Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Guest Blogger Linda Winstead Jones

We are the luckiest Playfriends on the planet, and we know it. RITA-winning, bestselling and uber-cool author and Maven Linda Winstead Jones is here today! The first book of her new trilogy, Prince of Magic, is available now, Prince of Fire will be available in April, and Prince of Swords will be out in May.

Linda has written romantic suspense and historicals, but her paranormals are huge now. If you, like me, wonder where the ideas come from, Linda is here to talk about making that leap out of the ordinary.

Give a big Playground welcome to Maven LJ and make her feel at home!

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What led me here?


Those of you who hang out at the Playground know me fairly well. I comment on occasion, if life and my computer cooperate. When I was trying to come up with a subject for my blog, I thought of all the questions a writer usually hears. One stood out. Why do you write paranormal?

There are lots of reasons why I enjoy paranormal romance, as a reader and as a writer, but that’s not really the same as why or – even more important – how.

It’s summer, 1995. My first three historical romances are out and I’m contracted for a couple more. I get a phone call from my editor. They’re starting a fairy tale romance line and would like me to submit an idea. Since I’m a newbie, this is not their first call of the day. All the traditional romantic fairy tales – Beauty and the Beast, Rose Red, Cinderella – have been taken. After the call is finished, I end up pacing in my living room, muttering to myself. My youngest son, then eleven, walks into the room. For the purposes of this story, we’ll call him Baby Boy. (Trust me, he’s going to HATE that. Such is life.) Baby Boy wants to know what I’m doing, so I snap my fingers in his direction and say, “Fairy Tales. Name some fairy tales.” His first response is “The Three Little Pigs.” I shake my head (though later . . .) and say, no. This needs to be a romantic fairy tale. So he offers “The Three Bears.” Again, I shake my head. “No, this has to be a romance.” He reasonably suggests that at the end of the story Brad Pitt can jump through the window and save Goldilocks. No, No, I say. The hero would have to be one of the bears.


Light bulb moment. Yes, the hero could be one of the bears. I ended up with the three Barrett brothers and Someone’s Been Sleeping in my Bed. Baby Boy asked for two percent of anything I made off his idea – and got it. Two percent was just so reasonable I couldn’t refuse.

No, SBSIMB was not a paranormal story, but it was my first trip out of the box. It was my first attempt at looking at a story from a different (and slightly askew) angle, and it led to more twisted fairy tales (yes, including those pigs) and a couple of time-travels, then to Victorian ghostbusters and psychics and three witches set in a world I created. Most recently, it led to Prince of Magic, Prince of Fire, and Prince of Swords, where anything can – and does – happen.



Like most fiction, it all started with what if . . . and a dozen years later my brain is still in that mode. What if? Who knows where it will take me next?

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Linda will be around today to answer your questions, so ask away! One commenter will recieve a copy of Linda's Let Down Your Hair Faerie Tale.

(And can I just add an editoral comment? LJ, your Princes are hummina-hummina yummy!)

23 comments:

Rhonda said...

LJ, I don't have any questions but watned to say I love, love, love the cover of Prince of Magic. It's simply beautiful. :::sigh:::

Smarty Pants said...

Hi LJ!! I sort of asked this in your interview, but I've got more room to ramble here...

In each of the two Berkley series (Sisters of the Sun and Children of the Sun), the first book starts off with a prophecy, parts of which are not resolved until later books. When you're writing those first books and come up with the words for it, do you know how they're going to resolve in the later books? You mentioned you write one book at a time, but do you have anything in mind when you come up with the initial concept?

Prince of Magic was wonderful. Awaiting Prince of Fire anxiously...

SP

Angel said...

Yeah! Angel jumps up and down... LJ is playing at the Playground today!

I've always wondered how you came up with the unique details of the world created in the Sisters of the Sun books. The world there is like ours, but with all these subtly different details. Did those just come to you? Did you brainstorm extensively? Did they just show up on the page?

(world building is a completely foreign concept for me)

Angel

Maven LJ said...

