Robin Ambrose interviews Jori for the release of A Change of Plans:
Today, I'm pleased to share an exclusive interview I was able to obtain with Jori Virtanen, one of the hunky side-characters in A Change of Plans (hunky enough for his own book, as it turns out...). As you'll be able to tell, getting this interview wasn't easy, but I hope you'll be pleased with the results:
Me: (quietly): I'm sneaking into Jori Virtanen's hospital room, where he's been recuperating from the pirate attack that has shocked the world. Rumor has it he was friends with the four young people still missing, so we'll see if he can tell us anything about them.
Jori? I'm sorry to bother you...
Jori (eying Robin suspiciously): What do you want? Haven't you taken enough blood?
Me: No, no... I mean, yes, I'm sure they have. I mean... I just wanted to check to see if you're okay.
Jori (with a you-can't-be-serious glare through his one exposed eye, before turning to stare at the wall): Do I look like I'm okay?
Me (sighing, sitting on chair by bed): I can't imagine what you've been through. Who would have thought pirates would attack a cruise? I think you're so brave.
Jori's face turns even blotchier, the pale sections turning whiter and the bruises, showing under the huge bandage covering half his face, darken. His mouth works but nothing comes out. After an awkward moment, he grimaces.
Jori: I wish people would quit calling me a hero. I'm not hero material.
Me: Well, you have to admit that there's a lot of evidence for the hero theory, right? You did what you did, put yourself in danger, and all because you cared about your friends. That seems really heroic to me.
Jori: I was the only one stupid enough to get plowed in the face.
Me: (laughing): I thought stupidity was a prerequisite for heroism. I can't think of a single fabled hero who carefully planned his exploits.
Jori: (tries not to smile): All right. Point taken. Are you from the psych unit?
Me: (smiles): Why? Are you crazy?
Jori: I'm not talking to any shrink.
Me: (grins) Then it's a good thing I'm not a shrink.
Jori: If you're not a shrink, who are you?
Me: I'm sorry, I know you're probably resting. I just wondered if you wanted some company. Sorry. I'll leave if you want.
Jori: Are you really assigned to keep me company? What, am I on a death watch or something? Afraid of what I'll do if the Coast Guard calls off the search?
Me (with a sympathetic sigh): You must be frantic. Did you know the ones who are missing well?
Jori: Yeah. I did. That Jimmy is really going places. (Jori's eyes widen) I do know them.
Me (winces): Sorry. I'm sure they're okay. Jimmy is a musician, right?
Jori: Actually, he's supposed to be a rancher. Just graduated and is expected to go help with the family business. But you have to see that guy on stage. He's wasted in Texas.
Me: What about the others? Maria? What is she like?
Jori: She's Jimmy's fiancée.
Me: His fiancée? When were they going to get married?
Jori: They haven't set a date yet. He still has to break it to his mother. (Jori rolls his eyes.)
Me: (laughing) And Braedon and Lyn? Are they engaged, too?
Jori: Engaged? Are you kidding me? They're barely talking. Well, Lyn's barely talking. But Braedon and me, we got a plan.
Me (leans in, intrigued): Do tell.
Jori: I don't know a lot of the details, but Lyn got burned bad a while back. And she's afraid of fire, if you get my meaning. And she saw Braedon as fire.
Me: Well, I've seen pictures, and that man is sort of hot. And he's a surgeon, right?
Jori: I don't know about hot. I'm hot. Or I was. But Braedon is so approachable. He must have an amazing bedside manner. It was something else to watch the two of them before she got scared off, like something special was happening right in front of me. Man, that sounds sappy.
Me: No, it sounds sweet. Did they meet on the cruise or come together?
Jori: They met on the cruise. And hit it off almost from the beginning I think, from what Elle says.
Me: Elle’s Lynn’s best friend, right? So you were friends with both of them?
Jori: Will you quit talking about them in the past tense? Yes, I was friends with both of them. All of them. I AM friends. Now you're making me do it.
Me: Sorry, I'm so sorry. I just meant, you know, before they went missing.
Jori: Yes, they're my friends. The first real friends I've ever had.
Nurse: Jori, time to change your dressing! (Stops, stares at Robin.) Who are you? You can’t be in here.
Jori: I thought you were with the hospital. Who are you?
Me: I’m just… a fan. I’ll be going. (Runs away before Jori can throw his water mug at her.)
When you're not pillaging and plundering, how do you keep busy?
Jori frowns. “I wonder if you’re confusing me with a pirate.” He points to his scar. “You know, one of the ones who gave me this and—” His ears go red, and he mutters something in another language. “Next question.”Who is your celebrity crush?
“Olivia Howard.” Jori shrugs. “I know. Like most men in America.”What do you think you did that made the best impression on Olivia?
"Well, I like to think it's my charming personality, but Olivia and I had a bit of a rocky start...." Jori leans in with a conspiratorial wink that makes the fading scar on his cheek crinkle, drawing attention to it. “A word to the wise--don't yell at a woman the first time you talk to her on the phone.” He straightens, and his expression turns serious. “I’m sorry. What was your question again?”What do you think you did that made the best impression on Olivia?
“My guess would be Anna. She was my landlady after this happened.” He points to his scar, and the corner of his mouth quirks. “Yeah. Probably helping Anna made my best impression on Olivia, but you’ll have to ask her some time. I never know what that woman’s thinking.”