Monday, July 2, 2007

WELCOME, JANE GRAVES, GUEST BLOGGER!

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Jane Graves began writing stories at the age of five, and she hasn't stopped since. She's a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a B.A. in Journalism in the Professional Writing program. The author of fifteen novels, Jane is a six-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita Award, the industry's highest honor, and is the recipient of two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Booksellers' BestAward, and the Golden Quill. She lives in Texas with her daughter and her husband of twenty-five years.




1.Welcome to the Romance Bandits blog, Jane. We’re very happy to have you visit us! Your newest release, “Hot Wheels and High Heels”, from Grand Central Publishing, debuted on July 1st. Can you give us a sneak peek at it?




Hot Wheels and High Heels is the story of a spoiled trophy wife who gets her life jerked out from under her when her husband sends her on a vacation with a friend, cashes in their assets, sells their house, embezzles $300,000 from his employer, and skips the country. She's left with nothing but the clothes in her luggage, her neurotic Chihuahua, and her beloved Mercedes Roadster. Of course she wants to marry rich all over again, but who does she find herself falling for? The sexy ex-cop turned repossession agent who comes after her Mercedes.

Example


I love creating heroes and heroines who are polar opposites, then tossing them together and watching the fireworks. She hates blue-collar men, and he hates high-maintenance women. Instant conflict, instant fun.




2. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Believe it or not, this story began as an idea for a romantic adventure series about a team of highly-specialized repossession agents who go after high ticket items like Lear jets and oil tankers. Before it was all over with, the story had evolved to a smaller scale comedy with a heroine who is a fish out of water: a former trophy wife who wants to become an auto repossession agent. My mind works that way sometimes. Scary, isn't it? I still have the original story idea, though, and someday I may write that one, too!




3. Trophy wives usually aren’t sympathetic. What about Darcy should make your readers root for her?
Ah. Good question. You're right, of course. Who gives a flip about a woman who has everything and doesn't have to lift a finger for it? But in fiction, it isn't about who a character is. It's about who you can watch them become. Personally, I don't believe a character has to be sympathetic from page one. She does, however, have to be interesting. Sympathy can be built as the story progresses. Remember, too, that the more flawed a hero or heroine is in the beginning, the more powerful their character arc can be. As Darcy is making that journey from spoiled trophy wife to self-sufficient woman, I think you'll be cheering for her to find love and happiness, particularly when that love and happiness centers around a really great hero instead of her platinum AmEx and her Mercedes Roadster.





But you know, that's still an interesting question. As authors, we constantly hear that we have to make our characters "sympathetic." As a reader, if you encounter a character you think is unsympathetic in the opening pages of a story, would you keep reading? If so, what about that character would keep you from putting the book down?





4. On your website, http://www.janegraves.com/ , you have a flash movie with one hunky hero. Is this your vision of John? And who made this movie for you?
I made the movie myself. I love playing with Macromedia Flash, so it's all kinds of fun to do these trailers. As far as the guy in the video being my vision of John, yeah. He is. Sort of. What you have to understand when you see these Flash trailers is that most of them draw images from the same few online sources that are cheap and royalty-free, which limits your choices. When I see book trailers and even e-book covers, I recognize a lot of the photos on them just because I've been through those royalty-free photo sites so often.
Also, since my hero is 42 years old, I couldn't have a guy who looked too young, which limited my choices. But all in all, he's got the right attitude--an alpha guy who's the boss, and don't you ever forget it!
Here's a sneak peek at an interactive Flash presentation I created for this book. It's not officially up yet--it'll be on the new website I have coming soon. But you can play with it now if you go to http://www.janegraves.com/hotwheelsbonus.htm and start clicking. You'll find all kinds of fun things!




5. This book is less suspenseful than your previous single title books. What made you decide to go this direction?
The original proposal for Hot Wheels and High Heels had a mystery thread in it, but it also had a lot of other elements, too. I had offers from two publishing houses. One wanted me to write it as a straight mystery, and the other wanted me to take the mystery element out and write it as a straight romantic comedy. Since the mystery stuff is just kind of a sideline for me and I'm not all that enamoured with dead bodies, I decided to go with writing it as a romantic comedy for Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books).




6. This is your first book for Grand Central Publishing. Do you have any others coming out for them? If so, when can we look for that book, too?
Tall Tales and Wedding Veils will be out in June 2008. The hero is a sexy charmer who wakes up in Vegas--oops--married to an ultra-serious plain-Jane. But instead of getting the annulment they intended to, an unexpected series of events forces them to spend the next month pretending to be happy newlyweds. They're two people who couldn't be any more wrong for each other, or so they think...




