Click, click, click…*&^$$$%^
What was that noise? It was pretty late. Even the Aussies should be in bed..or in their pool or off on an exotic Japanese vacation.
“Stop it! I don’t want you two making out right now! We have conflict to resolve!” a frustrated voice growled.
Curious, the Duchesse followed the sounds of plotting out the corridor, turned right and headed down the auxiliary tunnel. Funny, she thought, this was the secret passage to the cabana boys locker room but the noises coming from behind the golden door at the end were not the usual…um, noise one heard.
Ever the RS author, she grasped her Coke bottle by the neck. Hey, it wasn’t C4 but it could do some damage…and with less calories. Slowly she opened the door and stared.
Eight Banditas sat hunched over keyboards. The clacking was deafening, the only light in the room shone from their computer screens. “Hey guys,” she said, strolling in “What’s up?”
Eight Bandita heads shot up. “You scared us, Duchesse,” said Caren, “And that’s not easy to do with with KJ and Cassondra and their arsenal.”
“Sorry,” she answered, abashed. “But it’s late. What are you doing up?
“We’re creating brilliant novels,” replied Suz, stroking the bunny in her lap.
“Yeah,” piped up Joanie T, signaling to Demetrius to bring her another glass of sangria, “We’re AYU-As Yet Unpublished-but we’re working our butts off to get there.”
Jeanne, frowned, pulls up a chair and sat down. “Yeah, I don’t get that. Ya’ll are great writers. We should be seeing your book covers on the sidebar.”
“Perseverance,” said Anna S. tossing Nancy a hockey puck. “Keep at it till the right editor and agent recognize what they…and the publishing world... have been missing. We are the next best thing!”
“It’s hard to hang in there,” admitted Jo aka JoMama, grabbing a dark chocolate kiss from a jar marked ‘Perseverance’ “but there’s an old saying “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
Nancy tossed the puck to the dragon who chased it like a dog. “Adding boom helps a lot,”
“It does,” agreed Cassondra, molding a lump of C4 into a tiny cabana boy, “And staying in the chair on track does too.”
“Research,” added KJ, “Lots of trips and top notch conferences fuel our determination."
Jeanne nodded. “We’ve all been there, done that. What's the first story you ever wrote?"
Caren: My first story was about a Highlander-obsessed sword-wielding Wal-Mart worker who lived on her parents' screened-in porch. It had less than no chance in New York, but it was hilarious.
Suz: Mine was REFUGE. My writing wasn't bad, but over the years I've improved my craft, so a few years back I went back to this story, because I loved it so much, rewrote it and am now featuring it on my blog as a serial book...one chapter a week! (Talk about torturing your readers!!)
Anna: My first romance was ‘Paws for Love’, about an ex-business woman who runs a cattery and who has to go back to work in business to save it. The hero is a customer and the owner of the business she joins. Very Special Edition
Nancy: If we're moving beyond the crayon stage, the first
story I remember writing was science fiction about a girl who saved a Mars colony from alien attack by building a giant space mirror. Highly improbable, dreadfully flawed science, and a definite wish fulfillment heroine, but I enjoyed writing it. My first complete book-length fantasy was about mages saving a kingdom threatened by dark magic.
Jo: When I was fourteen I wrote a story about a high school reunion. Of course, the heroine had turned from ugly duckling to beautiful swan and the hero was immediately attracted to her, wondering how he’d missed her clever wit and graceful beauty ten years ago!
KJ I’ve always loved books that can make me laugh, so I tried my hand at a romantic comedy about a flagging furniture company headed by an feisty wheelchair-bound octogenarian. A romance bloomed between his designer granddaughter and a Greek marketing guru they hired to rescue the bottom line. Needless to say, that novel will never see daylight—too many references to Cleopatra couches and tiger-striped lamps. Also, Grandpa completely stole the show! But the experience of writing was so much fun that I was hooked.
