JENNY: How We Started
I was in Reno at RWA National and ran into her which is always fun because Eileen does not have boring days. I'm not sure Eileen has days, she always seems to be passing in a blur on her way from somewhere fun, heading toward some place more fun. But she grabbed me and said, "I have an idea for a book. The heroine has paranormal powers but she's a virgin because whenever she's in bed with a guy she turns into his mother." I thought about saying, "You know, there'd be some massive psychological blowback to that pretty much all around," but it was Reno and we were partying so I said, "Good one, Eileen," and we spoke of other things.
A couple of months later, she called and said, "Remember that idea I had where the heroine turns into the guy's mother?" I said, "How could I forget?" She said, "Three novellas, three sisters, each with a different power. You, me, and Krissie." Frankly, she had me at "You, me, and Krissie," even without the paranormal aspect, which I'd been wanting to try for years. I like paranormals but that's a whole nother level of storytelling I'd have to master, so I'd put that ambition on hold until Eileen showed up. When she said, "Krissie, too," well, I had to do it. Have you met the divine Sister Krissie, aka Anne Stuart? Well, then you know. She's brilliant, funny, and an excellent person to buy jewelry with because she always says, "Oh, you should have that." In fact, there's a necklace in the book that I bought when I was with Krissie; it's my sister's talisman and it just seemed right that I should use it since I think of Krissie whenever I see it.
So I called my agent and said, "I need to do this novella," and she said, "How about a NOVEL?" because it's been awhile since I did a solo book, and I said, "Let me send you this idea, just look at it and see what you think." And then I waited because my agent is very, very, very smart, and if she'd said, "This is a bad idea," I'd have passed. But she called back about fifteen minutes later and said, "This is a fabulous idea, you were born to write this, go for it." I love my agent.
So with our agencies handling the contracts and all the uninteresting clerical/legal work, Eileen and Krissie and I started e-mailing, throwing out ideas for our heroines and their back stories and antagonists and heroes and all that good stuff. We set up a Yahoo Groups list so that the three of us could talk on that which means we have a nice archive of how we got to where we are today, should we ever want to wade back through it all. We couldn't decide whether to make the sisters Irish (that would be Eileen) or Latin (can't remember who came up with that) so we gave them both, an Irish mother and a Latin father, which meant we could give the sisters double Latin/Irish names which turned out to be an interesting character builder. Another good decision: we gave the sisters all the same antagonist, Aunt Rellie (Esmerelda), a character we modeled variously on Auntie Mame, Sue Ann Niven, Lucille Bluth, and Maleficent.
And then we went to work on our novellas with one twist: We decided to make them take place at the same time. So Eileen's opened with the sisters at breakfast. Twenty thousand words later, Krissie's opened with sisters at the same breakfast, starting that day over. And twenty thousand words after that, mine opened at the same breakfast. I loved the idea of doing the first scene three times in three different POVs but I was overruled (grump, grump) so Eileen's starts at breakfast, Krissie's starts as her sister leaves the breakfast scene, and mine starts as my sister leaves the breakfast scene.
And then we decided to interweave them, at which point our novella anthology became a novel which I am SO jazzed about.
So right now we're writing the first half of our individual stories for The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes (Eileen and Krissie have had their first drafts done for weeks, I'm just finishing mine now so I'm the slug) and beginning to talk about how we're going to integrate them into the book and we're going to use the blog to keep a record of that. We'll be picking a topic to talk about each week. Next week, we'll tell you about each of our sisters, how we came up with the names, the personalities, and powers and the problems. And in later weeks we'll talk about building the perfect hero, plotting our stories and interweaving them, and why Eileen wants me to get the hell out of her story (infodump, ARGH), and why Krissie plays the peacemaker between the hot-headed Irish lass and the control freak from Ohio, much the way her sister Lizzie plays the peacemaker between Eileen's bossy older sister Dee and my reckless younger sister Mare. In short, this blog is going to be the story of how we're writing The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes.
By the very fortunate Eileen, Krissie, and Jenny.