Posted in: Author interviews, authors who I likey velly muchly, Azteclady Speaks
Today we welcome the talented Lauren Dane!
How long have you been writing? (i.e., “since before I could write” or “I just started when…”)
I’m one of those, “Oh I’ve always loved to write” people but I’m also a practical girl so while I wrote for my college newspaper and had a ‘zine with my husband and did the odd poem and short story here and there, I never planned to be a writer. I went to law school instead, LOL.
But then through a host of things happening in my life I ended up on a lot of bed rest when I was pregnant with my daughter and thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll give that writing thing a try.” My husband brought home a second hand laptop and I wrote Triad.
That was in 2004 and I’ve been fortunate enough to build something with my writing since.
Would you share your THE CALL story with us? The catch: one paragraph
I had “the email” experience with my earlier books, which was wonderful but when I sold my first single title to Berkley I got the actual “call” from my agent. I hadn’t been expecting it and when I heard it was her, I said, “You’d better be calling to tell me you sold something,” as a joke. She laughed and said, “Well, I am.” I burst into tears and sat on my stairs while my kids milled around wondering why I was weeping like a baby, scribbling details on piece of paper I still have to this day.
I love mythology, especially Celtic mythology and Samhain put out a call for a themed series of novellas and I was all over it. But as I started to write the outline, I knew it was too big for a novella and pitched it as a novel instead. Lucky for me, Angie loved the idea and contracted me for it.
RBTL is a book where it’s the heroine who is the warrior. The hero is a scholar and while he loves her and is protective of her, he’s got to stand aside and let her fight a battle where she might very well get killed. I liked the idea of that flip. Celtic myth is full of really rich female warriors and heroines.
It’s also a book where the couple gets together early on in the story so the conflict is external to their lives, not to their relationship. The story is about more than just Haley and Conall trying to figure out how to work through their relationship, it’s about Haley trying to find a place in her life for all the things she’s found out about her past and her future as well. It’s a different twist for me in the romance department.
Is it easier for you to write long stories (300+ page novels, for example) or novellas and short stories? If it depends, what on? Do you prefer one over the other, or is it dependent entirely on the story?
It usually depends on the individual story. I find my “sweet spot” for writing is right about 75-80 thousand words because I tend to like to flesh out secondary characters and have that sort of detail.
There are times though, when I love to give a glimpse, a few days or whatever, of a story and the focus can be narrowed and 25K is the perfect length. I really admire authors who write novellas on a regular basis, it’s hard for me to pace when I have less space. It’s a skill I have crazy envy over!
Sometimes a story just writes itself – “Reluctant”, which is like 14 thousand words, was something I wrote in one weekend. It went quickly, I didn’t have to struggle with, the story just fit into the space. Other times, the pacing takes more time and is more complicated and I have to keep my focus on it more. The book I finished last month, Relentless, is 95K and it’s a big story so I had to pay a lot of attention to pacing and transitions. It was more work to write than other books I’ve done at that length.
Pantser or plotter? And what is your usual writing day like?
I started off as a pantser but over time as my schedule tightened and I began to have deadlines and be able to sell on proposal, I needed to deal with synopses and outlines.
I hate hate hate to write outlines but I admit it’s a necessary thing these days and it is helpful when I have big gaps in time between writing the proposal and selling it and then finally writing it. I’m writing a book now that I sold at the beginning of the year and I wrote the proposal for it last year. The outline is a way to keep on track but I keep it loose enough that I can add and change things as I go because as I write, things come to me that I hadn’t considered earlier on. My characters become living, breathing people with histories I don’t know until I write. That’s the magical part of the process for me.
I don’t write during the day much at this point because I still have one small kiddo at home and currently all three are here because it’s still summer break. I write at night for about three solid hours once the kids are down for the night. I have to be pretty strict with my schedule and daily words because I’ve got back to back deadlines and I like to build in extra time overall so I can revise a few times if necessary and also just in case something crazy happens. It’s my aim to get about 3K a day written right now, sometimes it’s 2K and I push during the weekends so I have a cushion during the week.
Fated, the sixth title in your Cascadia Wolves series was released a few days ago, and I understand that you have two more books after it scheduled for early next year. While written in the same universe, these books have separate story arcs. Will you continue writing in this ‘universe’ and for how long? What is the secret, in your opinion, to making a series last without becoming silly?
FYI – The two books for early next year are actually print releases of the third and fourth books from the Pellini/werewolf mafia storyline, they’re not new books in the world. (Can I be anymore of a doofus?)
I have a rule and that’s that I don’t take a series story arc past four books. That’s a personal rule and other authors do it differently. For me, after four books I feel like I have to start making brothers’ best friend’s sister’s next door neighbors up to have more characters. Also the cast becomes unwieldy and there are more and more people and relationships to keep track of. In the end, no one is happy because in order to make each standalone you have to relate too much backstory and your series readers are sick of hearing it and it becomes overwhelming for new readers.