Joan: Does a parody of “The Little Matchstick Girl” called “The Little Flashlight Girl count”? No? Ok, well my first focused manuscript was my 2006 GH entry Roman historical, “The Patrician’s Desire.” It was my learning manuscript and it took a while to get it molded into shape. I had to…the hero Jared wouldn’t LET me put him under the bed :-)
Cassondra: The first story? Oh, man…I dunno if I can remember back that far. I remember one in the sixth grade. It was based on one of the color plates in my Literature textbook. A couple of guys from pre-Revolutionary War days. They were in a canoe and it looked like they were running trap lines (for fur trade) and I wrote a story about them. After that, there were too many to count. Focused, book-length fiction? It was the story which, after a whole bunch of incarnations, became the manuscript that finaled in the Golden Heart.
Jeanne picked up the mimosa that had suddenly appeared in front of her. Man, those cabana boys could be sneaky. “Wow, those all sound great! Hmm…since it’s late and I have a mimosa and you’re all taking a break, let me give you another question. Let’s talk about the really yummy stuff. Who is your favorite hero, in film and why?
Caren: My favorite film hero is Brendan Fraser's Rick O'Connell in the Mummy movies. He's smart, funny, handsome and swashbuckling PLUS he loves a strong woman. How could I resist?
Suz: My favorite hero in films would be Clive Owen as King Arthur. Oh mama. Makes you want to go all medieval, doesn't he? Strong, handsome, honorable...and boy can he wield a mean sword!
Anna: Oooh tricky question – my instinctive answer is Cary Grant in pretty much any movie. But, I think it should be Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in ‘Tombstone’. A great flawed hero, who tries to do the right thing, even when the odds are against him. I love all the different facets we see of him – brother, family man, husband, gun-slinger, marshall, boy in love.
Nancy That's a toughie. Clive Owen as King Arthur, Viggo
Mortensen as Aragorn, Christopher Reeve as Superman, Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. I can't really pick. For me, a hero has to buckle a mean swash, as it were, and all of them do. The one exception to the swashbuckling mode would be Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Fits all other criteria and was a fabulous dad. And a crack shot when the need arose.
Jo: Way too many to list, but among the top ones are George Clooney (a classy and classic media presence), Gerard Butler (when he’s fit and trim not carrying fifteen extra pounds), and Shia Labeouf (okay I just want to pinch his cheeks and feed him cookies).
KJ: Harrison Ford as Richard Kimball in THE FUGITIVE. The hero had to conquer unbelievable odds (who’d believe that a one-armed man killed his wife???) and he used his ingenuity and intelligence to solve the mystery of the killer. Brilliant writing and plotting coupled with stellar acting from Harrison.
Joan: There are a LOT of heroes from big screen (and little screen) who are favs but when you think about the genre I write in it would have to be Daniel Day Lewis in LOTM. He had everything and the buckskins too, to make a woman fall at his feet….or jump over his shoulder to be carried away from danger…or to his lair :-)
Cassondra: It depends on the day. Today it’s probably Viggo as Aragorn. I like Bill Pullman in “While You Were Sleeping” too. He’s kind of earthy in that movie. Most heroes I fall for are that way. Tomorrow I’ll like somebody else though. I’m like Joanie in that Daniel Day Lewis in LOTM always comes out in the top two. Always. On any day. I don’t much like him in any other films, but he rocked that role.
“Wow, those are all great picks,” Jeanne sighed as Sven came out of the shadows and started massaging her shoulders. “Thank you Sven, that right shoulder...ahhhh, yes. Oh, sorry. Okay, new question, same vein. If you had to cast a current or past star as the hero of your WIP, who would you pick and why?”
Caren: The hero of my WIP (which is more a Mess In Progress now) would be perfectly portrayed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Oh, yes, I DID go there!
Suz: The hero for my current MIP is Shemar Moore. In fact the moment I thought of this hero, I knew Shemar was my inspiration. Love him on Criminal Minds and he can so bring Gabe Danville to life.
Anna: I’m battling with that at the moment. Normally, I have the hunk all picked out. This time, it’s more difficult. My heroine has been likened to Detective Beckett in ‘Castle’. I think I see my hero as kind of Eastern European in looks – like Viggo or Travis Fimmel from The Beast or one of my fave footie players – Nemanja Vidic.
