Sunday, March 30, 2008

For something different - and special

I’ve never been one to want to get close to authors. I read very few of their blogs and while I love meeting them in person, still for the most part I prefer a bit of a, I don’t know curtain maybe – but that’s still not the right word – between myself and authors.

But every so often the curtain goes down and authors become friends. Such is the case with Pamela Clare. I discovered her writing with her first book – Sweet Release and loved it and I’ve bought all her books since then. When I read the third book in the series – Ride the Fire I was truly blown away. And you know what can happen when something blows me away *g*

I wrote to tell her how much I enjoyed it and she emailed me back. We continued emailing each other occasionally. I remember one day in particular. It was after Ron had been diagnosed but I hadn’t told anyone yet. I was still working, but unable to settle down to work. I was still thinking he would get better, but doubts were beginning to creep in.

I checked my email and there was an email from Pamela. I emailed her back and we emailed each other for most of the day. I know it probably wasn’t a good idea to do it from work – but I wasn’t busy and it kept my mind from going where I wasn’t willing for it to go.

She helped me keep my sanity that day. It turned out we had all kinds of things in common; a love of Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, the movie Last of the Mohicans and the soundtrack. We both loved the music of Loreena McKennit and Gaelic music in general. She’s *whimpering* met the group Great Big Sea! We talked about other things too, many of which escape me now.

When her first Romantic Suspense, Extreme Exposure came out, I quite enjoyed it but not on quite the same level as Ride the Fire. Her second RS, Hard Evidence was a different story. I LOVED it.

When I found out that we were both going to Dallas last year, I emailed her to see if she had time to meet in person, along with another author I now consider a friend, but more on her at a later time. She very quickly replied that she would love too and took time out of her busy schedule – she was nominated for a RITA for Surrender.

Then she offered to send me a copy of her upcoming release Unlawful Contact and I LOVED it even more. My review is to follow – I had to read it again so it would be fresh*g*.

I love her books and because she is a special person, I decided to do something on a grander scale than I did with Lisa Kleypas, – an author interview. I asked her if she would be interested and she agreed.

Because she was so interesting with her answers – and I kept asking questions, this turned out rather long so it’s going to be a two-parter

So here goes – something I’m new at an interview with an author friend.

Part 1

Pamela: I’m curious as too why after writing three historicals, why you decided to test the waters with Romantic Suspense. Not that I’m not glad you did. I love the way you write in both genres.

I was in the middle of
working on Carnal Gift, bit about how things were at the newspaper, as well, and I mentioned that I’d gotten a phone call from a government official warning me that I might be in danger from employees of the company I was investigating at the time. His exact words were: “These guys aren’t going to write you a letter to the editor. They’re going to beat the shit out of you with baseball bats.”

This was far from the first time that I’d been facing possible risks associated with my work as an investigative reporter. I’d had a gun held on me before. I’d had copious death threats, one of which was serious enough that the FBI got involved. I also had a couple of stalkers, one of whom wrote me letters telling me where I’d been and what I’d said. He told me that I deserved to die, that God wanted me to die and that he had an AK-47 at home that he could kill me with. Blah, blah, blah.

So my agent, knowing all of this and hearing about this new investigation, said, “Why don’t you write romantic suspense, because you live it.”

I started putting together s
ome ideas for stories, and I came up with the concept of the I-Team series, which would revolve around the investigations of investigative journalists associated with a fictional Denver newspaper. I drew loosely on the years I’d served as editor for what I called (and still call) the Dream Team, a group of phenomenally talented investigative reporters with whom I had the pleasure of working for a handful of years. Most of us are still in touch and very close. Together we racked up copious national journalism awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service, and kicked some serious bad-guy butt.

I’d never read or written romantic suspense, so it was a
real shift for me. I loved the freedom of word choice associated with writing contemporaries, and I’ve enjoyed writing these books more than I’d imagined. However, I was really worried that people would find journalism booooring. I kept telling my agent, “Readers are going to fall asleep!” She said that I only felt that way because I do this stuff every day and that it would be new and interesting to readers.

So I guess I should thank those guys who wanted to beat me up for inspiring my agent.

