Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest Blogger Linda Winstead Jones

Today we welcome guest blogger and Maven, Linda Winstead Jones!

Some days, I feel a little like a dinosaur. My first books were written on a typewriter, and while I was eventually dragged to a computer (Kicking and screaming, btw. I thought my typewriter was more than sufficient) several of my first books never existed as a computer file. Not in my house, anyway. But I have evolved. I recently jumped into the self-publishing pool with two of my fairy tale romances from a few years back. Into the Woods and DeButy and the Beast were always two of my favorites, and I’m thrilled to make them available again.

A funny thing happened while I was getting these books ready for release. One of the most frequent questions an author hears is “Where do you get your ideas?” My instinctive response is “How do you stop them from coming?” It’s difficult to look at a book you’re still close to and identify the roots. But looking back several years, reading through the new files, I could see very clearly where the ideas for these books came from.

DeButy and the Beast is one of those rare books that started with the title. At a meeting of our writer’s group, we had a speaker who was a police officer. He was introduced; his last name was DeButy and immediately the title popped into my head. DeButy and the Beast. The story grew from there, the characters taking shape long after the title had grabbed me. Going back and reading the book now, I can see where some of my research came into play. I have a book (or two or four) about the Victorian era, and they are alternately horrifying and hilarious. Oh, the things we believed, the “facts” that were presented to us as truth. My favorite research book is “The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America.” A few quotes, chosen at random: “Beware!! science pronounces that the woman who studies is lost.” And “Like novels and letter-writing, dancing was another source of impurity.” Then there’s “Overindulgence in romantic stories produced a flow of blood to certain body organs causing ‘excessive excitement’ and finally disease.” Is it any wonder my hero is a Victorian era physician with a few ridiculous ideas that need to be shaken?

Into the Woods came together very differently. I don’t remember where the title came from, if it was mine or if my editor suggested it. It was one of several fairy tale romances I wrote, and I can’t even remember how I decided to write a romance based on Hansel and Gretel. What was most important here, when we talk about what brings a story together, was the climactic scene near the end -- which I won’t spoil by giving details here. You’ll recognize it if you read the book. I had read a fantasy that I absolutely loved, but the ending sucked. In fact, the ending sent me into a
downward spiral of depression, it was so wrong. It was years after I wrote Into the Woods that I could see how I had taken that scene and rewritten it, giving it my own romance-friendly ending. Reading through the book again, I could also see the influence of some research books about old beauty remedies and aphrodisiacs. After all, the heroine is a witch, the witch from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. What better way to use her gifts than the creation of beauty creams and love potions?

I still have all these books. I actually have a pretty decent research library. Maybe I should head back to my office and browse a bit. You never know when, or how, inspiration will strike.

One commenter will receive an original paperback copy of one of these books!


Angel said...

So cool to read about where these books came from, Maven LJ! I've heard you talk about your fairy tale books, but not this one in particular. Both of these sound really good! Can't wait to read them.

When you were reading through the files, did you find yourself revising based on where your voice is now, or were you happy with your writing? I've gone back to reread some of my earlier stuff, and some of it definitely needs a little touch up, while some of it I read and think, "Wow, I wrote that?!?!" :)

Instigator said...

I love hearing how stories evolve! And it makes me feel better to hear that the origins of a book become clearer with some distance. Most of the time I can't remember where I got the idea for this book or another...I'm probably too worried about whether it's all working.


Linda Winstead Jones said...

Angel, these books are pretty much as they were originally written. I did change a word here or there, and added a sentence that -- from a distance -- was necessary. I considered adding a scene or two, but I was afraid the new scenes would stick out like a sore thumb, that they wouldn't fit and would mess up the flow of the story and pull the reader out. Like someone else had come along and left their mark. There are older books I'll be working on (one day) that will need more revision, and right now I'm working on a short story I plan to turn into a novella or a novelette. As I get into this self-publishing thing, I suspect every project will be different. :-)

alainala said...

ohhh i love her books! i would love the chance to win one (been trying to find them at the library with no luck for some reason)
i love the fact that theyre fairy tale based

Playground Monitor said...

I can answer that "How do you stop them from coming" question if you like. ;-)

I, too, enjoy hearing the story behind the book. I remember you talking about Officer DeButy but it's interesting to hear more about the book that resulted. Sounds like the heroine has quite a job on her hands to change his thinking.

Congrats on the self-publishing career! It's just another of your many successes.

Virginia said...

What a great post, love hearing where the books come from. Also love a good fairy tale. These sound like wonderful reads and I would love to read them. Know how they came about makes me want to read them more.

catslady said...

I always enjoy hearing any extras about the author and how a book or story came about. And hearing about new-to-me authors. Thats why blogs like this are so great. And I too hate new technology "at first" but then I wouldn't go back for anything. I started out on a manuel typewriter and that may as well be a chisel and stone compared to today's computers lol. Your books sound like wonderful reals!!

Maven Linda said...

Okay, I'm going to take a guess and say you were sympathetic to the witch in Hansel and Gretel, right?

Smarty Pants said...

Heck, yeah! Those brats were eating her house! :)

Linda Winstead Jones said...

@ Linda -- Duh. YES. Bratty and delicious kids, harassing her and eating her house.

I have a new keyboard, so this post is taking forever to write. I needed a more comfortable keyboard, but this is going to take some getting used to. -- LJ

Laurie G said...

Oh these both sound like very unique takes on these fairy tales!! I love hearing how stories evole from minor instances in the author's life.

Old fashioned medical ideas scary stuff! It's amazing any one survived the blood letting, laudadum medicating, no handwashing or antibiotics and lack of schooling(knowledge in general).

Linda Winstead Jones said...

@Laurie -- What really makes it scary is how RIGHT they thought they were. I highly recommend the book on Physicians in Victorian America, if you can find it.

I'll pull a name out of a hat in the next couple of days and let y'all know who gets a book. :-) Thanks! -- LJ