Like a stage show, much goes on behind the scenes when writing a book. (Panic. Then there's doubt, fear and more panic. And coffee.) Jennifer Scoullar, my good friend and fellow Little Lonsdale Writers Group member, has tagged me in this fascinating blog chain where writers reveal their behind the scenes processes.
And like a theater production, is it all smoke and mirrors? Maybe...
Jen’s contribution to this fabulous blog hop is here. To see why she was nominated last year by the Australian Writers’ Centre for Best Australian Blog and find out more about Jennifer’s romantic stories celebrating her love of animals and the environment check out Jen on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
1) What am I working on?
I’ve just completed the edits for my second novel, Being Jade, due out in June. I was too naive to understand what a challenge it would be when Being Jade (formerly known as Saint) first arrived in my head. Dead protagonist? Been done before. Comatose antagonist? Can’t be too troublesome. A story spanning thirty-three years littered with flashbacks? Piece of cake.
Being Jade has been the most frightening, torturous, thrilling, volcanic, painful story I’ve ever written. I’ll be both terrified and relieved to see it hit Australian and New Zealand bookshelves in a few months. Have I pulled it off? I sincerely hope so.
In the meantime the next project is far simpler and much more pleasant. I’m reviving my Master of Love series, featuring the gorgeous lover, Ramon Mendez. I’ll be writing a prequel and completing another novella or two in the series before seeking a new home for it in the middle of the year. Hopefully you’ll have Ramon back between your sheets before the end of the year.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I can’t help it. I’m subversive. If there’s a boundary in romance writing I’ll cross it. I like to explore all facets of love, the disappointments, the brokenness and the driving lust that compels us into relationships that aren’t so good for us. My endings are bitter-sweet. I write from the male point of view, challenge gender stereotypes, include heroes and heroines who aren’t necessarily attractive or young or looking for permanency, but they are human and fallible and very loveable. I fiddle with fiery topics like infidelity, forbidden love, misplaced desires.
That said, my Ramon will get his happy ever after. Because even the most wayward, fickle or hardest of hearts can’t withstand the pull of true love. (Perhaps there’s a REAL romance writer in me after all?)
3) Why do I write what I do?
My romantic track record is a bit of a train wreck, so I think I write about love as a kind of therapy. I also think many women find my work affirming. There is so much contradiction and control and hypocrisy about women’s sexuality in Western culture. We are supposed to be sexy but can’t be a slut. For some reason we are supposed to suppress our sexuality when we become a mother or grow old. I hope women who read my love stories come away asking themselves a few questions and hopefully feeling more empowered to reclaim their sexuality back from the control of their culture, community and/or partner(s).
4) How does my writing process work?
It’s pure chaos. I try to plan, but it usually results in a panicky fit of self doubt. Usually characters appear and start telling me their story and I have to get it down while it’s fresh, reassuring myself I can go back later and sculpt some sense into it. Often my more interesting ideas arise from a dream image I write out from. I write scenes out of order. I drink loads of coffee or wine and lament my compulsion to write, wish for more time, and income and a house cleaner. I ask lots of questions of my characters which drives plot. I can’t write without help. Once I have a draft down I’m at a loss. I have to either leave it to percolate for a few months or ask some poor soul to read it and tell me what needs fixing. I obsess over everything, every scene, every bit of dialogue – is it exactly right? A lot of the time I pretend to know what I’m doing.
Fake it till I make it is my motto. Smoke and mirrors? You betcha!
Next stops in the blog chain are Lisa Walker and Imogene Nix:
I literally bumped into Lisa at last years romance Writers of Australian conference in Perth. Serendipitously I was reading her book, Sex, Lies and Bonsai at the time. Even after all my gushing she was still nice enough to friend me on Facebook. She writes insightful, sweet and funny romance stories with a touch of quirk.