Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You know the rules, but do you know MAN LAW?

Hello everybody. Today I am pleased to introduce to you the very talented Carina Press author Adrienne Giordano as she debuts Book One of her Private Protector Series. For you romantics out there who love romantic suspense and action/adventure, Man Law is a must read. For anyone who might have trouble with male speak, all I can say is read this book! You don’t know the rules until you understand Man Law. Please welcome Adrienne Giordano to the Five Scribes.

D.B.: Adrienne, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read Man Law. Now, I haven’t read your in-depth bio, but I don’t think I need to. I already know you’re a team member of Romance University and that you are a fabulous storyteller. So let’s get right to it. Exactly how many psychology and sociology degrees did you have to earn to write Man Law? And how much fun did you have creating Vic Andrews?

A.G.: My psychology degree came from The School of Italian Jersey Girl. I grew up surrounded by what I call alpha males on steroids. These men were larger than life and wanted to be heard. I honestly think most loud-mouthed alpha males (the nice ones anyway) have a soft spot somewhere. It's just a matter of finding it.

I decided early on to give Vic a potty mouth and it was such fun dreaming up things he could say that would get him into trouble. Of course, my mother is fairly stunned that her daughter knows some of those words, but we writers have to do what we have to do.

As much fun as I had with this book, Vic was a complicated character. He'd learned to shut himself down to the point of emotional bankruptcy, and I had to figure out what would make that hardened heart crumble.

D.B.: Vic is a great character, and, Readers, when you read this book, you'll know what Adrienne means about that soft spot. Okay, no PhD, but you could have fooled me.

As I read your deep POV of these characters, I thought, wow, this woman’s either an avid studier of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or in a previous life, she was a man. ;)You create beyond three-dimensional male characters who show amazing chemistry not only with women, but with each other.

Have you always been able to write from the male perspective? Do you read male authors? Or how have you developed this ability?

A.G: For some bizarre reason, the male characters are much easier for me. I'm not sure what this says about me (since I'm a woman! LOL.), but I do enjoy exploring the male mind. They are such interesting creatures. They don't worry over things like we women do. And when men argue, they do it with vigor but then it's over and they shake hands. They don't hang on to the anger.

For pleasure, I read a lot of fiction books by male authors. Harlan Coben is one of my favorites. For the Private Protectors series, I read non-fiction books written by men with military backgrounds. Within those books I found similar speech patterns in the dialogue and studied the cadence. Men speak in shorter sentences. Quick and to the point.

D.B.: Absolutely. I hate to give a plot away, but for the readers’ benefit, I’ll tell you the gist of the story. Our hero in this book, Vic Andrews, is ex-military and has gone into to business with the heroine’s brother, Michael Taylor. The two are now partners in a private security firm, Taylor Security. A large part of the agency fights terrorism overseas. They surround themselves with a talented team of men and a woman with another individual with ties to the State Department. (Think NCIS on overdrive.)

Gina Delgado, Michael’s sister is a widow, the mother of three children, two boys and girl, the eldest of whom, is a teenager. (And I don’t have to tell you how the teenager and Vic get along). Gina works for her brother at Taylor Security in the accounting department, and naturally like any good romance, Gina and Vic find themselves fighting--and--losing a sizzling attraction for each other.

The author can’t let that stand. So Adrienne Giordano throws in enough conflict to flood a war zone. Raised by his aunt after his mother abandoned him, Vic has all sorts of commitment issues, has never been tied down, and of course thinks he wants it that way.

Gina comes from a sound and loving family, puts her children first and foremost, misses Danny, her firefighter husband, and swears she will never get involved with a man in a dangerous occupation again. See the conflict already? Still, the author heaps on more. There’s Man Law number one: Never mess with your best friend’s sister.

Adrienne, I’m sure you’ve heard many writers are rejected for lack of conflict. I don’t think that’s your problem, however ;) Talk about the conflict in this book. Are you a plotter or panster, and did the conflict arise as seamlessly as it appears?

A.G.: Man Law had its share of rejections, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't because of a lack of conflict. ;)

I'll admit I'm obsessed with plot structure. Pantsers, please don't kill me. I typically like to have all my major turning points mapped out before I start writing. I know that sounds boring, but (in my own defense) many of the scenes between the major plot points come to me as I'm writing. I have found that the story gets away from me if I don't have a "map" of the middle and end to keep me on track.

Before starting this book, I did in-depth character interviews for both Vic and Gina. It was the first time I'd tried interviewing a character and it worked so well for me that I do it for each book now. From the interview I found Vic is fearless in a lot of ways, but I also discovered he's terrified of abandonment. Once that happened, I was able to come up with all sorts of conflicts!

D.B.: In addition to writing well-drawn men, you know Gina incredibly well. She’s a feisty gorgeous Italian woman. Now, hmmm. Let me study my notes. Gina’s last name is Delgado. Yours is Giordano. I’m sensing a pattern here.:) How much is Gina like you, and then tell readers how is Gina different?

