Monday, August 31, 2009

Blythe Gifford GuestBlog: When Harlots Have Relations

CONTEST TODAY!!! 1 rndmly chsn cmmntr wins choice of Blythe's "Harlot's Daughter" or "In the Master's Bed!" Email mst be in cmmnt or blggr profile to enter.

From Blythe: Ciao Bellas! I’m thrilled to be visiting with you today. I’m a virgin FOB (friend of the Bellas!) so be kind. And thanks to Michelle for inviting me to play and for the lovely shout out at BN.com's Unabashedly Bookish.

I consider myself another kind of virgin as well. No, not that kind! With my September medieval romance from Harlequin Historical, "In the Master's Bed," I’ve written my first “series.” The heroine of this book is the sister of "The Harlot's Daughter." The harlot’s other daughter, so to speak. (And yes, you can enjoy it even if you haven’t read the first one).

I’ve always resisted the idea of writing books with connected characters. It seemed like such a commitment somehow. The next bright and shiny book idea looks really appealing after months of drafts, rewrites, revisions, and copy edits. I love my characters, but by the end, I’m ready to move on.

A related book was not part of the original plan, but when Jane popped up, I was intrigued. She was the family misfit, the tomboy who helped her brother-in-law sort his Latin documents and climbed trees dressed like a boy. Her family, knowing she was different, protected and spoiled her. How was she going to grow up and find a happy ending?

Well, she began her story by running away from home, disguised as a lad! Heading for Cambridge University, she met a man on the road. Now Duncan did not have an easy life and he had very little sympathy for “John,” yet something about the boy touched him and so, he decided to help…

Well, it IS a romance!

Funny thing, though. After I finished the book, I realized that this is not my first connected story, but only my latest. You see, my three books to date, and the one coming up next year, all feature fourteenth century royal bastards. That means all my characters are connected to King Edward III, one of the most admired monarchs in English history. He is the father of both the harlot’s daughters, who were inspired by real people, the illegitimate daughters of Edward and his notorious mistress, Alice Perrers.

Edward reigned a good long time, fifty years, and he had uncles, aunts, siblings, and children. This has allowed me lots of leeway to invent royal bastards spanning the entire 14th century. Renard, the hero of "Innocence Unveiled" was Edward’s cousin, and the hero of next year’s book, is Edward’s nephew.

So it seems that despite my resistance, I’ve been writing related books all along!

How about you, Bellas? How do you feel about related books? Love ‘em? Loath ‘em? Do you keep early volumes and reread to catch up? Or do you find you forget the story between releases? And what are your favorites?

44 comments:

amy kennedy said...

Blythe, hello! We met when you spoke at my local RWA group about critiquing. It was fabulous.

I love your line, "...lots of leeway to invent royal bastards..." Inventing royal bastards, now that is a great job.

I love connected stories, I used to be much more OCD about it, had to start with the first, but now it doesn't bother me to begin in the middle.

I know I forget certain thinngs, but usually the author does a good job getting us up to speed. And sometimes I like starting a series of connected books late. Then I can just read them one right after the other.

LisaK said...

Welcome Blythe, good to have you here!

I have to say that I've got a problem with books who aren't connected. I mean, if there aren't any sequels in any way I can't change that and will read the book nonetheless if it interests me, but it bothers me.
And I reckon that's because there are always so many secondary characters I want to know more about, whose stories I want to read - that's why I don't have any problems with reading Anna Campbell, though, because we all know that there aren't that many secondary characters.

There's that early Amanda Quick, Ravished, that I absolutely ador, but I always wanted to know so badly what happened to Harriet's (the heroine's) sister.

Thankfully nowadays that problem doesn't come up very often because it seems to me like there aren't any "true" stand-alones anymore.

LisaK said...

"books who"? Of course I meant "books which", sorry!

Becke Davis said...

I love connected stories, although I do like them best when the hero and heroine of each story get their own HEA at the end of their book. But, since there seems to be a trend to three-book romance arcs, I'm learning to deal! When I look on my keeper shelves, there are a lot of series books there. I tend to read by author, so it doesn't matter a lot of that author writes series or single title, if I like the way they write, I'll be back for more.

