Friday, October 5, 2007

Claudia Dain On Courtesans, Careers and Gauchos

Interview by Caren Crane

Many Banditas can point to a published author friend and say, "This author taught me everything I know about the business." I am happy to say that for me, that author is Claudia Dain. Claudia began her career writing historicals in a variety of time periods for Dorchester. After a brief hiatus, she is back with her first book for Berkley, a Regency-set historical titled The Courtesan's Daughter. Welcome, Claudia!

Caren: Claudia, you are known for your dark, emotional stories and rich historical detail. Can we expect more of the same from The Courtesan's Daughter?

Claudia: Thanks for the warm Banditas welcome, Caren. I'm thrilled to be here.

I'm almost afraid to answer this first question! Is The Courtesan's Daughter dark? No, it's not dark; I would call it a bawdy romp. I was ready for something different and decided not to fight the urge. I'm glad I gave into it since this book was a joyride from start to finish.

Is it rich in historical detail? That's a tougher one to answer. I think what people were responding to in my dark historicals was that the characters felt true to their time; the heroine didn't think like a 21st century woman and never behaved like one. It wasn't that I devoted 10 pages to describing the interior of a building, it was that the characters acted appropriately within their setting. That's my impression, anyway, and I can say without qualification that the characters in The Courtesan's Daughter behave very much the way they should, given who they are. But I still haven't spent 10 pages describing a house!

Caren: Wow, this sounds like a real departure from your old style of writing. I understand the Courtesan books will be a new series for you and you have already written the second. Are you having fun writing books with a lighter tone?

Claudia: I'm having more fun than I've ever had before and I think it shines through in the writing. This is just a fun, sexy romp in the vein of Oscar Wilde (which is what my editor compares it to and which tickles me to death). The Courtesan's Daughter begins what I hope will be a very long running series. I have multiple books planned and while each book stands alone, they are stronger when taken as a whole.

At the risk of boring non-writers, the romantic couple of each book stands alone, their story arc complete to that book, but the courtesan's story is the foundation for all the action and her arc will take multiple books to complete. That foundation, which is fairly dark, is what holds the books together. I guess it proves that I didn't leave 'dark' and 'emotional' behind completely!

The concept for the series began with what I'm calling the 'anchor character', and that's Sophia, the courtesan of the title. It took more than a year for her to come together in my mind, to be fleshed out, and it's her complex backstory that is the foundation of the fascinating, unique woman she is. It will be the slow revelation of her backstory that answers every question about her motivation.

As is typical for me, setting defines character to a great degree and this is especially true of Sophia. My husband is wildly in love with Sophia. To be honest, so am I. She is the most interesting, layered, compelling character I've ever created. It is a pure joy to spend time with her every day.

Caren: Your Dorchester books invariably contained dark, tormented, delicious heroes. (Does anyone else remember Richard the world's sexiest monk from The Marriage Bed? *swoon*) Are your Berkley books similarly endowed?

Claudia: Oh, another tough one. You wouldn't think talking about my heroes would be a tough assignment, would you? The heroes in the Courtesan Series aren't dark, at least not taken as a whole. Generally speaking, each one is a wonderful, sexy man who displays a real appreciation of the heroine as she is. True love, in my definition, means seeing the object of your affection as she truly is and loving her without reserve. Of course, each hero is different and completely individual, but the focus of the Courtesan series is really on the individual heroines. There will be lots of diversity in both heroes and heroines, but the weight of the story will fall on the heroine. This is a woman's story.

Caren: Claudia, to shift gears a bit, you are known by many for your astute business sense. Your "Publishing As a Blood Sport" talk is an RWA conference favorite for many people. Can you tell us, in a nutshell, what are things writers should be aware (and wary) of? For agented writers, what is the author's role in her/his career and what is the agent's role?

Claudia: Finally, an easy question! In a nutshell, too many writers are too emotional about the business of publishing. Bad business decisions, like the hiring or firing of an agent, are made from an emotional foundation. Picking an agent because you enjoyed talking with her in the bar at a conference is not good business. Staying with an agent primarily because you've developed an emotional bond with her is not good business. Vowing never to write for an editor because once she rejected you is not good business.

In a different vein, I also believe that an author's strongest asset is her voice and that, once identified, it should be protected at all costs. In my opinion, having a strong voice is clearly an asset once you're published and have a growing fan base, but it can make it harder to get published in the first place.