Trivia: The Denver Independent is a name incorporated by myself and two members of the Dream Team. We never had the money to start the paper, but we did file incorporation papers in 2001. Those two Dream Team reporters are with me on Facebook on the I-Team Facebook page I started (and haven’t done much with yet).

A number of authors who write in different genres use different names for each Nora Roberts/JD Robb, Elizabeth Hoyt/Julia Harper first come to mind. Did you think of writing under different names?

Yes, I did. But that would mean managing two websites and two blogs and signing books with two names. I don’t have that much RAM in my head. I would have been perpetually confused about who I was at the moment. I don’t think it has caused problems for me or for my readers to write under the same name.

Do you write both genres at the same time or do you finish one and then switch to the other? Is it hard to make that leap across time?

It is easier to switch from historical to contemp than the other way around. I can only write one at a time, but I can only focus on one writing project at a time as it is. A RAM problem again. I get very focused on my characters and it’s hard to switch at all until a story is done.

*g* I don’t find your romantic suspense boring at all. It seems in the RS genre, you put a lot of your own experiences into the writing. Do you find that this makes it any easier to write in the genre you know more about?

I think it does make it easier. I don’t have to do a lot of research because the heroine’s side of things is already researched along with the central action of the book. I’ve had to do research for the hero’s professions and what they bring to the mix, but that’s not overwhelming. Also, I never have to wonder, “Hmmm, I wonder what a reporter does first thing in the morning?” I just sit and write those scenes. When I wrote EXTREME EXPOSURE, I was giggling while I was writing them (did I tell you this already?) because it was just so bizarre to be typing newsroom scenes.

It sounds like you’ve had some harrowing experiences with your reporting. Do you have any plans to give up your job as an investigative reporter and concentrate on writing novels?

Yes, absolutely. As soon as the novels pay 100 percent of the bills, I’m going to leave journalism. People who know me as a journalist say they have a hard time imagining that, but they’re on the outside of me, not on the inside. They don’t know how much I love writing fiction or how weary I’ve become of some aspects of journalism. At the same time, I have to say that giving my life over to journalism for a time has enriched me immeasurably not only in expanding my understanding of human beings, but also in inspiring me and bringing me together with wonderful people, both journalists and people I’ve interviewed. For every scary experience, I’ve had 100 sublime moments of thinking, “I am so blessed to do this for a living!” I’ve met people I consider to be saints. I’ve met people whose courage staggered me. I’ve left interviews and had to cry in the car because I was so moved by what I’d heard. If you have to have a day job, journalism is perfect. No two days are ever the same. And because I love to experience so many different things, it’s been perfect for me. I am ready to move on, however.

How do you manage to find the time to write in such diverse arenas? I wouldn’t think a journalist would be a regular nine to five kind of job.

It isn’t, and it encroaches on my writing career. Kind of a double-edged sword there. On the one hand, the I-Team series is all about journalism and has been inspired by my own experiences. On the other hand, it’s hard to get the time you need when you’re putting to bed an 80-page paper and reporting on something that kept you up till 3 AM. Also, just the act of writing CONSTANTLY is exhausting. Sometimes I wonder why my brain doesn’t just run out of words. I write at work. I write at home.

As an aside, a reporter from another paper one time called to set up photographs. He said they wanted to get a picture of what I do at work and what I do at home. Of course, they’re very much the same thing: sit at a desk writing and editing. So I thought I’d have some fun with that. I wore my normal work attire, did the editor thang. Then at home I filled my home office with roses, put on a floor-length velvet gown and put my hair up. And they took those photos and put them in the paper. It was so hysterically absurd that they didn’t understand that I was poking fun at their assumption that writing romance would somehow be different photographically from writing news articles.

I know you are planning another book in the I-Team series. Do you have any more in mind after the next one? See here I am asking about more when the next one isn’t even done yet heh heh.

Yes, at least one more I-Team book. It will tell Katherine James’ story — Kat we call her in the story. She’s a mixed-blood Navajo living in Denver and her story will focus on contemporary urban Indian issues. I’m very excited about that — another one of my focuses as a journalist. Then after that hopefully Natalie’s story and then HOLLY! I can’t wait to write Holly’s. I adore her. She’ll be last. So if reader interest stays high, there might be other books before Holly’s.

