Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt3


Dear Trish,

Do you have a set goal for how many words you write per day? Do you have certain time of day? Any good luck charms?

As for Ireland, just from my observation on the other side of the pond it seems to have changed a lot in the last twenty years or so (from a place of economic struggle to a financial powerhouse). Would you say that's true or is that just a perception held by other countries? And if it has changed, how has that changed other things about it? Of course, you can always get out of this one by saying you are too young to write about the last twenty years!

Oooh, and how do you your heroes? You seem to create heroes that are nice guys (which I like!) and still have conflict. I've tried that and it is hard.

Jill

Dear Jill,

First up - HELLO!!! Welcome to the INSANITY known as my Blog... Now - wordcount target - yes, I do. Though whether or not I stick to it is something else entirely. I'm a 'runfaster as the finish line approaches' kinda gal - A sprinter rather than a marathon runner. A thrive on pressure so I get a chance to complain about it rather than a get off my lazy ass and stop procrastinating kinda writer. BUT in my defense I've learned I get better work that way...

Because when faced with a looming deadline I'm forced to completely exist inside the world I've created. Yup, laundry, dishes, seeing friends, answering the phone, leaving the house for anything more than the absolute necessities all become things of my dim and distant past for roughly a fortnight coming up to deadline. The characters become my one and only focus - like Ray-Anne I hear them speaking - as I live alone I have the luxury of sometimes speaking their conversations aloud - basically there is nothing beyond the world I'm in in my head. What I DO do is work out how many days I have left, divide it into the number of words I have left to hit target and aim to get at least darn close before I can't keep my eyes open anymore... maybe not as professional as some but another thing I've learnt over the years is I'm not good with too much *structure* (outside of the story itself that is). Guess that's why I'm such a committed panster ;) And why my recent *outside the box* writing experience was so - erm - exhilarating for me...


As to good luck charms. LOL. Cannot BELIEVE I'm fessing up to this - I have a blue/green agate stone I got in Cyprus a couple of years ago... which supposedly helps generate *creativity* and clear thought...And if times get rough I keep it in my pocket when I write so I can *feel it* while I think. It's smooth, okay?!? Kinda my version of worry beads - and hey - if some of that creativity does indeed rub off on me then ALL THE BETTER...Currently it's on the book shelf where I keep all the copies of my own books from all the countries they've gone to and two other stones I got from Cyprus... from the beach at Aphrodite's Rock... sentimental, me? NAH...

Now Ireland. Hmmm. It's so tough to visit this question from my end of the country without touching on the biggest change there's been in the last 20 years. Unfortunately I AM old enough to comment. Darnnit! But rather than get into ANY politics about it I'll focus on the town where I was born and grew up to highlight the kind of changes I've noticed...

I was born and reared as we like to say here, in Lisburn, (NOT at the time of this b&w pic I should point out...oh and these pictures are of the SAME street btw...) which is about a half hour by car from Belfast. And I grew up during the troubles. The only reason I moved away from the town in the end was that it was getting so built up and as I was working with horses by then and not a commuter-career-gal anymore it made sense to be somewhere greener. Horses tend to do better with a little more of the green stuff ;) But when I left Lisburn it was already a growing town and now it has City status. Over here to gain that accolade you have to at least have a Cathedral but even without that obvious tick on the criteria list it was growing soooooo fast it was only a matter of time. (we have very few places with City status in Ireland and to give you an idea I discovered this summer that there are more Irish people in New York than there are on the entire island of Ireland!) And in the north of Ireland the end of the troubles has created a MASSIVE growth. For a long time, understandably, it wasn't a *safe* investment to bring business to but with peace came a huuuugggeeeee marketplace and a workforce amongst the best educated in the UK (schools don't do the same league tables and the like as on the UK mainland and are regularly amongst the top ten scoring schools in exams). It's been amazing to watch, uplifting in fact and frankly - if you don't go somewhere for a couple of months and then return the chances are you'll find new houses, massive shopping centres, new roads and new businesses popping up all over the place. It's INCREDIBLY fast and VERY dynamic...

Amongst the great memories I have, yes I do have memories of the house I lived in shaking when a bomb went off in the centre of the town I was about to go into. And yes we did live with security checks and bomb scares and searches as we went in and out of shops and all the associated problems of the troubles but if there is one thing about the people here it's their ability to look to the future and to begin the walk up that slow road towards putting the past behind them. For me it shows that people have great spirit and heart - which let's face it is what Ireland is most famous for ;) The heart of the north is just a little bit bruised...but it's healing...

