Mod R left me with a list of questions. But first, a funny. I was looking at a house for sale on Redfin the other day and saw this.
How can you tell that a Texan is selling their house?
I tell you what, I missed HEB in Florida. The first time we went to Publix on the beach, which was hideously expensive and super busy. My plan was to pick up a few things for a quick marinade and make fajitas. I am standing in the condiments aisle – no Southwestern marinade. No Southwestern sauce. None. Zip, zero, nada.
I am used to fifty million marinades, but I usually make my own anyway. But at least I can get a quick spice packet, right? Nope. No spice packets.
I grab Worcestershire, because I have to grab something, and stomp over to the spice section. There in the corner I find the lonely jar of cumin. I get that, chili powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. And I found limes.
I dry rubbed chicken and beef for the fajitas. Oh the travesty.
Alright, let’s get on with some answers.
How do you keep the character “voices” distinct and separated so that they maintain their uniqueness in the books?
Eh. Um. It just kind of happens. We naturally slide into the character’s skin and it goes from there. Some characters are much easier than others. Luther and Roman are both very distinct, and so is Grandma Frida and Arland. But Richard was a massive pain. He was portrayed as a reserved character, and so to make him appealing, he needed to have a rich inner life, meaning we had to make sure he thought to himself for three paragraphs and then say one word.
Overall, the more complex the character is, the harder it is to write their dialogue and thoughts. Especially if the character’s arc is transformative. Catalina was a challenge, because you have anxiety, insecurity, sensitivity, coming of age, and natural aversion to violence, all wrapped into a ball and forced to grow up and take charge over the course of several books. So if you’re struggling, it may not be a bad thing. It might simply mean that you’ve built in some complexity into the character.
Try to avoid the trap of thinking of your characters as entities that are separate from you. As in “I wanted to write this scene but Bob told me he just doesn’t feel like it.” Authors use this because some readers think it’s cute and because it gives them a convenient shorthand to describe a complex creative process.
Your characters are figments of your imagination. If you are having issues with them, it’s because something is wrong with the character or the scene. Saying that the character doesn’t want you to write the scene excuses you from the responsibility of figuring out where the problem is. It’s a dangerous crutch that can lead to procrastination.
How do you play ball with so many worlds and universes? It is amazing to see how far Gaston has grown ever since the Edge books or how you bring back other characters that you have had in different facets of your different series- I find that intriguing.
We get bored easily. I think I am just wired that way. I have right now in my head the complete basic plot for Hugh 2, 2/3 of the plot for Maggie, a large chunk of the other thing I don’t want to talk about yet, and basic ending plot for Sweep of the Heart. I also on average read over 20 comics every week and I have no problem keeping the storylines and characters separate.
Where I fail spectacularly is remembering what we have written. Someone asks me, “On this page in Magic Strikes what did you mean?” and I am like, “Ehhhh? What did it say?” Once it’s written, it’s out of my brain to make room for new stuff. One time this nice academic came to the signing and he was very excited to talk to us about the chaos theory in Gunmetal Magic and I drew a complete blank. It was 4 books ago and I had forgotten all of it by that point. He was so disappointed. He probably thought we were frauds.
Like here is what I remember about Gunmetal magic: weird Egyptian crocodile dogs, Roman on the bridge, and there was Anubis in there somewhere. Oh and Raphael and Andrea had a fight. That’s it. I don’t know what the plot was.
I am doing a splendid job maintaining my writerly mystique and professional reputation today, aren’t I?
What are the odds HA will continue writing romance while self-publishing?
I think there is some confusion between romance in the story and Romance as a category. To be classified as category Romance, the novel has to meet certain criteria, the primary of which are: the romantic relationship between the characters is the primary focus of the story and their relationship must end in HEA (Happily Ever After.)
A story can have romance in it but not be classified as Romance. Patty Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series has great romance, but it is not categorized as a Romance. It’s an Urban Fantasy.
Nevada’s trilogy is categorized as Romance. It would not exist if you took Rogan out. If there is no relationship, that entire series falls apart. Same with Catalina, although I will warn you, Ruby Fever, because it had to tie a lot of loose ends, has a lot more of external plot and action.
Our comfortable spot is probably somewhere closer to Kate’s series, where we have a lot of action and there is romance, but the romantic relationship is a subplot rather than the main plot. Hugh and Elara are the perfect example of that. Which isn’t to say that we will never write a romance – we just did Fated Blades. But right now it feels good to stretch a little bit.
Will you do any Curran POV like Jeaniene’s Other half of the Grave?
Contains the earliest short story in Kate Daniels Series, A Questionable Client.
Now collected for the first time, an irresistible compilation of five previously published stories by the bestselling author of the Kate Daniels series; including Kate’s very first meeting with Saiman, some related adventures, and two unforgettable ‘outside’ excursions.
Also contains the complete Curran POV.
BUY FROM ONE OF THESE FINE RETAILERS
Does having dedicated fan base make it easier to try out other stories/genres, or does it make you feel more pressure when you want to branch out?
The answer is yes to both. Yes, there is a massive amount of pressure, but at the same time we are very fortunate that our work appeals to so many people that even if we did do something off-the-wall, at least some of our readers would follow us. We hope.
So from now on will you publish as House Andrews pseudonym?
No. Or at least not right now. House Andrews would look pretty odd as an author tag line. Also, it is about customer retention. It’s very hard to grab a reader, but it’s even harder to retain them and get them to switch from project to project. “Ilona Andrews” has a lot more followers than “House Andrews” would. When people who don’t read our blog see House Andrews, they would have no idea it’s us.
But we did change other things like bookplates.
Which reminds me, we need to sign a couple hundred of these today and send them to the bookstore.
Well, this concludes today’s blog post. I have news on all sorts of fronts, and I cannot share any of it yet. More to come once we wrestle this innkeeper scene to the ground.