Tina: You were nominated for 2 RITA’s (the highest honor in romance fiction) this year – once in Paranormal Romance with My Forbidden Desire and once in Regency Historical Romance with Scandal. Those are two very different genres, or are they? Do you find that there are parallels between those two worlds?
Carolyn: My paranormals are set in the present, so on the face of it, the answer should be no. But there’s a reason some people speculate that paranormals have, to some extent, replaced or at the very least, supplemented the power imbalances so often explored in the historical romance. Paranormals that pair a supernatural hero with a human woman certainly encounter such a mismatch. I’d say there are some parallels, but it’s not complete. Even without supernatural powers, a contemporary heroine has far fewer constraints on her behavior socially and sexually.
In my paranormals, I enjoy not having to worry about historical accuracy or language choices. And yet I enjoy exactly that in my historicals!
Tina: I read your Regency Historical Indiscreet which I enjoyed tremendously. The setting was very different from the usual drawing rooms of
Carolyn: Indiscreet ended up being set primarily in the Ottoman Empire, what is today
Tina: Have you been to the locations you write about in Indiscreet, or how did you research the areas in order to convey the authenticity that shines through your writing?
Carolyn: I haven’t been to
There is a scene in the book in which my heroine, Sabine, says that she has seen “the relevant amphorae” speaking of Etruscan and Greek jars that are painted with sexually explicit images. While I have not seen them personally, I have seen Professor Dunn’s photographs of them. Oh, my.
Vacation pictures are not sufficient research however. And boy, I started to panic when I realized my stubborn insistence on keeping the story in England had cost me precious research time. Google Books was invaluable. I downloaded a number of historical accounts of travels in the areas I was using in the story. Google maps was helpful for calculating distances and taking a look at terrain (how steep are the mountains etc.) I also found a couple of excellent reference books and old travelogues that came with surprisingly detailed pictures. Without the Internet I don’t know if I’d have been able to write the book. Though perhaps I would simply have panicked sooner and thus given way to the Turkish setting sooner than I did.
Aside by Tina: Funny you should ask about vacation pictures! I happen to have a couple from Turkey (from 1987!)
|Istanbul - Tina Folsom's two Dutch friends in the foreground (we were all working on a cruise ship at the time)|
|Istanbul - Tina Folsom is the brunette with the hideous haircut! Luckily nobody noticed because they were all looking at my blond friend.|
Tina: Rumor has it that you’re not much into plotting out your books in advance. However, your books seem so well structured and nothing seems out of place. What do you do to make your writing seem so effortless?
Carolyn: I do not plot in advance. I’ve learned that for me, it’s a waste of time. (This does NOT mean it would be a waste of time for someone else.) Whenever I plot in advance, I end up throwing out any chapters I write based on that and NONE of the things I envision ever happen in the pages I actually write. I don’t even try anymore. For me, plot arises from my characters and the way they interact. I have to get them onto the page and see what they say and do. Then I know how to complicate events for them.
It’s not that I do no advance thinking. But I only proceed when I am solid with what I have so far. I restructure as I go along. I do keep a bare bones document that lists the scenes I’ve written so far, maybe two or three sentences long for each, and incredibly vague scenes that I might write. They’re really placeholders for things like “action here” and “sexy here” or what have you. I don’t think I’ve ever actually written a scene that’s anything like those vague placeholder scenes. By the time I reach that place in the book, everything is different and something else needs to happen. That list of scenes makes it easy for me to check for story arc.
As I write, I’ll often get this little flash of—let’s call it writer’s intuition-- along the lines of , “Carolyn, honey, this scene right here in the middle of chapter 5 is actually the real chapter 1.” I am learning that I need to pay attention to that little voice. It’s almost always right and the sooner I address that issue, the better. Then I fix my MS and reorder my scene list and check for arc again. It’s scary because there’s often another voice that says, “What are you thinking? If you do that, you will have a problems X, Y and Z and you you’ll have to delete chapter 3.” The correct response for me is, “Yes.” Those problems always solve themselves or go away, and usually very quickly if not immediately. At about 50-60,000 words, I no longer need the scene list and rarely, if ever, refer to it after that.
The seemingly scary, chaotic process is exactly what sparks off what needs to happen next. I go and layer in the foreshadowing of new and developments, and that, in turn, deepens the story. For me, this never happens with outlines or any kind of deliberate plotting. It only happens when I am in the pages, immersing myself in the story.
I have tried doing all the things that plot in advance types describe, all the neat charts, long notes, extensive outlines, blocking out scenes on post-its and the like and even with 70 pages of scene outline, as soon as I sit down the write, something else entirely happens on the pages. And that’s true even if I skip all the plot-in-advance work.
Other writers will find my process just as impenetrable as I find the plot-in-advance methods. But, if you’re trying to plot in advance and it’s not resulting in an exciting, completed book, then I’d say it’s time to try something different.
Tina: Your agent is Kristin Nelson. How did you attract her attention, and what is your working relationship like?
Carolyn: Well, the short answer is that I queried her, sent her the requested sample material and when she was interested in my work, spoke with her at length about what I was looking for in an agent and my career. She was interviewing me, too, I’m sure.
Tina: Most writers have critique partners they work with. Do you work together with other authors to make each other’s books better, and if yes, what genres do they write in?
Carolyn: No, I don’t work with critique partners, mostly because I’m always writing under deadline and there’s no point in sending early drafts to anyone. I know those are terrible and besides, by the time I got feedback, it’s highly likely that I would have already completely revised the pages. By the time I have something decent, I’m so close to deadline I would need feedback in 3-4 days.
Tina: What other books are on the horizon for you?
Carolyn: In 2011, the next two books in my paranormal series will be out. My Immortal Assassin will be out in January 2011 and My Dangerous Pleasure will be in bookstores in June 2011. I have two historicals that are scheduled for 2012.
Tina: Many thanks for your time and willingness to share your writing process with me and my readers.
Carolyn Jewel's website: Carolyn Jewel
Carolyn Jewel's blog: Carolyn's Blog
Carolyn Jewel on Facebook: Carolyn Jewel Facebook
Carolyn Jewel's author page on Amazon.com: Amazon Author Page
Carolyn Jewel is giving away autographed copies of the first two books in her paranormal series to one reader: My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire.
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