Friday, February 22, 2008

Christina Dodd answers "Can't you make up your mind?"

I have published twenty-six full-length historicals, five (soon to be six) contemporary romantic suspenses, and two (soon to be four) paranormals, not to mention five stories for anthologies.

Occasionally I get a letter from one of my dedicated readers who want to know — Can’t you make up your mind?

Well, it’s this way.

Before I was published I wrote both contemporary and historical.

The first book I wrote (not published, but wrote) was a historical, probably 200,000 words long (my current books are 80,000 words – honey, I was writing GONE WITH THE WIND) set in … um, never mind. Anyway, it featured volcanoes and an earthquake and a smallpox epidemic and a Spanish landowning hero tortured by the inequities of the Colonial system. I wrote on that thing for six years, but that book taught me how to plot, put words together, express emotion, illustrate character growth. It was a great learning experience, but I could never sell that book mostly because it was set in … um, never mind.

After finishing that tome, I wrote a contemporary series book (about the size of a Silhouette Desire.) That took me six months. I could never sell that one, either.

I wrote my second historical (set in Medieval England, by God!), sent it to an agent who said she could sell it, and immediately started a contemporary because by then I’d been writing for ten years, wracked up enough rejection letters to paper my office, and believed publication would happen about the time it snowed in hell.

Apparently Satan was wearing an overcoat because the agent sold CANDLE IN THE WINDOW in two weeks (on Friday February 2, 1990 at 3:30pm, not that I marked the calendar or anything). While I was waiting for the contracts to come through, I finished the contemporary and sold LADY IN BLACK to Kismet, a short-lived but very profitable mail order publishing company. There are still copies of LADY IN BLACK floating around, and while it’s dated (it features a dot-matrix printer) some things are eternal – like the sex in the shower. Very steamy.

Then for years I concentrated on historicals. Still I read historicals and contemporaries, and when paranormals became popular, I read them, and I always intended to write more contemporaries. When I got the idea for the Lost Texas Hearts Series (JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE and CLOSE TO YOU), I knew I had the perfect vehicle, and my contemporary career was off and running. My current contemporary series is called the Fortune Hunters, and THIGH HIGH (March 2008) is the third book in that series.

So I was published in historicals and contemporaries. You’d think that was enough — and what happens?

While I watched FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, one of my favorite movies of all time, I analyzed why the story worked for me. (Analyzing stories is one of the things I do — it drives my kids crazy when we’re watching a film and I announce, “That was foreshadowing.” But what was I put on this earth for except to annoy my kids?) I love Tevye's dedication to his traditions, and the story is riveting as, slowly, everything he believed in is overturned by change. Everything, that is, except what mattered the most -- his family and the bedrock of his faith.

At the same time, I was analyzing why vampire romances worked so well. I decided a vampire is the ultimate alpha hero. When he mates with a woman, he can either give her the best sex of her life — or kill her. But a vampire has constraints — daylight, crosses and garlic can harm them, and a skilled hunter can stake them.

I daydreamed about heroes who were invincible … and at that moment, something happened. It's a little vague in my mind, but I remember a blinding flash of light, the two ideas meshed, and I had the concept for a four-book paranormal series featuring a family who immigrates from Russia and who just happens to be fearless, invincible shapeshifters.

I had to write Darkness Chosen. I was born to write Darkness Chosen.

Can’t I make up my mind? God, I hope not. I love the unpredictable process of creation, of discovering new worlds inside my brain and stumbling on new stories to write. I love exploring all the aspects of romance, all the ways a man and a woman fall in love, the bold kisses, the shy kisses, love-making in the forest, love-making on the beach, love-making (gasp!) in bed. Romance is amazing in its variety, and it’s the variety that keeps me writing (and reading.)

What about you? How many years have you been reading romance? What kind of romance do you read? Do you read more than one kind of romance? The kind of books that sell in big numbers has changed; have you changed your romance reading habits along with the market?

Visit Christina's website for excerpts and book videos!

Christina's upcoming release is scheduled to hit shelves on March 4, 2008. THIGH HIGH is book three in her highly acclaimed Fortune Hunter series!


Ann M. said...

Well. I started reading romance in my teens but took a break with high school and university. Returned to reading romances with a passion 3 or 4 years ago.

