Archive for 'recipe'

Dark = Can’t see nuthin’
by Jessa Slade on November 15th, 2010

Currently working on: Book 5
Mood: Immersed (but still breathing)

I surely do love the dark, wounded, brooding, bad boy alpha hero (shocking, I know) but, man, he can be hard to write.

You’d think it’d be easy. After all, a dark hero is like a brownie recipe: There aren’t that many ingredients:

  • One black leather jacket
  • 2 cups worn-denim-clad butt
  • A dash of arrogance
  • Brusque one-liners to taste
    Do not overbake. You know you want your dark hero gooey in the center.

That’s it. And yet any brownie connoisseur knows, the variations on the basic recipe are endlessly yummy. Even without the frosting.

But I find that dark heroes — much like brownies — are opaque. In the same way that I don’t like to share brownies, my dark heroes don’t like to share with me. That’s the problem with taciturn, emotionally aloof loners — they won’t talk even to their creator.

I just started writing Book 5 of the Marked Souls series, and Ecco muscled onstage as the hero. In my original sketch of the full series, I knew some basics of the Book 5 hero but I didn’t have a name. So when Ecco claimed the honor, I  shrugged and thought I’d let him audition.

I forgot that you don’t LET a dark hero do anything. Ecco was originally a walk-on character in SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, Book 1 of the Marked Souls. He was willing to voice what the other characters were afraid to say, so I thought he’d be a great sidekick. But then he started kicking back.

vos-coverHere’s the scene in VOWED IN SHADOWS (April 2011) where Ecco let me know he wasn’t going to take ‘wait’ for an answer much longer. Archer, the hero from SEDUCED, is talking with VOWED’s Jonah. The boys are in the kitchen, whipping up dinner (and tempers) as they discuss doing some unauthorized recon:

Ecco shook his head. “Better wait for the boss.”

“Since when do you obey the rules?” Archer asked.

“Since the girls started coming round and breaking them. Playing with them is more fun. And way scarier.” Ecco glowered at Jonah. “The next one was supposed to be mine.”

Jonah’s hackles rose in atavistic response to the challenge. “They aren’t trading cards.”

Ecco tapped the spoon against the side of the pot and turned slowly. “They should go to the strongest fighters.”

Jonah flexed his fingers. “They did.”

“Knock it off, you two,” Archer snapped. “We don’t understand the mechanism of the bond, but you can be sure there’s more to it than muscle.” He gave Ecco a long stare.

The big talya returned the look, and in his hands, the spoon seemed suddenly lethal.

Jonah smoothed his hand down the back of his neck. The short hairs prickled against his palm. What was wrong with him? He wasn’t the sort to beat his chest and crow. But the incense scent of Nim was still on his skin. This was why saints renounced the temptations of the flesh.

“I’d join that advance team,” he said. “If Nim is in danger from her demon’s strength, I want that anklet.”

“Not to mention, who knows what havoc Corvus could wreak with the artifact at his disposal.” Archer swept his hand over the map again, encompassing the city with his gesture.

Jonah remembered the pull of Nim’s allure. “I think the artifact does the djinn-man no good without the matching demon. Which is why Corvus went after Sera last winter.” He flattened his palm on the map. “Which is why we’ll have no trouble finding him again.”

Ecco stirred the soup with unnecessary vigor. “Because he’ll be coming for Nim. And you don’t seem to care.”

Jonah stared at him from beneath lowered brows. “Tell me again how you think you could have her, and I’ll show you how much I care.”

Archer sighed. “Your mark is on her, Jonah, as surely as the demon’s. Ecco is just teasing you about taking her.”

“No he’s not,” Jonah said, just as Ecco protested, “No I’m not.”

So now we’re stuck with each other. And despite his quickness with one-liners (he’s probably the sort to like lots of extra chocolate chips in his brownies) Ecco has proven remarkably silent about his feeeeelings. And I need to know those before I can let him close to his heroine. Or, more to the point, before the heroine will let him close to her.

wolfBut how do you get a dark hero to open up when even the worst demons of hell have only made him giggle? Have you ever had a tall, dark and silent type (real or imaginary)? How did you get him to share his heart with you?

Post your ideas in comments and a random winner will receive a signed copy of Christine Warren’s BIG BAD WOLF.

Cooking Up Ideas
by Our Guest on December 18th, 2008
I’m a daydreamer. Always have been. One of the great things about being a writer is that I can sit staring into thin air indulging in my wildest fantasies and say, “Hey, I’m working…I’m plotting.” I’ve always also had a sneaking suspicion I was born in the wrong century. I just feel more “right” when I’m around old things, while too much modern sets me on edge just a little bit.
Idle daydream, or brilliant plotting? Only the author knows for sure!
I’ve always said I don’t have the foggiest idea how to plot a contemporary story. I read contemporaries and enjoy them, but my mind becomes a bumbling blank when it comes to envisioning enough plot points to fill a book. Give me a historical setting, however, and suddenly my passion fires up and my imagination kicks into high gear.
I usually start with a simple premise — what happens when a young woman with an insatiable curiosity encounters a man with a lot to hide and everything to lose? That example is from Dark Temptation, but around a basic kernel like that my stories grow layer by layer, often in successive drafts and with a lot of help from the historic accounts I read as I do my research. Cornish history is rich with tales of pirates and smugglers, secret tunnels and wild ocean storms that sent many a ship crashing into the coastline. That all found its way into my story, both in setting and actual plot. It never fails that in doing research I’ll stumble upon some specific event or person that fits right into my theme, which was the case with the real life pirate, Lady Mary Killigrew, who became the basis for my fictional Meg Keating, whose ghost might or might not be terrorizing the characters in the story. But until I discovered the real Lady Mary, that element didn’t exist in Dark Temptation.
Lady Mary Killigrew, or the evil Meg Keating? Wait, both were pretty evil!
 So my germ of an idea when mixed with research becomes bigger ideas and subplots, which in turn leads to more research and more ideas. Sometimes when I start a book I worry that I won’t have enough material to fill 350 plus pages, but I always do — in fact I usually end up trimming. It’s a process I’ve learned to trust.
Allison’s Plotting Recipe:
1. One pint daydream — as in, what if I were lost and found myself in a mystical churchyard…would I trust the brooding stranger who wrapped me in his arms?
2. Sprinkle with several generous pinches of historical detail
3. Fold in a scoop each of pacing, conflict, motivation, relationship issues
4. Whip all ingredients to a vigorous froth
5. Bring to a passionate boil, then simmer until plot thickens.  
What’s your recipe for a delicious story?