Crystal Jordan: Every author seems to have themes that appear (and reappear) in their books. Tell us what kind of themes readers can expect in a Patti O’Shea book.
Patti O’Shea: I wish I had a good answer for this, but I’m terrible at seeing the themes in my own books. Maybe someone who’s read my stories can comment and tell me what they think the theme of my work is. I’d love to know.
If I had to guess, I’d say my theme is characters who have to learn to put aside their fears, tear down their protective walls, and risk themselves emotionally to find/accept love. It’s not about love making them whole, it’s about being whole enough to open themselves up to loving another person.
CJ: The first Patti O’Shea books I ever read were part of multi-author series (and they were awesome, by the way). First was The Power of Two in the 2176 series and then Through a Crimson Veil in the Crimson City series. How did you up writing in these series?
PO: Thank you! How this happened is actually a great demonstration of synchronicity. Susan Grant was talking to one of the assistant editors (at that time) who’d read my first book, Ravyn’s Flight. She’d loved it, mentioned it to Sue, and ended up sending her a copy of the book. Sue read it, liked my voice, and contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in participating in her 2176 series. I was, submitted a proposal, and was chosen by the editor to write The Power of Two, the fourth book in the series.
This led directly to Crimson City. The editor who I’d worked with on 2176 liked TPOT so much that he asked me to contribute to his new series as well. He had a story in mind for me, but it ended up not being available and he asked if I wanted to write a vampire or werewolf. I asked if I could interest him in two half demons. Chris told me to write a proposal, I did and the story ended up being Through a Crimson Veil.
CJ: How do you get in the mood for writing a book? Music playlists? Find pictures of characters? Character interviews?
PO: I have a period I call Pre-Book. It can last a couple of days or a couple of weeks depending on how much time I need. Most of Pre-Book is spent with the characters, getting to know who they are, what the pivotal moments in their lives are, what’s still bothering them, what scares them–things like this. A lot of it doesn’t end up in the book, but I also get bits and pieces of scenes that are part of the story and give me an idea what the plot is–kind of. I don’t start writing until I feel like I know my hero and heroine well enough to get them right.
During this time, I go looking for pictures of my characters. Sometimes it takes a while before I come across exactly the right person, but I keep looking until I find him or her. Even though I know them fairly well before I start this search, the images seem to solidify certain aspects of their personality and sometimes it triggers information for me that was nebulous.
My other search includes floor plans for the homes of the hero and heroine and I’ll start preliminary, big-picture research. I don’t delve deeply for details until I’m writing since I never know what I’m going to need till I’m in the story, but if there’s something I need general information on, this is when I do it.
I might or might not do character interviews. It depends on how forthcoming the hero and heroine are being with me. If they’re giving me information, I’ll skip it. If they’re being reticent, I’ll whip out my character sketches and start quizzing them.
Every book does end up with a theme song, but that isn’t necessary for starting to write and sometimes I don’t choose a song (or have it choose me) until after the story is finished. I never can come up with a complete playlist and I rarely write with music playing. If I do, it’s instrumental.
While I was finishing my last book, I ended up listening to Tchaikovsky’s ballets all day while I worked. Not because it had anything to do with this hero and heroine or their story, but because a couple of weeks earlier I’d finished a short story (Blood Feud in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2) and that hero and heroine listened to Swan Lake. I’ve given up trying to make sense of it, I just go with the flow.
CJ: What made you write romance? Do you read in the same genre(s) you write?
PO: I write romance because that’s what I like to read. When I was in junior high, I would check anything and everything out of the library, but most of the time that book wouldn’t have a romance in it and I’d create one in my head between a couple of the characters. This worked well enough until I read a mystery where I paired the hero up with a female character and she turned out to be the murderer! Needless to say, that ruined my imaginary happy ending. When I finally stumbled on an actual romance novel, I knew I’d found exactly what I wanted to read.
The other reason why I write romance is that I’m fascinated by the relationship between men and women. I love to watch my heroes and heroines change and grow to the point where they can have a future together. I tend to have characters that verbally spar with each other on occasion and I enjoy watching that, too. I honestly can’t imagine writing a story without a developing relationship.
I used to read a lot of paranormal romance–futuristic, too–but since I started writing it, I only occasionally pick up a book in either subgenre. This wasn’t a conscious choice, but one I just realized recently. When I have time to read, I’m more likely to choose a book from a romance subgenre that I’m not writing.
CJ: What’s your most unusual writing habit?
PO: I don’t do anything too unusual, but I guess the strangest thing is that I need the television on–sound muted–while I write. My first choice is baseball and I’ve even ordered an extra package on my cable system, so that I can have a game on as often as possible while I’m working. The off season is tough and I’ve resorted to QVC (which can get expensive), or if I’m really desperate, The Weather Channel.
CJ: If you could shag one of your heroes, which would it be and why? (Assuming the heroine wouldn’t shoot you for doing so)
PO: Oh, wow, all my heroines are capable of protecting what’s theirs–especially their men. This could get me in a lot of trouble. It isn’t an easy choice either since I love all my guys, but through process of elimination, I’d have to pick Deke from In the Midnight Hour. It goes without saying that he’s sexy and good looking with all those great muscles, but what tips him over the top for me is that he’s an incredible smart aleck. I love men who are smart asses–probably because my own sense of humor trends that direction–but I don’t like meanness and Deke was never mean. It was his teasing that was able to penetrate Ryne’s armor (his heroine) and get her to open to him.