But the beauty of Ireland as a whole is it has that gorgeous mix of old and new. The very very lovely Sandra Marton asked me at the RWA Conference in Dallas this summer if I had to use just one word to describe the island of Ireland, what would I use? And my answer was pretty immediate: WISTFUL. Even with all the changes and modern life creeping it's way into the countryside the island retains a sense of history and beauty it's hard to compare to anywhere else on the globe. We have fairy rings and dolmens and ancient forts side by side with hi-tech companies and motorways buzzing with goods being transported from one end of the country to the other. We have traditional music playing in pubs and on the streets and huge outdoor concerts where thousands will gather for rock concerts. We have poets and artists and writers (Anne McCaffrey and Cecilia Ahearn and Maeve Binchy to name but a few of the internationally famous names) - some writers and poets still living on little islands and rural communities - some still writing in the traditional gaelic... And at the same time we have a thriving film industry (one which M&B's very own very lovely Abby Green is a part of...) that brings the likes of The Tudors actors Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jeremy Northam and PS I Love You actors Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Gerard Butler all here to mix and mingle with the locals for a pint or two of an evening - I mean really, for such a small island with such a small population, we ain't doing too bad are we???

Yes Jill I'd have to say we're becoming a bit of a powerhouse in our own wee way!!!

But d'ya know one of the best things about Ireland on top of all that? It's the QUALITY OF LIFE. People here make time to wind down and family is still MASSIVELY important. We enjoy the countryside around us - here in Fermanagh for instance it's the norm to go sailing or horse riding or walking through the woods; people regularly take a ferry to small islands on the lakes to have Sunday lunches - long rows of cars honk their horns as they drive through villages with flags draped out the windows on their way to Gaelic matches... Work hard and play lots 'cos otherwise what's the point in all that working??? But one thing I've noticed in any of the cities I've visited away from home is that there isn't quite the same balance, you know? I guess it's one of the many, many, MANY reasons why I love home so much!!! And why I love to set so many of my stories at home too ;) See, you've started me now. I LOVE where I live!

Now HEROES. One of my all time other favourite subjects. And one I like to feel I've studied fairly intensively...

For me, no matter what, they HAVE to have that 'nice guy' honourable core to them. No matter what they may do to annoy or rile or make the heroine crazy, we have to believe he deserves her at the end of the day. For me a big part of them is always a healthy sense of humour - because the way to a man's heart may be said to be through his stomach but for me, the way to get round the most resistant of heroines is to make her laugh - even when she doesn't want to. So sense of humour has to be in there. Then there's inner strength. We all like a guy whose strong enough to *step up to the plate* and take charge when he needs to - even if the heroine feels she can do it alone - and especially if you have a strong heroine. 'Cos I mean that's pretty gosh darned sexy isn't it???One that's successful at what he does for a living is automatically sexy, one that perseveres despite the odds to get what he wants is sexy, one that can - even after one hell of a fight - admit to being wrong is uber sexy too, right?

So how do we make him this wonderful guy and still give him conflict??? For me it comes down to one thing most of the time; Male Pride.

Most of my heroes have one weakness, and that naturally is the heroine. But are they likely to admit to that? Are they HELL. They'll try justifying it or quantifying it or believing the attraction will pass and nine times out of ten they'll be battling with themselves in some way over what they WANT as opposed to what they NEED. And ultimately that need is the heroine by their side. Does that make sense???

There's nothing I love more than a heroine who can confound a hero, mess with his logic and firmly held beliefs and his head quite frankly - and vice versa from hero to heroine. I love seeing them work their way through misconceptions and doubts and outside obstacles to get to the point where they have that lightbulb moment. And for me a lot of that will come from the *Venus and Mars* theory of thinking. Men just don't think like women do and I think most of my heroes suffer because of it. So it all comes from INSIDE THEM if that makes sense. Inside their heads most of all...

If that DOESN'T make sense then feel free to ask me more on it and I'll see if I can pin it down a little more. Scary thought though... bit like messing with the fairy dust ;) Hope that all helps Jill and THANKYOU SO MUCH for popping in!!! GREAT questions!!!

And remember gang we're still working our way through the Ask Trish Almost Anything questions so more coming your way next time...

5 comments:

Alice said...

Not sure where to post my question but here it is :)

Dear Trish,

What does having a character drive the action actually mean? (I know that in Harlequin Presents the H drives the story whereas in Romance it's the h but I'm not quite sure exactly how to do this)

Does it mean that the driving character causes all of the plot turning points, while the other character merely reacts?

Or is there more of a balance, with the driving character driving most of the action but not all of it?

And who drives the action in Modern Heat? H or h?

Thank you,

Alice.

3:17 PM

jill said...

Wow! Great answers Trish, thanks.
I hope to get to see Ireland someday, with an Irish middle name, maiden name, and married name, I think it is destiny :-)

Trish said...

Alice WELCOME! In here is absolutely fine and GREAT question!!! Keep an eye out for the answer coming your way pretty soon ;)

And Jill YOU'RE MOST WELCOME! Of course I'm gonna say EVERYONE should visit Ireland! I promise it's a trip you won't forget! And with all those hints of Irish-ness in your life it kind makes sense doesn't it??? THANKS for popping in!!!

Sue said...

Great post Trish - just one problem: I WANNA MOVE TO IRELAND!

Trish said...

LOL Sue you should!!! You'd LOVE it!