Nancy Also a tough question for me, as I don't ordinarily do this. The hero of my WIP exists in my head, and I don't generally put anyone else's face onto him or onto the heroine. That actually interferes with my vision of the character since the face tends to bring with it the tendencies of the last character I saw that actor portray. However, for purposes of this one blog, I'd pick Christopher Reeve, who's closest in appearance, though not a twin by any means, to the hero I'm working on now.
Jo: Actually, I had my middle son in mind when I wrote Tucker Gage, the haunted Marshal in my historical suspense-thriller WEAK FLESH. Take a look at Tyler with his son Barett and you’ll see why!
KJ Clive Owen. He’s action-oriented, rugged, yet sensitive—and that accent! Do men like him really exist???
Joan: Well, my current WIP is a paranormal and Matt Bomer fits the bill nicely for my image of Ruarc. Mischievous, sensual and ……sigh...magical.
Cassondra: Hmmm. I’m writing in a new-to-me genre right now, and I guess Viggo would fit best, but he really doesn’t look completely like the hero. Nobody does. I don’t know who would look like the hero…he’s sort of a combination of Viggo’s scruffiness mixed with a young Harrison Ford mixed with Brendan Fraser mixed with a 30-year-old Jon Bon Jovi. But way more heroic than any of them. (grin) But I DID find a guy who looks like the hero of the second book in my romantic suspense series. Saulo Melo with about three days worth of beard and longer hair. Slurp.
Jeanne, blinked her eyes, back from the happy place she’d gone to thinking about heroes “Yes, I can see alllll of that. Hmmm. Okay, next question. I think I know the answer, but ya’ll always surprise me. What genre do you say you write, and if there's more than one, what are the others? What genre would you never want to write?”
Caren: Um...I write humorous contemporary romance and some women's fiction. I would love to write mysteries, but I don't think I'm clever enough. I could never, ever write my all-time favorites - Regency- and Victorian-set historical romance. Too much historical detail required!
Suz: I write several genres, American Historical, Western Historical Eroticas (The Surrender of Lacy Morgan has won two erotica contests), Contemporary, Romantic Suspense (both KIDNAPPED and HUNTED finaled in the Golden Heart). Lately I've been playing with a series about nurses and another book for a Contemporary Christmas Fantasy. I don't write Paranormals or YA books. Only because I don't think I could world build for fantasy that well.
Anna: I write contemporary category romance – Special Edition/Supers – like my two GH finalists ‘Love by Bequest’ and ‘Mortgaged Hearts’. I have written a contemporary single title – ‘Gay by Day’ – which did really well in contest, but sadly was a casualty of a changing marketplace and the demise of Queer Eye. I’d planned the second book, ‘Going Straight’ too, which would have been a lot of fun and involved one of my fave progs, Trick my Truck. I also write category romantic suspense/Intrigue and am keeping my fingers crossed for In Safe Hands, which is under editor review. My latest, Past, Imperfect, is more likely to be single title romantic suspense with a time travel element. I would never want to write Inspirationals or erotica, and I’d be uncomfortable with a dark paranormal. I’m unlikely to write anything Scottish or Irish
Nancy: I write romantic suspense, historical and paranormal
romance, and genre fantasy. They're all heavy on boom of some kind or other, and I like action. If we're talking romance alone, I don't have the right mindset for inspirational. I wouldn't want to write literary fiction because it seems to me more focused on beautiful words and sentences and artistic structure than on plot and story and because the endings are so very often dismal. And I'd never want to write horror.
Again, not the right mindset! The current WIP skates the paranormal romance/urban fantasy line.
Jo: I write historical, romantic and mainstream suspense, I’m thinking of dabbling in young adult, and I’d never, EVER want to write sci-fi.
KJ: I write international thrillers. My father worked in telecommunications and I moved a lot while growing up and every country was a different adventure. The travel bug bit and I still love exploring new parts of the world. The combination of intrigue and exotic locales fires me up!
Joan: Historicals are my first love and yes, I bucked convention and dared to set them in Rome. I think there is a great amount of interest among readers for a variety of historical settings. My newest venture, and one that I’m very excited about is a paranormal series with yes, you guessed it, an Irish flavor. I don’t see me writing RS…boom scares me as do maniacal villains…and inspirational.