As for agents, I am of the opinion that an agent is an essential ingredient in doing business. I've always felt this way, even before I was published, so this is nothing new and I'm unlikely to change my opinion now. But, having said that, your career as an author will always mean more to you than it does to anyone else. Your agent has a career she is trying to build and protect. The same is true of your editor. Knowing that each of you is pursuing your own best career track is what makes making business decisions easy.

Too often it seems to me that authors want to hand their careers over to their agent. It's tempting! Who wouldn't want to pass that burden off onto someone else, someone competent? But it is your career. You have to protect it. If writing is your business, then you have to treat it like your business. Your agent's business is being an agent to many authors, not only you. Your business is to succeed as a writer and it has to be your sole priority. Of course, this 'business plan' includes writing a great novel, but that's only part of it.

I think the hardest part of being a published author is realizing that you now have to be a small business owner as well. It's exhausting work!

Caren: Those of us who were in the audience of the RITA and Golden Heart awards ceremony at the Romance Writers of America national conference this year heard you, specifically, mentioned by award recipients on the stage. Twice. Both recipients thanked you for advice on fashion and shoes. It seems that, as well as having a reputation for great business sense, you are also known for great fashion sense. Have you always been a connoisseur of fashion?

Claudia: I'm blushing! I don't know about my great fashion sense since I did own a pair of gauchos at one point, but I have always loved fashion and have been both willing to go along with the current trends and known what works for me and what doesn't. It's like walking a balance beam! I was the first girl in my high school to stop wearing mini skirts and bell bottoms (which tells you more than I want you to know about my age), and I was teased by the boys for my "hem falling down" and for my stovepipe pants. I had the last laugh, didn't I? Or did they?

Now I have a fun question: Speaking of being a fashion victim, I've confessed to gauchos, which are back in style. What have you worn that turned you into a fashion victim? I know Caren has knickers in her past... (Caren: Hey, I resemble that remark. But they were olive green, thin-wale corduroy and it was 1979 - so hip!)

Sophia, my courtesan, has never suffered a fashion disaster in her life, which is only one reason why she's the perfect heroine. I'm giving away a copy of The Courtesan's Daughter, maybe to the winner of The Worst Fashion Mistake of My Gorgeous Life? I had a friend once who wore Band-Aids over her *&^# underneath a sheer black dress. They showed. It was not pretty.

Thank you, Banditas! I'm looking forward to hearing about all those fashion faux pas! Don't leave me alone in my gauchos, I'm begging you!

Caren: (whispers) Just for fun, check out the Lego stop-action review for The Courtesan's Daughter at Dear Author!


Christie Kelley said...

Great interview, Claudia! Your new book sounds great and I love a series.

My fashion faux pas? Well, short of everything, probably the worst was the overpadded shoulder pads of the 80s. I have broad shoulders to begin with and the last thing I needed was more there.

Christie Kelley said...

Woohoo, look at me, I got the first post in!!!

Buffie said...

Another fabulous interview!!! Hey Claudia! I have enjoyed your books in the past, and from the sounds of it will continue to do so. I can't wait to get the new book.

As far as fashion goes, I have never been one to do it right. Probably the worst would be the 80s Madonna wanna-be outfits -- you know black lace shirts and hot pink socks. Not a good picture!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Hi Claudia, I have just been waiting for the weekend to get the new book! Fashion faux pas would be me in anything clingy..LOL I tried but just don't have the body style to carry it off.

Caren Crane said...

Okay, I have a real fashion faux pas, which has tried hard to make a comeback these days. The tube top. Who thought it was a good idea for teenaged girls to wear something held up only by elastic in public?

In the days of my youth, when such things were popular (circa 1980), I did not have access to high-tech (expensive) things like strapless bras. Neither did lots of girls I knew. You connect the dots!

That, my Banditas, was a real fashion faux pas.

Christine Wells said...

Christie said: Woohoo, look at me, I got the first post in!!!

Hee hee, Christie, that's because Foanna's already in bed:)

Hi Claudia, what a pleasure to have you swing by the lair! There seems to be a bit of a theme going on at Berkley, doesn't there, with Lady of Scandal, Scandal's Daughter and The Courtesan's Daughter! No wonder they wanted me to change my title. Unfortunately, no one could think of anything better so SD stuck.

