Wednesday 28 September 2011

Ambiguous Heroes

I’ve been musing this week on the Choc-lit blog on the nature of heroes. Alan is here, in his Sheriff of Nottingham era, as an illustration of the kind of actor who plays heroes and villains with equal talent. And because it’s always nice to look at a picture of him. Thanks to Mary for this one. If you want to have a look at another actor who’s equally at home on both sides of the tracks, check out the Choc-lit blog today, as it was my turn to chose Wednesday’s hot man.
That’s how I like my actors, and that’s how I write my heroes. They all have some pretty dangerous stuff in their past and with a flip of the coin they could be either hero or villain. Not necessarily the sort you want to cuddle up to. So my heroines have to be the kind of women who can handle that. I’ve got four men in my life at the moment.
Devlin – the hero of Never Coming Home has worked for an un-named government agency that does unspecified things – dark deeds, done in the dark. He’s retired from that now, but he can’t change his past and has great difficulty in believing that Kaz can accept him for what he is. He’s also pretty good in a fight, which is useful when you’re chasing bad guys all over Europe, trying to find out what happened to your daughter.
Jay – he’s the hero of the other book that made the final in the American Title contest, Out of Sight, Out of Mind. (If you want to know more about that, have a look at my website.) Jay has a big problem. He doesn’t remember who he is, or anything about his past. He has a horrible suspicion that it’s something pretty black and that somehow he’s a threat to Madison, my heroine, who’s trying to help him. And of course, he’s right.  
Oh – and he and Madison can both read minds. Just so you know.
Luke – he’s the hero of The Last Thing You See and an old friend. This one is a bottom drawer book. I love the story – and Luke, naturally - but it was an early effort at romantic suspense. When the third person who read it gave me exactly the same list of things that were wrong with it, I heaved a sigh and put it away. But I love the book, and after a couple of years I have an idea of what I’m going to do with it. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story, only Luke survived the tragedy and now has to live with it.  And without Miranda – until he gets a very strange e-mail. I’m really looking forward to going back to this one to try again with it.
Zack – he’s the man in my work in progress. I call it that, but The Camelot Game is still very much at the thinking about and research stage. Zack is a slightly different hero, maybe a little less of an Alpha, which may be the effect of issues he has from someone trying to bury him alive. Kate, my heroine, gets to come to his rescue on one occasion, and he’s confident enough in himself to be OK with that. This book is a treasure hunt, with stolen art work and conspiracies and clues to an old Victorian mystery. The research is going to be fun, but time consuming, I think.
So – those are the men in my life – or at least on my pages. I hope you’ll get to meet them all one day.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Life's a Beach

Tide going out - or maybe coming in!

Shells and pebbles.

One of the standard questions for any author interview is 'Where do you get your ideas?'
Living by the sea doesn't exactly give me ideas, except for my pirate/smuggler historical series, which I hope to get back to writing some day. That is set firmly in the area where I live, and I have a very clear idea of all the locations involved and what takes place in them, although I have taken a few liberties with the geography. But hey, I'm a writer - it's what we do.
If you live by the sea you always have a place to walk to. And a walk, and a look at the ocean, is my favourite way of sorting out hiccups in the plot, characters who won't behave or too much staring at the computer screen.

Coming into harbour
So - I thought today I'd share some of the photos I've taken, when I remember to put my camera in my pocket. I was walking the other evening, there was no wind, and the sea was literally like a mirror. Very weird. Of course, that night I didn't have the camera. I did have it in my pocket to capture a shot of a tall ship, coming into harbour. It's a modern version, but it looks like a good stand-in for my pirate ship to me. So maybe that walk did give me some inspiration.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Hold the Back Page!

You're in a bookshop, choosing  the one that's going home with you tonight, to keep you company for the next day or two - or maybe it will replenish the TBR pile. How do you make that choice? Maybe you've read a review. Maybe you've read something else by that author. Maybe you've had a recommendation from a friend.

If none of these apply, then the first thing that draws you will be the cover. Then you might flip the book over, to see what's on the back. Then you might open the book, to read the first page. And it's only then that you get to the bit that is down to the author. The creative talent that goes into the cover and the synopsis on the back are in other hands.

Whenever writers gather there are always stories about horrific covers - the rom-com decked out like a misery memoir, or vice versa. And we've all read the blurb on the back that tells you the whole story before you've even bought the book. A bit like modern film trailers, which show you all the high spots, so you feel as if you've already seen the film. Sometimes the trailer is better than the film!

Choc-lit work hard on their covers and the story on the back of the book to ensure that they reflect the story inside the book. The back cover synopsis for Never Coming Home is now on the Choc-lit website, if you'd like to take a look.

What do you think?

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Finding the Plot

One of the classic questions in any interview with an author is - Are you a plotter or a pantser?  i.e. do you plan your writing or simply fly by the seat of your pants. A more elegant expression for that is writing into the mist.

Well, I would have said that I'm in the second category, but I'm currently doing my first ever edits/re-writes - for Never Coming Home  - and the questions my editors are asking have sent me back to my original working papers for the book. And what did I find? Far more plotting than I ever remembered doing. I have time lines for the characters, charts of how old they all are at any given point, diagrams of where in the world everyone is at crucial moments. (I remember that one - it was when I woke up in the middle of the night convinced I had my murderer in two places at once. I hadn't, but I worked it all out, just to make sure.) There are lists of character's motivation, timetables for fight scenes and family trees.

I think I'd forgotten how much work I did as it was not all done at once, but gradually, as I needed it. Once I'd worked it out and written the scene, what was written took over and the stuff on the back of the envelope faded into the background. But it's there, like a skeleton or a scaffolding, holding the whole thing up.

Nice to know I'm a lot more organised than I thought.