real deal. Sweet, romantic, gorgeous! Is it any wonder he placed so well in the Mr. Romance contests? And he's agreed to bring his romantic self over here and respond to comments! Get your questions in early.
Thank you, Jimi, for trusting strangers with your email address and for following through with this awesome interview. Maybe we'll see you next year in Orlando.
OH. MY. GODS. -- Dutton, available like NOW!