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!