Monday, October 28, 2013
Please welcome my guest Yolanda Renee, romantic suspense author of Murder, Madness & Love, the sequel Memories of Murder. Take it away Yolanda . . .
As with most writers, I've been at it pretty much since I first picked up a pencil. My favorite classes always involved writing, including my Master's program. Give me a writing assignment and I'm all over it! It's one reason I love flash fiction challenges.
When it comes to writing style, I'm a pantster and a plotter. An idea forms and I will sit and write for however long it takes to get it out of my head. And I'm talking about all the characters, their voices, descriptions, and even dialogue–pantster. When on a project I can be very single minded.
My first story came to me in a continuous flow, and took thirty-six hours to get down on paper. It's about a young woman who writes a novel about the mysterious disappearance of her mother. The book is to be made into a movie, and the author/antagonist is asked to be a consultant. During the filming they solve the mystery, and romance blooms between the author and the actor/detective. That story is still sitting in a file drawer. A good mystery requires intricate details, timing, and critical clues; and that's where plotting is vital.
I'm lucky that my family puts up with all my bad writing habits. Although they sometimes resent the lack of food on the table or the absence of clean towels in the linen closet, they are supportive. Of course, that may be because I'm the only one who can cook, who cares about a clean organized house, and the only one who knows how to use the washer and dryer. It's so good to be needed!
I'm also partial to a happy ending. Growing up in a very dysfunctional family will do that. My mother had seven pregnancies and five children by the time she was twenty-five. Married at the age of sixteen, her life was hell and her parenting skills reflected that. I was out and on my own at the age of seventeen, and determined that I would have that happy ending for my own life. I've had too many bad endings not to want the happy in my fantasy life!
I'm still working toward that end, and my writing reflects that. Although I've sometimes thought that my obsession with murder was a reflection of my own dark side – an overly sweet disposition hiding a true serial killer. Okay, not true; but I couldn't resist! I mean seriously wouldn't that make for an interesting blog post – mystery writer comes out as serial killer! Awesome headline, but completely false. I'm easily scared, squeamish, and highly emphatic; but somehow I manage to kill my characters with a relish that surprises even me.
I write mysteries or crime dramas because I've enjoyed mysteries since my first library card – Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and the indomitable Sir Author Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. I also read Danielle Steel, Harold Robbins, Ray Bradbury, J R R Tolkien, and all the controversial books: Soul on Ice, Valley of the Dolls, etc. One of my favorites is, Gone with the Wind, and don't even get me started on Stephen King! I was a voracious reader and still am. I love books and the places they take me and read between 100 and 200 books a year.
Combining mystery and romance was always my goal, and I tried to do justice to both. I wanted Murder, Madness & Love to be a good mystery with a romance that interfered in the investigation. I took a few details from my own life to make the romance authentic. For instance, hubby and I swear we fell in love at first sight and during our first dance. He said I love you before me, and he proposed after only three months. It took me six months to say yes, and we eloped on Valentine's Day. I used all that in the story, but I'm not sure that people today believe in love at first sight, or marriage. I wanted Steven Quaid to lose himself in his feeling for Sarah, and the fact that he does moves the story in a new direction and directly to the next book Memories of Murder.
As for the character of Sarah, I based her on my mother, and named her after the daughter I never had. Sarah is an artist, just like my mother and while mom has never killed anyone – I clearly saw her in the role of the Black Widow. She was / is a woman who attracted men – and made her husband, my dad, a very, jealous man! Sarah's personality and sophistication came directly from how I viewed her when I was growing up. I wanted to be her, despite her lack of parenting skills, she's an awesome woman and with a bit of tweaking – a great character. Just promise me that none of you will tell her!
The character of Steven Quaid is a combination of traits I found during my research of the Tlingit tribe, stoic, determined and a great dancer. I always knew I wanted an Alaskan setting and an Alaskan hero. He had to be handsome, passionate about his job, and odd in that he's the one who wants the white picket fence! His anger and passion come from his Irish and Indian background, but I've never met any one man like him. Although, if I had, I certainly wouldn't have thrown him out of bed for eating crackers! Again, don't tell my husband. These are all secrets that I'm counting on you to keep! Hubby loves telling anyone who will listen, that I killed him off in the first chapter, so I'm sure he wouldn't be surprised by these revelations.
Why did I choose the black widow theme? Because it works. The technical term is misandry – the hatred of men as a sexually defined group, but the term black widow is preferred. It only really fits if the female has murdered two or more husbands or significant others, but when money is an issue, it quickly comes to mind. The term black widow is a favorite label, especially if the man dies under curious circumstances, for instance a car accident in a new Porsche, as in Murder, Madness & Love.
Did you know that the history of misandry goes as far back as before 1600 BC? The first recorded instance was Queen Jia Xia of China who "killed three husbands, one ruler, and one son, and ruined one state and two ministers.” Another woman named "White-necked Crow," also of China, killed 36 husbands around the year 940 AD. The latest black widow killer in 2013 is 70 year old Colleen Ann Harris of California, who shot and killed her 3rd husband, and is suspected of murdering her 2nd husband also. "It is unknown how the 1st husband died."
Thanks Donna, for asking me to visit and discuss the choices I made while writing Murder, Madness & Love!
Monday, October 28, 2013