Hmm, fashion faux pas. How to choose from so many! I think maybe the fluorescent socks in the '80s. Or no, wait! Maybe the Turkish pants or... No, I'll leave it there.

AndreaW said...

Hmmm, does anyone else notice a trend? Most fashion faux pas happened in the 80s! LOL Mine did as well. I was wearing a pair of leggings (that I'd had for a long time) that were getting a little too tight on me and one day RIP! I busted a split in my rear. It wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't in the company of family and friends. I don't think I could ever wear leggings again even if they were in style. *sigh*


AndreaW said...

Great interview, Claudia! The book sounds fabulous!


Kirsten said...

Claudia, thanks for the fabulous interview! I love your message about professionalism and taking charge of your career. Being a business person myself (I try not to admit too openly that I am an attorney) I'm amazed by how intensely emotional this business is for people. I include myself in this--it can be incredibly hard to separate the emotion from the work, especially when you're in the "almost published" camp. But it's got to be done. Or at least you've got to strike the right balance.

I sure do wish the Banditas could be in the drawing--I'd LOVE to read the Courtesans Daughter. I suppose I'll get my sorry little booty over to Border's and pick up a copy! :-)

Oh, and my fashion faux pax. I've already told our readers about a number of my fashion issues...they seem to involve private parts a lot (nipples and too-tight shirts, black undies and white skirts). I had an unfortunate incident with a walrus costume in high school that still haunts me. I also made a lot of my own clothes in high school, and God help me if any of those ever got brought back around. (shudder) They were not good. Not good at all. ;-)

Claudia Dain said...

Tube tops! You have to wonder why they were invented in the first place and to have them make a come-back? Fashion doesn't make much sense.

I'm LOL about the shoulder pads of the 80s, which were a redo of the shoulder pads of the 40s. Why would a woman want to have Man Shoulders? I have broad shoulders, too. I don't need any help there.

Now, a corset? That I could use. Wouldn't, too painful, but I could use one.

And thanks to all who said they'd rush out and buy Courtesan's Daughter! That was all of you, right?

I'm listening for the sounds of stampeding feet, ladies. LOL

Claudia Dain said...

Leggings...skinny pants in another galaxy. How many women in the universe can wear skin-tight anything on her legs?

The mind reels.

Kirsten said...

dianna, I'm with you on the clingy. Have you ever heard the term "muffin roll"? That's the stuff that seeps out over the top of your hip-hugger jeans. (EW!) I've sported a muffin roll or two in my day. It's not pretty.

Andrea, leggings ARE back in style! Can you believe it? I just couldn't get myself to wear them, but they're back. Under skirts and with (shudder) tunic tops. Serious. It's scary.

Christine--I had some of those turkish pants too! They went under the, made-it-myself-can-you-tell? category. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Claudia and Andrea, leggings were not kind to those of us with, let's say, heavier thighs. Of course, skinny-legged people looked like birds in them. Not sure who thought those were a good idea!

Christine, we called Turkish pants "MC Hammer" pants, which of course were mandatory for Hammer Time! *g* I don't think I ever owned a pair, for some reason. I must not have had the money for any. I certainly had no sewing skills!

Kirsten, I'm in awe that you even attempted to sew. It was all I could do to make costumes my kids needed for school plays and things. The glue gun has been my friend!

Sonja Foust said...

I can't wait for your book, Claudia! If I don't win, I'm running right out to buy it. I know it'll be great!

Fashion faux pas? I think my entire life is a series of horrible fashion faux pas. I try hard, but I don't usually hit the mark. I tried on a sweater dress in a store the other day because they're supposed to be "in." I looked like a big fluffy teddy bear. Nothing like the models in the pictures. Sigh. But see? I try.

Donna MacMeans said...

Claudia - Welcome to the lair. I can't wait to get your new book. It sounds great!

Now I must admit, fashion is not my thing. I'm afraid designs created for stick women just don't translate well for us curvy-all-over types. Hence black is my staple. But I will admit to owning a pair of haram pants (is that the same as turkish pants) in purple silk that have never seen daylight. *g*

doglady said...

