AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: EVE PALUDEN
Author Eve Paludan has agreed to stop by the bunny caves for a chat…
The Man Who Fell from the Sky (Angel Detectives Case #1).
Please share with us a little about this story and what inspired you to write it.
The Body Departed, a ghost novel by J.R. Rain, planted the seed in my head for my own novel. One of his main themes of his book—what if you died and left unfinished business?— is a classic theme from which many other books and also movies, have sprung. I knew that I wanted to write a serious novel in which there was a lot of soul-searching for the characters and of course, a mystery, and a happily ever after.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Mostly, I let the characters dictate what happens, but during the nearly three years that The Man Who Fell from the Sky was written and rewritten, there were a lot of changes to the plot, the removal of several characters and the addition of just one new character who would provide some back story and an important plot thread. A lot of the novel, about 50,000 words, was cut, and with it, some of the subplots. The story took different turns than what I originally anticipated. Even the final outcome of the whodunnit is different from when I began the story. I had three climax scenes and I finally picked one!
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I have always read romance novels and romantic mysteries; My highest writing interest has also been the pure romance genre, but I think that making the leap to a paranormal romance, and a whodunnit murder mystery, at that, came from reading a lot of mystery novels that intrigued me so much that I wanted to write one. Also, as a reader, I wanted to find more angel novels where the angels were “good” angels and not these dark evil angels that have become so popular. Debbie Macomber’s angel romances (starring Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy) inspired me, too. I ended up writing a “good angel” novel, because I wanted to read one. But I made my angel a detective without all of the answers. He has to investigate.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I really fall for the heroes of my books. J.R. Wilder, in The Man Who Fell from the Sky, is my current favorite. I made him do all of the stuff that I would want in a real-life hero. He is flawed by mistakes in his life but is honest, compassionate, passionate, and trustworthy. He has high standards for himself that include not taking sexual advantage of a woman when she is vulnerable but he waits for love to build, so a full relationship can manifest, instead of just sex. I think that when female romance writers create heroes, we create the men who we want in our own lives. There, I said it! I think it is a widespread truth that is not often discussed: What do you want in a life partner? Now write a novel about him!
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
That would be Cody Bliss, the angel detective. I wanted to make him funny, sweet, brave, understanding, and spiritual, but not preachy, perfect or religious. I wanted him to have faith and use his powers for good and never to feed his own ego or desires. He had to be believably self-sacrificing, for the heroine’s sake. I hope that I succeeded when I created his character.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
A friend of mine once gave me a T-shirt with the slogan, “Be careful or I you’ll end up in my novel.” That’s partly true, but I am cautious about making anyone too recognizable. I don’t think any one of my friends or family could pick out a character and say, “Hey, that’s me!” because I only use small details of real people to create characters and the rest is my imagination.
Here’s kind of a fun story that nobody really knows. Ex-husband number one (yes, I have two of them now) was a horse whisperer before that phrase was ever coined. I watched this former city boy from Detroit, Michigan, break horses without them ever bucking or freaking out. He did it with a lot of groundwork and sandbags on their backs, and he even slept with them in the stall while he was training them. He ran with them on foot in pastures and played with them, making all sorts of things into games for them to learn. He talked to them and touched them like they mattered and had a lot of skill in handling them with kindness and understanding. He perceived that they were very intelligent but did not speak his language, so he learned to speak theirs. He can make a lot of great horse noises, as I recall.
One of the unbroken horses that we bought, right off the range in Wyoming, had a skin condition called “proud flesh” which is a painful granulation of tissue after a flesh wound. He rigged up a huge Q-tip sort of thing, where you could apply the prescribed medication with a clean cloth that was attached to the end of a long stick, and further, he patiently cut away a foul infection when the flesh died. Over some months, he got Sonny healed up, and then broke him to ride, using the sandbag method. When he finally got on Sonny, the gelding kind of flicked an ear back and then they went for a calm ride, then and ever after. It was the darnedest thing I ever saw. This was a range horse, several years old, who had never been ridden and only touched a few times in his life before we got him. He really wanted that horse and bought Sonny because he was a very tall horse and Ex#1 wanted a horse that would accommodate his own height. I just want to say that J.R. in the book is NOT my ex-husband, but I did learn a lot about horses by watching Ex#1 and participating in his crazy horse adventures, but mostly, I was the feeder, waterer, and poop shoveler! (I don’t ride anymore – I love horses but I don’t have the sense of balance that is required for staying in the saddle!)
