Lynn Raye Harris interview conducted by Carol Burnside
CB: Lynn, congratulations on your first release coming out this month and thanks for being our guest today. We at PFHT appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.
LRH: Hi, Carol! It’s great to be here. Thanks so much for asking me to be your guest.
CB: For those folks who aren’t familiar with Harlequin Presents, could you explain what your readers can expect in a Lynn Raye Harris book?
LRH: Passion, emotion, intensity. That’s the short and sweet answer. Harlequin Presents are intense, emotional reads with varying levels of heat. Mine have been described as ‘sizzling’. I like a lot of heat in my books! When that gorgeous alpha male turns his passion on the heroine, I want it to be amazing and intense. I hope I succeed!
CB: I know you lived in Hawaii a few years back because we were both members of the Aloha chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). It seems you’ve been to quite a few places you could use for settings in your book. What was your favorite place and why?
LRH: My favorite city is probably Venice, because of the uniqueness and beauty, though I have yet to use it in a book! But I did use another city I loved when writing SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE. Madrid. I spent nearly a week there a few years ago and simply fell in love with the culture. The men were so intensely male, if that makes sense. Madrid is both modern and ancient, and I loved that juxtaposition. I also used (briefly) Honolulu in the opening scene.
CB: When using a locale in your books which you’ve never visited, how much research to you do?
LRH: I do as much as necessary. I guess that’s not a helpful answer, but sometimes a setting is only a small part of a scene or chapter. For instance, Alejandro and Rebecca go to Dubai in one chapter of SMRHR. I’ve never been there. I didn’t need much, just an idea of what it looked and felt like to be in that setting. I used Google for pictures, and I read the tourism sites about Dubai. I felt like I had enough to add flavoring (kind of like a pinch of salt or Herbes de Provence!). If I were setting a whole book in a city I’d never been to, I’d do more intense study. In addition to the web research, I’d pick up guidebooks and phrasebooks. Though I’d been to Madrid, I did consult my guidebooks and photos to make sure I got things right, most specifically the location of Alejandro’s office and the beauty of the Plaza Mayor.
CB: In my writing, I often find bits of my likes and dislikes creeping into the heroines. Is there anything about you that creeps into your heroines, like maybe your shoeaholic tendencies or gourmet cooking?
LRH: Oh yes! LOL, I did have a section where Rebecca was putting on her Christian Louboutin slingback peeptoe nude pumps. I think that got cut, though I might still refer to her CL’s somewhere. I also had her swirling and tasting a fine Tempranillo wine, eating jamon serrano and Manchego cheese, and remarking on tapas. I think all that got cut in the revisions. *G* Alejandro drinks Manzanilla, which is a sherry, but I believe it reads as simply ‘sherry’ now. This was after the copy editor changed all my ‘sherry’s to ‘whiskey’. I was not pleased and changed them all back.
CB: Winning the Harlequin Presents contest was a fabulous break for you. Of course your hard work and great writing is what landed you there, but what was it like having an editor’s help for a year? Did you learn tons? Was it fun or frustrating? Any tidbits you can share to help out those of us still struggling toward publication?
LRH: Having an editor for a year (though I had her for only six months before I sold – and I still have her now, thankfully!) was the most amazing thing for any aspiring writer, I can assure you. I did learn tons. My learning curve was greatly shortened thanks to her guidance. It’s not that I wasn’t writing engaging characters or a good story, but having an editor to guide me saved me from the trap of endlessly rewriting, from second-guessing myself, and from the doubt demon. Oh, I doubted plenty, but I had deadlines and had to turn things in on time. I also learned how to turn up the emotion in my stories. I think we often shrink from exploring the really deep, hard emotions of our characters simply because it can be painful. But my editor didn’t let me get away with that. She made me take another look at motivation, emotional conflict, and a character’s actions and reactions.
The only frustrating thing was that I’m a perfectionist and I want to get things right the first time. For me, turning in a book and having revisions is like turning in a college paper and getting a B or a C. I want that A the first time, LOL!