*When you're writing those first books and come up with the words for it, do you know how they're going to resolve in the later books? You mentioned you write one book at a time, but do you have anything in mind when you come up with the initial concept?*

SP, I usually have a good idea of how I'm going to end, just no clue as to exactly how I'm going to get there. :-) Usually there are certain points I'm not sure how I'll handle, but it all works out, somehow. To borrow from Shakespeare in Love -- It's a mystery.

LJ

Maven LJ said...

*I've always wondered how you came up with the unique details of the world created in the Sisters of the Sun books. The world there is like ours, but with all these subtly different details. Did those just come to you? Did you brainstorm extensively? Did they just show up on the page?*

Angel, umm -- all of the above? I didn't brainstorm so much as daydream about the world for a long time before I actually started writing anything down. By that point, it was real enough to me that I knew what I'd find in any direction. Some details DID just show up on the page. That;s the beauty of being a pantster. :-)

Kathy said...

So glad you're blogging in the playground today, LJ! Love the Sisters of the Sun trilogy and the covers of your new books. I'm looking forward to reading them.

When you're writing, do you come up with ideas for future books? When and if you do, how do you calm the burning desire to write those books when you're trying to finish up a WIP? And this pertains to an earlier question you once asked me, How do you deal with finally letting go of the characters you love by allowing yourself to write 'the end'?

Kathy

Playground Monitor said...

Everyone else is asking the questions I'd have asked and world building is SO out of my comfort zone. So I'm just enjoying the answers. Yup, yup -- beautiful cover.

Those fairy tales sound interesting. *sigh* I can see my TBR pile growing.

PM

Maven LJ said...

*When you're writing, do you come up with ideas for future books? When and if you do, how do you calm the burning desire to write those books when you're trying to finish up a WIP? And this pertains to an earlier question you once asked me, How do you deal with finally letting go of the characters you love by allowing yourself to write 'the end'?*

Kathy, Yes, sometimes when I'm writing a new idea (usually in the form of a character who turns out to be more interesting than planned) does start to nag me. There are a couple of ways to handle this. First of all, no story or character is *ready* on inception. They need to cook a while, to simmer in the back of my brain before they're ready to be written. On a more mundane level, writing for a living requires a lot of discipline. It means finishing one story before giving in to the siren call of another. It means editing and polishing even when the story is basically told. It means sometimes those characters just have to be patient and wait. :-)

I usually don't have a hard time letting go, if the ending satisfies me. I do love to bring couples back for a glimpse, and I've been lucky enough to be able to do that with this series. That's always fun.

And may I say, I DO agree with everyone who has commented on the fine covers. I wish I could take credit. :-)

LJ

Kathy said...

"I usually don't have a hard time letting go, if the ending satisfies me."

I guess that is what is mystifying me right now. Is the ending satisfying? I'm trying to feel the ending, get it right, and perhaps that why I'm afraid to let go. Thanks for answering my questions, LJ. You've given me food for thought.

Kathy
(Word verification, soare)

Problem Child said...

Where is everyone today? Is it because of spring break and everyone's either at the beach or enjoying the weather?

I'm wondering if you have any plans to write more historicals or romantic suspense? Or are you wanting to focus on paranormals for now?

Maven LJ said...

*I'm wondering if you have any plans to write more historicals or romantic suspense? Or are you wanting to focus on paranormals for now?*

I am writing at least one more romantic suspense for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, but there are no more historicals in the works right now. Who knows about the future? My brain is very much in paranormal mode at the moment, but I do enjoy the change of pace writing something different offers.

LJ

Teresa said...

I love reading all different genres, but I must admit my favorite is Paranormal. Prince of Magic sounds like my kind of read. Good luck with the series!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Linda! Oh, aren't these Playfriends wonderful, and aren't you just lovely for joining them today?!

I'm wondering, what did you think of fairy tales as a kid, and did you dream of them as romances as you grew older -- or old enough to realize Prince Charming was hot!? Or maybe the Prince wasn't the guy you found most interesting?

:)

Maven LJ said...