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Time management. I am now married to my writing and I live alone. I am getting a lot done. I hope that Ex#2 forgives me. He is a nice guy and we are still good friends.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
Although I am an author, most of my income comes from editing the novels of others. Writing and editing provide a good balance for my professional life.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I have a friend named Denise who occasionally bakes me homemade biscotti. I give her raw almonds. She bakes me biscotti that is out of this world! I am also an iced tea fanatic and my preferred brews are Constant Comment and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf brand Passion Fruit Black Tea.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juices don’t flow?
No distractions and lots of iced tea and fresh fruit alternated with occasional bagels. I have simple needs.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
The Man Who Fell from the Sky has two theme songs. The first is the song “Mariah” from Paint Your Wagon. It is an amazing ballad of the West with the allegory of The Wind (Mariah), The Rain (Tess), and The Fire (Joe). These three became the names of my siblings in the book. The other theme song is Sarah McLachlan and Josh Groban’s famous duet of “In the Arms Of The Angel.” I must have listened to those two songs hundreds of times while I wrote the book. I’m not kidding. Books in progress need a theme song or two! It really helps get the story focused on a theme.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I love it that you asked me that! Julianne Moore would play Mariah, the heroine. In fact, I looked at lots of photos of movie actresses when I was writing the book and I wrote this “role” especially for Julianne Moore, with the forethought that the book might be made into a movie. Brad Pitt should play J.R., the earthly hero, and Owen Wilson should play Cody, the angel detective. Doesn’t every novelist know the faces of her protagonists? It’s a good habit to get into, to visualize who they are, and Hollywood can provide inspiration and photos. I had Julianne Moore’s face on my desktop for quite a while as I was writing the heroine who I hope she will play!
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I lived in Mesa, Arizona, when I got my first three print book contracts (The Romance Writer’s Pink Pages nonfiction series) in the 1990s. I told my husband and then I told my friends at Romance Writers of America, Desert Rose Chapter. I believe that Linda Style was the RWA buddy I told; Linda used to be my critique partner, back in the days before we were published. She is a very successful romance author now, with 14 books published.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
My taste in romance really did spring from fairy tales. Beauty and the Beast (not the Disney version, but the version with color plates by Edmund Dulac) was so compelling to me as a girl. In fourth grade, I read a romance entitled Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Mars Freedman; It is the love story of a Canadian Mountie and his Boston-born wife. It was such an amazing read that I still remember it, more than forty years later! (Hey I know that book, I read it about 10 years ago and remember it – says the interviewer)
Much later, in 1979-1980, I read hundreds of fairly tame Harlequin novels borrowed from neighbor when I lived in rural Wyoming. From then on, I was hooked. Back in Arizona for a few decades, I branched out to read romantic mysteries by Phyllis Whitney and Violet Winspear, almost everything that Danielle Steel wrote for many years, and certainly, everything by Susan Wiggs, and many other authors. Here I am in Southern California in 2012, where I really scoop up the regional mysteries of the L.A. area and the paranormal romances and mysteries of the region, as well. The West encompasses a lot of geography. I have to say that I love to read romances and mysteries that take place in California, Arizona, and other Western states.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Contemporary romances are my favorite reads and if they have a paranormal element that is believably written, so much the better. I really like to read a lot of dialogue in books, so that the story unfolds in my head like a movie while I am reading it. If I find an author who uses a lot of dialogue to “show” the story, instead of “telling” it in narrative, I can get quite hooked on that author.
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs what is it?
My last job was editor of scholarly work at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. I honed my editing skills there and I quit my job, moved to Southern California at the end of June 2011, to seek my fortune as an author and freelance editor for other novelists. My plan is working and I love what I do!
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
Ghost Fire, a contracted novella for the Ghost Files series created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain; The Man Who Rose from the Sea (Angel Detectives Case #2); a novella entitled Broke Heart Ranch; a vampire trilogy. That’s it for 2012!
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Probably H.T. Night, a vampire-werewolf bestselling author, or his brother, J.R. Rain. J.R. Rain and Scott Nicholson are going to be editing Ghost Fire, when I am finished writing it! I’d better hurry. It’s due soon!
