Squawk Radio

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Okay, this Kitty Working Every Day crap is getting a little old so after today (plus I got a little project developing on the side) so after today, BACK OFF, SQUAWKERS!

The big, Hold-Your-Breath Moment Du Jour (and that would be sarc`asm for those of you still wide-eyed with wonder) is where the Squawkers got their Fabulous Ideas (yet more of the same) for those their most recent Magnificent Books (and she ends with a sarcasm snare drum roll!)

I didn't realize we were all suppose to do MONSTER HEADLINES, but what the hey...



Look at this picture! Isn't this as magnificently weird as anything you could hope to see? And it's a ritual that occurs every single year at the Minnesota State Fair! Carving the Princess Kay of the Milk Way pageant contestants in hundred pound blocks of butter. While they sit in a see-through freezer.

Almost every year my family and I brave the hordes at the fair and this, the freezer, is the first place we go to because well, it's so odd. And last year when I was there, staring in fascination at the butter sculpting, I started to wonder what became of these butter sculptures and from there, what became of the young women who were being carved, not next year or the year after, but twenty years from now. And then the writers' game of "what if" began...What if the sculptor was a gorgeous Irishman who secrets something in the butter head? What if the butter head is lost for a couple decades and then, amazingly found? What if, for all sorts of reasons, every one (including the studly sculptor) returns to Minnesota expressly for the newly rediscovered butter head and people kidnap it and ransom it and hide it and take it on rides on the back of snowmobiles? And what if at the center of all this is a confused, ex-princess who is about to become the Katie Couric of the TV Kitchen except for one, huge obstacle. A hundred pound obstacle that's wearing her face?

Anyway, that's how I came up with the idea for HOT DISH, available at fine stores everywhere November of this year) because something as wondrously odd as a butter head deserves a wondrously odd story, one with heart, humor and substance.

Eloisa here...I'm running off to the university today, so I have to make this short. But I think my inspiration will be obvious. The book I'm writing right now is called ~


So...anyone have any questions? *g* There is one important thing you should know -- I've never seen the show. In fact, I am protecting my tender innocence in that respect; I don't even know what night it's on. I do know that it follows a group of married (sort of), beautiful, bad-tempered women and a revolving set of guys. And I know that it opened with a voice-over from a dead person. I played around with that, but I just couldn't make it work.

What I've got now -- and I have to say, I am loving this book -- is a group of duchesses with more-or-less broken marriages, some dukes, some lovers, a brother or two, illigitimate children, pregnancies possibly legitimate and possibly not, high stakes gambling (at chess), and bitter rivalries...


Ah, the dreaded question—Where do you get your ideas? Writers only hate that question because we don't always know the answer. For me, it's usually a cross between a lightning strike and getting whacked in the head with a large, blunt object. (Thanks for offering, Kitty, but I'm good right now.) I've also trended toward the "I keep a large purple gorilla chained in the basement" answer. But the truth is that if you shine a really bright light in our face (or hire Kitty to blow smoke in it), we can usually cough up the glimmer of inspiration that started a book for us.

The inspiration for THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME is quite simple. It's a sequel to AFTER MIDNIGHT. But to find the genesis for AFTER MIDNIGHT, you have to travel back to the most romantic setting possible--my annual pap smear. Perhaps I should elaborate. My nurse practitioner is a lovely woman who embodies the gentle but firm practicality of her profession. (Personally I love her because she warms her speculum and has banned stirrups from her office because she thinks they're barbaric.)

During my appointment we were discussing how popular the vampire trend was and I told her how much I'd love to write another paranormal since I hadn't done one since TOUCH OF ENCHANTMENT in 1997. She laughed and said that sometimes those books were difficult for her because she was so sensible. To which I jokingly replied, "Maybe I should write a book about a practical sister who doesn't believe in vampires and name her after you." DING! From that brief conversation came six words-- "Our sister is marrying a vampire." Once I had the opening sentence of Chapter One, all I had to do was come up with 89,994 more words to go with it and voila, AFTER MIDNIGHT was born!


Anyone who’s read the blog in the past week won’t be too surprised to discover that my idea for my next book was inspired by--ta da!--the Kentucky Derby Festival. For virtually a month prior to the race, we Louisvillians are inundated with newspaper articles about the chances various Thoroughbreds have for making the final lineup, the trainers who bring out the horses’ potential, the celebrities slated to attend the parties, the local milliners who hope to Score Big with their hats, the special menus the restaurants are creating for the out-of-towners... Well, you get the idea.

