Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Guest: Patti O'Shea

Welcome Patti to the convertible today! It's been breezy here in MN lately, so don't keep the top down too long, ok, Patti?

Before I get started, I wanted to announce that to celebrate the June 30th release of EDGE OF DAWN, I'm giving away a copy of IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, the first book in my Light Warriors series. To be eligible, leave a comment and one random winner will be chosen.

One of the questions I get asked the most is where do I get my ideas. The quick answer is everywhere--and it's true--but I can't write them unless (and until) I have characters.

With EDGE OF DAWN, my heroine, Shona Blackwood showed up while I was writing her older brother's story. I knew as soon as I heard her name that she had a book, but I didn't know much about her beyond her name, the fact that she was ten years younger than her brother, that she lived in Seattle, and that she was a talented glass artist. I had no hero for her and no plot.

Fast forward a few months. That's when Logan showed up. He's the Seattle-based troubleshooter for the Gineal people (they're a society of magic users) and he has a problem--whenever he uses too much magic, he has a seizure. Not good when his job is to fight demons and other evil beings in order to protect humans.

This was enough for me to start thinking, hmm, what if Logan has kept this a secret from his bosses? What if Shona is in danger, and since he's the Seattle-based troubleshooter, they assign him to protect her? What if he's told he must keep magic a secret from her? And what if Shona has a secret of her own, something that she doesn't realize is the key to the danger she's in? Now I'm starting to get a story!

I spend a lot of time living with my characters, getting to know them--what drives them, what scares them, what their greatest fear is--and then I use it against them. Hey, they torment me, so it's only fair that I get to torture them in return, and besides, at the end they get a happy ending and true love. I think they're getting the best end of the deal.

Shona has lost her ability to do her art and it's always been her passion. She doesn't understand why her desire to work is gone and she nothing she's tried brings it back. Then there's this guy who tried to mug her and seems to be stalking her because he keeps showing up again and again.

Logan has more problems than his overuse of magic putting him down for the count, too. He's sworn an oath of fealty to his council and he's never rebelled against them, yet his promise to keep the truth about the Gineal from Shona is weighing on him. If he obeys his bosses, he's betraying Shona's trust. If he tells her about himself and magic, he's committing treason and possibly putting his people at risk. Okay, maybe I do enjoy torturing my characters because I smiled as I wrote this.

But it's the characters who mold the story. Their actions and reactions decide which direction the plot is going to head and each hero and heroine is unique. If I were to take a different set of characters, plop them in the same situation, the story would change quickly because they'd make other choices.

Logan's twin, Kel, for example, wouldn't be particularly worried about the council's orders. Sure, he'd try to follow them, but when they didn't work for him or the situation any longer, he'd use his own judgment and face the consequences later. But then Kel has dealt with things far worse than the council's wrath and that experience has him making different decisions than his brother.

This is probably the reason why I write--to see what choices my hero and heroine are going to make and what the outcome is going to be. Even as well as I know my characters, they still manage to surprise me. It happens in every book and EDGE OF DAWN was no exception. Um, I was going to share some of them here, but realized they were spoilers. Let's just say I didn't expect anyone to show up and telepathically talk to Shona. And that was merely the beginning of my whoa moments.

I love the surprises, though. Seriously. If I knew everything that was going to happen before I sat down and wrote, well, why bother then? It's all about the journey for me, the discovery. I want my characters to do things that make me mutter to myself. Okay, maybe I like it better after the book is turned in on time, but still it's pretty cool to have my hero and heroine take over and tell me what they're going to do. And usually what they decide is much more interesting and ends up working better than anything I was thinking of doing. Now this is what I call magic!

If you'd like to find out more about me or any of my books, swing by my website: I have excerpts from all my books, back cover blurbs, and info on what's coming next.

What was the biggest surprise moment you've come across while reading a book? Was it something the characters did or the direction the story took?


Betina Krahn said...

Patti! Welcome to the convertible!

Your book sounds wonderful-- my TBR pile is growing again!

And I'm with you when it comes to leaving something to discover as you're writing a book. Once the story is told, I have to move on. Which means. . . I do a lot of re-plotting. lol.

Kylie said...

Hi Patti! Your book sounds fabulous, as usual!

I like to continue to learn about my characters as I write. It's not until the last hundred pages or so that things swing into full gear and 'all becomes clear' to me.

Your cover is very eye catching!

Karin said...

It's the direction things take, I think. Anymore I'm not really surprised at what the characters do! :>)

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Patti
And welcome. your book DOES sound wonderful. And just in time for a summer reading session.
As for surprises? My characters are constantly surprising me as I write. Sometimes I wish they'd just tow the line, you know? but then, what fun would that be?

Helen Brenna said...

Hi, Patti, and congrats on the new release!

What if we lost the ability to ask questions like, "What if?" Man, would we writers be in trouble, eh?

Chris said...

Congrats on the release!

Ack. I'm sitting here trying to think of one of those surprising turns and nothing is coming to mind. This is very likely because my caffeine level hasn't reached functional yet. ;)

lois greiman said...