Princess Bumblebee said...

Hey, Bellas! Welcome, Blythe!
Connected stories! Love them. Like Suzanne Brockmann, Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole, Tara Janzen! They're great authors and you KNOW your going to get to know a whole lot more about the characters you meet later on. It's like having a group of friends and getting to read more about them as the series goes on! Love it!

Blythe Gifford said...

Wow! Real fans of connected stories here. Amy, so glad the critiquing program was helpful. And like you, sometimes I'd rather wait until I can read the series all at once. Lisa, you'll appreciate this: In my first book, I had two minor characters, husband and wife, and a reviewer dinged me because she wanted to know what had happened to them!

Blythe Gifford said...

Becke, glad to hear you'll follow the author. Sometimes, there's just one book's worth of story! Princess, it is sort of like meeting friends, isn't it? I had a reader who really wanted to know what happened to the characters in the first book after their HEA, and she was thrilled to discover she'd get to see them again.

Katrina said...

I agree with everyone above. I love connected stories, if they're done well. My favorites are Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Chicago Stars books. I get a bit obsessed about owning them all.

When I started writing my first manuscript a few months ago, I only had a single book in mind. Then other characters started popping up and I realized they deserve their own stories. I hear them talking as much as my first characters (whose story I haven't finished yet).

I just launched my own blog for unpublished romance writers to share opinions on topics like this one, tips, encouragement and commiseration - www.readericreatedhim.wordpress.com I hope to meet more of the Bellas there!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi, Blythe! Thanks for the e-mail. I did post about this at Win a Book for you.

I love connected books, too. I think it gives us as writers more time to world-build and really get some detail in there; it helps bring the world alive for our readers. Even if the characters are different from book to book, the constancy of the world becomes welcome. To me, anyway.

I usually defer being entered for contests (if you saw my TBR mountains, you'd understand), but I can't resist. Toss my name in the hat!

throuthehaze said...

I LOVE reading series and books that even just mention characters from other books...i prefer it actually. It help me to create a connection to characters.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

etirv said...

I like stand alones but there's a sense of connectedness with the characters in related books. Some of my favorites: Elizabeth Hoyt's Four Soldiers, Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark, Laura Lee Guhrke's Girl Bachelors, and Sabrina Jeffries School for Heiresses.

Blythe Gifford said...

Katrina: Susan Elizabeth Phillips is certainly one of my favs, too. Good luck with your blog - and your writing. Susan, good to see you here! I think you make a good point. It's the world, not just the characters, that readers enjoy.

Blythe Gifford said...

throuthebaze and etirv - Thanks for weighing in. It's sounding unanimous! Series rule!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Amy, you wrote: lots of leeway to invent royal bastards..." Inventing royal bastards, now that is a great job. I believe many royals in history have felt that way...

Buona sera, Bellas! And an afternoon welcome to you, Blythe! So glad to have you here. I, too, met Blythe at that local RWA meeting when she spoke about her RWA chapter's critique process. I think I wrote about it at RBTB, how it's very similar to the way folks talk about opinions here, very respectful giving of opinions in a safe atmosphere. the critique process has resulted in a high number of the group being published, least there seems to be a correlation. Something about nurturing folks w/ support and constructive criticism must work.

LisaK, I didn't know this about you!!! And I haven't thought about it in a long time, but you're right; there always are secondaries it'd be nice to know about. And sometimes I'm hoping for a secondary love story in a book, too. sigh.

becke, my daughter asked me the other day why authors' names are so large on the covers. I ws telling her how romance fans buy for the author in many cases, and your comment reminds me of that. :)

yeah, principessa: It's like having a group of friends and getting to read more about them as the series goes on! I love the series where there are families of brothers and (ok) sisters are ok too, as long as the heroes are really awesome. there. I admit there are heroines in romances.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

etirv: any friend of carrot cake is a friend of mine! I'm writing about the new Guhrke Girl Bachelor for BN.com as we speak! It's "With Seduction in Mind."

