Welcome to Pauline Baird Jones, a wonderfully diverse writer!
Annabel Aidan: You’ve got a wonderful range of projects, from science fiction to action adventure to World War II to Steampunk. How do you choose your projects, or do they choose you?
Pauline Baird Jones: I will admit to committing random acts of writing, ruthless genre mashing, and recklessly crossing genre lines whenever I want. It caused me no end of problems in my early days, because back then NY publishers did not like this. I did make an effort to conform when I had a NY agent for a couple of years, but when push came to shove (obviously I have no problem with clichés) I realized that I had to follow the muse, not publisher guidelines. My agent and I parted amicably and I have not looked back (not that I can look back while relentlessly following my wayward muse). So I rather think the answer is I’m compelled to choose my projects, rather than choosing them. I will confess that I very much enjoy the wild ride with my muse.
AA: Why do you think so many of us are drawn to Steampunk, both as readers and writers?
PBJ: I think readers and authors are drawn to steampunk for a variety of (sometimes personal) reasons. For me, it was the quirky factor. I just like quirky and quirky with goggles, airships, automatons, parasols and corsets? What’s not to love about that?
For others, it is a chance to make social commentary or explore ideas in a milieu that is very free flowing right now. Consider that steampunk is a genre that came FROM readers and authors, rather than being driven BY publishers, so it has few boundaries and no rules (which might also explain why I love it, lol).
Interesting side note: There are some that are think: corsets? Are you kidding? Didn’t we free ourselves from them last century? I asked a gal at AetherFest about this topic and she told me that a properly constructed corset is quite comfortable (if not laced too tight) and provides nice back support. Her suggestion? Try it, you might like it.
AA: What was the inspiration for STEAMROLLED?
PBJ: When I finished my novella, TANGLED IN TIME, the working title was STEAMED, but there were two novels of that title released or in process of releasing. I couldn’t think of another title, so I had a contest for a new title. My husband entered (even though he didn’t want the prize which was some steampunk jewelry) and one of the titles he suggested was STEAMROLLED. My editor liked TANGLED IN TIME better, but I knew that the next novel would be STEAMROLLED, because that is what was going to happen to my characters. And they were. Totally. (grin)
AA: On your site, you say, “short stories are a good way to get through rough times”. Can you expand on that a bit?
When life hits you upside the head, it can eat up your writing time, because family has to come first. In the last eight years, life has hit a lot. When sitting in a hospital or doctor’s waiting room, I can’t write (even with cool tech), but I can think. I plotted several of my short stories while waiting. Not only was it a good way to take a break from tough times, but when I did get a couple of minutes to write, short stories let me feel a sense of completion. I was also able to use them to keep my readers remembering I existed, even though I didn’t have a novel releasing as fast as I would have liked.
Short stories also let you explore small, side stories with support characters from larger works. They let readers get a feel for your style in smaller (and often less expensive) bites. On my website, I try to highlight how and where and if my short stories connect to my novels, so readers can find them if they want to. ☺
AA: Some of your titles talk about adapting novel into film. As a playwright, I find I often do it the other way around. I worked on Broadway and in film and television for years. Although I tend to write/sell more plays than screenplays, I still find I sometimes work an early draft in script format first, and then adapt back into novel format, instead of the other way around, because I hear the piece in terms of dialogue and character first. Can you talk a bit about adaptation?
PBJ: When I was writing scripts, I used to switch back and forth between novel and script format, depending on how I was stuck. Like you, I like scripts when focusing on dialogue and action, then would shift to novel format to get into my characters’ heads. This was particularly helpful when I was writing DO WAH DIDDY DIE because Luci, my main character, was a bit crazy and being inside her head, trying to figure out what she’d do, made ME crazy.
I am a great proponent of doing what works for you when trying to plot/write a novel. (wry grin)
But you asked me to talk about adapting. I wrote my handbook ADAPTING YOUR NOVEL FOR FILM, because—while there are books out there about adapting novels for film—there weren’t any about how to adapt your OWN novel for film. Why does that matter?
Because it is very hard to see your own novel with enough clarity to adapt it to a script. A script is NOT your novel in script format. It is a new incarnation of your novel story. As I’m sure you’ve discovered, not all novels, or stories, lend themselves to script adaptation. So in my short manual, I focus on how you can find your script story in the mass of a novel. (One thing that really surprised me was to learn that short stories often adapt better than novels.)
On my website, I have a couple of free articles on this topic:
Thank you so much for having me visit your blog, Annabel! You ask fun and thought-provoking questions. ☺
Excerpt from STEAMROLLED:
She was tall and moved easily, despite the heavy boots and enveloping coat. There was air moving from somewhere, he decided. She lacked forward momentum sufficient to make her coat billow that much, no matter how confident her stride. As the light built, puffs of cool steam drifted up out of the vents, appearing to wrap around her, even as she blew through them, forcing them to shift and dance on passing air currents. While he appreciated the spectacle, he found the reasons for it obscure, but then he had limited experience with women, except his sister, who even he knew wasn’t a typical female.
Beneath the coat she wore what appeared to be a red and black striped corset over some sort of white tank top and cargo pants that hung low on her hips and had many pockets. The pants were baggy and should have increased her rustic factor. They did not. Perhaps it was the corset that offset the rustic. His lack of people knowledge quadrupled where women were concerned. She stopped, upping her level of dance involvement with the music by turning in a circle, her hips kicking from side to side, her coat flapping back to give tantalizing glimpses of a female form. Increased light glanced off a section of her skin mid-body that appeared to be bare below the cinched in corset, and light reflected off something in that region. Her singing increased in volume, as well, though not in tonal accuracy. If anything, the volume decreased tonal quality.
She’s quite awful. The nanites seemed delighted, rather than the converse.
The ambient temperature had not changed, but it felt as if his body temperature increased. His casual tee shirt tightened around his neck—a physical impossibility confirmed by a tug at the soft fabric.
There is a physiological shift in progress, Wynken confirmed. Reason for shift unclear.
It wasn’t need-to-know, so Robert ignored the semi-question, hoping the reason didn’t become clear to them anytime soon.
All Romance eBooks: http://www.omnilit.com/product-steamrolled-536606-141.html
Fictionwise (multiformat): http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b122468/Steamrolled/Pauline-Baird-Jones/?si=0
My website: http://www.paulinebjones.com/
Bio: Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of eleven novels of science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is a steampunk/science fiction romance called Steamrolled. She’s written two non-fiction books, Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem, and she co-wrote Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her seventh novel, Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, is an EPPIE 2007 winner. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. Girl Gone Nova, her ninth novel, won the EPIC Book Award, a Single Titles Reviewer’s Choice award and was nominated for a Romantic Times Best Books award. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.