*I'm wondering, what did you think of fairy tales as a kid, and did you dream of them as romances as you grew older -- or old enough to realize Prince Charming was hot!? Or maybe the Prince wasn't the guy you found most interesting?*

You know, I had the first nightmare that I remember after seeing Disney's Snow White. It was the old witchy queen who gave me nightmares. I don't remember the prince at all. OK, I was five. Maybe that was a little early to be appreciating a hot guy. :-)

I have to admit, I don't remember being all that into fairy tales -- not that I recall, anyway. I never thought of Prince Charming as particularly hot, maybe because he was so, well, nice.

In my library here at home I have a copy of Grimm's fairy tales as originally written. Now, these are interesting. They're not so neat, not so clean. In fact, they can be downright brutal. While I love the happy ending as much as the next guy, I like a little excitement in getting there.

Does that make any sense at all or am I wandering aimlessly?

LJ

Lis said...

Hi LJ,

The new trilogy looks great! How much about the story, setting do you know going in to write it?

Lois said...

Hi! :) Alas, I don't have any questions for you, but I looked up your books and they sound very interesting! I'm going to have to look for some because they sound great, and they have some mighty fine covers! :)

Lois

Maven LJ said...

*The new trilogy looks great! How much about the story, setting do you know going in to write it?*

Hi Lis,

I need to know the setting well, and as for the rest -- I need to know my main characters (though they still can and do surprise me on occasion), where I'm going to start, a scene or two in the middle, and how it's going to end. A lot changes during the writing process, but that's what I need to get started. The only thing that will show me down is if I don't know the characters well enough. That's when I find things are slow going! :-)

LJ

Carol said...

Hi Linda,
I've never read any of your books. Do you have a favorite that I should start with? Which was your hardest book to write?

Maven LJ said...

*I've never read any of your books. Do you have a favorite that I should start with? Which was your hardest book to write?*

Carol, asking me for my favorite book is like asking me to pick a favorite child. :-)

I am really into the fantasies, so I could suggest you either start the new trilogy (starting with Prince of Magic) or go back to The Sun Witch, which starts my first Columbyana-set trilogy. I think the fantasy/romance series combines those things I liked best about historical, romantic suspense, and fairy tale. Maybe I've been leading up to these books for years! :-)

I can't think of any that were particularly hard. Most of them did have their difficult moments, however.

LJ

Kathy said...

LJ, I have the complete works of the Brother's Grimm and I find their stories fascinating. Dark, yes. Fitting the age they wrote in. Have you used these stories for inspiration in any of your novels?

I've also found Edgar Allan Poe fascinating.

How do you begin to set up your characters? I know you've used the stars and astrology to discover them in a more recent effort. Is this something you've always done? And do you or have you used mythology in forming your plots and characters?

I find your process fascinating. My goal is to be prolific and write books that are mesmerizing and true. So much of that can be found in fairytales, history and mythology.

Kathy

Playground Monitor said...

LJ barely mentions her romantic suspense books written for Silhouette Intimate Moments (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense) but one of them, CAPTURING CLEO, is an all-time favorite of mine, probably because I've always harbored this deep, dark desire to be a lounge singer. *g* And she was also nominated for the Rita award for CC too.

PM

catslady said...

I too love the covers. Historicals are also my favorites so I'm hoping some day you'll write more. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Maven LJ said...

*How do you begin to set up your characters?*

Kathy, does daydreaming count? :-) I really don't have a set way. They all come together differently.

*LJ barely mentions her romantic suspense books written for Silhouette Intimate Moments (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense) but one of them, CAPTURING CLEO, is an all-time favorite of mine,*

Luther was one of my all-time favorite heroes. And yes, PM, I also daydream about my life as a lounge singer. In my daydreams, my smoky voice is actually in tune. :-)

*Who are some of your favorite authors?*

Catslady, can I count friends first? The other mavens, of course, and Lori Handeland. Love them all.

I also love Stephen King, Anne Stuart, Carla Kelley, Steven Hunter -- The list grows and changes every day, but these are constants.

LJ