Monday, August 25, 2008

Roxanne St. Claire - The Interview

Yay! Day 2 and more of Roxanne St. Claire! Here are the answers to all the questions you DIK ladies asked!!

1. You wrote a chick lit book under the name Rocki St. Claire which was fantastic. Why haven't you written any more chick lit?

HIT REPLY, an “all email & texts” chick lit novel, came out a few months before the launch of the Bullet Catchers, the bodyguard/romantic suspense series I write for Pocket Books. The series hit a market sweet spot at the same time chick lit started to wane, so I focused on the Bullet Catchers. But HIT REPLY, written under that slightly different name to help readers understand that it was a different kind of book, remains one of my very favorite creative endeavors, and I was thrilled that the story hit an emotional chord for a lot of readers. Alas, there was no hot sex, no dead bodies, no life in danger, no alpha male…and that’s what the Bullet Catchers series is all about. Thanks for remembering that book, Katie – it’s definitely holds a tender place in my heart and I would love to write something like it again.

2. French Twist is my favorite book of your romantic suspense books. Do you have more plans to write stand alone books like that one set in Europe?

I hope to write more books set in Europe – it is so rich with color and history and possibilities. Plus, the men have such nice accents! Of course I’ll write another stand alone book someday, but readers are just gobbling up series, and there’s a lot of momentum for books with recurring characters. I wrote FRENCH TWIST very early in my career, and it was released as my second book, so it’s nice to know I didn’t hit the dreaded “sophomore slump” with my thief hero.

3. What would you say has been your most significant accomplishment as a writer?

Oooh, good question. Of course I give my Rita a polish every time I pass, and hitting number one on the Waldenbooks list was definitely a high point, but, honestly, the true accomplishment is completing a good book. It is so difficult to craft a compelling, fast paced, emotional, believable, heart-pounding story with memorable characters and a few great plot twists. Each manuscript is a mountain I stare at in terror before I attempt it, and when I finally reach the summit (holding four hundred war-torn pages in my hands), I just want to howl with happiness. So I’ve had twenty-two most significant accomplishments, and more in the future, I hope.

4. Tell us something about yourself that we might not know.

A personal thing? Um…Clarence Clemons (of Bruce Springsteen’s band) once asked me on a date. (I didn’t go.) A craft thing? I don’t plot anymore – I’ve actually morphed from plotter to pantzer. A business thing? I’ve had the same editor at Pocket Books from my first sale to today – and I hope to have her forevah! Sorry, that’s more than one thing.

5. Do you see yourself continuing to write romantic suspense or is there another genre you would like to try?

Oh, I definitely have my eye on other genres. I love YA – absolutely love to read it and would love to write it. I could definitely see myself writing women’s fiction (HIT REPLY was far more w/f than chick lit, really – it dealt with cancer, adultery and an empty nest) and I think I probably have a non-fiction book in me, as well. I’d love to write a cookbook with my husband – he’s a great chef, or a romance writer’s health and diet book since I’m really into eating well and exercising, which I believe have a very positive impact on creativity.

6. I’m sure a lot of people know who the Bullet Catchers are, but some don’t. Who are they and were did you come up with the idea for them?

The Bullet Catchers are an elite team of bodyguards, security specialists, and investigators who are hired by high-end clients for protection and special projects. The company is owned by a woman, Lucy Sharpe, who is a former CIA agent known for her world-class Machiavellian control and the ability to bring a grown man to his knees. Her staff includes former military and law enforcement types, some with special expertise, some just generally fearless and fantastic.
Each book in the Bullet Catcher series stands alone, and is the story of one of the Bullet Catchers who is tested both physically and emotionally before he or she can find bliss. But this year, we’ve done something a little different – the three Bullet Catcher books in 2008 have a story thread that ties them together, so they have been released as a trilogy: FIRST YOU RUN, THEN YOU HIDE and NOW YOU DIE. The last one comes out THIS WEEK (woo hoo!) and is extra special because the Bullet Catcher boss, Lucy Sharpe, is the heroine.

7. Who was your most ‘difficult’ Bullet Catcher to write?

Max Roper was tough because his defining characteristic is the unwillingness to ever reveal his emotions. So, that made it difficult to push him over the edge. But I found the heroine who could, and he eventually fell. (They all do.) But the book, and the character, wasn’t easy.
Of course, Lucy was the biggest challenge of all. She is fearless, unstoppable, brilliant, and doesn’t so much as go to the bathroom unarmed. So putting her in jeopardy was tricky – but I did, and I ended up loving her story.

8. Do you have to read them all in order to understand them?

No, you don’t. Lots of people are starting with this year’s trilogy and working back to the earlier books. It’s more fun to read them in order, but there isn’t an overall “Bullet Catcher” arc – although the characters do change and grow, I like each book to stand all alone.