Thanks for joining us, Patti. Your imagination sounds off the hook. No wonder people ask where you get your ideas. Love the sound of this book.

Sometimes characters pop into the book I'm writing and it's totally unexpected. It's not uncommon for those characters to become the focal point later on because it's so easy to fall in love with those loose cannons.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Patti!

Your new book sounds fascinating! Like you, I can't do much with a set-up idea until I have at least one good character in mind. Sometimes it's the nature of next character that comes as a surprise.

Caffey said...

Hi Patti! Love reading how the characters and story all blends together and creates the whole theme! With your heroine being a glass artist, did you need to do research for that? What did you find most interesting while researching that?

I do love the surprises that comes with stories (but too I don't need them either, if the book doesn't have it, it all depends on the story itself). I recently read a few books where there has been some heroes that had a tough past, etc. I then was totally surprised reading a historical with a hero and heroine falling in love earlier in the book and admit it right out, and then are up for all the challenges presented to them. Too the humor and 'free feeling' and too romantic passionate couple was just took the direction different than I've been reading lately!

Debra Dixon said...

Patti -- Welcome to the 'vert!

I'm with Betina. My reading pile is growing. But with the Kindle, it's not so bad because the books stack up but they don't "stack up!"

I do find I have to ask for a book in Kindle and put it in my shopping cart for later to remember to check again.

Sydney said...

I apparently need a Kindle...and need to go out and purchase some of your books. I follow you on Twitter and love getting little tidbits about the writing process as well as your current projects. I love to read a series that follows the characters through like that way you realized the sister had to have her own book. I love to have those connections. Good luck and cannot wait to start reading!

Keri Ford said...

Book sounds wonderful! Biggest surprise? heroine put the hero in place by reciting poetry. Never expected to go there. Never wanted to. But what's a writer to do? If they insist on flirting/bickering with poerty, then it must be done.

Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Betina!

That's why the plotter/extensive outlining would never work for me. Once the story is told, I'm ready to move on to something else. :-)


Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Kylie!

Isn't it amazing how things pull together at the end? Sometimes it surprises me how things I thought were just throwaway items earlier in the story become meaningful later on.


Patti O'Shea said...


They still surprise me, but I'm not surprised at being surprised. If that makes sense. ;-)


Patti O'Shea said...


Thank you! And yes, characters who obey are Stepford people to me. I wouldn't know what to do with them. ;-)


Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Helen!

And yes, "what if" seem to be the magical words for us.


Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Chris! I'm fond of saying Mr. Coffee is my BFF. ;-)


Patti O'Shea said...

Lois, thank you!

Sometimes the surprise is how the secondary characters can root themselves in our minds. :-)


Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Kathy! Yes, sometimes the second character to show up is not someone the first character would seem to fit with. And then it's surprising when it all somehow works out. :-)


Patti O'Shea said...

Hi Cathie,

Actually, because Shona is blocked on her art, I only had to do minimal research into art glass. It surprised and amazed me just how many glass artists their are and the kind of cool things they can create and I guess that would be the most interesting thing. I didn't realize just how fluid and beautiful some of the pieces are.

You're right, it depends on the book whether or not surprises are necessary. Different stories beg to be written in different ways.


Patti O'Shea said...

Hi Debra,

My Kindle is getting filled up, too. :-) I did an interview this week and mentioned your "Bad To the Bone" as one of the books I reread often. I gushed all over you when you did the workshop in Minneapolis a few years ago, but I totally love that book!


Patti O'Shea said...

Hi Sydney,

Thanks for hanging with me on the tweeting. I probably talk way too much there.

I love my Kindle, but it's dangerously expensive--at least for me. I don't realize how much money I've spent because I just download sporadically, then boom. Bill comes. At least if I'm carting paperbacks up to the cash register, I have an idea what I'm spending.


Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Keri! Poetry, huh? That would surprise me, too!


Debra Dixon said...


Love it!

Thank you!! We all aspire to write a "keeper." And when another writer loves a book, well, that's really special.

So, I'm off to be full of myself for the rest of the day. LOL!

Anonymous said...


I just love your writing style and the way you develop your characters.

I do like surprises in my books that I read. I enjoy the little twists and loops that I didn't see coming.

Pam S
pams00 @

Patti O'Shea said...


Thank you so much! My characters are why I write so I'm excited that you enjoy them!

I do, too, on the books I read. And I like it in the movies and TV, too. I just had it happen recently on the series "Life On Mars." Their explanation for everything made me go "ooooh!" and now I want to watch the whole series again to see all the clues that I'd missed earlier.


Sandy M said...

Great post to make us think, Patti! My biggest surprise moment while reading that I remember to this day - especially because I rarely overtly respond to a book - was the scene in Bridges of Madison County when Francesca read that Robert had had his ashes spread around the bridge near her home where they'd spent the day when he was with her. I actually gasped out loud because that was so unexpected and so romantic and lovely! Gosh, talking about it makes me want to reread it now!

Thanks for bringing up the memory!

Patti O'Shea said...

Thanks, Sandy! And I'm glad I could bring up a good memory. That's one of the best thing about keeper books is that we're drawn back to them now and then and can relive the magic they gave us.