Michael Murphy is one of my favorite male authors! I was lucky enough to be published at the same house as him years ago. All of his books are such page turners that I find myself really burning the midnight oil. Here's what he said when I picked his brain!
What am I working on? After my Woodstock novel, Goodbye Emily, I returned to my mystery roots with The Yankee Club, the first in a series set during the prohibition era. It will be released by Random House Alibi August 12. It’s a fun series, inspired by The Thin Man movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy. There are gangsters, speakeasies, dames, you get the picture. The main characters are Jake Donovan, a former gumshoe turned mystery writer, and the love of his life, Laura Wilson, a Broadway actress. They encounter, among others, Cole Porter, Babe Ruth, Dashiell Hammett and Ethel Merman.
Random House Alibi has picked up the option for three more Jake and Laura mysteries. The second in the series, All That Glitters, finds Jake and Laura moving to Hollywood after Laura lands her first movie role. It’s 1933, Tinsel Town’s naughtiest and bawdiest year yet. I’ve finished All That Glitters, except for the copyediting, and to finally answer your question, I’m working on the third in the series that takes place in Hawaii and involves Amelia Earhart. The title is Wings in the Dark.
How does my work differ from others of its genre? Many people will assume because of the time period involved that The Jake and Laura series is Noir fiction, or classic mysteries written during the thirties. What separates the Jake and Laura series is the humor and romance between Jake and Laura.
Why do I write what I do? I love talking to readers who’ve read my books. They tell me they enjoy my stories that take them to a place, or time, whether it’s Woodstock or New York during Prohibition. When writing a mystery, I sprinkle humor and romance into the suspense and the formula seems to work with the readers who’ve read my books.
How does your writing process work? I learned early on with my first novel that the most important task in writing a successful novel is rewriting it. On a first draft, I don’t worry too much if the characters aren’t fleshed out or the setting isn’t quite vivid enough. I fix that in draft two, or twenty.
Writing a series is more complex. I complete detailed character biographies before I begin each novel. I may only use a portion of that bio, but the information helps me know the characters before I start writing. In a series, I often find myself referring back to a particular character bio to remind myself how many siblings a character had, or what color of eyes they have. It’s one of the most valuable writing tools I use.
The Yankee Club
What am I working on? Currently I am working on a series of short contemporary romances about four single women who live in Los Angeles and meet for lunch every Tuesday. The series will be called One Unforgettable Night and each is about a one-night stand which ultimately leads to one true love. The first, One Night with a Stranger, will be a freebie. The others are: One Night with a Fantasy, One Night with an Obsession, and One Night with the Best Man. This is the first time I’ve (intentionally) written a series, and I’m having fun writing the first story and getting to know all of the characters who will eventually wind up with books of their own.
How does my work differ from others of its genre? Although Romance and Realism are by definition, opposites, I like my stories and my characters grounded in reality. More than just escapism, I want the reader to finish my books thinking, This could happen. Hey, this could happen to me. As a card-carrying cynic, I have a difficult time suspending my disbelief when I read, so I don’t write paranormal, sci-fi, or urban fantasy. I like to write about real people with real problems who manage to overcome them because love isn’t just the stuff of fairy tales. It’s what makes the world go round.
Why do I write what I do? I am a character writer. I love to write about relationships—family, friends, but especially romantic relationships. Even my women’s fiction novels always have at least one love story. I love dialogue. As a child, I never played with baby dolls. Babies don’t talk. My dolls always talked to each other, creating whole stories, and I suppose that’s what got me started writing. I enjoy the verbal sparring between the characters. Description, not so much. The first draft of my books usually contains naked people in empty rooms. I have to add those details later.
How does your writing process work? The characters come first. I might have a general situation for the book in mind, but I can’t start writing until I know my characters well. I just let them simmer in my mind for weeks, months, sometimes longer. When the opening sentence comes to me, I’m ready to start writing. I’ll write the first few chapters and send it to my critique partners, who help me plot the major turning points. THEN I make my spreadsheet. I used to write the entire first draft by the seat of my pants, then go back and analyze and organize it. That process made for horrendous rewrites. Now I start my spreadsheet a few chapters in, a line for each scene, with a short description of what happens in that scene. I keep a timeline of what day it is, a column for point of view, pages counts of scenes and chapters. Also the ending line (hook) of each scene. That and the page counts help me decide where to break the chapters. I send a chapter at a time to my critique partners, then when I’ve finished the first draft and revised it, I send the whole book to a beta reader (someone who hasn’t read any of the book). Then I read it myself one more time in one sitting, or as short a time frame as I can manage, to make sure the edits haven’t left out something important, or gotten the plot development out of order. Format, and publish.