CJ: You’ve been all over the world, so which trip was the most fun? Do you have a favorite travelling companion or do you go solo? (Also, if you need someone for the next trip, I’m available. Just saying.)
PO: Australia! I spent four weeks there, and in addition to hitting Sydney, I also went to Brisbane, Townsville, Fraser Island, Cairns, Ayres Rock, and Alice Springs. I held a koala, pet emu and kangaroo, saw a shark fin break the water off a catamaran I was on, and got very close to a wild wallaby. I have pictures on the marker for the Tropic of Capricorn, which I thought was really cool since that’s my zodiac sign, saw ancient drawings on the base of Ayers Rock, and watched a group of aborigines demonstrate their traditional way of life and parts of their sacred dances. Everyone I met was incredibly nice and I loved it there.
One of my favorite things–and this might show what a geek I am–but we went to a geological museum that was so cool! There was an exhibit to mimic what would happen to Sydney during an earthquake. While I stood on this moveable section of floor (which didn’t shake too violently), video screens around me showed the city and what impact the tremors were having on it. I loved it!
And I’ve traveled with a lot of people–my parents, my cousins, my friends, and yes, I have traveled by myself. (I’ll keep your offer in mind. ;-)
CJ: Who are some of your favorite authors or books? Do you have any comfort reads (which are like comfort foods, only less calories)?
PO: I call myself an Obsessive Book Hoarder and have over 5,000 fiction books. We won’t talk about the non-fiction and reference books I own. With that in mind, there are a ton of authors who I love to read, so I’m just going to list the authors or books I re-read most often. Linda Howard, Nora Roberts (especially Born In Fire), Justine Davis, Debra Dixon’s Bad To the Bone, (It’s a Loveswept and it’s my favorite category romance ever), Jayne Ann Krentz (especially Crystal Flame, one of her futuristic novels), Susan Andersen, and Julie Garwood’s historicals.
CJ: Name three of your favorite movies of all time.
PO: Speed, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I can watch all three of these movies over and over and never get tired of them.
CJ: You have a new release out this month (Huzzah!), so tell us about it as well as what you have coming up next.
PO: Edge of Dawn is the third book in my Light Warriors series about a group of magical troubleshooters who fight demons and other evil creatures to protect humans and keep their own presence secret.
Logan Andrews is the Seattle-based troubleshooter, and when Shona Blackwood is being hunted by another magic user, he’s assigned by his council to protect her. And oh, yeah, they tell him, don’t let her know that people with power exist. Poor Logan runs into trouble right off the bat and things just get worse for him when he meets her in person and realizes he’s attracted to her. Troubleshooters are trained to control their emotions, but he’s having a problem with that when it comes to Shona.
As for Shona, her life has been in upheaval since she met Logan. Strange things are happening around her and to her, but one thing is constant–her reaction to him.
I love writing stories set in this world! The Gineal aren’t all perfect and my heroes and heroines are no exception, but there’s a strong sense of honor and of doing what’s right that makes these people a pleasure to spend hours with as I write.
After Edge of Dawn, I have two short stories coming up. Blood Feud in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 about a pair of star-crossed lovers comes out at the end of September. The second one is The Troll Bridge in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance. This is part of my Jarved Nine world, and if anyone’s read Eternal Nights, the hero is a member of Wyatt’s Special Operations team. This comes out in December.
And the fourth book in my Light Warriors series (The working title is In the Darkest Night, but I don’t know if I’ll get to keep it yet), is scheduled for March 2010. The hero is Logan’s twin brother Kel, who makes a couple of appearances in Edge of Dawn. Logan spends a lot of time worried about Kel, and in this book, the reader finds out what happened to him and why he’s withdrawing from his family. I totally fell in love with Kel and I’m so glad I was able to write his book!
CJ: Do you have any appearances coming up?
PO: I’m guest blogging in more places than I can remember right now. The best way to keep up with where I’m visiting is to visit my blog. There’s a link on my website.
CJ: Where can we find you on the Internet?
*And now for some quick questions…
~Snowed-in mountain cabin or storm-tossed beach cottage?
Beach cottage, hands down! I live in Minnesota; I have enough snow.
~On men: boxers, briefs, or commando?
Ooh, baby, commando.
~Vampire’s concubine or time traveler’s wife?
I’ll take the vampire.
~Men in uniform: turn on or take it off?
I love a man in uniform and if he’s out of uniform, that’s even better.
~Blue jeans or pearls?
I’m the queen of casual. How about a t-shirt and sweats?
~Voyeur or exhibitionist?
I’d much rather watch than be watched. Maybe a writer thing?
~Flannel PJs or sleeping in the nude?
~Tattoos or piercings?
On me? No tattoos, but I have my ears pierced. I’m not into pain, so that’s as far as I’m going.
~Men’s hair: Fabio long or Vin Diesel shaved?
It depends on the guy. If he doesn’t look good with long hair, then he shouldn’t wear it and same for the shaved look.