And here's her trailer for Unlawful Contact

Stay Tuned for Part II


CindyS said...

I may have missed it but will Pamela Clare have more historicals coming out? Once again, I have her contemporary books in the TBR pile ;)


Ana said...

Amazing interview Kristie, you girls are on a roll!!!

Kristie (J) said...

Cindy: Yep - her next book - due out around November I think, is the sequel to Surrender. She has had a few previews on her blog and it looks goooooooooddddd.

Ana: Thanks *g*. And this is only part I!

Pamela Clare said...

Thanks so much, Kristie! I'll stop by a few times today to see if anyone has any questions. :-)

Hi, Cindy S — Kristie is on top of it. Yes, I've got a historical coming out in November. As Kristie said, it's the sequel to my 2006 book, Surrender. My new website -- set to launch tomorrow -- will feature an excerpt. And I have run a few on my blog.

Hi, Ana — I'm glad you found it interesting. I'm guessing Part II runs tomorrow. :-)

KT Grant said...

Hey Pamela!
I think it is great you can write historical and contemporaries. Do you find it hard to switch back and forth?
It seems once an author begins writing historical romance and ventures into another genre, they start writing historicals all together.

Surrender is my absolute favorite book of yours!

Kellie said...

Well, thanks to KristieJ, I just read Ride the Fire and fell in love with Ms. Clare's stories! I now have Surrender to read (thanks to Rosie!) and I have her contemps on my wishlist! (VERY glad to hear as well that Surrender is having a sequel!)

AWESOME interview!

~ames~ said...

Great interview Kristie and Pamela!! Can't wait for part 2.

I'm so glad Kristie made me read Ride the Fire. And so thankful to you Pamela, for that cd. :P

And Kat's book sounds very interesting. :P

Kati said...

Kristie - Great, great interview! I've never read a Pamela Clare before. I'm a bigger fan of contemps than historicals (although I read both). What do you recommend I start with??

Wendy said...

I know publishers are all about "branding" - but honestly when you write in two wildly different sub genres (like historical and romantic suspense!), I don't think using the same author name on both is all that confusing to readers. Especially since the cover art has been pretty good for Pamela's books. I mean, I'm not going to see the cover for Unlawful Contact and think, "Oh look a new historical!" LOL

And I think Pamela is out to get me. Seriously. All this promo she is doing is keeeeeeling me! *sigh* I am so buying Unlawful Contact on my next Borders trip.

Sarai said...

Dang it yet another author I simply must check out. Which do you think I should start with Historical or contemporary?

Kristie (J) said...

Pamela: Thanks for dropping by. I'm looking forward to seeing the new web site!! I take it coinciding with the release of Unlawful Contact?

Katie: You should add so far *g* It seems you have a couple more to read too *g*

Zeek: Loved Ride the Fire - but you and everyone know that now *g*. And Part II is just as interesting - not from me mind you, but her answers.

Ames: I saw where the CD came in handy during your drive! It's a good one isn't it? And great to listen to while reading her historical (soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans) in case anyone is wondering which one we are talking about.

Mary Kate: tough question *g* My favourite historical so far is Ride the Fire. It's the third in a series but I think it works just fine as a stand alone - unless one is a very dedicated 'have to read in order' series reader. As to her RS - it was Hard Evidence. But Unlawful Contact is equally good!! It got not one but TWO A's at TGTBTU and at DA it's an April pick.

ROTFL - you know this is coming>>>> Wendy, Wendy Wendy - I'm glad you're planning on getting UC. And I'm pretty sure you still haven't read RTF have you?

Sarai: I'd say whichever one sounds the best. I love her voice in both genres. Her historicals - which I consider more accurately I think Colonials - are wonderful. They take place in Colonial America. Think of the movie Last of the Mohicans and that gives you a feel for the flavour of them. As for her RS - as I said to MK - Unlawful Contact is fabulous - my review on Wednesday. I also really enjoyed Hard Evidence. And I LOVE the cover of it too. MMMM - shower scene cover - MMMMM

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, all!

Sorry to have been MIA. We're putting out a 56-page stitch-and-trim special edition today and it's dominating my life. We're about one problem away from a catastrophe, so I needed to pay attention...