Pamela Stone is another fellow Plotting Princess and her books are so much fun! Check out her answers!
What am I working on? Great question. I’m finally working on a trilogy that has been bouncing around in my mind for years. I’ve plotted the books and even re-plotted the first one a couple times. I jokingly call it the non-brother trilogy. Three very different hunks, uh, I mean men, who all coincidentally have the same father. However they only learn of the father’s duplicity and the other two brothers’ existence after their father is killed in a car accident. Set in various parts of California, each book is a love story, but also resolves a piece of the father’s mystery. So you have to read all three to figure out what the guy was really up to and learn his love story. So you get four romances for the price of three, sort of. Ha.
I’m approximately a third of the way through the first book, but I’m having a blast.
How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre? Whoa! Hmm, thinking. I had an editor tell me once that at least 60% of the story should be in the heroine’s point of view. I could easily write a book with 60% or more in the hero’s point of view. I’m a bit of a tomboy and always hung out with guys, so I like to write in their heads. But I have to completely understand each of my main characters’ backgrounds and their family relationships, prior romances, etc. I enjoy forcing at least one main character in each book to deal with their past demons so they are able to grow and move forward with their future. And it’s really fun when I can pick on both of them. Ooops, does that make me sound like I torture my characters? Just a little. But whatever you call my style, I am 110% character driven.
Why Do I Write What I Do? Because it’s just what I do. I’ve made up stories from as far back as I remember. Sometimes they were fan fiction, but mostly I loved creating my own characters. Probably a symptom of that control freak in me. I can be in total control of the characters and what happens. I love contemporary romance. It’s what I read. It’s what I enjoy watching at a movie or on TV. There is so much novel fodder in everyday life, I feel like it’s coming at me from all angles. Song lyrics, a line of dialogue in a movie (or my head), snippets of conversation I overhear. A slogan on a tee shirt in the mall that makes me stop and think. Settings. Oh man do I love settings, especially beaches. Setting is like another character to create.
How Does Your Writing Process Work? Not sure I have an actual process. I start with an idea, usually for a character, and let it simmer for a bit. When I feel like I have enough to go on, I meet with my two critique partners and try to plot it out on a white board. At a minimum, we come out with the basic turning points, which I put into a word document in bullet form. Then I fill in more bullets. Once it starts getting complicated, I sometimes transfer the info to a spreadsheet and add columns to help track different things. One might be romance. POV is a given. Another might be clues if there is a mystery involved. One might even be day of the week/month/etc. I’ve even added one for weather before as it played into the story. If there is a secondary plot, that shows up. As things come to me, I add them to my spreadsheet in the proper place so I don’t forget. I then shade the cells as I write them so I know what has been included or not. It’s a bit of trial and error with me. Differs slightly from book to book.
I have one habit that drives my critique partners nuts though. I am not linear. Once I get the basic story down, if a particular scene is in my head, I write it. I may be on page 3 and the ending comes to me. I write it while it’s in my head, then go back and work on the rest.
Please stop by next Monday, April 14 for Jillian Burns and her answers. Alisha has also agreed to host her right here on her blog.
Coming up next is my very sweet friend, Pam Yakel! She's a writer who is dear to my heart! Here's what she said when I picked her brain about her tempting stories!
What am I Working on? I am currently working on book 4 of my paranormal series, Dhampir Blood. The series is about a Dhampir family that live in a small town and do their best to fit in without being found out. I'm also working on another paranormal. This one little different. Haven't worked out all the details, but the characters have already taken shape and have been telling me their story. So, it's starting. A new world for me to explore.
How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre? I'd like to believe my stories are unique. Lol I write paranormal, But tend to stay on the lighter side. For me, family ties are important, so I try to bring a tight family bond into my stories.
