Note from Jessa: I met Laurie at a signing up north when SEDUCED BY SHADOWS first came out. Learning that her debut novel was in the works too, I instantly felt affinity. Even if she’s not a plotter like me One of my favorite parts of being a romance writer and reader is that anywhere I meet fellow rom writers and readers, I have insta-friends. If you need more romance lovin’ friends, you can find Laurie online on Twitter and Facebook, oh, and Goodreads.
Unlike Jessa, I’m not a big plotter. Let me admit that right up front. She showed me her plotting charts once, and I’m still getting over my hives. Before jumping into a story, I do the bare minimum of planning. Oh sure, I write character sketches and fill out a few simple character charts, and now that I’m on contract, I grudgingly write a synopsis for approval before writing the book, but I don’t plot much beyond that. I prefer to discover the story as it’s revealed to me while writing the first draft.
However, this can lead to a lot of surprises. Enter Hello Kitty.
Ideal ending hooks for chapters, as well as a line or two of dialog, often pop into my head, and I find myself building scenes around them. This happened when I wrote the first chapter of BONDED BY BLOOD.
At the end of the scene, Dom looked down at Mackenzie’s keys in his hand and wondered, “…who was this woman with the Hello Kitty keychain? Hell, this was going to be interesting.”
Perfect, I thought. Mackenzie was already confounding him—even though she was unconscious at the time.
But now I had a problem. How in the world did a vampire warrior recognize Hello Kitty enough to identify her by name? He didn’t refer to it as a toy, or a Japanese cartoon character, or a keychain from a store at the mall. Heck, my own husband wouldn’t know Hello Kitty by name.
Sure, I could change it, but it felt so right. I just had to figure out how he knew.
Dom didn’t have children, so that couldn’t be it. He didn’t have family members with children, so that couldn’t be it either. Aha, Lily, his good friend and fellow Guardian, had a daughter. That was it!
Because she’s a single parent, Lily works two weeks on and two weeks off. While she’s on duty, her daughter stays up in British Columbia with her parents. It just so happens that Zoe is obsessed with Hello Kitty and Dom often buys little trinkets for Lily to take to her. A few chapters later, Lily tells Dom that Zoe loves the Hello Kitty purse he gave her, and voila, the reader (and I) now understands how and why Dom knew about Hello Kitty.
This process of discovery not only ended up answering questions in the first book, but it seeded events in the second book.
EMBRACED BY BLOOD comes out in July and is Lily’s story. Not being a single mother and never having read a paranormal romance about a vampire single mother (let me know if you have), I’m not sure I’d have thought to write about such a character if this whole Hello Kitty angle hadn’t happened.
So my advice to other writers is this: when Hello Kitty happens, don’t blow her off. Work with her. You might be surprised to learn just how powerful she really is.
Thanks for having me on Silk and Shadows. I’d love to give away a signed copy of BONDED BY BLOOD to a commenter.
Jessa adds: To kick off comments, I’ll ask, does anyone know a real-life male who could touch a Hello Kitty object without fearing that he might burst into flames like a vampire exposed to sunlight?