The tidbits I think can help are these: look very, very hard at your characters’ motivations. Make sure your characters are behaving consistently, and that you explore their emotions deeply enough. When you think you’ve gone deep enough, go deeper. Don’t shrink from the hard truths. Explore them, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Also, stop worrying about things that don’t matter! Seriously, which font you use is inconsequential. Unless the house you’re targeting states what they want, use a good readable font with reasonable margins. Seriously. I have always written my books in TNR 12 with 1-inch margins all around. And I use double-space, turning off widows and orphans. I don’t try to get a certain amount of lines per page. I also use italics instead of underlining. My editor has never once told me to do it differently. And my line-edited manuscript typically comes to me with 23 lines per page. Don’t know why. They also change it to Courier 12 at that stage.
Ultimately, you are writing for a reader. Remember that. They don’t care about the ‘rules’. If you like to change POV within a scene, do it. Just make it smooth. I am a purist, but that’s just me. Contests are great, and judges’ comments can be very helpful, but please don’t feel you have to change every single thing someone tells you to. Story is what matters. STORY. If it’s compelling, if it starts at a point of great change and engages the reader to want to know why and if everything will turn out okay, then you’re doing it right. Those are the kinds of comments you want to listen to, not the ones that tell you that you can’t use more than one POV per scene or that you must begin the book with dialogue. All you really have to do is make it interesting and compelling.
CB: Call Stories are favorites in the writing community. Have you shared yours? If so, where can we read about it?
LRH: I’ve been all over talking about my call story! You can read it at I Heart Presents and Dear Author.
CB: SPANISH MAGNATE, RED HOT REVENGE, your debut book, is really good. (I’m reading it now.) Love that yummy Alejandro! I’m delighted that you’ve sold more books. Can you tell us a bit about them and when they’ll be released?
LRH: Thank you so much, Carol! I’m always tickled when someone says they are enjoying my book. My second book, CAVELLI’S LOST HEIR, will be out in the UK in December and here in the US and Canada in January 2010. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Captive and married: by royal decree!
Prince Nico Cavelli would never normally waste his time visiting the prison cell of a tourist. Except this particular alleged criminal has stolen something very personal to him -- his son, heir to the Montebianco throne!
Lily Morgan always knew it was a mistake coming to the Mediterranean kingdom, but she'd had no choice. First she was thrown into jail for a crime she didn't commit...now she's been bailed out by the Prince -- though in return she must become his royal wife!
My third book, THE PRINCE’S ROYAL CONCUBINE, has just been accepted and will be out in the UK in March 2010. No North American date yet, but it will definitely be here! This book is about Prince Cristiano de Savaré and Princess Antonella Romanelli. They are enemies by birth, but when they must shelter from a hurricane in the Caribbean, things heat up. There’s more to the story, of course, but I leave it to editorial for how to blurb it. I suck at that. *g*
I should also say that SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE is available in India in August (with a different cover!) and Australia in September.
CB: That CABELLI’S LOST HEIR blurb is a great teaser, Lynn. I know you’re busy working on that next book, so I won’t keep you. Thanks for answering my questions and letting us get to know you a little better. Keep writing those sexy, hot heroes for us to enjoy and we’ll keep reading.
LRH: Thanks for inviting me here, Carol! Who knew when we met in the library that day that we’d be discussing my books on a blog! I hope we’ll soon be discussing yours. :-) I look forward to reading your hot heroes someday soon.
And now I’d love to give away a signed copy of SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE to one lucky commenter! Ask me a question, about writing or about Harlequin Presents or whatever else you are dying to know and think I can answer, or simply tell me about your favorite city to set a book in or type of hero to read. I’ll pick a winner based on my super scientific method (i.e. drawing at random from all the comments).
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Our sincere thanks to Lynn Raye Harris for being our Guest Chef on PFHT and good luck to those who comment!
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Lynn has chosen Linsey Lanier from the comments to receive a signed copy of SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE. Congratulations, Linsey!