***Congrats to Tori who won the signed copy of PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE. Tori’s been contacted by email to claim her prize. Thanks to everyone who commented and thanks to Caitlin for stopping by for a chat!***
Caitlin Crews’s debut novel with Harlequin Presents is out today — PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE. I’m good friends with Caitlin’s alter ego, Megan Crane, critically acclaimed author of several fabulous women’s fiction novels, such as FRENEMIES and NAMES MY SISTERS CALL ME. Megan/Caitlin stopped by to chat with me about her new release and dipping her toes into the ocean of romance novels and alpha heroes.
Megan/Caitlin is also offering up a signed copy of PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE to a randomly chosen commenter, so comment away! Winner will be chosen at random at 9:00 pm EST on Thursday, February 4, 2010.
Michelle Rowen: Let’s talk about your book, PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE, that’s out right now from Harlequin Presents.
Caitlin Crews, aka: Megan Crane: Okay. Hooray! My first romance novel!
MR: I know, hooray!! So give us the plot in a nutshell. I already know what it’s about, but in your words…
CC: A princess who has always done her duty to her country (and her cold father) finds that she just can’t handle the marriage that’s been arranged for her. After meeting her ruthless, dangerous new husband at the altar, she bolts–and he follows. Intense passion ensues. How’s that?
CC: Nutshelly enough?
MR: I can smell the peanut butter it’s so nutshelly.
CC: You are such an evocative writer, Michelle.
MR: It’s a fine art. So….Luc. Where’d the name come from? And did you envision any actor when you were writing this delicious alpha hero?
CC: Luc kind of appeared, fully alpha and fully formed. I will say that my desire to write Presents stemmed from something I wrote on my blog a long time ago. I said Presents were kind of like what happened if an ordinary girl started dating King Leonidas from 300. You said: please write that book. So I did.
MR: LOL! So you’re saying that I should be getting some royalties from this. *waiting for the checks to roll in*
CC: I’m saying you are like my writing mentor, whether you know it or not. You are also responsible for me writing way more books a year. Indirectly. You speak, I listen. I’m like your minion!
MR: I’m okay with that. Before this Presents, you wrote several women’s fiction books with a COMPLETELY different feel to them. You’re like a chameleon. What was the biggest challenge between the two voices?
CC: Oh. Well. They are so different. My WF books are first-person, for one thing. And this Presents was third person, incorporated the hero’s POV… And there’s a certain emotional fullness, an intensity–I want to say a lushness–to the Presents. The WF books are more intellectual. Not that any of that necessarily comes across on the page, mind you. But that’s how I felt, writing them. I read somewhere that writing categories is like performing Swan Lake in a telephone booth. It’s all Lush! Big! Emotional! And bam! Over.
MR: Good analogy. It’s true, getting that much story into such a small package is a huge challenge. Speaking of “bam,” there are several very hot sex scenes in your book. Were those a challenge to write or did they just flow for you?
CC: Sex scenes are so hard. No pun intended. They have to be good action scenes written from an emotional perspective. Ninjas would be easier, I think!
MR: Or Ninjas having sex! PURE NINJA, BARTERED NINJA
MR: It’s a new imprint for Harlequin.
CC: Can you barter a ninja? Can a ninja be pure? These are philosophical dilemmas… Seriously–there’s an untapped market to be explored!
MR: For me, writing the Blazes was a way to get over my aversion to writing sex scenes. Kind of jumping in the deep end to see if I can swim.
CC: I didn’t have an aversion to writing sex scenes–I just didn’t write them in 1st person. It’s much more difficult in first person. Very few people can pull it off, in my opinion. The masterful Lisa Kleypas comes to mind.
MR: It is more difficult in first. My urban fantasies (current WIPs) are really sexy. But when I’m writing, I’m not me, I’m my character so it all works out.
CC: It’s like… would I tell my friend this? “He stroked his way down my abdomen and–” No, probably not. It’s the difficulty of “I” in the sex scene that had me draw back a bit in my WFs. Well. Not really. I just sort of hinted, I guess. I re-read one recently and I was surprised at how hot it was. I’d forgotten.
MR: I’ll always remember a certain scene in EVERYONE ELSE’S GIRL that I thought was super hot!
CC: That scene in EEG is exactly what I’m talking about!
MR: LOL! I know, I was like — damn! That’s so hot! And it really was just hinted at. One’s imagination fills in the rest. Do you have any rituals when you write? Like a certain drink? ie: I used to eat a lot of chocolate to get myself started. I don’t do that anymore, alas.
CC: I am addicted to tea. I chug it. And I try to limit the chocolate…My rituals involve many wasted hours online. Much time on Jezebel. And long, meandering drives on the Pacific Coast Highway, worrying over plot and character.
CC: I love Twitter. I really do. I feel that it’s my water cooler.
MR: Do you think social networking is essential to being an author these days?
CC: Other people have an office; I have social networking. And I do promo, too, which makes me feel as if I’m accomplishing something, when, in truth, I think word-of-mouth is what sells books more than anything else.
