Interview with Lynn Kurland

Hi! J here – I stole Suze’s day to bring you an interview one of my very favorite authors.  I’m so excited to be introducing three time RITA Award winner and New York Times bestselling novelist, Lynn Kurland!!!  Lynn graciously answered all of our questions in wonderful detail, so we are going to give you the first half of her answers today, and the second half on Saturday.

First question: how on God’s green earth do you create such wonderful characters? Every one of your heroes/heroines is either a girl I’d like to hang out with or a guy I might actually consider dumping my wonderful hubby for.  They seem like real people, with real worries and foibles along with their integrity and honor.  But with all that, they don’t seem so perfect as to be unrealistic.  How do you do it?  

Honestly, you’ve given me way too much credit. Anything I know about character revealing–I won’t call it creating because I think the secret to good characters is trusting that you’ll find them loitering off-stage, fully formed–is thanks to great theater training during college and the influence of really great books when I was younger. I’ve also been very blessed with wonderful, witty friends, delightfully awful former boyfriends, and plenty of kooky people crossing my path. They all become grist for the mill.

 As for the particulars of getting characters down onto the page goes, I just turn them loose on my mental screen and take really good notes. And if they don’t show up on the page as vividly as I see them in my head, I revise and revise until the book reads like the movie looks.

You are writing in two genres these days.  How did that come about and what do you like about that?

I had always wanted to write fantasy and my first editor, the amazing and fabulous Gail Fortune, made that happen for me. It was a total gift. I actually really like getting to switch between genres simply because it keeps both fantasies and romances fresh for me.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible, half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Oh, mine’s finished, terrible, and will remain in the drawer. Would you believe it’s a vampire romance, and it’s the first thing I submitted to Berkley? Thank HEAVENS that didn’t sell and Stardust of Yesterday did. Even light-hearted vampires are just not for me. I’d much rather stick to ghosts and good old-fashioned time travel.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

That it became a career at all! I initially wrote because I didn’t like the way a couple of things I’d read ended and decided it would be interesting to write something where I could control the ending. The first time I sat down in front of blank screen and typed in a sentence, I about died of embarrassment. Who did I think I was to even pretend I could pull off a book? I had no idea that first sentence would turn into all this.

I’ve also been just dumbfounded that people seem to like these characters as much as they do. Whodathunkit? And to get to write what I want to write the way I want to write and have it sell more than six books per story? I’m still shaking my head over it. What a gift.

What is your junk food of choice? Currently, Ghiradelli dark chocolate with mint innards. By the bagful. My ample caboose can testify to this love.

Your romances have a language all their own.  Your lads are ever ready for a brawl, they have a pair of dirks stuffed in their manly boots whilst they prance on the strand for a goodly time.  How did you develop this lingo, which immediately identifies your books as yours? 

I wish there were some secret to it, but it’s just what comes out. I was really fortunate in that my first editor was a master at telling me where I wasn’t sounding like myself and leaving it to me to figure out how to fix that. It was an alarming amount of freedom, but instrumental in forcing me to learn how *I* sounded. I’m very leery of critique groups/partners for just that reason. For me, the fewer people I have adding their own particular spices to my stew, the happier I am and the more I sound like myself.

As far as lingo goes, I have just a couple of rules. I can’t stand reading dialect, so I try to make things sound medieval without lots of weird cannaes and dinnaes and verras—except for a very light sprinkling of them now and again and generally only with secondary characters. If I’m in a medieval character’s head I don’t use contractions, don’t use slang, try to make things sound more formal. If I’m in a modern day Uker’s head, I’ll try to work in the latest slang I’ve either badgered my cousins-in-law about or read in the Daily Mail so it sounds as authentic as a Yank can make it. Americans are just what they are. I live with really wordy people and that’s just sort of how we talk.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back? 

Just a really long list of characters who are waiting in the wings. The only thing holding me back is time!

Check back on Saturday for more of our interview with Lynn Kurland! Among lots of other good stuff, Lynn talks about her battles with the Scribes’ nemesis, the Doubt Monster, and she reveals whose romance we will get in May 2012.

26 thoughts on “Interview with Lynn Kurland”

  1. Thank you for sharing, Lynn. I really enjoy hearing about other authors and the process of their writing. Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Welcome, Lynn! You are such a delight! And I am with you on the mint Ghiradelli! Yum! You can not go wrong with chocolate and mint. In fact, I made my daughter join Girl Scouts just for the Thin Mints. 😉 I’ve also found a chocolate mint tea that has no calories. It’s all the pleasure without the growing caboose. 🙂

      1. Harney and Sons. I have to order it, but I think I’ve seen another company out there that might be in the stores. I’ll give you some of mine, though, and you can try it out. 🙂

  3. Thanks for visiting us today, Lynn! There’s so much great information here (and in Part Deux which will be posted on Saturday). You have such a varied and interconnected set of characters across your books, I’d be very interested to know how you keep them (and yourself) organized and consistent, and how you decide whose story to tell next.

  4. “In fact, I made my daughter join Girl Scouts just for the Thin Mints”

    That made me laugh. Uncomfortably, because that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. 🙂

    Thanks, J, for having me here!

  5. Can’t wait for the second installment. I love that you started writing because you wanted to create endings that made you happy. That was how I felt about “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” Loved the book, hated the ending!

  6. I have the same problem – trolling for chocolate when I should be doing other things. Thanks for the great interview Lynn and welcome to the Scribes site.

    Tomorrow’s post will have a decadent chocoloate cupcake recipe, for all you chocolate lovers.

  7. You got me on the chocolate, Lynne. I loved your candid interview. And you admission about your “horribble story.” That makes you real to me!

    I’ll be sure to check back on Saturday to hear more.

  8. Truy enjoyed the interview looking forward to tomorrow part 2.
    Lynn I loved your Stardust of Yesterday, 10 out of 11 of us read it straight through the night, I laughed so hard that my husband came out to see what was happening, I told him to go away. Finished the book with a smile and went back to reread the last chapter again. So when my husband wanted to know what I read and wanted to write like I gave him a copy to read. Thanks so much for such wonderful stories.

  9. I have SO loved all your stories, Lynn. I count the hours I’ve spent in your world as some of my best!! And while I have no doubt you would have written excellent vampires, I’m personally thankful it was the time travels that sold in the beginning since they’ll always be my first love!!

    ~ Melissa Mayhue

  10. Terrific interview and Lynn, love hearing about your success.
    It’s a tough road. Thank you for sharing your travel on it.
    Each local RWA chapter needs the wisdom of people who’ve fought hard, paid the price and come up on top.
    Thank you for sharing.

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