I recently finished a contemporary novel titled Scarlet Nights which is about to go on sale.
I like to vary my books a lot and I love to challenge myself. My big fear in writing is to do the same thing over and over. To have the same number of characters, for each book to be a mystery or whatever, would make me crazy. I like a lot of variety.
I wrote two books (Days of Gold and The Scent of Jasmine) back to back and they were both historicals and had fairly uncomplicated plots. While I was working on them (and Lavender Morning, too) I was making notes for another book, Scarlet Nights. I knew it was going to be packed full of information and characters, so I had to know everything about the people before I put one word on paper.
Long before I started the actual novel, I wrote lengthy, detailed bios of pretty much every person in the book. I started working on ol’ Brewster Lang before I began Lavender. He was a key character and I needed to know all I could about him.
Sometimes I use a real person as the prototype for my hero or heroine and for SN I used the actor Jason Statham as my hero. While I made notes, wrote my bios, and plotted, I played his movies over and over until his odd voice and the cadence of his speech was in my head.
The best part of plotting Scarlet Nights was that I had inside information from a friend of mine, Charlie Stack. Charlie has spent most of his life training in every kind of sport imaginable and he and I work out together. Four of us meet at the gym at 6:30 a.m. 4 to 5 mornings a week and basically, Charlie tries to kill us. Bicycling for 20 minutes, heavy weights for an hour, then boxing for 30 minutes. You’ve never sweat in your life until you do thirty minutes of blasting away at a big sandbag while wearing heavy leather gloves. I might add that from years of handwriting and typing, my right jab is powerful!
Besides being a physical fiend, Charlie is also a police detective and he entertains me with phenomenal stories about his life on the force. His undercover work makes the hairs on my neck stand on end!
I used what Charlie told me, the workouts, and what Mr. Statham did in the movies, to create what is one of my most complicated books. Trying to get all the information in there in an understandable way took over my entire mind for about eight months. I’d be at the gym and would totally space out. One time I went out to my car to get something and the next thing I knew I was driving home. I had an idea and I had to get it down on paper.
About two-thirds the way through the book I wanted my hero and heroine to have a time of happiness rather than working on the case, so I sent them to Fort Lauderdale for a few days. When they got back to Edilean, I knew exactly what was going to happen. After all, I’d been working on the book for over two years, so of course I knew the ending. I had it planned out hour by hour, and I knew who was going to be where when. I had outlined in detail a big scene between my heroine, Sara, and the villain. My plan was to have Sara kidnapped, then Mike would rescue her.
But as so often happens in books, my characters took over. Sara stepped in at a booth at a fair for her friend, Jocelyn, and the next thing I knew, Sara was doing things I hadn’t planned for her to do. When Ariel Frazier, one of Sara’s rivals got involved, I started laughing. The two of them, enemies since childhood, were a comedy act together. What I’d planned to be a very serious, scary scene turned into the two beautiful women in their underwear.
So that’s where I am now. I have finished that book, with only the copy editor to go over it, then it will go to the production people and will be on the stands August 2010.
Meanwhile, I’ve begun work on another book that I had the idea for when I first started the Edilean series. Remember in Days when Matthew Aldredge was sewing his own head together? I put that in there in anticipation for my next book, Silver Roses.
Next month I’ll write about it and how I spent over a year searching for some English DVDs. I couldn’t find them because they were printed in the U.S. and not available in the UK. Who would have guessed?
— Jude Deveraux