Tes Hilaire and Elisabeth Staab became unlikely partners in vampire (and uh, other creatures) crime back in February of 2012 when their debut novels, King of Darkness and Deliver me from Darkness released from Sourcebooks on the same day. They’ve been poking each other with virtual sticks ever since. It was Elisabeth’s turn to host “conversation” day at Paranormal Unbound, so she and Tes decided to discuss…
Authors carry around a lot of baggage. Hard not to when you have dozens of characters swimming around in your grey matter. They’re there every waking moment of the day, nagging us from the back of our minds and dividing our attention from the task at hand. It’s damn distracting, really. See it’s not just the stories that we aren’t writing fast enough that they want told, but all the other baggage that makes the character who they are. They have pasts, dreams, future. Not every second of every day makes it into the stories we write for them and all that extra “stuff” takes up a lot of space. Tes and Elisabeth sat down together to try and figure out if we couldn’t air out some of the baggage from their characters who muddle their brains.
Tes: So I gotta know, Elisabeth, do your characters’ backstories plague you as much as my own do?
Elisabeth: I have no doubt! I think there’s always more we want to say about our characters than we actually do. Especially when you’re dealing with paranormal creatures with unusually long lifespans. You reveal the “big bad” that saddled them with said emotional baggage, and you show who they are at the start of the story. You may even show hints through their interaction with secondary characters. But there’s so much that has to be left out, and you just hope you’ve told the right story.
Can you give us an example of some “personal history” that you may know about one of your characters that never made it into the book?
Tes: Bennett, one of my secondary characters from the Paladin Warrior series, is the perfect example of this. His backstory alone could fill an entire novel…or two. However, since he’s only a secondary character, I’m simply not allowed to devote so much time to him. In book three, Prince of Shadows, we see hints of the tragedy that’s occurred in his earlier life, but even then it barely fills a thimble in the sea that makes Bennett’s character makeup. How about you, Elisabeth?
Elisabeth: In my upcoming novel, Hunter by Night, I touch on the fact that my primary hero (Lee) was alive around during the plagues and that it had a profound effect on him and his family. I really wanted to get deeper, give more detail into his experience. It would have taken up way too much word count, and in the end I worried it would have taken away from the romance.
How about deleted scenes. Have you had a lot of scenes that you’ve had to cut out for the sake of wordcount, pacing, etc, that still plague you by sticking in your mind?
Elisabeth: So many. I think the ones that stick in my head most vividly are the villain scenes. Every book I try to put in at least one scene from the villain’s point of view. Every single time I wind up removing it before the book even gets to my editor. You’d think I’d learn. Thing is, when you’re writing romance everything you do in world building really has to directly contribute to the couple falling in love or else it doesn’t fit, and there can be exceptions but they have to be justified. So sadly, thus far, my villains always wind up getting shafted.
Tes: Oh… the dreaded scene cuts! I just had to hack a bunch from Prince of Shadows and let me just say… Painful! I have actually been toying with putting some of them up on my website in the weeks and months before Prince of Shadows release. What do you all think? (Elisabeth: I say yes!)
Have you ever started talking to one of your characters out loud?
Tes: *Tes blushes sheepishly* Errrr…. um… Yes? But in my defense it was while I was sitting at my computer writing their story. No one else was in the room to witness my little tirade when Valin dug in his heels and said “No.” How about you, Elisabeth? There must be a time when you’ve found yourself ranting at an uncooperative character. 😉
Elisabeth: Hmm. I talk to my characters in my head quite a lot. I started to say I’d never talked to them out loud but I can’t honestly swear I haven’t. I’ve laughed at them and cried, I know that much. I cried a lot while working on my upcoming release, Hunter by Night. I got frustrated with my heroine a few times. I’m sure I wanted to yell at them a time or to but did I? Well, at any rate nothing can be proven. 😉
Do you have any other characters lounging around in your grey matter that haven’t made their way onto a page yet?
Tes: Yes! Dozens of them. Some of them just pass through, say hi, spin me an interesting little tale then move on. Then there are the other half dozen or so. Like unwanted relatives they just don’t seem to want to leave. Don’t get me wrong, their stories are awesome, and I’d love to tell them, but there is only one me and so many of them!
Elisabeth: Gawd yes, I wish I could clone myself. I have characters that live in the Chronicles of Yavn world that hopefully will someday in the future make it to the page, depending on how long the series goes. Don’t even get me started on the books I haven’t written yet that are in other genres, other worlds. It’s a matter of time, energy, and getting them to play nice in the meantime. I try to put the idea down in a file until I can get back to them, but that doesn’t stop them from running around with their shoes on and getting everything muddy.
Tes, what’s next for you?
Besides finishing edits for book three, Prince of Shadows, I’m actually putting the polishing touches on a couple of self-pub books that are scheduled to be released this summer. Fifteen Forever is a paranormal YA that takes on a twist on the old Pandora legend, and Life Bites is a dystopian New Adult that fans of Walking Dead and World War Z are sure to love. How about you, Elisabeth? What has you currently pulling out your hair? 😉
Elisabeth: Ooh, exciting! Well I’m working on book 4 of the Chronicles of Yavn and I’ve got some other projects in the early-early stages that are too fresh to give details. Very excited!
Thanks for joining us everyone! Tune in next time when Elisabeth examines her favorite alpha male’s inner child… uh… maybe not.
PRINCE OF POWER BY ELISABETH STAAB
Wizards and vampires have been mortal enemies since the beginning. Now Anton, son of the Wizard Master, has one last chance to steal the unique powers of the vampire king’s beautiful sister, Tyra…and then kill her. But when he meets Tyra face-to-face, everything changes…
Tyra will stop at nothing to defeat the wizards, until Anton saves her life and she suddenly sees an opportunity she never could have imagined…
As the sparks ignite between them, together they could bring an end to the war that’s decimating their people, but only if they can find a way to trust each other…
DELIVER ME FROM TEMPTATION BY TES HILAIRE
Logan Screwed Up…Big Time
When things go bump in the night, Logan bumps back. Vampires, demons, succubi—you name it, he’s fought it. His job as Paladin angel warrior is to protect humans. Not fall for one.
She Never Believed in Divine Intervention…Until Now
Detective Jessica Waters protects humans too-with her Glock and a good set of handcuffs. She doesn’t believe in fate. But if anyone looks like a gift from the gods, it’s Logan. And he clearly knows more about her case than he’s letting on…
Elisabeth Staab still lives with her nose in a book and at least one foot in a fantasy world. She digs cats, coffee, sexy stories, and friendly things that go bump in the night. Find out more atElisabethStaab.com and follow her onTwitter andFacebook.
Tes Hilaire’s idea of a perfect vacation would include her porch on a sultry summer night, a good glass of rich, red wine, and a book about darkness, passion, torture and love. Her first novel in the Paladin warriors seriesDeliver Me from Darkness is available now. The next,Deliver Me from Temptation, releases in December. For more, visitTesHilaire.com.