MR: Yes…word of mouth is the single most important promo tool. Unfortunately it’s not something that can be controlled.
CC: I think it’s really cool that we have the internet now–it’s no longer me and a list, crawling around a bookstore looking for new books and backlisted titles.
MR: I don’t know how I’d survive without the internet. It’s such a huge part of my life. I tried to go without tweeting last week for a few days and I failed miserably.
CC: I know, I saw that.
MR: Sad, really.
CC: I think writers are already so isolated it’s hard to give up that outlet. That said, do I need to spend six hours trolling around before I write each day? No, probably not.
MR: I need frequent positive feedback.
CC: Do you get that online? I find the negative feedback is more readily available.
MR: Negative feedback is available on static sites. But positive feedback is found through twitter and Facebook through commenting.
CC: Ah, I see. I do like interacting, too.
MR: I avoid bad reviews like the plague. If it doesn’t come through my email inbox, I likely won’t read it to maintain my own sanity. As Susan Elizabeth Phillips says, “protect the work.”
CC: I, meanwhile, seek out negative reviews. I read them all. It’s a sickness.
MR: You are braver than I am. Or crazier (although I find that hard to believe). The longer I do this, the more I know it’s only somebody’s opinion. I have read a lot of “one star” books, but I don’t express my thoughts about them online. And if I did, it wouldn’t be because I want to crush the writer’s spirit. I just simply didn’t like the book.
CC: I like knowing what’s out there. And I find that reading the really bad review takes the place of the doubt in my head. It’s already out there, for everyone to read, so… why stress myself out with my own doubts? It’s freeing.
MR: That’s a good way to look at it.
CC: Yeah, it doesn’t always work. But that’s the goal!
MR: And first person is also something that gets a wide range of reactions. You really have to connect to the main character to enjoy it. I’m reading a first person book for a contest right now and I despise the heroine.
CC: First person is tricky. People don’t necessarily want to be in your main character’s head. I, for example, hated Bella from Twilight. Mind you, I couldn’t put the books down… but I did not enjoy her head at all.
MR: I don’t know how that worked. I hated Bella right until the last book. And yet, I’m a huge fan of the series.
CC: I know, I’m a fan of the series too, and I couldn’t tolerate Bella OR Edward until the last book! Jacob, however… Jacob, I loved. And I am usually not a fan of the obvious triangle guy.
MR: I really liked Edward, found him fascinating. But I was Team Jacob. We agree on that. Yes, you’re still anti-Spike from Buffy, aren’t you?
CC: I am not a Spike fan. TO PUT IT MILDLY. I like him as long as he is not a romantic choice for Buffy.
MR: But in retrospect, can’t you see it? I can see that Buffy never loved him. He was a tragic character and part of her journey.
CC: I KNOW THAT BUFFY NEVER LOVED HIM! I WAS NEVER CONFUSED!
MR: Okay, sheesh. Calm down, Spike-hater.
CC: I just… hated the hagiography of that character.
MR: I don’t even know what hagiography means. I didn’t go to graduate school like some people.
CC: Wow. You’re a writer, Michelle. A wordsmith. Look it up.
MR: I’m looking it up!! MEANIE!!! *looks up word* Oh. Hmm. Interesting. Good word.
:: Hagiography: a book about the life of a person that praises them too much ::
CC: Right? It’s a great word. I can concede that my hatred of Spike may have more to do with the fandom at the time. I really need to rewatch.
CC: They’re making a new La Femme Nikita. I LOVED that TV show.
MR: WHAT?? I loved Nikita.
CC: And that freaking ridiculously hot French-Canadian dude who played Michael.
MR: Roy Dupuis. Raowrrr. He’s definitely a Presents alpha type. Hey…he could be Luc in PURE PRINCESS, BARTERED BRIDE!!!
CC: Oooh! He could!!! Look at you!
MR: I should be a casting agent.
CC: I like my heroes crazy alpha.
MR: Luc was very alpha. It’s a Presents thing, so you’re doing it right.
CC: I love the alpha male. I like them hard and shut down. I like it when the heroine is the only thing that confounds them, makes them human, makes them feel. I like it when they discover that love is the one thing they can’t control. I think it’s a really fascinating metaphor for male/female differences.
CC: You know? Because it’s SO over-the-top.
MR: I think the Blaze hero appeals to me a tad more. The sexy guy next door. He can be alpha, but he’s not quite as rigid and he might have a lot of self doubt too.
CC: I think both are super hot.
MR: I like my heroes to have self-hate to deal with, and the love of the heroine makes them believe they are worthy of love.
CC: Mine too! Mine are just bigger a-holes about it.
MR: LOL! When are your other Presents out this year, Ms. Crews?
CC: I’m not sure about North American dates yet, but MAJESTY, MISTRESS…MISSING HEIR comes out in May in the UK. And KATRAKIS’S LAST MISTRESS comes out in September in the UK. And I’m starting my fourth any… second… now…
MR: Always nice chatting with you.
CC: And you!
MR: Happy writing!