Monday, August 28, 2006

Betina Krahn's TRUE DESIRES!

Betina Krahn has found a new publishing niche and what a niche it is. THE BOOK OF TRUE DESIRES is the second in her Victorian adventure series and this book has everything going for it! Read on for our discussion about the book, her process, and what she has up her sleeve.

Helen: I must admit, Betina, I haven’t read a historical romance for ages, busy as I’ve been writing my own books and trying, miserably, to keep up with the contemporary market. Reading THE BOOK OF TRUE DESIRES was a breath of fresh air for me. What made you decide to tackle writing action adventures?

Betina: Well, there I was, hanging from a mountain face in Nepal. . . Not.
I guess I’m just at a place in my life where action and adventure appeal to me—I’m reading more of it these days. It’s my fantasy that The Book of True Desires may spark a renaissance in historicals, with an emphasis on romantic adventures.
Hey, I said it was a fantasy!

Helen: Well it’s a fantasy I wholeheartedly share, given I’m a writer of contemporary romantic adventures! But from reading your article in the August RWR, this book was a tough one for you. Care to elaborate, or would you prefer wiping the sweat from your brow and moving on?

Betina: I just couldn’t step away from some ideas that weren’t working for me. But now, with more perspective, I think a big part of my “stall” was the fact that I lost both my beloved agent of 18 years (to retirement) and my dear editor (to motherhood!) within a three month span. I felt adrift for a while, like I didn’t have my footing.

Helen: Changing agents alone would have been tough enough, but both an agent and editor. Wow! Amazingly, this book reads as if it flowed effortlessly from the tips of your fingers. How’d you manage that?

Betina: It was the literary trolls I keep chained in the basement. No, really-- after I ditched the plot, setting, and characters, I went back to first principles and started over with a CHARACTER instead of a plot. I crafted a heroine I wanted to BE, not just read about. She was the starting point. When I found her a suitable hero and they began to interact, things just took off. It became pure writing JOY.

Helen: Can I be Cordelia too? Pretty please? I loved her. You, too, have mentioned on an earlier blog that she’s your favorite heroine. Tell us about her.

Betina: Hey, she’s my girl. She’s an adventuress who lives by her wit and nerve, and who makes no apologies for it. She carries a pistol strapped to her thigh, and nearly shoots the hero’s ear off. . . more than once! Despite her yen for adventure and the exotic experience, she’s more a pragmatist than a romantic. . . until Goodnight starts to get to her. She has a tender heart that she fights to protect, and of course with me at the helm, she loses the battle. Bwahahahah.

Helen: Excuse me, but the woman has no fear! If she were alive today, what would she be doing?

Betina: Oooooo. Interesting question. She might be a captain in the Army, flying helicopters in Iraq. She might be a doctor or nurse volunteering in a war or disaster ravaged country, or a scientist working on a much needed vaccine for a scary viral weapon. She could be an archaeologist or a naturalist who, like Jane Goodall, retreats into the jungle to study and protect endangered species. Or she might be adept at languages and work as a translator for a multinational corporation or on an anti-terrorism-- hey, just a minute! (stritch, scritch, scratch, scribble) Gotta write these down!

Helen: Ever have the urge to write a contemporary?

Betina: Funny you should ask. I am at this moment working on a contemporary that is part women’s fiction, part mainstream. And I have started two others. One is a SciFi romantic adventure and the other is. . . ummm. . . a SciFi adventure with some romance. I’m going where the muse leads.

Helen: This story has everything a romance should have, IMHO. I can’t give away the details, but beyond conflict, danger, romance, of course, there’s plenty of adventure in exotic places. Even some age-old Mayan mysticism. Where did you come up with all that stuff?

Betina: Mostly books and internet and a fertile imagination. But, I did travel to two hotels in Florida and took botanical photos at the Pittsburgh Conservatory. I had already researched patent medicines. I studied Mayan culture, myths, and “glyph” writing, steamship lines, Havana, the Spanish-American War, and various historical characters. I had to investigate the geography and ecosystem of the Mexican mountains: jungle vegetation, jaguars, orchids, snakes, butterflies, volcanoes, edible and poisonous plants, and the governance of local villages (los ancianos). I had to learn about Mexican “brujas” (witches), and about burros, and foaling and volcanoes. . . it seemed like it would never end. Virtually every element of the book is based on fact—despite the fact that it’s a fairly extraordinary adventure! Ooooo! And I put a number of the photos that I took and gathered for inspiration on my web site! Go see 'em!

Helen: The truth is stranger than fiction, right? I loved the details you included about Mayan culture and the “bruja” character, Yazkuz. She was very vivid to me. Let’s talk about your hero, Hartford Goodnight. I’m usually a big fan of type A, macho heroes, but Hart has such a great sense of humor. It’s that Owen Wilson factor. What do you think readers will like about Hart?

Betina: His snarkly, insolent wit. That and the fact that he’s appallingly honest. Privately, though, he’s pretty vulnerable. He manages to hide it most of the time; we only learn about it from his journal. That’s the one place he’s truly, wholly himself. So it becomes The Book of [HIS] True Desires.