Okay, I'm with Donna! Fashion is NOT created for us voluptuous women. Yes, I said voluptuous and I am sticking to it! Great interview Claudia and Caren. The Marriage Bed, what a great book! The Courtesan's Daughter sounds wonderful. Love a series! What great advice career-wise. It would be so easy to turn everything over to someone else so you could just write, but now that I think about it, not the smartest thing to do. Fashion faux pas? Moi? I work at Wal-Mart where we have to wear khaki pants and navy shirts EVERY day. Of course I could write a book on the customer fashion faux pas I see every day. Our favorite quote "Honey, just because they make it in your size does not mean you have to wear it!" I do see a pattern with the 80's stuff. My worst?? Hmm. Platform shoes, I mean REAL platforms that are still in my closet at my Mom's house. My niece screams with laughter every time she sees them. And blue eye shadow! There are some pictures from formal dances that really frighten me!

Caren Crane said...

Doglady, the blue eyeshadow thing--ack! My 14-yr-old daughter wore blue eyeshadow this morning because it's school spirit week and today is orange and blue day. I almost fell out when I saw the blue eyeshadow this morning. She has never worn it before and I hope I only have to see it on school spirit day!

Anna Sugden said...

Great to 'meet' you at last Claudia - we've heard so much about you!

I love the sound of The Courtesan's Daughter. You guys are determined to lure us contemp readers to the historical side! (and worse - regencies!)

Fashion faux pas - as a former punk (yes, a real one at the time of the Sex Pistols and all that - oops showing my age!) it's hard to say. I think shoulders pads, because like Christie I have broad shoulders. Flares also didn't do it for me ... or clunky heels. Being short, I need everything to slim me down.

I can now say though, that my shoes are extremely cool *grin*

Claudia Dain said...

Yes, Anna, come over to the Dark Side, the Regency side of historical life. You won't regret it, bwahahahhah.

Hey, what's worse? Reading a Regency (with my name on the cover) or wearing Blue Eyeshadow WITH platforms??

MsHellion said...

Hmmm. I've been a fashion victim of a tubetop and a pair of nearly completely unraveled cut-off shorts. I could have given Britney a run for her money. Well, at least poor choice of wardrobe wise.

I also have unfortunate luck in swimming suits and wardrobe malfunctions. *sighs* Malfunctions I still haven't lived down. "Hey, remember the time your top fell off on the slip-n-slide..."

Caren Crane said...

Okay Vrai Anna and everyone else, you know I'm a shameless Claudia Dain-pimping Bandita, but I have to say that "The Courtesan's Daughter" is delightful and a total page turner. I picked it up this week and have had no time to read since then. And yet, I'm halfway finished.

I have stayed up far too late, gotten very little sleep and forced myself to put it down and turn out the lights each night. Do yourself a favor and grab it off the shelf! And if you can't find it in the Romance section at Borders, check the paperback New Release table. I found it with the mainstream fiction! Must be that gorgeous cover...

doglady said...

Claudia, wearing blue eye shadow and platform shoes is DEFINITELY worse than any day reading a Claudia Dane book. We will have to start calling you Darth Regency for luring poor Anna over to the dark side!! Caren, dare I hope you got a photo of your daughter in the blue eye shadow? My mother LOVES to drag out those old photos to torture me and to amuse friends and family.

jo robertson said...

Welcome to the Bandit Lair, Claudia. Sophia sounds like an intriguing character; I'll be sure to check her out.

I've always been pretty savvy about dressing to what looks good on my body rather than what's in fashion at the moment. My daughters will pull me back from the fashion precipice if I wander too close to the edge.

Claudia Dain said...

Jo, speaking of Fashion Near Misses and How Daughters Keep Their Mothers in Fashion daughter has forbidden me to wear capris. She says they make me look 4 feet tall, which is never the Right Fashion Statement. My secret? I buy capris on the sly and just never wear them when she's around. What's a "mature" woman supposed to do when the temps are in the 90s? Wear (gasp) shorts??

Claudia Dain said...

Caren...plug on! ROFL

What can I say? Am I supposed to deny that The Courtesan's Daughter is the Great American Romance Novel of ALL TIME???

Please. *G*

Caren Crane said...

Seriously, guys, you have to check out the Lego-enacted review of "The Courtesan's Daughter" at the Dear Author blog. It is insanely funny!

And, although I am Claudia's biggest pimp--I mean, fan--she really is simply fantastic. A Claudia Dain always gets top spot on the TBR pile. Matter of fact, all that thinking about Richard may put "The Marriage Bed" back on top of the TBR pile..

Caren Crane said...