Katiebabs, I'm so glad you enjoyed Surrender. I just wrote a big scene with Iain and Annie this weekend. It IS hard to switch back and forth. The voice is so different, and so is the vocabulary. I find it's easier to go to contemporary than to go back to historical. I think a lot of people stay with contemps and give up historicals because the historical market is weaker and because they're just a lot harder to write. But I started with historicals because I love them. That's what I read most of the time when I read romance. I would only quit writing it if it became too expensive to do so. In other words, the books need to be at least somewhat successful. I do have an interest in writing straight historical fiction one day, as well.

Hi, Zeek,
Thanks so much! I'm delighted to know you enjoyed Ride the Fire. That book is very special to me and very personal. No book I've written has taken as much out of me as that one. I know it's Kristie's fave. :-)

I hope you enjoy Surrender.

Thanks, Ames. :-)
I'm glad she made you read Ride the Fire, too. LOL!

Hi, MaryKate. I hope whatever book you choose you enjoy. If you start with Surrender, a historical, you'll be ready for its sequel, Untamed, in November. Unlawful Contact comes out tomorrow, and it does stand alone even if it's part of a series. You'd probably get a teensy bit more payoff reading it if you'd read the two prior contemps. But who knows? Kristie is your best advisor. :-)

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Wendy,

Great to see you here! And you're right — no one is going to look at UC and say, "Oh, is that a new Regency?"

And, Wendy, I was going to email you. I know HE really disappointed you, and I was going to make up for that by sending UC, which I hope redeems me. (You liked EE, right? Can't remember...) My author copies have not arrived yet. Grrrr!

But it is my great hope that you'll enjoy this book and that the things that aggravated you about HE won't be as aggravating this time. :-)

If you're interested in my historicals, I'd say read Ride the Fire and then Surrender. My voice is very different in historicals, but the books are pretty gritty still. Some people don't like that.

OK, back to work. We've almost got this monster of to press. And as my throbbing headache attests, we cannot be done too soon.

I'll check in with y'all when I get home. :-)

Kristie, thanks for having me as a guest and for the fun interview!

Wendy said...

Oh gosh Pamela - you do not have to do that! I actually haven't read EE, and I own all of your historicals, but haven't read them. Kristie has been nagging me too - I just happen to have the World's Largest TBR pile. I'm going to read at least one of your historicals this year. I've made it my mission! And it will probably be RtF since Kristie likes to gush about that one a lot.

Pamela Clare said...

That must be one impressive TBR pile, Wendy. I've got about 50 books piled up, some that seem to stay there no matter what and a top layer that shifts. I never get as much reading time as I'd like. :-)

KT Grant said...

More Ian and Annie?! Woot!
My TBR is so scary that I am afraid I will wake up in the middle of the night and my books will attack me.

Wendy said...

Last count was around 950. *sigh* Yes, I did say 950. That's so obscene I'm ashamed to admit the number out loud......

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Wendy,

I'm back after a computer catastrophe of the First Degree -- we're talking Total Computer Death. And I just have to say: Oh. My. GOD! 950 books in your TBR? Honey, that ain't no TBR, it's a library. There are small towns in the midwest that have fewer books than that in their municipal libraries.

That is phenomenal. And here I thought I was Xtreme with my 50 books. Clearly, I am bush league, a rank amateur, a poseur. Goodness gracious!

Katie(babs), if the books start moving or talking to you, I'd worry and maybe call a priest. Otherwise, it sounds like a good reason to skip housework for a while and just read. That's my idea of heaven. :-)

Wendy said...

LOL - I never thought of it like that Pamela! And I used to work for some small Midwestern libraries, and you're right - I have more books. I'm not sure how impressive that is, more like really, really sad! I love books. I especially love shiny, new books and I tend to buy faster than I read. Oh well, I figure until I can't pay the rent or feed myself my book addiction isn't hurting anybody. Unless they topple over and smother me to death.....

Pamela Clare said...

Soon, Wendy, and you can give Guinness Book of World Records folks a call. They might have a category for you. :-)

I know what you mean, though. When I go into a book store, it takes a crowbar or a maxed credit card to get me out. LOL!