Posted by Julie at Jan 23, 2010 6:00 am
One of the coolest part of my local RWA chapter is that we have some spectacular published authors. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I learned that BETINA KRAHN, of whom I’m a fan, had joined our chapter…and that thrill increased ten fold when I also learned that Betina was writing for Blaze! Betina’s first Blaze, MAKE ME YOURS, a sassy historical, caused quite the buzz over the Internet and with Blaze readers because the book was simply UNBELIEVABLY wonderful! (Yes, I’m gushing…sue me.) Now, Betina has a novella out in a new Blaze, MANHUNTING, which she shares with another TARA member, the fantastic Joanne Rock and the wonderful Lori Borrill. I did a mini-interview with Betina that I thought would be perfect for our Saturday series. And because she’s generous on top of being a fabulous author, there’s a giveaway at the end of the post for anyone who comments. So let’s give a warm jungle welcome to Betina!
1) Your very first contemporary romance is in stores this month! This must have been a huge shift for you in your approach to the story. What was the biggest challenge for you in switching subgenres from historical to contemporary?
Actually, I was surprised by how much the process stayed the same! The challengeâ€”not unexpectedlyâ€”was finding a way to deal with current morals and expectations regarding sex. In historicals, respectable heroines are usually virgins or widowsâ€”occasionally a spinster or governess. Women with sexual experience were considered â€œsoiledâ€ or â€œlooseâ€â€”unless that experience was obtained in a legal and proper marriage. And even marital pleasure was often considered suspect and unthinkable. These days (like in Make Me Yours) I choose widows over virgins. Frankly, theyâ€™re more interesting. (So shoot me, all you virgins out there.) PLUS, the novella was not just a contemporary, it was a BLAZE!! So, the question became, how I handle the H&H having sizzling sex soon after meeting without making her seem like a slut. Hmmmm. All this in 100 pages. And make it steamy. And funny. â€˜Cause I have to do funny.
So I had to start with a strong, savvy woman with a weakness. . . who found herself at kind of a crossroads and had to take steps. . . Once I settled on the who and where. . . and the fact that she had hidden depths, it fell into place. Whew.
2) What was the one thing you thought might change from your historical novels to your contemporaries…but that really didnâ€™t?
The dynamics of the romance were surprisingly the same. The sexual triggers and signals change from era to era, but the basics remain the same. See, Taste, Want. Or as Caesar is reported to have said, â€œVeni, vidi, venciâ€. . . I came, I saw, I conquered. And then came again. ::grin::
3) In your historical novels, your voice comes across as smart and modern while never breaking from the historical perspective. Do you think thatâ€™s natural or do you work at it?
Yeah, well, itâ€™s mostly me. My own voice, developed over time. People who know me well say they can just â€œhearâ€ me talking as they read. Yikes. But I do think my voice has changed over the years. Itâ€™s gotten more modern. Probably because I think readers generally donâ€™t want â€historical accuracyâ€ as much as they want a romance they can relate to. In my early books, I used dialect and more â€œhistoricalâ€ language. It worked, but I think it distances the reader more than I would like.
4) Youâ€™re particularly well-known for your smart, resourceful heroines…tell us about how you conceptualized your first contemporary heroine and why she appeals to your contemporary hero.
Samantha Drexel is the product of a three wayâ€”conceptualizing effort. Joanne Rock and Lori Borrill and I chatted about what weâ€™d like to do with the concept of a Valentine pact to go MANHUNTING. . . and I kind of naturally went for the â€œcorporateâ€ â€œtake chargeâ€ â€œgo-get-what-you-wantâ€ type gal. Plus, I figured sheâ€™d have fewer hang-ups about going for the pleasure she wanted. It turned out I was right to head that direction. Because of her past, sheâ€™s not likely to be bowled over by an uber-sexy rocker. In fact sheâ€™s determined to dislike the heroâ€”even though he was once an idol for her. The attraction and the distrust/resentment were there from the beginning. She stands her ground, draws a line in the sand. . . and he is forced to get real or lose it all. So he. . . surrenders. . . and gets on with THE CHASE, which is the ironic name of the story.
5) Youâ€™re a bestseller, a RITA winner and all-around well-respected (and adored, if I do say so myself) romance author…if you had one piece of advise you would give to an aspiring or newly published author, what would it be?
Wow, adored? Really? Moreâ€”more! LOL. So if I had to give adviceâ€”which I seldom doâ€”it would be to persevere. To continue writing and honing your skills and not to worry too much about being published NOW. You might think, yeah, she says that because sheâ€™s published. I published my very first manuscript. . . but I still had a lot to learn about writing and all of my mistakes and struggles to improve are in print. Sigh.
My second piece of advice is to be careful who you show your work to. Thereâ€™s a fine line between constructive suggestion and creativity-killing criticism. . . even from dear friends and colleagues. So find a trusted one or two and share with them. But remember that the ONLY person you have to please besides yourself, is your editor. Itâ€™s YOUR storyâ€”write it the way YOU want. . . and see what happens. If someone will pay you to modify it and you think itâ€™s worth the money, then revise. But never make revisions you donâ€™t believe in just to please a critique partner or a reading group. Be true to your own voice and story!
Thanks, Betina! Wonderful answers…and now, for the prize…leave a comment to Betina’s interview and you’ll be eligible to be one of TWO winners who will each receive a copy of not only MAKE ME YOURS, but also MANHUNTING!