Helen: Ahhh, his journal. One of my favorite parts of the book. He’s so sweet and funny. Betina, you do such a great job with humor in your books. The way Cordie and the hero, Hart Goodnight, relate to one another in the beginning of the book is very funny. I got a kick out of how she comes up with goofy last names for Hart – Goodacre, Goodenough, Goodbody. How did you come up with Goodnight for the hero’s last name?

Betina: It just sounded “British” and “butlerish” to me. And I quickly realized there could be a number of amusing variations on it. There’s nothing quite as insulting as having someone repeatedly mispronouncing your name ON PURPOSE. My older sister used to do that to me all the time and I hated it. And, no, I won’t say what she called me.

Helen: I kept envisioning Pierce Brosnan as Hart. (Who was fantastic in The Matador, by the way!) Do you ever have actors or actresses in your mind when you’re writing about your characters?

Betina: I don’t usually think of actors themselves; I think of actors in specific roles. Like Pierce Brosnan in “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Jason Statham in “The Transporter.” Sean Connery in “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball.” Vigo Mortensen and Karl Urban in “The Lord of the Rings.” Or even Alan Rickman as the deliciously snarky Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Yeah, come to think of it, there’s a big helping of Alan Rickman’s sheriff in Hart Goodnight!

Helen: Alan Rickman is one of my favorites and he’s so sardonic in that Robin Hood movie. I’d take him over Kevin Costner any day. So after Cordelia and Hart, what’s your next action adventure?

Betina: I’m working on Montgomery’s story. Remember him? He’s in “True Desires” (poor guy) in a rather limited capacity. But he has such “hunk” potential. He could use a little humility and a whole lot of love. . . so I’ve decided (at my editor’s urging!) to give him his own romantic adventure.
Uh, oh. . . one, two, three. . . that makes FOUR books I’m working on.
Crap. I have got to get busy!
But AFTER this interview is over.

Okay, now Betina’s all yours. Questions, comments, the floor is yours folks!!


amy*skf said...

Oooh, The Book of True Desires sounds like just the thing I should be reading. I love snarkiness. And laughing. Also the cover model is not chopped liver...

Okay, seriously, are you really working on 4 books? Do you work on what suits your mood? Or do you work on one until you get stuck and then move to the next?

Betina Krahn said...

Yeah, Amy. Four books. sigh. And I've been working on whatever suits my mood, unfortunately. I'm going to have to kick it into gear and FINISH something pretty soon or my agent's going to fire ME!

I hope you get to read and love True Desires. I think it's one of my best books ever.

Candace said...

I am making a run to Borders later today to stock up on reading material. I found myself with some free time last night (I apparently got all caught up) and didn't have anything new to read {{{shudder of horror}}} except the newspaper. I haven't read an historical in ages (except for keepers already on my shelves)but after reading this interview I have added Betina's, "Book of True Desires" to my list.

Michele said...

I am so on my way to the book store. Is it available right now? I must read this! Of course I've never read a Betina Krahn book that didn't make me laugh, eagerly turn the pages and sniffle a bit, as well. Sigh... And this time so much adventure! Whooppeee!


Betina Krahn said...

Hooray! May every reader of this blog have the same epiphany! Thanks, Candace! I hope you enjoy it!
Hey, guys, I'm making a latte run. . . anybody care to join me?

Betina Krahn said...

Michele, I'm afraid there won't be many sniffles in this one. . . but maybe the chuckles will do the trick for you. Hey-- you're an adventure girl-- let me know how my adventure scenes rate, okay? No holds barred. I'll bite a piece of leather. . .

anne frasier said...

that sounds wonderful, betina!!

if i remember correctly today is the actual street/shelf date. are you doing any signings? having any contests?

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, I found myself sniffling at one point!

Betina Krahn said...

Hi, Anne! I'm just doing a couple of signins: one at a B&N in St. Louis on Sept. 16th, the other in November in Orlando.

And hey, Helen, thanks for the sniffles! We gotta have some of those, too, right?

I am lovin' this latte. A new gourmet market (Morton's of Sarasota)opened within walking distance of my house! I am in heaven. The food is FABULOUS! And the best part is, I get exercise walking to and from!

Helen Brenna said...

Betina, just curious, why St. Louis?

Boo hoo, I don't drink coffee any more. I'm jealous.

Betina Krahn said...

I'm giving a workshop in St. Louis that weekend for the Missouri Romance Writers(MOWRA). It'll be a day on "Conflict". . . which should be fun. We'll be doing two signings, one at B&N and the other at a local independent store.

I'll be staying with a good friend: Karyn Witmer-Gow, who writes under her own name and as Elizabeth Grayson. She's got a new mass market out called "A Simple Gift" that is magnificent!

And as for coffee-- I do it occasionally. In daily practice, I'm a tea woman. Good old English or Irish breakfast tea! But for special occasions (like the day your book is released!) there's nothing like a decadent iced latte. . .

lois greiman said...

I have never read a Krahn book that I didn't love more than life itself. You, my dear Betina, are the wittiest, funnest (yes, funnest) person on the planet. Can't wait to read about your Desires. I mean...well you know.

Betina Krahn said...

Awww, Lois. . . yer makin' me blush!

You're not so bad in the fun department, yourself! We've missed you! Put those horses back in the barn and come have some girl time!