7. You’ve written books for Harlequin/Silouhette under the name Jane Sullivan. Are there plans for more of those books, too?
Not right now. I absolutely adored writing for Temptation. When that died, I stayed in mourning for a while, then wrote a book for Next, and I did an novella for a Harlequin anthology. But to tell you the truth, right now there's not a line at Harlequin where I can really let the funny stuff rip the way I could at Temptation (and write hot at the same time!) so for the time being, I probably won't be writing for Harlequin. But I never say never!





So is there something you'd like to talk about? The effectiveness of video trailers as promo tools? The need for sympathetic characters? The upcoming RWA conference in my hometown of Dallas? Let's chat!



P.S. Jane is giving away a copy of her new release, "HOT WHEELS & HIGH HEELS" to one lucky visitor/commentor on the blog!

28 comments:

CrystalG said...

Hi Jane. Great interview. Hot Wheels and High Heels and Tall Tales and Wedding Veils sound great. I love books with humor.

Trish Milburn said...

This sounds like such a fun story. I admire anyone who can write romantic comedy, which isn't really one of my fortes. I have to make my people angst all over the place. :)

DMacMeans said...

Hi Jane -

I love Romantic comedies and will definitely be looking for Hot Wheels and High Heels - the title alone stopped me as I was thumbing through RT. Speaking of titles - any clues you can offer us who struggle with that? I swear finding a good title is an art form. One that I lack. Keep those comedies coming!

Caren Crane said...

Hi, Jane, thanks for playing with us! I'm with Donna. I love a good romantic comedy. Romanic comedy seems to be a subgenre which ebbs and flows with the years. Do you think it is currently ebbing or is the tide coming back in for romcom?

Jane said...

Hey, Trish!

Actually, even though I write comedy, I always throw in some angsty moments. I think comedy is stronger if it has something playing against it. The example I always think of is the old show M*A*S*H. Ninety percent of the time, it was all laughs, and then they'd zing you with something bittersweet or heartbreaking. It added a lot of depth to the show.

Jane

Jane said...

dmacmeans, I'm laughing hysterically that you're asking me about title advice. I positively suck at them. It took forever to come up with this title. It's an oddball one, but it fits the book really well. Ironically, when it came time to title the second one, I suggested "Tall Tales and Wedding Veils" because it had the same rhythm and it fit the book. My editor took it to the powers that be and emailed me back within the hour to say it was a go.

Jane

jo lewis-robertson said...

Great responses, Jane, and welcome to our blog. Love the questions, Suz. Your comment, Jane, about having sympathetic characters from the get-go really resonated with me. I enjoy a bristly, flawed character, interesting enough, but really fascinating when he/she evolves into a multi-dimensional, complex one.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I always loved M*A*S*H. The humor was great, especially when HotLips couldn't keep from laughing at Hawkeye, despite how much he disregarded her love of rules.

The comedy part of romances that I enjoy are when the heroine does something that makes absoloutely no sense to the alpha male hero, but something I totally get. If it makes me stop reading long enough to stop laughing, then it's a keeper.

Is the humor in HW&HH similar to this?

Franny said...

I have to agree with Jo's post - it's really fascinating as a reader to see a character go through a true growth arc. As a writer, I'd say that's much harder to deliver!

Jane - in your development of the story, how difficult did you find it to find that balance - creating sympathy for the character so the reader doesn't hate her, but still creating compelling conflict?

Can't wait to dive into the book!
Franny

Kay said...

Hey Jane
Loved reading about your process with this book. So did you have a clear vision of how this one would end? I know you're more of a pantser. I am too, but I always have a pretty good idea of how the last scene is going to work out. Without giving away spoilers here...did you know how this was going to conclude when you started or was it all a surprise for you as well?

Jo Davis said...

Jane,
Great to have you here! I just started my copy of Hot Wheels, and let me say, I can't put it down!! This book is great fun, everyone. Don't miss out!

I do have a question for the future...Is there a story that has been simmering in the back of your mind for some time that you'd like to write? A character who won't leave you alone?

Also, where do you see yourself in five years as a writer?

Hugs,
Jo

Helen said...

Great interview I always enjoy hearing how a book gets started in someone's imangination I don't write but am an avid reader mostly historical romance. Stories with humour are always good.
Have Fun
Helen

Suzanne Welsh said...