So I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually write about the events surrounding Derby time in my home town. I actually have written about it for one of my Silhouettes, but I’ve never explored it for the big books. So over the past month, I’ve pretty much come up with a trilogy inspired by the Kentucky Derby, complete with a sports writer, a restaurateur, a trainer, a limo driver, an expert handicapper, and, inescapably, a milliner. (You get to guess which of these are heroes and which are heroines, but I’ll give you a hint. The milliner does NOT claim a Y chromosome.)

It’ll be a while before any of these books hit stores (um, first, I have to sell them, which is always a challenge), but I think they’ll be A LOT of fun to write. Not to mention I won’t have to go far to do my research...

Xtina Buys the Plot for TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS at Wal-mart!

Sure! Didn’t you know? “Ideas for sale.” They’re on the aisle right between the dog food and the service desk.

Okay, maybe not, but it did start that way. I needed a plot for the first book of my new contemporary romantic suspense series, so I did what I always do when I should sit down and work. I procrastinated. I went to Wal-mart and browsed the book section, looking for a deep, intellectual, meaningful read that would elevate the tenor of my mind.

Of course, I headed right for the Harlequin Presents which are my favorite books of all time and have great titles that let you know right away what you’ve got. THE BILLIONAIRE’S PREGNANT BRIDE. No way. Anything to do with pregnancy or babies gets a pass from me. THE SHEIK’S UNWILLING MISTRESS. Hot damn! That pushes every politically incorrect button I own! THE VIRGIN’S ONE NIGHT STAND WITH A TYCOON. Interesting … I picked it up and read the back. Her fiancé dumped her and her tycoon boss thoughtfully offered to help her out with a one night stand. What a guy. I flipped through the first few pages. But she’s whiny and guilty. No, no, no! She should be in a magnificent towering rage!

I looked for some more mind-elevating literature. I wandered into romantic suspense, picked up STAB ME THROUGH MY TENDER HEART and read the back. This woman slept with the wrong guy. He hid his cocaine (or some nefarious thing) in her house, and now horrible stuff was happening to her and she had to depend on the help of a noble policeman/private detective/FBI agent to get her out of this mess.

But I liked the bad guy! What if her fiancé dumped her, she picked out a guy to sleep with and it was a bad guy — and she couldn’t get rid of him? She would have just stepped in a huge pile of shit!

As soon as I thought that one phrase — She would have just stepped in a huge pile of shit! — I knew I had a plot. Because that’s what I look for in a plot — a big pile of shit for the characters to step in. I lovingly placed THE SHEIK’S UNWILLING MISTRESS into my cart, and headed home where I wrote a couple of sentences about my idea.

Okay, I made up the book titles (although they probably are real titles.) But TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS involves at least two ideas mushed together (there’s some PINK PANTHER in there, too), plus some serious plotting, a lot of angst, and some sleepless nights while I figured out how to stage a jewel robbery. I’m proud to say it turned out so well my publisher is guaranteeing it’s a good read — as in, if you don’t like it you can return it for a full refund.

I love a happy ending.


I’ve gotten lots of ideas from things that have happened to me or my friends, and sometimes from news stories, magazine articles, music or poems.

For my first contemporary novel, “Sugar Daddy,” I knew I wanted to show the progression of a character in a fuller and more detailed way than I have in my historical romances. I realized in my historicals, I’m always drawn to the premise of putting people from different levels of society together, and that would work just as well for my Texas heroine.

So I created a true working-class heroine, Liberty Jones, who is struggling to raise her younger sister by herself. She is hopelessly in love with Hardy Cates, a man who is also poor and from the wrong side of the tracks. Hardy will stop at nothing to become successful, and he leaves Liberty to pursue his ambitions.

I liked this a lot . . . I felt Liberty was a heroine I could really root for . . . and I decided she would become a modern-day Cinderella. So Liberty goes to work for a super-rich upper class Houston family, and falls in love with the oldest son, Gage Travis. And just as Liberty discovers the tender and passionate man beneath Gage’s arrogant exterior . . . Hardy comes back. He is ruthless and successful, and he wants her.

I found both of these male characters so compelling and attractive that I had many long inner debates about which one Liberty should end up with, and why. The ending really rang true for me, and I hope it does for my readers!

I drew on some of my own experiences for “Sugar Daddy”, and I think many of my thoughts and feelings as a mother really shone through. (Alas, I did not have the personal experience of being pursued by Texas billionaires, so that was when my imagination came in handy *g*.)

Kitty Kuttlestone, 9:28 AM