Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Serial Offender

Readers like books series, which means that publishers like them too. There are of course different types - some feature the same characters in different adventures - a lot of police procedurals follow that pattern. Some have a theme that runs though a set of stories - a family, an organisation, a quest. Sometimes individual books are episodes in an overarching and continuing story, a bit like a TV soap.

The question I'm toying with at the moment is 'How do you decide that this book is going to be part of a series?' As a romance writer who insists on a HEA ending - my hero and heroine have to complete their story and make a commitment to each other - I'm old fashioned, so that tends to be marriage - and so my stories tend to be stand-alones. The first and third options are not really going to be my thing. To tell the truth, as a reader I tend to avoid door number three as well. I don't go for cliff hangers. Which leaves the middle choice. Now that I can do, and will be, when I finally get the academic stuff put to bed, with the Riviera Rogues, which are kind of adventure/mystery romance.

That one began because I really enjoyed spending time with Cassie and Jake, was reluctant to let them go, and the potential of the detective agency which Jake takes over gave me some scope for further stories, each with a new central couple, but with the agency as a background. It gives me a chance for a new love story and to let characters wander through each others stories. I have Nadine and Ryan and Lisa and Mick lined up, with Michelle waiting in the wings for her story.  After that, who knows?

I have an idea that has gelled for a much more romantic series around members of a book group who are starting their own businesses, and lots of ideas for romantic suspense. That plan has an overarching background of a private security agency and sets of books in threes with groups of heroes who work together. I have one that is kind of a stand alone within the series, which I am now wondering might form a line around another theme, probably code breakers of some sort.

All this is very fine. When is someone going to invent the 48 hour day?

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

What's your problem?

Over the holiday I've been doing some writing - pause here for round of applause. This involved going back to the Christmas novel, or novella, not sure which, that has been on the back burner for a while. Which meant I had to re-acquaint myself with the characters. And their problems.

I was motoring along, unfolding some of the plot, which was fine, when I came to a stop. Hang on a minute - remember this is a romance! Now that he's stopped thinking she is one of the bad guys and she's stopped thinking he is remote and stand offish, isn't it about time hero and heroine spent some quality time together?

The only one who was going to give them that quality time was me - and I had the backdrop of the French Riviera to do it in, so there was no excuse for getting on with it. But I needed to get back under the skin of the characters to make it happen.

This meant I spent a happy morning excavating family trees, reacquainting myself with the things in their backgrounds that have made them who they are and how that will bring them together. In other words figuring out their problems. And how to resolve them. Wheels within wheels, because they still have to sort out the crime caper I have dumped them into as well.

It's complicated stuff, this writing lark. 

Monday, 6 January 2020

Promises, promises

As regular readers know. I don't really do New Year resolutions. 2020 has also started rather inauspiciously, as I have been stuck down by a rather nasty lurgy, which has taken a while to shake off. I'm still not functioning on all cylinders, but getting there. As a consequence I have done a lot of reading and sleeping, but I have done some work too, and the Christmas Riviera Rouges has gained some pages. I'm not yet sure if it will be Rogue 2.5 or Rogue 3 - depends how long it ends up. It was going to be a novella, but now I'm not so sure ...

Now that the holidays are over, I am also back doing corrections and final proofing for the PhD, which will be getting priority for the next few weeks, so the writing will be on the back burner again.

So - no resolutions, but a few promises to myself - that once the academic stuff is finally done, there will be writing - lots of it, I hope. Also some location visiting. And won't that be fun.


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year

Best Year Ever?

I hope so. I have lots of new books pestering me to be written. All I have to do is get on with it.

Happy New Year, everyone. 

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Season's Greetings

Wishing everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas, with lots of books and time to read. 

I will be writing, so with luck you might be reading the results next Christmas.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Writing for Christmas

I'm not a big fan of Christmas. I don't like the weather, for a start, although by the time the big day comes, we have passed the solstice, so I at least know that it will gradually be getting lighter. I'm fine with the core elements - the nativity story, carols, fairy lights, home made cakes and puddings, but I'm not one for Christmas jumpers or special pyjamas, or bed linen or table settings, or any of the other things the shops are attempting to persuade us are essential. I was very puzzled by an empty box marked Christmas Eve that was on sale at the supermarket, until it was pointed out that it was for things like the pyjamas, and films and so on, to be opened on Christmas Eve. It was a box too far for me!

Given my lukewarm feelings, it is rather a surprise to find that I quite enjoy writing Christmas stories. I have one in print - What Happens at Christmas - and two more in the pipeline. I've been amassing catalogues and magazines to get in the mood for them - a bit like story boarding - and it is fun. In What Happens at Christmas  I cut my characters off with a carefully engineered snow storm, without any electricity, so they had quite an old fashioned Christmas. The two that I'm incubating both involve entertaining on a lavish scale, so I am having fun with lots of posh food and very expensive decorations. One has a bit of crime in it, for which the lavish partying is a cover, the other centres around a hotel, so I am indulging my very first serious career choice, which was hotel management. That didn't work out, but the impulse is obviously still there. You really never know what your mind is going to latch onto in the search for a story.

Christmas by proxy is clearly more my thing that the actual event. When I was still working on a paying job the best present my family could give me was a few hours of uninterrupted time on Christmas Day to write. And that is what I am planning to do this Christmas Day too. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Inspired at the museum?

Those of you who are into dinosaurs will know that Dippy the Diplodocus currently on tour. He's at the museum in Cardiff at the moment, and I have a date with a friend to go and visit before Christmas. I will report back later on the results, but I have to say, I am looking forward to it. I know, like a big kid.

I don't expect he will be making it into a book anytime soon, but I expect we will look at other exhibits while we are there, so some of them might. Writers do like to use art, museums and famous houses as hooks to hang a story on. Lots of history, human interest, maybe some scandal, or something tragic, or creepy. If you read time slip, I bet you've encountered a painting, or maybe a photo that has acted as a entrance to a past or alternative reality. Sometimes it's an object that acts as a catalyst. Often those are the creepy ones, like the M R James story Whistle and I'll Come to You. Writers also like archaeology - digging up hidden things. With the added bonus of the overtone of buried treasure.

I have a weakness for art - as I have said before, usually thinking about ways to steal it. There is a reason the both versions of The Thomas Crown Affair are among my favourite films. I'm fascinated by lost paintings too. Those can be one that have been stolen and never recovered, or ones that have simply disappeared somewhere in history. Friends send me links and press cuttings, which may or may not get me into trouble one of these days. I've done some research on Caravaggio for a lost painting book, He has a few real ones, although in this case it will be an invented lost painting, as I have a specific subject in mind. His life was so eventful that there is plenty of room for him plausibly to have painted and lost an extra canvas along the way. The popularity of those telly programmes about lost art, or pictures proved to be genuine old masters, or fakes, suggest that other people are just as fascinated.

Books and libraries are another catnip. I have a weakness for those adventure stories that involve some sort of old manuscript, diary or book. A friend took me to see the chained library in Hereford Cathedral, and of course before the visit ended we were speculating on the possibilities. I have a couple of 'old book' books simmering, one of which goes all the way back to Shakespeare. I haven't discarded the possibility that  I might use one of his lost plays one day, but the idea that I really hope to be working on in the near future involves a very dangerous manuscript that he has a hand in keeping safe. I have a whole back story brewing for that. Not sure how much of it will make it into the finished book, but I still have to know. I'd love to set a book in some of the London museums and libraries, and I can remember wandering around the New York Public Library, trying to figure out what I might do with that.

History, art and money. It's an irresistible combination.