Yes, throughthehaze, the connection is great.

Susan, HG: How interesting to hear that you enjoy writing the connected stories. Sometimes authors say they feel locked in to a series once they've begun, and it's cool to share your enjoyment.

Katarina, I'll bet it's frustrating when all those characters start tugging you in different directions. Congratulazione on your new blog!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Blythe,your story about getting dinged is the kind of story that drives me crazy!!! sigh. Sometimes the worst part of being a reader is having to suck up the fact that we can't control your choices as authors. That just gets all "Misery," ya know?

But it's very nice that you made your reader so happy when she found out you were trotting out fave characters in another story. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

btw, I am not a freak for reading a series in order -- not that there's anything wrong with it!

I kind of like when I stumble across and older series somewhere in the middle, then realize there are a bunch of other books to read. Sometimes the author's written them out of order or w/action happening simultaneously, so it doesn't make that big a deal anyway.

but I really like the back2back series so we don't have to wait as long. Maybe if I wrote Harlequin they'd push up your release date so I don't have to wait for the next in this series, Blythe... :)

chey said...

I enjoy connected stories. I'm glad they stand alone also, because I rarely start at the beginning of a series. My favourite series is the Outlander series.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Chey, you're like me, then, cause I stumble into the middle generally, too. :)

David B. said...

Hello Blythe.
Series books do seem to be a real commitment, and you know what they say about men and commitment!
But think about some of the most popular books of all time...Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc. Apparently there is a real market for them for sure.

-Male Perspective Guy

Vanessa Kelly said...

I'm stampeding with the rest of the crowd - love connected stories. Like Becke, though, I prefer the h/h to have their hea by the end of the book.

And, Blythe, sometimes I do go back and reread the earlier volumes when I get the latest in the series. It's like revisiting old friends!

Favorite series - SEP's Chicago Stars, Eloisa James' Essex sisters, and Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series. I'm also now hooked on LK's Hathaway series. And I can't wait for Toni Blake's next book in the Destiny, Ohio series.

etirv said...

Michelle! So nice to know we're carrot cake and romance buds! I just finished reading LLG's Secret Desires of a Gentleman yesterday and my goodness, there were several parts where I had to take a break because I couldn't help crying.. and with glasses, it gets more complicated. LLG's novels do that to me and I love it! After And Then He Kissed Her, I thought I could handle it better but nah! I'll check your review of With Seduction in Mind on b&n, thanks!

Debra St. John said...

I do like connected books. It's fun to continue with a world you've created. As a reader I like them because you often get hints about what's happened to the original hero and heroine...I like being able to make sure they're still enjoying their HEA.

Danielle said...

I like a connected series when the other characters come over to visit, so to speak. But a good stand alone book does me just fine too!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Exactly, MPG! but I know a guy who's pretty committed to some books w/ a protag named, oh, what is it, yeah: Langdon.

But you've hit on my thing with long series like In Death, even though someone said beautifully here last week, each book has it's own lovely HEA w/Roarke and Eve. If I commit to a series, I get obsessed, and I can't imagine starting In Death now and trying to read the whole thing. I'd have to take a leave of absence from job and family.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Definitely 2 tastes that go together, etirv. And I'm totally diggin this series, too. It's so cool when a book can bring out emotions in someone. I've been finding myself laughing out loud a lot while reading lately. :)

Hi, Debra: Again, guess I never thought of it as an author having fun with the concept, too. And it's always nice to know what's going on w/ the HEA, even when it's seeing h/hns from another book settling into married coupledom w/ some of the pesky things we recognize from long-term relationships.

I also think of that as a kind of extra epilogue, for I do so appreciate an epilogue in all it's HEA glory.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

It is nice to have it all ways, no, Danielle?

Yeah, nessa, we're all dying for that next Blake, no? How's she gonna get any down-n-dirtier than her last hero, I ask you, huh? Huh? And sorta like you, I start a book in a series, and I have to do the massive series re-read to the detriment of all other work. grrr. Did I mention I've read the Oct Hathaway book? :)

ddurance said...