Doglady, I did *not* take a pic of the blue eyeshadow. But the day is young! I'll have to snap one when I get home from work. Seriously, how often will she have blue eyeshadow and tiny braids at the front of her hair entwined with orange ribbons with blue beads sewn on? *very large evil grin*

anne said...

Welcome Claudia. I enjoyed the interesting and lovely interview. Your book has me fascinated. As far as faux pas go, there are too many to list but one was a beaut. The hip hugger bell bottoms which I thought were so cool at the time. Utterly wrong for someone short and petite.

Claudia Dain said...

Hey, I'd just love to know, what body type does look good in a tube top? Voluptous women have slippage issues. Non-volups (like me) have squash issues. Non-volups have no desire to have with little they've got squished into oblivion.

Has anyone ever seen a woman look good in a tube top? If not, I'm thinking this is a conspiracy by the fashion designers of the world to make women look stupid.

The same can be said for Lee Press On Nails.

Claudia Dain said...

Anne, ditto on being short and petite. Ditto on the hip hugger bellbottoms. Mine were so wide at the bottom that you couldn't see my shoes. Ever.

What happened in the rain was not pretty. I looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, melting.

Caren Crane said...

Claudia, the bell bottoms definitely had "wicking issues" in the rain. I've seen kids with them on in recent years - same problem! They end up soaked to mid-shin. And we all know how long it takes for denim to dry. Ai-yee!

Claudia Dain said...

I think I was in my third year of college before I finally figured out that jeans were not the Pant Choice of the Day when it rained and I had to ride my bike to class.

I think this proves that college really does teach you something.

ChristyJan said...

I enjoyed the interview Claudia.

As far as fashion faux pas ~ add my name to the lists for blue eyeshadow, shoulder pads, bell bottoms and leggings. I even went so far as to have a pair of yellow moon boots. Plus, I live in Utah, so we're always a few years behind the latest fashion trends.

Nancy said...

Hi, Claudia--What a fun interview to read! You covered the gamut from books to clothes, both dear to the hearts of most of us.

My worst fashion faux pas was probably attempting to wear the Juliet-style hairdo, long and parted down the middle. When I was a teenager, my hair had a mind of its own--not so much natural curl as natural frizz--and I had an oval, slightly thin face. With cats-eye glasses. I look at my pictures from that time period, and I just cringe. Bad choice! Bad choice!

Sabrina said...

Yes, Courtesan's Daughter is fabulous! And so is Claudia--she has taught me quite a bit about the business as well.

Fashion faux pas--does hair count? I did the Farrah Fawcett do in college, as well as the Bo Derek braids do. If I have learned anything, it is not to have my hair done like any actress ever (although the Susan Dey bob looked pretty good on me).

doglady said...

Oh, Caren, that look is definitely a "must preserve to show her fiance" material!! Claudia, the visual on your tube top dissertation is just too funny for words! At Wal-Mart we see it all, including some Amazon who comes to shop with her loaded 48's stuffed into, yes, you guessed it - a tube top. Number one on the list of things that make you go "shudder!"

MsHellion said...

My theory on WHY tubetops exist is this--though your theory about looking stupid is quite excellent and valid--men like naked boobs.

Yes, that's the whole theory. The tubetop was invented by a man with the idea in mind that if we put something tight and strapless on a woman, there is the optimal chance of either it rolling UP or DOWN--thus revealing naked boobs, which is the goal. If it manages to stay in place, maybe the room will be cold and it will be apparent she's braless--which is the next best thing to naked. Plus everything will also bounce--which they also seem to enjoy.

I'm sure easy access factors in there somewhere, but I think, truly, it's the insidious goal that there MIGHT be naked boobs if the tubetop does what its supposed to, roll up or down...and men do seem to put a lot of optimism in what MIGHT happen.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Claudia! Big champagne-fuelled welcome to the Bandita Lair. Hope you'll come back often and see us. Sounds like a few of us could do with the fashion advice ;-)

Every time I see your book, I think we should do a joint effort. You know? Claiming the Courtesan's Daughter. A bit like one of those before and after Jeopardy! questions. Congratulations on the new book. I'm sure it will be a mega hit!

