Thursday, May 15, 2008

Changing Hats

I’ve always prided myself on being able to change writing styles from moment to moment. I’m a lawyer as well as a fiction writer (same difference...?), so I can be drafting a contract or demand letter one minute, and writing about the perils of my fictional heroines the next.

At the moment, my nearest deadline is for my second Silhouette Nocturne, working title MORTAL OPTIONS, which is about Skye Rydell, a woman of part-Valkyrie heritage who can sometimes save lives of those who are mortally wounded, and sometimes helps ease the dying to the other side. She’s a K-9 cop, and her love interest is a dark and hunky SWAT Team guy who has his own opinions on what constitutes justice.

It’s a very different style from my first person, light-toned Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries. And this time, it took a little more effort to move from Kendra to Skye. I’m well into the story now, and it’s going smoothly, but I had to really think about how to darken my style, make it, and the characters, a lot sexier. And interweave the paranormal elements so they seem real, at least for this story.

A challenge? Sure, but a fun one. My writing career has been full of different styles, most often, but not always, at different times. I mentioned in a blog comment earlier this week about how I started off my career as a novelist writing time travel romances. Before that, though, I had a few mystery short stories published (and the first won the Robert L. Fish Award for best first mystery short story of the year, before I’d ever heard of the award!), and they were mostly in the light and breezy Kendra tone. When I started moving away from single-title paranormal romances for a while, I began writing romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue. And then Kendra came along. But I still was driven to write paranormal stuff. Hence, the Nocturnes.

Some themes do run generally throughout my fiction, though. I love romance, so there’s nearly always a romantic interest in my stories. I love suspense and mystery, so there’s generally a suspenseful story line as well. And--surprise!--I love animals. That’s why Kendra, who’s a lawyer like me, has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie, like my older pup, and it’s why she’s become a pet-sitter. One of my time travel romances used Cavaliers as a device for the heroine to move in time from the present to the time of King Charles II of England, during the Restoration. The dogs are named for that King Charles, who helped to popularize the small spaniels of his time. Not all my novels have had animals in them... but my first Nocturne, working title MOONLIGHT AND FIRE, is about a lady veterinarian and the sexy werewolf who captures her attention. And then there’s MORTAL OPTIONS, with its K-9 cop heroine.

But the stories are all different, and the style fits the genre in which I’m writing at that moment.

How about the rest of you who write--do you change styles often? Do you like to?

Right now, I think I’ll go draft a contract...



Kathryn Lilley said...

Ooh, sounds interesting! I'm dying to know what Skye looks like -- I looked up valkyries and found all sorts of different artistic representations, from romantic and ethereal to beefy and Amazon-like. I guess a K-9 cop could be somewhere inbetween!

caryn said...

I've often wondered how authors do this when they write wildly different series. It must be sort of odd-like you are living in three worlds or however many series you have going. You have your real life, Kendra's life and now Skye's little world....
On a different note, I have a pet question.
I recently read the first tow of Christine Goff's birding mysteries. In the books there is a pet parakeet who talks-a lot. Do parakeets do that? I know nothing about pet birds at all, but I thought they could be trained to say a word or phrase, but this one seems to nearly hold conversations!
Also, how's the puppy training? I've thought about your pup a couple of times this week.

Camille Minichino said...

My steepest learning curve was going from writing scientific papers to .... anything else! A very kind magazine editor walked me through the steps, like going to active voice. Yes, in those days we actually wrote things like "it was discovered that raising the temperature would change the parameter ... "

She ended up not publishing my article, but I learned a lot in the process.

Linda O. Johnston said...

That's one of the things I've had to deal with, Kathryn, in my own version of Valkyrie lore. The stories are all over the place about how Valkyries look and what they do, especially in Valhalla! (They're said to entertain the heroes there, at least with food...)

Caryn, I'm not certain about parakeets, although it would be fun to find out. But some birds, like African Grays, do hold conversations and imitate all kinds of noises.

The puppy training is definitely improving--especially due to some of the comments to my blog! (Thank you, thank you!) One vet at the clinic we go to said Mystie was too young to have her anal glands expressed, but with the advice I got here I took her back to make sure the cause for her lack of discipline wasn't physical. The vet I saw that time said it was worth trying, so Mystie got her butt squeezed --and definitely has improved since then! Guess the pressure may have made her think she couldn't hold it.

Linda O. Johnston said...

That sounds a bit like writing for a law review journal, Camille. I've done that, too!