Cassondra: Until recently I’ve always written romantic suspense, which for me, actually tends more toward the thriller in some manuscripts. But last fall I plotted one historical that I’ve had percolating on the back burner for a long time. I’m now writing a futuristic series. I could absolutely not write romantic comedy because I’m just not funny in that way. Nor could I write inspirational because I can’t keep my characters from doing the nightly naked two-step before the end of the manuscript. I’ve tried. They just won’t cooperate.
An evil grin creased Jeanne’s face.” Of all the research you've done for your writing, which research is most likely to get you in trouble with the FBI? (Or your mother?)”
Caren: I go down a lot of rabbit trails when researching. I was doing a lot of research on the war in Afghanistan and skirmishes the US Marines have had with terrorist combatants. I'm sure I'm on a bunch of watch lists now!
Suz: In my second Romantic Suspense book, HUNTED, I had a scene where the heroine has to know how to field strip a Glock, recognize a shotgun behind a door ambush for the hero and be capable of assembling bombs. Between the online research and my conversation with a local police officer, I'm pretty sure the local and federal law enforcement groups are watching me closely!
Anna: LOL – they’re probably watching me right now! I’m researching murder, poisons, forensics and security devices. I’ve previously researched hockey (up close and personal - oh yeah!), domestic violence and abuse, identity theft and fake identities. I had a lot of fun researching the New York Marble Cemeteries, which will feature in Past, Imperfect, using Google Earth.
Nancy The research most likely to get me into
trouble with the government would probably be the blogs I read on terrorism and the Google searches on various types of weaponry and explosives, but I try not to visit websites where the actual bad guys gather. My mom's dead, so I don't need to worry about her opinion, but I don't think she'd like the weaponry and terrorism research either. When I earned my yellow belt in karate, her response was, "Well, you be careful." So she might worry about these interests.
Jo: Oh, nothing I wrote would get me in trouble with my mother. She was as game for something quirky as anyone. The FBI, hmmm, I really want to stay clear of three-letter acronymic government organizations – IRS, FBI, CIA, DHS – those fellows can really make your life miserable, so I fly very low under the radar in my research.
KJ I wouldn’t be surprised if I have been red flagged for my intensive research on sniper rifles, the French Foreign Legion, and anything that goes boom—in another life, I would have loved to have been a spy!
Joan: Well, I have no idea what the FBI would think about it but my mother would be horrified to know I’ve, er….(sorry Mom) researched …um, stuff in the Kama Sutra. Hey! Just trying to get a er, grasp on things :-)
Cassondra: Hmmm. This is a tough one. All the government agencies have already looked up my fanny with a microscope a few times and I think they’ve determined that I’m not a threat. Except the IRS. I do not want their attention, so I behave myself and do regular sacrificial ceremonies in worship of my accountant.
I will say that I’ve recently begun trying to find out how to poison somebody and how much of a given drug it would take to commit suicide or kill someone, and I’m having trouble because I can’t get any pharmacists to cooperate with that, and I really do need to know this stuff. Honestly now. Look at me. Do I look the least bit untrustworthy?
I’ve interviewed everybody from the head of the regional drug task force to the doc in charge of a drug rehab to the FBI’s expert on gangs and occult practices. I sleep with my own resource for weapons, explosives, and black ops, so anybody who makes a list already knows me well. If I ever disappear, y’all send help. And three or four good lawyers.
“Banditas,” Jeanne said, draining her third mimosa, “It’s got to happen soon! You’ve got great stories, industry smarts and the drive to get it done. Not to mention the considerable support of the rest of the Bandits and the BB’s!”
“Thanks, Duchesse!” Joanie said, Googling Irish male models. “Now, we gotta get back to work.”
“Right,” replied Jeanne, weaving out of the room.
A loud boom sounded as she closed the door. “Shite, will ye get that blathering mess out of here!” Shouted an Irish accented voice. Another yelled “Rabbit! Somebody catch that rabbit!”
Jeanne smiled. Man, she couldn’t wait for these books to come out!
What about you? What questions would you like to ask the AYU Banditas? About their work, their stories?