9. How is writing category romance different from writing single title books?

I often say that writing category is like eating a sweet, gooey, delicious chocolate dessert and writing romantic suspense is like chowing down on a sizzling, mouthwatering steak dinner. Both are fantastic, but entirely different experiences. Category is easier for me because the of the total emphasis on romance with no dead bodies or tricky suspense elements, but single title romantic suspense gives me the chance to weave a rich and complex plot, using multiple points of view and layered subplots. In both, the love stories are front and center for me – I love the romance!

10. I read somewhere that you signed w/ Pocket books for more Bullet Catcher books for 2009. Do you think you’ll continue to write category now?

Sadly, I haven’t written a category book in a long while. And I love them! I spent all of 2007 writing the 2008 Bullet Catcher books, so I had to say no to category, and the same thing is happening this year. But I really loved writing Desires and hope there are more category books in my future. Yes, there are two more Bullet Catcher books coming out next year, but I don’t have the exact release months nailed down yet.

11. If you books were made into movies, what actors/actresses would you like to play your characters?

I HATE this question!! I just don’t know. I let my readers make suggestions. The one I love (because I use his picture) is Paul Walker for Wade Cordell, and I like to think Gabriel Aubry could play Adrien Fletcher. But I have such utterly clear images of my characters in my head that no actor really suits me. But I’d love to hit the casting couch and see who, uh, wins me over!

12. How long have you been writing?
I started writing with the hope of seeking publication in 2000, sold my first book in 2002, and have written 23, which includes three novellas and nine category books.

13. Who is your favorite author?
I love so many! Of course the queens of romantic suspense like Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown. I cut my teeth on the glitzy books of the ‘70’s by Sydney Sheldon and Judith Krantz – I kind of miss those books, now. I’m also reading a ton of YA, including Melissa Marr and Melissa Kantor, and just dipping my toes into the paranormal waters with the amazing Kresley Cole, who is just talented beyond description.

14. What is your writing style like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Was plotter, am pantser. I totally changed my style over the last ten books or so. When I write the words I hate most in the world, Chapter One, I have an idea of the story arc in my head, know a few major turning points, may or may not know the villain, and hope I know the characters and their conflict. I work a lot of that out in the first 150 pages, which often takes three times as long as the rest of the book and several massive rewrites. By the time I reach the middle of the book, all that has been revealed to me (or decided by me) and I can usually power through the second half fairly quickly. My books peak in action during the 80 pages or so, with multiple scenes of life-threatening danger and heart-threatening romance, and I write faster – literally type faster – when things are moving that quickly. I also edit extensively as I write, so that by the end, I usually only need one pass through to do “major polishing” (not revisions) before I send it in.

15. How many are you doing in the bullet catchers?

As many as I can! I’ll write the Bullet Catchers as long as the series stays fresh and fun, and the ideas keep rolling in. Then I’ll move on to something else, I hope.

16. How did you get started writing?

I always wrote stories, since childhood. I still have some of the early ones, all written in longhand, with heroes based on TV and pop music stars and titles that would reveal my age – one of my favorites being “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane” with a picture of a woman looking out a airplane window that I cut out of my grandmother’s copy of The Ladies Home Journal! But life and “a real career” in public relations left me as a reader and a dreamer. I used to send marketing plans to my clients with a cover note that said “Read it and weep!” knowing that I would so much rather write about emotional conflict than business-to-business communications programs, but I never had the nerve to try it. When the calendar turned to a new millennium, I decided I had to give it a try. I wrote a manuscript at night, when my kids were asleep, and from the first page, I started have *fun* as I confirmed my most secret suspicion: writing is actually more entertaining to me than reading. From there, I did the usual – joined RWA, entered contests, found an agent, hid that first pitiful manuscript under the bed, and finally sold. I was hooked from the beginning and knew this could never be just a hobby for me, and I’m thrilled it’s my full-time job.

17. Which Bullet Catcher is your favorite?

Oh, that’s tough. It’s always the one I just finished – he’s all satisfied and finished with his character arc, his words polished, his love scenes smokin’ hot instead of a hot mess. If I have to choose one of them to ravish me on a desert island, probably Johnny Christiano of TAKE ME TONIGHT. I have a weakness for Italian men – I even married one! I also never fell out of love with Alex Romero of KILL ME TWICE; he was the first Bullet Catcher I ever wrote and I adored him. Of course, I’m also very partial to Lucy Sharpe, and really loved getting into her Louboutins to write her story.

18. What suggestions would you have for beginning writers as far as "breaking into the bus."

There will be no getting on the bus without HARD WORK. Getting published is a job – and I don’t just mean writing manuscript after unpublished manuscript. You need to go to conferences, hone the craft, enter contests, network with the industry and submit, submit, submit. Keep “five alive” at all times – five “publishing possibilities” out there, whether it is a partial, a full, a query to agent or editor. Hope is what kept me going. Once you have “nothing out” then you have no hope.

19. What's your favorite thing about writing?

Two words: The End. I hate starting a book, I really do. I love to rewrite, revise, and polish the finished manuscript, making it better every time I open the document. I also love the all too rare but heady sensation of writing a scene “just right” the first time. It’s so special when the words fly and the conflict is clear, when the banter is perfect and the plot is twisted into a tight knot. When I snap that last period at the end of a scene with bone-deep satisfaction that everything I hoped for – and more – is in the scene, I am utterly gleeful.

