True Colors (second in the True trilogy) | Berkley Sensation | Paranormal romantic suspense | Jan. 4, 2011
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TRUE COLORS, coming out on Jan 4, is the second in my True trilogy (also known as my Truelogy), following TRUE VISION way back in June. TRUE COLORS is the story of Alex Trudeau, who picked up an intense, but sometimes awesome, psychic ability when she was shot after being mistaken for her sister in TRUE VISION. If Alex touches someone, her psychic ability sends her careening into a traumatic event from that person's past, where she feels and sees everything the person felt and saw at the time of the event as if it actually happened to her. Not fun. Her ability has a major impact on her budding relationship with police detective John Logan. See, Logan is haunted by a tragedy from his past, and that tragedy is related to a serial killer who wants revenge. Unfortunately, said serial killer focuses on Alex as a way to make Logan pay, and when the killer kidnaps her, her psychic ability shows her the things in his past that made him a madman. So not only are Logan and Alex racing against time to stop a killer, but they're also faced with the challenge of preserving Alex's sanity. Luckily, there's some hot romance along the way. TRUE CALLING is up next, in December, and it stars the third Trudeau sister, Sam, who's a spy for a covert unit of the government.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would totally add more sex. You can never have enough sex. In a book, I mean. Or in general.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have so many favorites. Linda Howard, Tami Hoag, Christy Reece, Karen Marie Moning, just to name a few. Some of their novels are pretty dark and twisted, so I'm thinking that's what draws me to them. TRUE COLORS is also quite dark and twisted at times, so I blame them. Oh, and Suzanne Collins, who wrote "The Hunger Games" trilogy. Talk about dark. Luckily, I also love Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jenny Crusie. I count on the humor in their books to drag me out of the depths of despair caused by the dark stuff I like.
Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely, with a capital D. That's been my goal since I first started writing as a teenager. Then, I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but I had a very wise father, who implored me to have a backup plan so I could do things like eat and pay rent. So while I wrote for fun, I also worked on getting a journalism degree so I'd have a paycheck until my writing could provide some income.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In February 1982, I read "Rage of Angels" by Sidney Sheldon. The ending is not happy, but the twists and turns of the story really inspired me. I closed that book and heaved a sigh, because I was so moved. And, then, my light-bulb moment: "I want to write something that makes people feel the way I feel right now," I thought. I immediately rescued my dad's electric typewriter from the basement, rolled in a blank piece of paper and, still in my PJs, started writing my first novel. It sucked! Big surprise. But I kept writing and writing and writing, in the process honing my skills over the years, until I was finally able to produce something that a publisher wanted to publish.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read, read, read and then read some more. I read a book for two reasons. One, to escape from real life for a while. Yay! And two, to see how the writer handles the story differently than I would. I especially love it when a plot development catches me by surprise. Like most writers, I pretty much see things coming. If a story surprises me, then I take a closer look to see how she/he did it and how I might do something similar. The latest book that surprised the wee out of me is "Catching Fire," the second in "The Hunger Games" trilogy. I listened to the audio version, and when a particular twist happened, I exclaimed, "Oh my God!" I was alone in the car and admit to having talked back to audio books in the past, but I'd never had this kind of reaction. When the character thought, "I didn't see that coming," I shouted back: "Neither did I!" So now I'm trying to figure out how the author caught me by surprise and how I might do something similar in my own writing. I guess that's a long way of saying: Everything you read is a potential learning tool. So the more you read, the more you're exposed to the myriad ways to tell your story. I would also highly recommend that anyone who wants to write a novel visit nanowrimo.com to learn about National Novel Writing Month. In November, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide vow to write their own 50,000-word novel in 30 days. The reason it works: You don't have time to go back and edit and second-guess what you write. All you have time for is plowing through the story to the end. Yes, it won't be in the best shape when you're done (in fact, it'll be downright sucky), but the goal is to have a complete story, thus proving to yourself that you CAN finish writing a book. Then you go back and fix it -- after you've recovered from writing a book in a month. I've participated in NaNoWriMo several times. In fact, part of the third book in my Truelogy, TRUE CALLING, was written during NaNoWriMo.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
I have a family full of Baptist preachers, so you'd think there'd be some red faces since I write pretty hot romance and my heroes tend to have potty mouths. But, nope. My family is incredibly supportive and everyone has always shown their enthusiasm by telling their friends about my books every chance they get. They also read my books, which I love. I can tell that they actually do -- they're not just saying that -- because they'll ask me specific questions about characters or plots. They also can be brutally honest, because what can I do about it? We're family. It's not like I can unfriend them on Facebook and get away with it. (Not that I would, just for the record.)
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
I wish I could write full time, but for now I have a job that pays the bills. I'm a copy editor at a major newspaper. The good news is that my newspaper profession relates to writing, so the more I edit other people's stories, the more I learn ways to improve my own. I also totally appreciate the copy editors who edit my manuscripts. They catch the best stuff!
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I do both. In the beginning, I sketch a loose outline and make some notes about the characters and key scenes and where I see the plot going. Then I dive in and let the characters lead the way. I've learned repeatedly that if I try to tell the characters what to do, they slap me down pretty quick. It's their story, and they're going to let it unfold their way or forget it. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to force them to do what I want only to end up acquiescing in the end and doing it their way only to discover afterward that they were right all along. Not sure when I'll learn not to argue with them.
Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it.
My favorite object would be what I call "the soundtrack" of the book I'm writing. I very carefully pick the music I'll listen to while I'm writing, and it's different for each book. For TRUE COLORS, I listened to the soundtrack of the second season of the most recent "Battlestar Galactica." The music is perfect for the dark, haunting mood of the story. I put the music on repeat on my iPod and listened to it over and over and over. I never got tired of it, because it became a part of the story. "Soundtracks" I've chosen for other books include music from the movies "Crash" and "The Fountain." Usually, the music doesn't have words, but there are exceptions: Minnie Driver's album "Everything I've Got in My Pocket" was the soundtrack for TRUE VISION. And a collection of Josh Groban songs suited my writing mood for my first Berkley novel, COLD MIDNIGHT. For TRUE CALLING, I listened to a lot of mellow piano music by David Lanz and Suzanne Ciani, which, now that I think about it, is kind of weird, because the book isn't the least bit mellow.
Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing?
I don't really have much of a ritual. I've trained myself to be able to write wherever I happen to be, whether it's my home office, Starbucks or sitting in the airport waiting for a flight. I pretty much lug a laptop with me wherever I go. I've also managed to learn how to pick up right where I left off in a manuscript without losing too much time getting re-acclimated to the rhythm and mood. Sometimes I even stop writing in the middle of a sentence, then pick it back up later. That's probably because I grab as many writing minutes as I can, rather than trying to set aside a certain amount of time every day. If I have ten minutes before I leave for work, I can hammer out at least a couple of paragraphs. This is why the question "When do you find time to write?" sometimes takes me a few seconds to answer. Writing has become such an ingrained part of my life that I don't really notice when it happens or for how long. Unless I spend ten hours on a Saturday at my desk, of course. Then I'm a big whiner. So, long story long, I suppose my ritual is that I have no ritual. Does that make sense?
What main genre do you write in?
Romance, Suspense / Mystery
Thanks so much, Night Owl Romance, for asking such great questions and being so supportive of the romance genre. You guys rock!