Friday, November 5, 2010

Interview with Lynn Raye Harris

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Lynn Raye Harris. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Chosen by the Sheikh. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Chosen by the Sheikh is actually a 2-in-1 Harlequin Presents that contains two novellas by different authors. My story is called “Kept for the Sheikh’s Pleasure” and is about what happens when a sexy desert king is reunited with the archaeologist he’s never quite forgotten. Dr. Geneva Gray is on a dig when her camp is overrun by nomads who kidnap her and give her as a gift to the king. When the king turns out to be the only man she’s ever loved, the man she left ten years ago, the sparks are bound to fly.

The back cover copy sums it up as this: King Zafir bin Rashid al-Khalifa does not care for surprises. Especially ones that involve the reappearance of his ex, Dr. Genie Gray! Now Zafir has the power to make all the rules—and what he wants is a willing Genie in his bed…

“Kept for the Sheikh’s Pleasure” is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I have almost nothing to do with my titles, quite honestly. I submit most of my manuscripts as Untitled. The ones I submit with titles inevitably get changed, so I don’t put a lot of thought into what to call the books. That might change, however, because the Harlequin Presents titles are undergoing a transformation. There will be no more The Greek Tycoon’s Forbidden Mistress’s Secret Baby of Shame, for instance. My April 2011 title is The Devil’s Heart. And I have a November 2011 title called The Heartless Rebel. Much nicer, right? ;)

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I started out writing historical romance, in fact. But then I got a contemporary idea, after three historicals, and tried that. I had much more fun in the contemporary world than I thought I would. I didn’t sell that first idea, or even the second one, but then Harlequin had a contest to find new writers for the Presents line and I entered. I won, and the rest is history. :)

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I am most definitely a pantser! I tend to know who the characters are and what their main issues are. Then I get the opening scene and I’m off to the races. What happens next is always a nice surprise.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I don’t have to do a lot of research, though of course I have to do some! I write short contemporary romance. The books are all about the emotional journey, and while I need to research settings, cultures, and food, much of that doesn’t make it into the story. I need the flavor of a place much more so than the details. I do love researching locations though! I use a combination of guidebooks and websites to get the flavor of my settings. I don’t have favorites, necessarily, because it all depends on where I’m setting the book. For instance, I’ve been researching Goa, India recently. What a gorgeous place! So tropical and lovely.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I wish I knew! My editor called and asked if I’d write a sheikh novella, and I said yes. Then, almost immediately, I pictured Zafir bin Rashid al-Khalifa. He was a king, but he hadn’t been supposed to be the king. And I pictured him in a tent with a lot of other sheikhs gathered around. Suddenly, I knew he was about to be given a woman. And not just any woman, but the woman he’d had an affair with ten years ago! Everything grew from there.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Oh, I always love my heroes. They’re so sexy and thrilling! But then I love writing my heroines too, because they have to be strong to deal with these men. And Genie was fun because she is a highly educated career woman who isn’t about to give up her work for a man.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Oh dear. You do know I’m a pantser, right? ;) I don’t do interviews or create character sheets. But what I’ve started to do lately, probably about 4 books ago now, is to create a Word file with a notebook layout. I have several tabs, and at least two of those tabs are set aside for the hero and heroine. I find pictures on the web, paste them in, and then I end up writing a bunch of stuff that I think is true for this character. I also write a lot of questions. This doesn’t take a lot of time, really. It’s just very impromptu and organic. I may not even use it, but I do flash back to those inspirational pictures a lot. Especially for the hero. ;) I also pull in setting photos too. And food pictures.

Mostly, I just think about the characters a lot and I learn what motivates them as I do so. I don’t always get it right the first time, and I’ve dumped many a first chapter to go back and start again. But when it clicks, I know it’s right.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I was a reader first, of course, and I have a Master’s degree with a Literature concentration (and the standard English BA that so many writers seem to have), so I’ve read a lot of inspiring work along the way. I couldn’t begin to name them all. But literary writers that have stuck with me: Hemingway, Woolf, Faulkner, Shakespeare, and Duras, just off the top of my head. Romance writers: Linda Howard, Roxanne St. Claire, Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Laura Kinsale, Jane Porter, Sandra Marton, Carole Mortimer. It’s not a complete list by any means!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Truthfully, it’s writing the best book possible. I’m on Twitter and Facebook, I blog, I have a professional website, and I attend conferences and signings. But I think it’s the book that sells the writer in the end. The last book sells the next book, if that makes sense. All the tweeting in the world won’t increase book sales if the story doesn’t resonate with the readers.

What do we have to look forward next?