Helen,

I love historicals, too, but Jane's books are among my favorite contemporaries. You'll probably love them, too!

TracyG said...

Hey Jane,
Thanks for the interview. I'm looking forward to Hot Wheel & High Heels! I love comedy, even in historicals. Nothing depresses me more than a book that is always angst or gritty with no relief, no chance to take a deep breath.

Tell the truth, now. How large is your collection of Hot Wheels and little leopard-skin high heeled shoes? :D

Tracy

Jane said...

Caren, I don't know what the deal is with romantic comedy. Truthfully, I was hoping for a bigger comeback by now. I think it just got glutted by 2002 or 2003, and editors slowly stopped acquiring it. But you know, as much as people love to laugh, I can't imagine it not coming back in a big way eventually.

Jane

Jane said...

Suz, yep, that's pretty much what the humor is like in Hot Wheels. I love to find that one woman who gets under a hero's skin like no other, then exploit the hell out of it. In the beginning, he can't understand her to save his life. It's only when the layers start peeling away that they start to understand just how much they really do connect.

Jane

Jane said...

Franny, I think it all gets down to making sure your reader understands why your characters are behaving the way they are. You can have a character do the most unsympathetic thing in the world, but if she does it for reasons we can understand, if we look at her and say, "You know, if I were in her position, I'd probably do that, too," then you're okay.

One of my favorite shows is 24. Jack Bauer does some of the most heinous things imaginable. But I understand his motivation, and I glue to that show one episode after another because he's such an incredibly interesting character.

Jane

Jane said...

Kay, as far as knowing what the ending was going to be since I'm a pantser, yeah. I usually have a pretty good idea, at least thematically, what has to happen. But the specifics are subject to change at any moment, up to and including the instant I hit "send" and email the manuscript to my editor.

Jane

Jane said...

Jo, thanks for the nice words about Hot Wheels!

Yes, there's one type of character I've wanted to write as a heroine for some time now. This particular type has shown up in my books before, but as a secondary character. In my DeMarco series, she was a tough, take-no-crap member of a SWAT team. In Hot Wheels, she's a tough, take-no-crap bodyguard to a multimillionaire. Do you see the pattern here? I'd just love to take that kind of woman and force her kicking and screaming over to her softer side...

As far as where I'll be in five years? I haven't got a clue. The market is so volatile that what I write today may not be salable tomorrow. Or what I write today may be the Next Big Thing and land me on the bestseller lists. It's just hard to say!

Jane

Jane said...

Tracy! Ack! You reminded me I need to find a pair of leopard-skin heels before the national conference. If anybody wants to know why, just take a look at the cover of Hot Wheels and High Heels.

Jane

Jane said...

I just gotta say that you guys have one seriously cool-looking blog. I love the design!

Jane

Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Jane,
Thanx a BUNCH for hanging out with us today! And DOUBLE THANX for your kind words about our blog. If you scroll down to the very bottom, you'll see that our super-cool design was done by Austin Dreamworks and our wonderful ORIGINAL banner was designed by Suz's very talented daughter Lyndsey (Aunty loves to PLUG our talented friends)!

Now if you haven't left the lair yet, could you please tell us a bit more about your transition from category to single title? Any advice you can give us AYUs about selling in either venue?

THANX AGAIN!
AC

Christine Wells said...

Jane, thank you so much for joining us on Romance Bandits! I so agree with what you said about the heroine, that she has to be interesting, not necessarily entirely sympathetic from page one. I do find romance readers can be quite tough on heroines, though, while they will forgive almost anything in a hero.

I love romantic comedy with an edge and I'll be sure to look out for your books. They sound like great fun!

Beth said...

Thanks for joining us, Jane! Hot Wheels and High Heels sounds fabulous! Looking forward to reading it :-)

KimW said...

Hi Jane,

I'm glad you decided to stick with the romantic comedy. I don't think we have enough of those type of stories out there. There's nothing better than reading a book that makes you laugh along with the romance. Hot Wheels and High Heels sounds really good and so does the book you have coming out next year.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed having you here today, I'm now going to have to add the reads to my TBR pile.

cas2ajs said...

Can't wait to read this one. Sounds funny and I can't wait to see how you make us go from not caring about to sympathizing and rooting for your heroine. And I know it'll happen.

Cheryl

Sandy Blair said...

Great interview! Loved Tall, Dark and Texan (you SHOULD have gotten the RITA for that one.)I can't wait to get my hands on this book!