Sunday, March 4, 2007

View from the Back Row

I wanted to write long before I wanted to teach or be a mother (my two other passions). College Honors English sort of beat the desire out of me, however, so I really began writing in earnest after I retired early from teaching high school English students two and a half years ago. Seems like a long time to me, but very short when I read the stories of other writers.

I'm such a pantser that I keep getting my knickers in a knot! Makes for very hard work during revision. I write the scenes that "make the young girls cry" first whenever they pop into my brain. I string them together and hope they make sense in the end. Actually, that's just a dorky way of saying the overall umbrella of my story hovers around my brain and I just pluck parts of it out at the time I feel ready to write them. Again, Revision Hell!

Okay, here's my dirty little secret. Unlike many of you, I never read romance novels. When I was 32 I got a series of shots to travel to the middle east and became very sick, so my good friend brought a paper bag of Harlequins over for me to read, must've been about 20 of them. I read them all and thought, what was God thinking letting this kind of stuff get published? After three days, I couldn't tell one book from another. It was a long time before I picked up another romance. Luckily, when I did, it was a regency, very articulate and classy, a book where the characters weren't cardboard interchangeables! My favorite writer is Margaret Atwood, but I know I'll NEVER be able to come close to writing like her. I'd be satisfied with writing smart, literate, romances where the heroes use brains along with brawn and the heroines are feisty and clever.

The Watcher was my first "real" book, the first thing at all worthy of anyone looking seriously at. That's done, and so far, no one seems to want to give it a home. The second book The Warrior, also is/was finished, but after talking with an HQN editor and my agent, I'm doing some major revisions on that, about half way through. The third book, sadly untitled, is marinating at about 130 pages while I'm rewriting Warrior. They're all mainstream suspense with romantic elements, serial killers with unique pathologies that drive their murders. I like getting in the heads of the bad guys and figuring out how they got to be that way. Kate Duffy says, "sympathetic killers."

And finally, honey, if I could give good advice, I put myself on the couch and figure out how to survive in this quirky business. But really, PERSERVERE, PERSEVERE, PERSERVERE! Gads, did I spell that word wrong? Three times?

I loved reading all your posts. What an eclectic group! Go Packers!



Aunty Cindy said...

Glad you took time out from your revisions to post.

I'm sure when you get back to manuscript #3 that the marination will have produced a "dilly"!

Aunty Cindy
who will henceforth leave the puns to Anna C.

Anna Campbell said...

No, Aunty Cindy! Take my puns!!! Let me run freeeeeeee!

Jo, really interesting about you coming to romance so late. As you know, I was hooked from childhood. I'm a pantser to the back teeth like you too, although I tend to write in order of the story as it grows organically event by event. As you say, makes for an awful editing process.