Fated and “Reluctant”, while set in the same universe, aren’t part of the four book story arc (Enforcer, Tri Mates, Wolf Unbound and Standoff) and I like it that way. I enjoy the world of these wolves and that meta mythology of werewolves existing in a contemporary setting but at this point, I’m done with the Warden Family although you might see glimpses of a few of them if I do Jack Meyers’ book (the National Enforcer from a different Pack)
I keep it to four books in any related storyline because I feel like I’d have to start twisting into a pretzel to create new vehicles for more characters farther and farther from the original series idea. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t write more if the idea came to me. But I like to spin off in that case because I tend to like the overall world foundations I build and I want to explore them from different perspectives.
Other people seem particularly gifted at creating wonderful series longevity – I will pick up new In Death books without blinking an eye. I think Nora Roberts has given us such wonderful characters and it never feels like she’s phoning it in.
After writing the stories for the four Chase brothers, do you have any more stories in their world?
I would love to write a book for Nathan Murphy – Tate Murphy’s brother and at some point, I’d like to work on writing Polly and Edward’s story as well. I love Petal and I love to write small town romances. But there won’t be any surprise Chase brothers or anything.
It’s very different to write something that’s my own project and having to share a project vision with someone else.
Working with Megan is great fun and the best thing about our projects is that they’re really all about loving to work together. We each keep our own characters and write them and go back and forth chapter by chapter by chapter and weave the story together. Sometimes her character is in my chapter and I’ll leave a note for her to write the dialog or I’ll be sure it’s something she feels Leah would do or say.
That aspect of it is a different sort of challenge because you’re sharing something that you normally don’t have to. We have very different, but complimentary voices but we work the same and have the same basic attitudes about writing so, so far, collaborating has been really enjoyable.
When I’m writing my own stuff my schedule is my own. I don’t have to wait for story details to continue with a storyline. I can write what I want, when I want to and I don’t have to collaborate. I can deviate from a storyline and everything everyone says and does is up to me. I’m a control freak, I like that.
You’ve got a new series coming out writing with Megan Hart, tell us about it.
Our first book, Taking Care of Business comes out in the UK in October from Black Lace and then out in the US in March of 09. It’s about two best friends who go to a work conference. Kate, my character, is a woman who makes the right choices. She isn’t cold or scared of sex or whatever, but she’s hyper aware of how she acts in a business setting. But she’s broken her own rules and has been having a long distance, totally secret love affair with one of Leah’s (Megan’s character) co-workers and he’s also at the conference. The book is really about Kate realizing sometimes making the wrong choice is what you need to do. Leah is just out of a bad relationship and she meets the conferences services liaison and all sorts of sparks fly.
No Reservations, the follow up book, will be out in September 09 in the UK and November here in the US. It takes the same characters, some months later and has Leah and Kate heading to Vegas for a variety of reasons and of course Dix (my guy) and Brandon (Megan’s guy) heading after them.
Both are contempary erotic romances and we’ll start back on NR very soon.
Now for the off-the wall questions section of our program…
Your mission is to change a romance-skeptic’s mind about the genre. Which books would you give this person? Why?
Well, first of all, I’m of the opinion that romance writers and readers need to just own what they love and realize people will always sneer at romance because there are people in the world who have to look down on other things to make themselves feel better.
But in the case of people who say, “I’ve never read one” or “I read my mom’s old romances from the 1970’s” and they’re open to reading something – I have a few books I give to people:
Jenny Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation, which was a book that brought ME to romance. It’s funny, it’s sexy, it’s well plotted and her characters are simply wonderfully quirky and three dimensional.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Ain’t She Sweet but I don’t let them read the blurb. (oh man, I agree completely!–but then 99% of book blurbs suck, in a very bad way) It’s such a fabulously unexpected novel and it turned me into an immediate fan of SEP’s ability to take characters you could never envision yourself liking and making you root for them.
Linda Howard’s Mr Perfect (this was hard because I love her but some of the books I love the most have the most arrogant and hard heroes and so I don’t think they’re necessarily good for someone just wading into romance) . But Mr. Perfect is funny, it’s sexy, the heroine is strong and self aware and the hero is one of my faves. (Heh. This was one of the first books I gave my s.o., to break him into the genre, for this very same reasons)
I also love to recommend the Crimson City books because IMO, they have the perfect mix of paranormal, action, world-building and romance. I most often rec Liz Maverick’s Crimson City and Carolyn Jewel’s A Darker Crimson but the entire series, including the anthology are really excellent.
Fated soul mates or luck of the draw?
Depends on the story. I love to write both ways.
Word geek or whatever comes out?
I’m a word hoooor! But I tend to be loose when I’m writing. It’s when I got back and revise when I begin to obsess. There are words I overuse, usually a different one each book. And also words I hate.
If you had to write either for love or for money, but not both, which would you chose? Why?
Hmm. Well, the reality is, if you’re writing for money, romance isn’t where you’re likely to get much, LOL. But I won’t lie and say I’m not happy I can make a living from my writing. That enables me to write in the first place.
In the end, I write because I love to do it. I started writing without having any idea about how much money you can make and I continue to write every day, many times without knowing up front if the book will sell. But selling a book is a beautiful moment and knowing readers will actually be able to read what I’m working on is one of the best things about writing.
So it’s not either or for me anyway but selling is what enables me to keep doing it on the schedule I do.
Lauren, thank you kindly for answering all my nosy questions!
Thank you for having me!!
Folks, don’t forget to visit Lauren’s blog for details on the contest she’s holding for the print release of Reading Between the Lines.