Why Do I Write What I Do? I'm drawn to the paranormal. I have always been a sci fi freak. Where most people like living in this world, I'd choose another. When I write I get to live in the paranormal world. I love creating different worlds and making my own rules. I love, gods, and shape shifters, and vampires. My newest love is dhampirs. Hence my series Dhampir Blood. I am currently working on book four, waiting for edits and my cover on book three. One and two are already available through amazon. While book five sits in the back of my head.
How Does Your Writing Process Work? I fly by the seat of my pants. I've tried the conventional way....plotting, outlining, and so on. Finding that beginning, middle and end, but for me it always changes. And usually changes dramatically. My characters know who they are and what they want, regardless of how I feel. So, I get an idea and just take it from there.
Hi Alisha! Thank you for tagging me to blog about my writing process. I find it fun to read how other authors' come up with story ideas and how much we have in common, or not as the case may be.
What am I working on? I'm finishing edits on the 4th book in the Draconia Tales series. This one features Jamie (who in the other stories was a child, but is now grown and ready to find his mate) and Parker, a detective from our world. What happens when the one you love lives in another dimension? Stay tuned to find out!
I'm also working on a contemporary fantasy series that isn't a romance, although it does have romantic elements. This series features a nurse empath who discovers a magical bracelet that gives her demon-slaying powers. Needless to say, she's not too happy about her new powers and even less happy to be followed by sexy hunk who may or may not have her best interests at heart. A reader at my publishing house described it as a cross between Laurel K Hamilton, Kim Harrison and Janet Evanovich, which is a proud moment for me to even be anywhere close to those ladies! Can you tell I'm really excited about this series?
How does my work differ from others in this genre? Wow, this is a hard one. When I first started writing about dragon shifters, there weren't many others out there. Now they seem to be everywhere.
Why do I write what I do? This one's easy. I love living in another world, a world filled with magic. Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed reading books that dealt with magic or the paranormal or things that go bump in the night. Things that are unseen by most people, but not all people. I've always wanted to live where, with a wave of your hand, the house becomes clean. Wouldn't that be awesome? Those magical or paranormal types of books fascinated me. They still do, but now I can write my own twists into them. Fun!
How does your writing process work? Good question. Sometimes I wonder if it does work.
If you'd like a sample of my writing, you're in luck! I have two new books out now, After the Moon Rises, a werewolf anthology, and Dragon Lover, the third book in the Draconia Tales trilogy. Here are the blurbs for each:
Werewolves in London: Werewolf Vonda Diaz has sworn off men, until she meets sexy rancher, Tom McGowan. Try as she might there is something about him she can't ignore. Determined to keep their relationship professional she finds herself unable to keep her distance. Since his wife died, Tom has no interest in dating, but one look at Vonda and passion ignites. There is something different about her that draws him in. What he can't understand is why his dog finds her so fascinating. When Tom's daughter is kidnapped, the two join forces to save her, not realizing the quest will unlock hidden mysteries. Will their budding love survive the secrets they discover or will those secrets tear them apart?
Wolf Mates: Margie McLean loves her life just the way it is. As the single Alpha of the London, Montana pack, she leads her wolves and makes her own decisions. When she stumbles upon an injured wolf she has no idea that her quiet life is about to take a dramatic turn. Zane Moskos never imagined that the mission his tryranical alpha sent him on would lead him to his mate. Now he is faced with the choice of defying the man who holds his sister hostage or losing the woman that fate has decreed is his. In order to save his sister and gain his freedom, Zane must convince Margie he can be trusted. Can they work together or will the passion they feel overwhelm them both?
Predicted from birth to be mates, Aryana and Fafnir spent their youth running from each other and pursuing their own dreams. Aryana sought power and magic, while Fafnir escaped to explore other lands and to find a love not dictated by cryptic prophecy.
But after Fafnir is captured and magically locked in his dragon form, he returns to Draconia. Ashamed and broken, he hides his true identity from everyone, hoping Aryana will find a spell that will return him to his human self.
The last thing Aryana needs or wants is to find out her mate still lives-for a mated female cannot be a priestess, let alone the High Priestess. Yet his dragon's presence brings out her true abilities. When opposing dreams collide, will love be the victor?
After the Moon Rises
How is that for some serious Writer Brain Picking? Thoughts? Comments?????
Check out these wonderful authors on their own blogs for more brain picking! Skhye Moncrief on April 7th, Sylvia McDaniel on April 8th, and Sky Purington on April 8th!