I was drawn back in by contemporary romance. I read all types. I would say historical were lower down on my list but I just read Anne Gracie's The Stolen Princess and was enchanted. I am heavier on romantic suspense and contemporary but am an equal opportunity reader of good romances with a HEA.

Pat Cochran said...

I began reading early in life and
am still going strong! My reading
history includes: The Secret Garden, Lamour, Grey, Woodiwiss, McBain, Lindsay, Heyer, Cartland, Stewart, all the early Mills and
Boon authors, all the early Harlequin authors to present day. Today: Contemporary Romances, Historical Romances, Regencies, Romantic Mysteries and Suspense. Special favorites are The Secret
Garden, Debbie Macomber's Angel stories, Candice Hern's Regency
Romances, Cheryl Kaye Tardif's
Whale Song, Terry McLaughlin's
Maybe Baby. To be totally honest,
there are few authors that I do
not care for! I am a voracious
reader, I always have a book or
two within reach.

Pat Cochran

Gigi said...

HI Christina,
So your kids think you were put on this earth to torment them. Me too! My kids when I talk through a movie. Asking them questions why they theink a character might be doing what they are doing. LOL
They hate it and give me the evil eye.

I started reading Romance in 1981.
(I was 17 and had just graduated High School)
My first Romance book was Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small. I started out reading only historical for a good long while.
If the historical had a Pirate for the hero that just made it all the better.

I even have an autographed copy hardback copy of your book Some Enchanted Evening. I bought it from Barnes and Noble in Tallahassee, Florida. I don't know how they got an autographed version, but they had one there for sale. It is a wonderfully sweet story of lost princesses.
I saw where you dedicated the books to your daughters.Shannon and Arwen, the name Arwen sounds straight out of a historical romance book.

Some of my favs....
Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts,Susan Squires, Alexa Darin, Kate Walker, Jane Porter, Johanna Lindsey, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jennelle Denison, Carly Phillips, Sherrilyn Kenyon....the list goes on and on. I read just about anything.
It really is according to the mood I am in.

Cryna said...

I have been reading for years. And yes my reading has changed over the years. I used to read historicals for the longest while and the contemporary romances.

Then I moved away from the historicals for whatever reason - I am not sure, and have been reading the contemporary romances with suspense. I have a lot of favourite must buy authors, and I do read paranormal but the lighter ones. As long as there is a HEA I am usually a happy camper.

Virginia said...

I have been reading for close to 40 years. Historical is still my favorite. I do read others, some paranormal, mestory, and a little of everything. There is just not as many historical now. I miss that.

Dina said...

I remember staring when I was a younger.

After a long time, I have started to read again.

I enjoy all kinds of romance but truly enjoy paranormal and historical first.

Jane said...

I've been reading romance for 15 years. I like many genres, especially romantic suspense and paranormals. I never used to like paranormals, but since they've gotten so popular I was compelled to pick one up and I've been hooked ever since.

Karen H in NC said...

I've been reading since forever but historicals almost exclusively since the early '70s. My reading tastes haven't really changed in that historicals are still my favorite. I have shifted in my preference of time periods. In the past, I read more American Revolution/Colonial and Antebellum era books. Now I prefer the Regency period more.

I do throw in the occasional romantic suspense and mystery or two. In that vein, I highly recommend 'Double Abduction' by Chris Beakey. Nail biter for sure. If I read a paranormal, it will probably a historical/vampire book.

I recently acquired a reissued copy of your book 'Priceless'. Don't know why I haven't purchased it before. I thought I had all of your books.

I'm reading 'Noble Intentions' by Katie MacAlister and it is hilarious. I can't remember when I have laughed and giggled so much when reading a book.

Oh, and Christina, you said the legs on the cover of 'Trouble in High Heels' were yours. Are those your legs also on the cover of 'Thigh High'?

Maureen said...

I enjoy all types of romances. It just depends on my mood. I started reading them in high school. I didn't read much when my children were little but once I wasn't reading bedtime stories anymore I went back to reading romances and found that there were so many different types to choose from.

Joan said...

I have been reading almost all my life. I enjoy all types of books but historicals and romantic suspense are my favorites. Your books are great.