Author Interview: Renae Jones

Renae Jones
Twitter at @renae_jones.

RK: Can you remember the first romance book that you read? Did it have any influence-good or bad-on your decision to write romance?

RENAE: Well, the first romance book I THOUGHT I read was Flowers in the Attic. I was maybe nine or ten years old, and scarred for life, thinking all those romance fans were just really into incest and child abuse.

I didn’t figure out my mistake until my late 20s, when I somehow wandered into Ellora’s Cave and, yes, I found those first books I read very inspiring. Many of them took a fascinating idea and just ran with it. These were over the top, sexually charged books for women. They were bold and not ashamed of themselves. Even when I found ones I didn’t like at all (honestly, many of them), I had to respect that.

And my decision to write, and to write romance, was absolutely inspired by the many digital-pubbed romances I was reading at that time. I fell in love with romance somewhat to my surprise—but I love the unique pairings, the crazy people finding that part that completes them. I especially love the sci-fi slanted erotic romances that use a sci-fi setting to explore the character’s (and the readers) sexuality and personality.

RK: HELLCAT’S BOUNTY is a space western.  What do you think is the appeal of combining the genres of SF and western?

RENAE: Both are frontier genres—the unknown, the edges of our world. Both are incredibly setting driven, to the point where setting is another character. Both illuminate our own culture by featuring something subtly or baldly different in the story’s culture.

The biggest place the two diverge is when it comes to people. The western is extremely character driven. It can be exclusively about the grit of one person, the savior or the antihero. Science fiction can sometimes go the opposite way, including people but guided by a setting or a Big Idea.

I feel like a space western can better center that. It can be about a person (or two), and also be about a world. When reading, I find too far in either direction to be boring.

RK: What process do you use to develop your characters? How does this influence the plot of your stories?

RENAE: I usually start with a stereotype. I take some silly, trite concept like “the cheerleader” or “the blob exterminator,” and I start building from there. I like to add details, to really explore where a character came from, and also quirks and contradictions. I aspire to take character idea from intriguing but flat to fully fleshed out.

I’ve used a few different techniques for the fleshing, and my favorites seem to change with every story I write. I’ll do GMC, picking a sun sign, Myers-Briggs types, various systems like that to help structure my thoughts. I’ll also write quite a bit of backstory for the character down, stuff that never makes it into the actual book but helps me keep track of who this person is once I’m down in the trenches of writing the story.

Ultimately, this should be the direct fountain of all plot in the story, or so I’ve learned. Now let me pretend I’m skilled enough to pull that off every time. When things are coming together, the plot feels like this obvious answer to the various pieces of the characters. Sometimes I struggle with this, but it always comes together in the end.

RK: Do you have a set writing routine? A certain time of day? A word count goal? Music?

RENAE: I’m not a very consistent or fast writer. I’m trying to work on that in 2015, but unfortunately with my day job and my personality, word count goals will get broken sooner than later. But here’s what does work best for me: Before work, one or two 40 minute sprints, no music, no Twitter, and always plot and outline beforehand.

RK: What are you future plans for the Rosewood world developed in HELLCAT’S BOUNTY?

RENAE: I intend at least a couple more stories set in Rosewood. I want to do a romance-style series with a new couple in each book, two more women falling in love and facing danger. I’m excited to reveal more and more about this world that way, while keeping it a romance and always focusing on the current couple.

RK:  You get a choice: a ship that allows you to travel to distant galaxies full of alien life or one that allows you to travel through time. Which do you choose and why?

RENAE: Can I answer “No”? Alien life might PROBE ME and time travel has plumbing issues. This is why we have books! So someone else can find out the unknown and I can make a quesadilla.

But if we were talking some sort of magical close-circuit television or drone, I’d go for the distant galaxies. I worry that humanities future might be soul-crushingly about what you’d expect. But alien life… what’s the same? What’s different? What assumptions have I made as a human that are completely not a thing after all?