How do you pick your characters’ names?
In the case of The Man Who Fell from the Sky, I used the song, “They Call the Wind, Mariah,” from the soundtrack of one of my favorite Western movies, Paint Your Wagon. Straight from the lyrics, Mariah, Joe, and Tess became three siblings on a modern ranch in Montana. I formed their core personalities straight from the words of that song. At the time, I was also reading a novel by Mariah Stewart (one of my favorite authors), and that’s how I got the idea to go to YouTube in the first place and listen to the “Mariah” song. When I listened to the song, the characters of my book came alive in my head.
The hero, J.R. has the same initials that I saw carved into a tree when I was hiking up in Snowbowl, a Flagstaff, Arizona, ski resort, when I was planning my book. His last name, Wilder, is my tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose Little House on the Prairie series of books endeared me to reading at an early age.
The angel detective’s name is Cody, which is a name that worked well with the Western theme of the book, and was easy to remember and is only four letters to type. It makes a difference how many letters are in a name. Every time you type the characters’ names, those are keystrokes. Keep it simple!
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Steady growth, please. I enjoy writing the steamy buildup to the lovemaking and the emotional commitment. I might someday write a book where the characters jump into bed in the first chapter, but I am too much of a romantic to attempt that right now.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer” or “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever-popular “Oh, one of those books.”
Does anyone really still say that? If they do, they haven’t read a good romance. That’s what I tell them. There are times though, when I make fun of a novel, in private. I just don’t want to read a novel where the heroine is TSTL (too stupid to live). I decline to give you the titles of these existing published books, but it gives all romances a bad name when a heroine is a complete dolt in a relationship and people read the book and become appalled at the entire genre. Negativity spreads faster than accolades in this business, so you have to be diligent as an author, during development. A lot of authors spend time on developing the character of the hero but their heroine doesn’t get the same careful attention and she comes off as Miss Perfect Stereotyped Heroine with whom the reader will not empathize. Your heroine is not a Barbie doll, a clothes-horse from whom to feed your fantasy for clothes like designer shoes and diamonds a-dripping from her neck. Okay you can do that, but do give her substance and redeeming qualities. If I don’t like your heroine, I’m not going to finish reading your book.
And then there are the premise flaws. For example, if the entire story is built on a premise of a heroine’s perceived misunderstanding that could be cleared up with a one-minute phone call to the hero, I think that you have a weak book that won’t be respected in the genre.
If you are going to write a book, make the characters ones who the readers can respect, like, and understand, and with whom the reader will empathize and identify with. If the readers (mostly female) can’t find a character with whom to identify in your novel, that marginally dilutes the strength of the entire romance genre. So, do find some commonality that will endear the heroine to your readers. You want them to identify with the characters who populate the premise of your story. And you want your readers to come back for the next book.
For example: “Hey, a divorced/widowed/scorned/broke/lost woman with such-and-such a flaw or dilemma, and facing a danger/conflict of this-and-that can find true love if she does X and Y with the hero, who fits her imperative needs of A and B.” And then you can write a sentence like that about the hero, too, to keep your story focused in the development stages about what connects the hero and heroine to each other, for a committed relationship. Not to simplify it to that degree, but you have to have a core commonality with your intended readers, at least some of them! And they have to believe why your hero and heroine are meant for each other and not for anyone else.
So, don’t just write a romance novel. Write a good romance novel! Yes, sex sells, but you have to have depth of plot and character in order to compete with all of the people who write romance. A string of sex scene after sex scene does not constitute quality work. Put some emotion into it! Add some risk. Figure out what the characters must overcome in order to make their relationship work. Give them goals. Then, you have not just a romance story, but a story in any genre.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I found that candy bars gave me some pretty serious migraines if I ate it often or in unchecked quantities. These days, I try not to indulge much, but when I do indulge in treats, it’s usually the Dutch Chocolate low-fat frozen yogurt at Yogurtland, which does not give me a headache. I make myself walk there and back if I want a treat. I still occasionally dream of Lindt Lindor truffles and pink canisters of Almond Roca, but I no longer eat candy of any sort. I will admit that after menopause, chocolate just kind of lost its former allure. I had a short love affair with red licorice last summer, which I also gave up, after red licorice lied to me and said it was a fat-free food and therefore harmless. Not sugar, but carbs are my kryptonite!