Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits with Kari: Featuring Julia Justiss

It's time for another installment.

Regency Silk and Scandal is a unique 8 book author generated Regency continuity, featuring an ongoing mystery murder plot that runs through the whole series. It's about three friends, two scandalous affairs, and one secret code that leads to murder, disgrace and revenge. The stories will captivate the reader as they travel from the Cornish Coast to the heights of Hertfordshire, and from the ballrooms of London to the battlefields of Belgium.

Kari: What was it like for you in brainstorming an 8 book mystery plot?

Julia: I’ve always enjoyed brainstorming with author friends, but usually it was done in the car (referred to as the “Mother Ship,”) or aboard an airliner on the way to some writer event, or in the hotel room over too many glasses of wine. It was also previously a group effort designed to help one fellow writer work out a plot or character or motivation problem in her story. This was the first time I’ve participated in a group brainstorming effort for what would become a series of interconnected stories. But it was just as fun, exciting and energizing! Since I don’t normally write primarily-mystery plots, it was also good to have lots of input into creating a believable scenario, with suggestions how to resolve the mystery.

Kari: Can you tell us about your book in the series?

Julia: My book 3 of the series, THE SMUGGLER AND THE SOCIETY BRIDE, out in August, features the eldest daughter of one of the three main series families, Lady Honoria Carlow (whose brother Marcus is the hero of Louise Allen’s Book 1, THE LORD AND THE WAYWARD LADY, brother Hal the hero of Louise’s Book 7, THE OFFICER AND THE PROPER LADY and sister Verity, heroine of Christine Merrill’s Book 8, TAKEN BY THE WICKED ROGUE.)

Earl’s daughter Lady Honoria Carlow flees London after a scandalous disgrace to take refuge with her aunt in Cornwall and try to figure out who engineered her ruin and why. There, she encounters handsome Irishman Gabe Hawksworth, known locally as “the Hawk,” who is temporarily captaining a smuggling vessel as a favor for the army friend who saved his life. Though her family would be appalled at her attraction to a “low-born free trader,” there’s something about the well-spoken Gabe that calls out to the free-spirited Honoria.

For his part, Gabe wonders about the unexpected appearance of the mysterious “Miss Foxe.” At the height of the London Season, why is such a beautiful young woman not in town, dazzling suitors? Gabe scents a scandal. And if “Miss Foxe” is less a lady than she should be, Gabe is just the man to tempt her into indiscretion!

Kari: Is this something you would ever do again, and any tips for authors thinking about co-writing a book or contributing to a connected series such as this one?

Julia: Absolutely, I would do it again! Especially if the editorial team were brave enough to allow the authors, as they did with REGENCY SILK & SCANDAL, to come up with the story arc and characters themselves. There’s such a sense of ownership with characters you yourself have created, and you know so much more about them; in fact, lots of background info about them never ends up in the book at all. But knowing it helps you create a richer, fuller person.
As for tips for anyone working on a connected series, if you don’t have a“bible,” create one. If you do, follow it carefully; establishing a co-author loop where you can keep in touch and ask questions when you must use a character not solely your own is also helpful, and don’t forget to add anything you’ve created to the “bible” so your co-authors can be aware of it.

Kari: Thanks so much for joining us, and I look forward to following this unique and interesting series. And to reading your books. They sound awesome. Good luck to you all.


Taryn Kincaid said...

Coincidentally, I just this morning grabbed Paying the Virgin's Price by Christine Merrill (Book 2 in the series) to take along with me today! (Christine was gracious enough to send me a copy -- autographed!-- after she visited here a few weeks ago. After my nutty summer, PTVP is just now making it to the top of my TBR pile!)
I LOVE the idea behind this series and the covers are absolutely gorgeous! Will look forward to grabbing them all!
(Adore Regencies!)

Kari Lee Townsend said...

It really is such a unique idea, Taryn. I'm enjoying them as well. Can't wait to read them all.

Liz Lipperman said...

Julia, I'm fascinated by the eight book series. I am on my second book of my series and I'm finding my biggest fear is a
adding too much backstory and ticking off the readers of book one. But I feel someone who picks up book 2 without reading the first one needs to know all the stuff. Do you have any tricks?

Mary Martinez said...

Thanks for joining us at M&M today Julia. Great interview Kari and Julia.

Okay here is what I say--WOW eight books in a series. I have trouble pondering 2.

Liz, you and me both worry about the reader not know what's going on. I'll be watching for the answer to your question.

Lindsay said...

I can't wait to set my eyes on the books. As I meet each of the authors I'm more and more intrigued by the series. Might even read them out of order if I have to.

Margaret McPhee said...

Great interview, thanks, Julia and Kari.

Have THE SMUGGLER AND THE SOCIETY BRIDE in my hand and ready to read!

Julia Justiss said...

Kari, thanks for the invite; glad you and Taryn are enjoying the series.

Liz, sorry for the late response. I'm back from a month on the road and seem to have lost track of what day it was!

Adding in backstory without sounding like a data dump is tricky. It can be made easier if you have some secondary characters that carry over from the earlier book, or a new secondary character who has a legit reason to ask questions about what happened previously. Or you can have some event trigger a flashback in your protagonist that forces him/her to think about past events. Or something/someone from the unresolved past surfaces to cause new problems for the protagonist and forces them to address issues from the past.
Best to try to mix it in in dribs and drabs, only as the reader needs to know it. Good luck!