You guys! ^_^
I got a special guest I’m interviewing today!! Yeah, I know, right? Like, chill or something. Haha. Anywho…fantastic writer Thea Landen has agreed to stop by and answer some fun writerly (kind of) questions for us today to celebrate the release of a her murder mystery romance novella SEDUCTIVE SUSPECT!
In case you’re interested, I did a horror movie discussion about IT on the YouTube channel this week. Thinking of doing more. 😀
What was your absolute favorite thing about writing SEDUCTIVE SUSPECT? It sounds so mysterious! People may not know this, but I’m quite obsessed with murder mystery themes.
Thea: I love murder mysteries, too! Plotting the murders was fun, but also involved a bit of research, as I wanted the deaths to be as realistic as possible. If I had to choose, though, I’d probably say my favorite part was creating the large cast of characters and giving them their distinct personalities and traits. With eight guests and three staff members trapped in a mountaintop lodge for a long weekend, I had quite the cast! Here’s the main character’s first impression of many of her companions:
“Someone at the other end of the table cleared his throat and started talking about the fictional movie his character directed. While listening for any important bits, I took the opportunity to study the other people I’d be spending the weekend with. Mr. Steele was a clean-cut, average-looking guy who played his role well enough. Next to him sat a thin, lanky man with shaggy hair whose hunched posture prevented me from getting a good look at his face and made me wonder what he was hiding. The third male guest towered over the people around him with his bulky frame. Light hair, buzzed short, contrasted with ruddy cheeks, and he gulped his drink in between asking loud, enthusiastic questions.
Victor set a plate down in front of me and whisked away the lid to reveal prime rib with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. Not bad at all. I cut into my meat and turned my focus to the women at the table.
The mousy woman across from me nibbled at a green bean. Maybe she looks more like a rabbit, I thought, especially with the fur collar on her dress. A redhead in a tight blouse, whose vivid hair color most likely came from a bottle, took a sip of wine, her lashes fluttering behind black rimmed glasses. The last guest sat with her back stiff and hands folded as she waited for her food. Her long, blonde ponytail and pert nose gave off the impression of cheery youth, but something about her posture and how she stared at each person who spoke told me she had no interest in making friends. Whatever the reward for solving the mystery, she came here to win.”
(Mr. Steele’s description is boring because he’s the first to die. That’s not a spoiler, it happens by the end of the first chapter. 😉 )
As you’re also a sci-fi writer, in your experience, how is writing contemporary different from writing science fiction? Is it easier or harder? Or are you just one of those people I’m jealous of who can write anything?
Thea: Each has its pros and cons. With sci-fi, you have to spend time on worldbuilding, but the benefit of that is you can have whatever rules you want in the world you create. Anything can happen! Contemporary doesn’t always take as much plotting on that front, but obviously, there are limits to the real world.
As someone who identifies primarily as a romance writer (and then adds the other qualifiers on as sub-genres), there is one interesting aspect that has to be handled differently between sci-fi and contemporary. Most romance publishers require all acts be consensual AND safe, and say so in their submission guidelines. If you’re in a contemporary setting and not “fading to black”, you’ve got to be really specific. With sci-fi, you can kind of get around it and work under the assumption that in whatever universe you’ve created, its inhabitants are advanced enough that disease and unplanned pregnancy and such are no longer things people have to worry about. But in contemporary romance, not only do you have to include all the details, but you have to work them in in such a way that it doesn’t feel obligatory, or cause the action and prose to come screeching to a halt. Figuring out how to handle this was actually one of my biggest challenges with the, er, climax of Seductive Suspect, but I’m happy with how it worked out in the end.
How do balance writing with all those other things that also need your attention?
Thea: Haha, not well. Or at least it feels that way most of the time. Readers of my blog know I have two young kids and I still work part-time, and people who have been in that situation have told me they’re impressed I can still write at all! But kids do go to bed eventually, and even though the writing process is a loooooooooot slower than it used to be, I try to find some time at night to squeeze out a few words.
(I always promise myself I’m going to write when they go visit Grandma and Grandpa on Saturdays…but I usually wind up taking a nap instead. blush)
Naps are luxuries when there are kids around! 🙂
What is your brainstorming process like? Do you take a lot of notes?
Thea: It’s hard to pinpoint where most of my ideas for stories come from, and I sort of mentally file them away into different categories based on how developed they are. I used to just jump right in and start writing, but now I usually wind up with some sort of an outline. Most of the time the outline is little more than very brief chapter summaries, and it feels good to cross them off as I go. Since I write in order, if I think of a brilliant line that should go later on from where I’m currently working, I’ll jot it down in the outline so I don’t forget.
That said, Seductive Suspect was probably the first time I had a super-detailed outline for both plot and characters before I wrote the first word. Due to its “killer picks off one victim at a time” structure, I knew I couldn’t just get started and figure out the specifics later on if I wanted it to make sense by the end.
If you could have any pet in the world and it was guaranteed not to eat you in your sleep, what would you pick?
Thea: A dragon, duh. If it has to be a creature that actually exists, my friend and I always joke about keeping penguins in our bathtubs because penguins are awesome. (And won’t eat me in my sleep regardless.)
Dragons don’t exist?!
So, a genie is passing through your neighborhood on his way to grant three wishes to a humble jewel thief and his lamp breaks down and needs fuel. You give him a lift to the gas station. In return, he gives you a superpower – what do you pick?
Thea: Teleportation – not only would it make researching real-life locations a whole lot easier, but most of my good friends are scattered across the globe. I’d love to be able to go anywhere (and back!) in a flash.
Are you working on any top secret projects right now? If you are, inquiring minds must know what it is!
Thea: I’m plotting out my first dystopian project (with romance as the driving force, of course). I’m doing some brainstorming and research about where, exactly, I want to set it, but I’m finding it to be like what I described above with sci-fi vs. contemporary – even if it’s a place that actually exists, enough about it has changed by the time the story takes place that I can pretty much do what I want with it and don’t necessarily have to stick with what the real world is like now.
Thanks for the interview, Thea!! ^_^
About Le Book
When Veronica Campbell agrees to take her sister’s place at a murder mystery weekend getaway, she has no idea what’s in store. The events at the mountaintop lodge get off to a good start, especially when she meets Adam, the handsome man staying in the room next door. By the end of the first night, however, the role-playing games take a dark turn when one of the participants is killed for real.
Violent storms and sabotaged cars trap the guests at the lodge with no escape. Frightened and surrounded by strangers, she not only has to stay on guard against the danger that lurks in every corner, but fight the attraction to her sexy neighbor.
One by one, the murderer picks off each guest as the storm rages around them. The number of suspects grows smaller, and soon, the moment of truth arrives. Can she trust Adam, or has she wound up in the arms of a killer?
September 15, 2017
Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Suspense/Thriller, Mystery
Thea Landen lives in New York with her husband and two children. She strives to encourage creativity and passion in all those around her, and uses writing to help inspire. Though she reads and writes in nearly all genres, she has a special fondness for science fiction, fantasy, and adventure and anything that pushes the imagination beyond its usual limits. When she’s not writing, or thinking about writing, her hands and mind are occupied by either yarn crafts or role-playing games.