I do like connected books, sometimes a whole lot. Gives you a chance to get to know characters better. Love reunion types of books where you see what's happened in everybody's lives. I do sometimes forget some of the story, depending on what kind of impression it made on me. The worst part about about related and series is the wait in between.

Deidre
deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

That's so true, Deidre, I forget, too. Of course some people -- on this blog, for instance -- are able to remember specific scenes and characters from books they read years ago. t'ain't fair, I tell you!

Virginia Gal said...

I love related books!! I think its so nice to see how the happily ever after couple is, really after the happily ever after!!!

I've read the book and I enjoyed it but I was not a huge fan of Jane, she was selfish. Loved Solay and Justin as usual!!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Virginia Gal! lol. I once heard someone say the real romance begins 'the day after Happily Ever After." :)

I'm wondering if by "selfish," you're talking about Jane's running away in the midst of her sister's possibly needing her -- and not really taking time to think about how her actions would affect her family or make them worry for her. I think she matured quite a bit through the novel. In some ways she was kind of like the stereotype of the 'nerdy smart guy.' She was just focused on learning and kind of blocked out everything around her.

I haven't read Solay's and Justin's story yet, and I'm dying to!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Michelle! You are the biggest tease in the world - you read LK's October book?! I'm pea-green with envy.

As for your question about Mick - damn, that guy is hot! I don't know how she's going to do it, but I live in hope.

RachieG said...

I LOVE love love related books...it's always fun to read them, look forward to the next story...and then of course re-read the first book so I can get a quick refresher course! :)

rachie2004 @ yahoo (dot) c0m

Blythe Gifford said...

Buena Sera Bellas! (Is that right?) Chey, I have to admit, I'm a little OCD about starting at the beginning if I'm going to read a series. And LOL, Michelle - I DID just start the in Death series with the first one this summer. It may take me a l-o-n-g time to vinish! David, it's not just men and commitment. As I said, I've been a commitment phobe just thinking about dedicating myself to a series!

Blythe Gifford said...

Vanessa, you've mentioned one of my fave people. Toni Blake is such a dear. And what a talent! Debra, you're right. As an author, it is fun to keep writing when you have a world set up instead of recreating everything. Danielle, good to hear some support of stand alone. Sometimes, there's just one book!

Blythe Gifford said...

Deidra, I seem to really have a problem remembering in between. Maybe that's an argument for back to back releases. Rachel, well, there's the trick. Reread and then go on. Sigh. So many books, so little time...

Blythe Gifford said...

VirginiaGal, Jane did have a ways to go to grow up, it's true. But I'm glad you enjoyed seeing Solay and Justin again. It really was fun for me to revisit them and their well deserved HEA. Do any of you remember the Roberta Gellis series the Roselynde Chronicles (I think!) You got to see the first couple mature to a ripe old age during the course of six books.

Mint said...

I enjoy connected books. I guess the most obvious for me since I just finished one would be J.D.Robb's In Death series. I always try to get them as soon as they come out.

Lyoness2009 said...

Congratulations on your new release. Just wanted to chime in with the crowd, I enjoy related books too. It gives me more time to get to know the characters and I always like the interconnecting plot lines.

lyoness2009 AT hot mail **dot** c0m

robynl said...

I love connected books/series books; you get to meet new friends between the pages of the book and then go on to become friends with some secondary characters from the first book and so on. One can keep in touch with old friends also.

robynl said...

yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

robynl

Blythe Gifford said...

Mint, Lyoness2009 and robynl - sounds overwhelming in favor of connected books. Sounds as if I'll have to think about doing a real series sometime! Thanks so much, Bellas, for being so welcoming.

Mitzi said...

I love related books, but I don't like the wait in between. If it is a long time, I usually reread the series. I love the Outlander Series, The Breed Series, The Promise Series, and lots more!!!

mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net

Mari said...

We all love connected books! I like when the heroes my my favorite books make cameos in subsequent books in the series.

runningmatey at hotmail dot com