Sunday, September 07, 2008

Take 3 with . . . Shirley Jump

Shirley Jump is a go-getter with heart, and after careers in journalism, teaching, and marketing, she has devoted her writing to creating characters and happy endings that have just as much heart. And she's penning her first YA horror story with her daughter, Amanda, called The Well. She's always three steps ahead of everyone! She's Type A all the way, and an inspiration to all who cross her path. Somehow she carved out a few minutes to chat about writing and irresistible leading men.

1. You have written more than two dozen romance novels. How do you keep characters and plots fresh and different each time?

SJ: Well, every idea is different. I have SO many ideas--way too many to ever write in a lifetime. So finding the ideas is not a problem, and then after that, it's a matter of twisting the plots as I go along to keep them from getting stale. It helps that I'm the kind of reader who likes to be challenged by the books I read. I try to look for and read books that have dynamic, interesting plots. And hopefully bring the same thing to my own pages.

2. Can you briefly explain the differences in writing category romances versus single-title novels? What do you like about each type?

SJ: Category novels are much shorter, at 50,000 words, and focus solely on the hero and heroine (there are other lines at Harlequin that are slightly longer and leave room for subplots, but Harlequin Romance, the line I write for is 50k in length). What I like about that is the concentration on a single story line. You get the chance to really focus on just those two characters, without any other plots interfering. Single title is double the length and gives me the room to explore deeper themes while also juggling multiple plots at once. I have the room in single title to take more chances and really stretch my writing wings.

3. When you're developing your heroes and heroines, do you find that you spend more time on the heroes or the heroines? And which of your leading men would you most like to have lunch with (in your husband's company, of course!)?

SJ: I think it depends on the book. For some books, I know one character or the other really well right off the bat. For others, I struggle on both. It just depends on the idea, I think, and "whose" book the story mainly is. That character generally is the one I know best. As for a character to dine with...probably Duncan from REALLY SOMETHING. He was such a wounded hero and I just loved him :-)

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