Fashion faux pas? Sadly I have so many to choose from. But drawing randomly from the cabinet of horrors, does anyone remember Princess Diana's wedding dress? Taffeta? Lace? Big scooped neckline. Looked lovely on her (I still believe that although it was very much of its time - a real fairy princess dress). Anyway, with my very first tax refund, I bought a rip-off. Cream taffeta. Coffee colored lace around the big scooped neckline. Huge puffed sleeves (and considering huge and puffed are adjectives you could use for me, that wasn't too pretty!). And of course had nowhere to wear it. My cousin got married so I committed the fatal faux pas of wearing bride colors to the wedding. Not only that, but the big scooped neckline showed vast amounts of my bra. This was back when revealing the bra wasn't the thing (unlike now!). So I stuck a whole stack of safety pins in the bra to keep it below the neckline level. Being short, being bosomy, wearing a gaping neckline, the result should be obvious. At the end of the night, I was dancing with the cousin who got married and he said, "I've been wondering all night - why have you got so many safety pins in your bra?" Oh, mortification! I don't think I ever wore that dress again! Oh, that's right - it was too tight as well and I never fitted into it. More mortification!

Caren Crane said...

Ding, ding, ding! Mshellion has hit it on the nose. Naked boobs! That absolutely must be the rationale.

Was it on Seinfeld where they were asking why men liked catfights so much? I think Elaine asked the question of Jerry and Kramer. Jerry told her it was because all men harbor a deep-seated hope that the women will kiss. I believe it! Same sort of thinking. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Sabrina, you had Bo Derek braids?! Good Lord, woman, did someone get pcitures? Because I would pay to get a copy! Oh, the things I could do with a picture of Sabrina Jeffries in Bo Derek braids...bwahahahahahahahahaha.

Claudia Dain said...

Sabrina Jeffries in Bo Derek braids.

Let me just digest that image for a moment.

Nope, not going down. Whoever did that to you should have been shot.

Tube tops. Naked boobs. Yes, I see the connection. Speaking as a non-volup, there was very little chance of any 'rollage' either up or down. That thing stayed put! All that elastic, all that non-volup going on. Nope. Not going anywhere.

Claudia Dain said...

Nancy, didn't everyone have the Juliet style hair-do? Meaning, no style at all, just straight and hanging. I've never heard it described so prettily before, btw, almost makes me not embarrassed that I wore it that way for years, along with every other girl in the western hemisphere and, dare I ask, Austrailia?

Caren Crane said...

Oh, my. Do we have to count bad hairstyles? I had a most unfortunate Dorothy Hamill haircut. It was so adorable on short, athletic Dorothy with her lovely round face!

Not so cute on me at 12: five-eight, 105 pounds, all feet, steel-rimmed octagonal glasses, braces on my still-very-crooked teeth. I should have stuck to my Juliet!

Claudia Dain said...

No, I think we should leave hairstyles out of it. Too treacherous. Too emotional. It's one thing to wear a funky shirt; you can always just take it off. But a bad hairstyle is with you for months!

Oh, the horrors.

Am I the only one who's been rendered hysterical and sobbing by a bad hair cut? And it's happened to me more than once!

Stacy S said...

Great interview Claudia!! It sounds like a great book. The shoulder pads were awful. Those skinny jeans ( not made for my poor body).

Caren Crane said...

(ahem) I respectfully disagree with everyone on this blog about shoulder pads in the 80s! I may be the lone, narrow-shouldered person in the bunch (though Trish may have my back on this one) that actually benefitted from shoulder pads.

I have wide hips, a small waist and narrow shoulders. Think about it. The shoulder pads balanced it out for me. I'm sure you people with great shoulders lamented the Decade Of the Shoulder Pad, but I loved it!

Beth said...

Welcome to the Lair, Claudia! Wonderful interview! I am absolutely going to run out and buy your book (do you hear me running?) faux pas...where do I start? Stir up pants? Or how about when I was a teen and bleached my dark hair - but only about an inch over my ears? Yes, the look was...unusual. Or maybe the time (yes, back in the 80's) when colored mascara became popular. Little did I know you were only to use the electric blue mascara on the TIPS of your eyelashes, not coat them entirely :-)

Donna MacMeans said...

Well - I liked those shoulder pads. Granted they made most women look like linebackers for the NFL, but they worked wonders with small children. I'm talking pillows, not intimidation - though I supposed that helped as well.

Tube tops on voluptuous women? Why that just creates handy storage possibilites *g*

Caren Crane said...

Donna, are you saying you would use the tube top to store, say, a Sig Sauer? *eg*

Tawny said...