Thanks for such a fantastic interview! Reading about your perseverance, how you started, and how hard you truly work is an inspiration to all us newbies! Thanks for answering all our questions! Come back tomorrow for Roxanne's last day with us!!


Sarah said...

Great interview! :)

Playground Monitor said...

Oh man, I LOVED "Hit Reply." Every woman needs to read this book because it's such a great book about friendship.

Hope your vacation is going well and the rain I'm having here isn't dampening your trip.


Katie Reus said...

I love the fact that you don't plot anymore! Maybe that's why your books are so exciting!!

Anonymous said...

I admit, I've missed your Desires. Love how your heroes are Alpha without being as*holes. I still give your Desire from December 2007 as an example to others who want to read an book with an Alpha who doesn't fit the "typical" Desire mode.

Enjoy vacation! Hoping you're drying out from Fay.

Vicki said...

Fabulous interview!!(TARAN waving madly or behaving badly or something...:D)

I love the bullet catcher books, but it's true "Hit Reply" was/is one of my favorites.

Hope you're having a great vacation and WhooHoo on release day.

Playground Monitor said...

I still give your Desire from December 2007 as an example to others who want to read an book with an Alpha who doesn't fit the "typical" Desire mode.

Oh heavens yes! I {heart} Jackson Locke. And Deuce Monroe wasn't bad either. And the McGrath brothers... ::sigh:: I too miss the St. Claire Desires.

JenB said...

WOW! What a fantastic interview!

What would be a good Bullet Catcher book for a wimpy girl that prefers more romance and less nail biting? I have Kill Me Twice on my Amazon wish list, but now that I know each book stands alone, I'd be willing to try a different one first.

Tracy said...

Great interview Katie and Roxanne, thank you!

Roxanne - I read my first Bullet Catcher novel this past week - Kill Me Twice and very much enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Hey everyone - thanks for the love on HIT REPLY and my Desires. HR will always be so dear to my heart. And I do want to write Desires again at some point because I just pretty much smile from the moment I open the doc and write Chapter One. So the fact that you all love them, too, makes me so happy.

Jenb, I wouldn't classify my Bullet Catchers as "nail biting" - there's no violence, nothing graphic, but there's a lot of action. Give the trilogy a try - FIRST YOU RUN is the opener. If you like it, you can try THEN YOU HIDE and by'll HAVE to read Lucy's book!!!1 (I hope!) Of course, if you already have KILL ME TWICE, start right there and gobble up the whole series!


Ciara said...

Hello! I loved reading your interviews. Thanks! I think I enjoy the start of a new project best, when all the ideas are fresh and new and bursting inside my skull. Writing the first few chapters and last few chapters were the hardest. (This was my experience with my very first manuscript, at least.) I'm looking forward to picking up one of your books!

Esri Rose said...

I'm still not sure I'd call you a pantser with that amount of knowledge up front! ;]

Thanks for a great interview! The five-alive rule is a good one. Writing The End is the BEST, but I also love starting a new book -- before all the tricksy problems appear.

Thanks for the link, Ciara!

jessewave said...

Roxanne that was a terrific interview. I can't believe you have written 23 books since 2002. What an accomplishment! To have a series like the Bullet Catchers as your piece de resistance must make you very proud. I'm off to get Hit Reply to start my Bullet Catcher collection.

Judith Rochelle said...

Okay. Just got an email that NOW YOU DIE has been shipped!! I'm waiting on my front porch. I love every one of the Bullet Catchers but Lucy's story ahs got to be the best. I love that you;re a pantser and don't always know where you;re going at first. I'm kind of the same way. When I get past the first 75 or so pages I feel I've finally got a handle on what I'm doing. (Or hope I do.) I think you;ve done a great job with the Bullet Catchers, buit Tropical Getaway is a great read-over and over-and I'm busy searching for your Silhuette Desires.

Sarai said...

WOW fantastic interview. Hope the vaca is going well. French Twist was the first Roxanne book I read and LOVED it. From that moment I went out and bought them all up and haven't stopped.
Keep up the great work and thanks for stopping by!

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Oh,Jesse, I think we confused you. HIT REPLY is not a Bullet Catcher book. It's not even a suspense! It's "chick lit" and to be honest, I'm not sure you'll find it anywhere. (If you do, I promise a fun read, though!) But if you want a Bullet Catcher book, they are all on amazon, so you can find the titles and either order them there, or get them at a bookstore.

Thank you and ENJOY!


Jill Myles said...

Truer words were never spoken about 'Chapter One' ! Amen, sista!

May your new release hit the lists. :)

- Jill

KT Grant said...

Do you ever just start lovingly at your Rita? I certainly would! LOL

Carolyn Crane said...

What a great interview! Thanks for being so generous with your time, and all the great insights on your books and your process!

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