E: Thank you for joining Booktalk with Eileen today. Amy Jarecki is one of my favorite authors as readers will note if they use the sidebar in the blog to type your name into ‘Looking for a particular review, author or subject?
Now for the questions!
You have just received a call from your publicist. They have asked you to write a trilogy, carte blanche, no limitations except appropriate guidelines for a full-length novel in the genre of your choice. First reaction?
A: First reaction would be a belly laugh. This actually happened to me for the Lords of the Highlands series, except the phone call was from my agent.
Agents do the work on the front end, pitching my work and negotiating contracts. Publicists do the marketing work on the back end. So…when Elaine, my agent called and told me Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance wanted me to write a highlander series which was actually based on one chapter they’d asked me to write three months prior, I laughed out loud.
The road to traditional publishing with a New York house is long, fickle, and elusive. After years of trying, I got in with a single chapter…go figure!
E: Before we move to the next question, I want to mention how much I’m enjoying Lord of the Highlands series. Readers, take a look at the fantastic cover of the last book released in Lords of the Highlands–THE HIGHLAND RENEGADE along with the purchase shortlinks.
Amazon US: https://goo.gl/2TVber
Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/i1UhdW
Amazon Canada: https://goo.gl/gTCx7H
Amazon Australia: https://goo.gl/8GL9g4
Barnes & Noble: https://goo.gl/stH3jp
Google Play: https://goo.gl/VUCbhD
I want you to be a bit analytical here. What starts rolling around in that head of yours? That is, what sparks ignite the idea of a story? Please elaborate – no simple answers here.
A: I usually start a story with a nugget of an idea. For example, the manuscript I am working on now is THE HIGHLAND PIRATE. The hero, Kennan Cameron, has played a supporting role in a few past books, and he generally has been portrayed as a bit flawed. He also is a ship’s captain and comes into a fortune in THE HIGHLAND EARL (releasing May 25th). When I was thinking of titles for the next Lords of the Highlands books, I thought…what about a pirate? From there I wrote a statement:
“Privateer Kennan’s ship is pirated by the vile Jackson Vane. After being forced to watch his men walk the plank, Kennan leaps over the side of the ship and washes up on the isle of Hyskeir. There he is found by Divana Campbell who suffered smallpox and was abandoned on the isle two years prior. But she survived. As they make their way to Kennan’s home, he is driven by revenge. And though he doesn’t immediately fall in love with the lass, she proves invaluable in oh so many ways…”
And I can’t say more because I’ll give away the ending!
E: For those fans of yours who are just waiting for the next release, here are the purchase shortlinks of THE HIGHLAND EARL.
Do you use parts of dreams you have had, experiences with ‘nasty’ bosses (real people), your unconscious, personal emotional feelings such as jealousy, fear and love to write realistic characters?
A: I do draw on past emotions to enhance the experience of my characters. Sometimes I have to say to myself…that’s how I’d react, not my character! Then comes the rewriting.
E: Do you follow a plan how to develop characters?
A: Yes, before I start writing a develop a character profile sheet for the main characters complete with pictures and physical descriptions, personality types, their anticipated character arcs through the story, and backstories.
E: Once you think about a character, is there a thread you use to flesh them out?
A: I use a standard character profile questionnaire I developed when I first started writing.
E: Which takes me to my next question, how restraining are you, when a character begins to tell their story? Do you let her talk? See what she has to say? Do you have to reel her in when she takes your ‘plan’ in another direction? Do you discover the character as she/he is revealing herself/himself or create them as you want them?
A: I do let my characters talk and sometimes I reel them in. Other times they come up with something I never could have thought of in the plotting process. As I work, my characters enrich the story, but the main plot always remains the same.
E: How do you figure out what your characters look like? Is it important to know where they live, when they live, what educational level they have? If so, at what point in the novel development does this become important?
A: Character physical description, domicile, education, backstory are always done before I start writing the manuscript.
E: How do you balance story-structure, theme and character building? Are they so interwoven a writer looks at them all at once?
A: When I start a scene, I think about the setting, the purpose of the scene, and how it will lead to the next. By this stage, all of the elements are interwoven, though sometimes I’ll write the dialogue and then add characters actions and reactions on a second pass.
E: Do you develop one character at a time? That is, you know what type of character you have as your main protagonist and develop the others to build conflict and arc tension?
A: In the initial stages I really focus on the development of the hero and heroine. The supporting characters do come later. Sometimes they play a larger role and get their own profile sheet (especially the antagonists).
E: In your process of writing, does the backstory and character conflict support the story, or do you create the story to support the backstory and character conflicts?
A: I suppose the backstory and conflict support the story…usually.
E: Please use one of the series you’ve already written. Where do you get your inspiration for characters?
A: In the Lords of the Highlands series my inspiration for the characters comes from researching the Jacobite clans of the first rising and using information about the lairds and lords who were powerful leaders at the time.
E: At what point does your fictional worldbuilding begin? Is it much like how you build your characters?
A: It starts with the first idea and, though I initially plot the entire story, worldbuilding continues throughout until the manuscript is finished.
E: Thank you for joining us Amy, taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer these questions. If a reader would like to pose a question to Amy about her style of crafting a novel, please leave your question in the comments.
Multi-Award winning and Amazon All-Star author, Amy Jarecki likes to grab life, latch on, and reach for the stars. She writes historical romance with various series that span many eras and has 30 books in print. She studies karate at the Bobbly Lawrence studio in Saint George and you’ll often find her hiking Utah’s Santa Clara Hills. Reinventing herself a number of times, Amy sang and danced with the Follies, was a ballet dancer, a plant manager, and an accountant for Arnott’s Biscuits in Australia. After earning her MBA from Heroit-Watt University in Scotland, she dove into the world of Scottish historical romance and hasn’t returned. Become a part of her world and learn more about Amy’s books on amyjarecki.com.
Social Media Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyjarecki or @amyjarecki
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-jarecki