Thanks for the fabulous chat, Claudia! I love the agent/editor info and am off to listen to your talk on Publishing as a Bloodsport! I could use the info *g*.

As for fashion faux pax... hmm, parachute pants come to mind. Tie dyed, at that.

Caren Crane said...

Tawny, the kind of parachute pants that swished when you walked and your thighs brushed together? *g* My brother had those. Come to think of it, I think he had some Hammer Pants, too!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Welcome to the Lair, Claudia! Great interview, Caren. :> Had to laugh about the fashion faux pas. Christie, I have the same problem. I looked like a defensive front lineman when shoulder pads were in. I used to take them out as soon as I got home from the store with a jacket or shirt. Andrea, those leggings are baaaaaaack, so watch out! Gosh, hate to admit it, but short of the tube top - my mother would NOT allow them anywhere near the cart, much less the house - I've pretty much hit all the fashion no-no's. SO had to snork over the comment about "Just 'cause they make it in your size..." Wicking Wicked Witch Waist Huggers. OMG. The mental picture. Capris = stork-look-a-like on me. Worst possible 1980's product? Quianna knit. Bleeeech.

Claudia, to be serious for just a brief moment, I loved the comments on Publishing as a blood sport. I totally agree about it being "You, Inc." even if you love your editor and agent, it's about good business sense!

Fun post, gals!

Helen said...

I loved the interview and this book sounds delicously yummy and I will be putting it on my next order from Rendzvous can't wait to read it.
Fashion well lets say I am built for comfort not fashion and have been since I was very young I was a teenager in the 70's and I would sew sequince and sparkly things on everything I wore lots of glitter etc fun days.
Have Fun

Nathalie said...

Fashion faux pas... Once I wnt to a soiree all casual with jeans, when everyone was dressed to perfection in suits.

Lily said...

I don't really have one. Maybe a pseudo-one... Once I bouhgt platforms... 6 years ago in an orange colour and everyone thought I was crazy (I had bought them in France!) and then 3 years after... they were all over the scene... so it was not a fashion-pax after all :)

Deb Marlowe said...

Caren--you are not alone. I refuse to believe that my shoulder pads and big hair were a fashion faux pas. I looked good in the 80s, ladies, let me have my memories. :-) hee hee

Now, the long, peach colored polyester gown a la Marsha Brady that I wore to the elementary school Bicentennial celebration--that I will admit was a mistake. :-)

Claudia Dain said...

Hey, fashion faux pas...not a faux pas if A) it's in style and B) it looks good on you. I will defend this position to the death.

To the death!

As to Bloodsport and all that business stuff, I really, really believe every word coming out of my mouth. *G* I love both my agent and my editor and I assume they adore me in return. But business is business. My editor can get cut throat during contract negotiations, in fact, I expect her to, but once the dust has settled it's back to ooey gooey, "You're the best!" "No, YOU'RE the best!"

Her business is to keep the money in the firm.

My business is to squeeze as much money as I can out of them.


Deb Marlowe said...

Forgot to say that I am halfway through the Great American Romance Novel of all time and LOVING IT!

Yay Claudia!

Claudia Dain said...

Deb Marlowe, THANK YOU. It's not easy writing the Great American Romance Novel, but someone had to do it, right? *G*

Connie Barbour said...

Loved the interview - I am not a fashion plate by any means, but leg warmers, those huge slouch socks, and big hair...shudder!

Aunty Cindy said...

Claudia, GREAT to have you here in the lair!

I'm very interested in your agent/editor experiences since I'm about to negotiate my own first contract ON MY OWN. Is it true that certain parts of a contract are non-negotiable? And how do I know which parts those are? For example, I know Harlequin NEVER negotiates on advances. They have a "schedule" and they will not vary from it. Any expertise you can share would be greatly appreciated!

As for Aunty's worst fashion faux pas -- 2 words, Hot Pants. Like tube tops (which I NEVER attempted), did these EVER look good on ANYONE? I was even young (VERY young) and skinny when I wore them and still cringe at the photos.


Cassondra said...

Hi Claudia!

Thanks so much for being a Bandita for the day!

And Caren, you just pat your bubbly self right on the back you Posh Pimp Ho you. Great Interview!