Something that amazed me before I sold were the writers who had three and four category novels out a year. And then I sold and found out I could do it too. So I have a lot of books coming soon!

In the UK, Prince Voronov’s Virgin is a January 2011 release – and it’s the Mills & Boon Book of the Month! In May in the UK, look for Strangers in the Desert (a sheikh!).

In North America, my next release is The Devil’s Heart in April 2011. I will have a mid-summer release, though I’m not sure when or which book yet, and then I will finish up the year with a November 2011 release called The Heartless Rebel.

You can learn more about my books, including excerpts and a Behind the Book section, at my website, www.LynnRayeHarris.com.

Thanks, Lynn!

Thank you for having me!

To celebrate her book release, Lynn is offering a free book of Chosen by the Sheikh to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Lynn Raye Harris is a USA Today bestselling author who read her first Harlequin romance when her grandmother carted home a box of books from a yard sale. She didn't know she wanted to be a writer then, but she definitely knew she wanted to marry a sheikh or a prince and live the glamorous life she read about in the pages. Instead, she married a military man and moved around the world. She's been inside the Kremlin, hiked up a Korean mountain, floated on a gondola in Venice, and stood inside volcanoes at opposite ends of the world.

These days Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome husband and two crazy cats. Since her debut novel came out in August 2008, Lynn’s books have appeared on the USA Today, Borders, and Nielsen Bookscan bestseller lists. You can visit her at www.LynnRayeHarris.com to learn more about her books, read her sporadically updated blog, or just drop her a note.

14 comments:

Kim Watters said...

Good morning Lynn. Thanks for joining us here today. I hope you don't mind but your chocolate today will be a smorgasbord of Halloween chocolate, just take your pick. I've always been intrigued by sheikh books and yours sounds just as delightful. :) As for titles, I never get too attached to mine because as you mentioned, it will change. It appears that Harlequin is making changes across the board with titles and branding and is such a positive thing. Enjoy your day.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Kim! Thanks for having me. And Halloween chocolate is just fine - yum! I'll eat the dark chocolate first, and then go after what's left. ;)

Yes, Harlequin is making changes to titles in my line. Not sure about others, but ours are changing to more normal titles rather than something containing 'mistress,' 'tycoon,' and 'baby' all in one. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn. Yup, I have that BA in English, with a minor in marketing - there's a bizarre combo. When I went from the crumbly old English building to the snazzy modern business building, it was like two different worlds.

I love the new covers. Cool that they're going for new titles.

And I love the name of this blog - Much Cheaper than Therapy. And way more fun, too!

Cheers!

Vicky said...

Sorry that Anon comment at 7:28 was an accident. I can already tell it's going to be another one of those bumbling days for me. TGIF!

Emma said...

Chosen by the Sheikh sound wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.Thanks for the wonderful giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.

Playground Monitor said...

You wrote "I tend to know who the characters are and what their main issues are. Then I get the opening scene and I’m off to the races. What happens next is always a nice surprise."

The surprise for me is just getting off to the races. I'm writing a book for NaNoWriMo and the first four days have been excrutiatingly slow. If things don't get better, I'll be needing more of this blog, which IS cheaper than therapy (and I speak from experience).

Lorraine said...

Hi, Lynn! Your success over the past year has been phenomenal. I keep up with the I Heart news and am active on the eHqn boards. I've enjoyed reading your interview today. I'm also a fellow pantser. I get an idea, mull it over until I have characters that fit the imagined conflicts, pick out a location and write.

Congratulations on your success!

Jean Hovey said...

Having had a taste, can't wait for this book.

I love how you always say you're a pantser but know what to do next, is organic. I think that's another word for talent.

Stephanie Jones said...

I love the fact that your Presents books are always set in such exotic locales but I am especially looking forward to reading about the Sheiks!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Vicky! LOL, I hope your day isn't turning into one of those days! I love the new covers too. I doubt they'll translate to the US market though. That cameo is pretty traditional. :)

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Thanks for stopping by, Emma!

Hang in there, PM! It'll get better. Starting is always the hardest part for me.

Hi, Lorraine! Thanks so much for your kind words. :) I need to get over to the eHqn boards more often, btw.

Jean, you are so sweet to me. :)

Hey, Stephanie! I do love my exotic locations. And especially the sheikhs! :)

Thanks everyone for stopping by. :)

Cheryl said...

Hey Lynn. I have read your new novella and let me tell everyone - IT"S WONDERFUL!

You are such a talented writer! I look forward to many more books from you. I can't wait for your next one in April.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Thanks, Cheryl! You are so sweet! I appreciate your kind comments very much, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story. :)

Estella said...

I love sheik books and am looking forward to reading this one.