Let's see--fashion--well, I've always leaned toward the artsy theatre, music and drama sort of independent swishy skirt goth look, so I've never been a fashion slave. I've had my bad moments I guess--the big hair in the early 80s would probably be the worst. I have a LOT of hair. It's long and straight now, but in the early 80s it was layered and permed. I was in a Miss America preliminary pageant and I made the mistake of letting the small town hairstylist "do" me before I went out for the evening gown competition. I came back in, looked in the mirror and could only make little squeaking sounds. She'd given me a teased boufant. I swear. They'd called us and I'd gone running out there--with hair that was taller than I was. OMG.

Claudia, your self confidence is something I SOOOOOO envy. It seems to be a natural part of your life--from you fashion sense to your publishing career. How'd you do that? Were you born that way? Was there a learning curve? I take your comments to heart--this is my philosphy anyhow, but it helps to have others reminding me of it. I'd love to hand my career right over, but I know I can't do it. Thanks for those words.

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Great interview, Caren and Claudia. A good mix of fun stuff and wise advise. Claudia, I love the cover of the new book. I think they did an excellent job artistically.

Claudia Dain said...

I really, really, REALLY believe that having an agent is the way to go. Really. Part of it is that an agent knows the ins and outs of the publishing houses, the various personalities, in a way that you likely don't. I also believe that it's easier to let someone else handle the rough stuff. An agent negotiates contracts if not daily, then weekly. Experience breeds expertise.

If you still want to go agentless and negotiate your own contract, everything is negotiable. The only question is whether they'll negotiate it for *you.* Big question!

The key to any negotiation is your willingness to walk away from the deal. Is it a deal breaker? You have to decide that before you even start. Are you really, really, REALLY willing to walk away from this contract and see the book go unpubbed by this publisher if your demands aren't met?

Most authors aren't, and for good reason. It's hard to get an offer. Most authors will agree to anything to get pubbed.

But at some point, there is a time to know what your personal deal breaker is. It may not be now. But it had better be sometime. Authors who will agree to anything, who will take anything, get very little.

Have I always been this confident? Pretty much. LOL It's not so much confidence as knowing where my line in the sand is. I won't cross it. I won't let you cross it either.

Can you learn it? Absolutely. But you have to be willing to take the hits. Publishing *is* a bloodsport. You're going to get bloody. The point is, are you going to win?

KimW said...

Hi Claudia! Great interview! I think your book sounds so good.

My worst fashion mistake...wearing tight, white, thin cotton pants with an extra long panty liner (sanitary napkin). I was at a party and my sister pulled me aside to tell me that you could see it in the back. Well, there was absolutely nothing I could do about so I quickly became a wallflower. lol

Joan said...

Hello, Claudia. Welcome to the lair!

It's a good thing I got paid today because this weekend I'm going to Borders to buy ALL these books including yours! Can't wait to read it.

I'm all for having an agent but have not yet found the one who LOVES my work enough.I query them on a rotating basis but have decided to also query some editors.

One relatively new agent sent me an out of the blue request for my GH mss. last August. Wanted the full right away...and I've not heard a peep since then. Has not answered three separate status requests..nothing. I pretty much know from this we would not be a good fit.

As to fashion faux pas? Mine happened at a very tender age but it has stuck with me all this time.

I was twelve and having to go into the hospital for spinal surgery. In "those days" you went in the night before. I begged my Mom for this pair of hip hugger/mid-driff pajamas. (I was TWELVE...I didn't HAVE a middriff yet!) But they were cool....had psychedelic "LOVE" and "PEACE" pattern all over it. My Mom gave in because (I think) I was having surgery and if it made me happy.

I thought I was so hot. Then the surgeon's young intern came in to see me. HE was hot (at least to a 12 year old's mind) and I immediately became embarrassed and asked for a hospital gown.


Oh and besides blue eyeshadow don't forget blue cat-eye glasses! I swore I would ALWAYS have blue frames.....

Caren Crane said...

Joanie T, blue cat-eye frames? I want to see a picture! That and Sabrina's Bo Derek braids. Oh, my, we may have to have a Banditas of Yesteryear photo blog one of these Wild Weekends...

Caren Crane said...

Hey, Claudia Dain! Thank you for hanging out with us today. You're a fun chick! The kind of chick I would like to have a long, gossipy lunch with every other week. ;-)

Claudia Dain said...

Thanks for having me, Banditas. I had a rip-roaring good time here. Good luck to all of us in our fashion and our writing!