A.G.: Well, I've occasionally been known to get feisty (just ask my husband) and Gina's ideas on parenting are similar to mine, but that's the extent of it. She has more patience with Vic than I could ever have. I love him, but he's a major challenge and I'd have to kill him. :) I think that's why I had so much fun with them. She never gives up on him. Even when he's at his worst, she has faith and I love that about her. She has an ability to show enormous love for people even when she's mad at them.

D.B.: Despite Vic and Gina’s best intentions, they get involved, sporadically at first, and then on a continuous basis, wreaking havoc on Gina’s already emotionally suffering kids. Then the unthinkable happens. A terrorist by the name of Sirhan sees Gina and her kids with Vic, and rightfully assumes they’re Vic’s Achilles heel, in particular Gina's seven-year-old daughter. In romance, we’re told never to harm to a child. But then what better way to make your protagonists suffer. Were you ever advised to tone this down?

A.G.: No one ever asked me to tone it down. As I was writing, I continually found that my attempts to break Vic weren't working. Everything I threw at him, he pushed through. He's very task oriented. He also hates to fail and will do whatever necessary to complete his mission. With that comes this emotional bankruptcy I talked about earlier. Vic is able to handle assignments most of us would find unthinkable. As much as I didn't want to go there, I knew a threat against Lily was a way to chip his armor.

D.B.: In addition to understanding how men think, you have a great grasp of military operations, weapons and more. Do you have a military background? What kind of research went into the writing of Man Law?

A.G. All the military information within the book is based on research. I read non-fiction books by former Delta Force operators and Navy SEALs. They were fascinating books and I was in awe of the mental toughness required of the men who serve. I also watched a lot of programs on the Military Channel. Those resources helped me with the weapons.

The handgun Vic carries is the same one a police officer friend of mine carries. His favorite is the Sig .45, so that's what I gave Vic.

D.B.: Let’s turn to the craft portion of this interview. A book like Man Law obviously takes discipline to get the pacing and the dialogue just right. Tell us about your writing life. Do you write in drafts, do you send your work out for critique, and how long did it take you to write Man Law?

A.G. Man Law took me eight months to write. I usually get an idea brewing for the next book while I'm still working on the previous book and I start researching/brainstorming/plotting. That allows me to jump right into the next book when I finish the one I'm working on.

My process has changed quite a bit since I wrote Man Law. I used to write and then immediately edit scenes and send them off to my critique partners. With the last couple of books I've found doing what I call my "crappy first draft" allows me to see the pacing problems before I spend precious time trying to perfect scenes that might eventually get cut. The crappy first draft is basically all dialogue, but it's enough to see where the plot holes might be.

Once I get the crappy first draft down, I go back and make sure all of my turning points are in the right places. Then I go back to the beginning and start adding description, internal thoughts, etc. I find sending my critique partners 50-100 pages at a time helps them to get the rhythm of the book and find any pacing issues.

D.B.: You create a wide cast of characters in this book. Tiny, Monk, Roy, Billy, Duck, Janet, Lynx. Do you keep spreadsheets? Any advice on developing characters? Did you get to know them before you developed the series, or do you plan to get to know them as you give them their own story?

A.G. I didn't develop the characters before I started the series. I actually didn't realize it would be a series until I finished the first book. I now do character interviews right before I start the new book. By then, I've already gotten to know the hero of the new book from prior books and it gives me a starting point. With Monk, I initially put a do-rag on him in Man Law without giving it much thought. I was simply trying to differentiate all the guys, and giving Monk a do-rag worked. As I got to the end of Man Law, I thought the do-rag should be a symbol of something. So, I did a character interview for him and decided he'd be my next hero.

My advice for developing characters is to figure out what their core need is and make them act in accordance with that need. For Vic, his core need (even if he didn't know it) is to be loved and not abandoned. His fear of abandonment was keeping him from connecting with someone so his need was not getting fulfilled. In the beginning of the book, his life decisions all revolved around him being alone and not having to deal with his emotional issues.

With Monk, his core need is to be a caretaker. I'm not going to give you too much info on that book because it'll be a Man Law spoiler, but just know that I made Monk feel like he wasn't being a good caretaker and I exploited it.

As I mentioned, you’re not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. Your characters speak like military men. There's a twist in the second act that must've been difficult to write. I take it you decided that twist was necessary for Vic’s character growth?

A.G. Vic was so emotionally locked down I knew I'd have to deliver a blow that would make him realize he needed to change. So, yes, I was very mean to him.:) I'm not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, but it's never easy. I was conflicted about how far to push and consulted with my good friend (also an editor) Theresa Stevens. She reminded me of a quote that I now keep on my desk. It's "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

I think sometimes we need to go beyond what we think the boundary is to figure out if it'll actually work.

After writing the scene that finally broke Vic, I needed to take a few days off and recuperate emotionally. The fact that I needed to take that break told me I had probably found the one thing that would force Vic to change.

D.B.: These character certainly become real. Amazing story, and great quote by Theresa. You’re published with Carina Press. How is it working with them, and when will we see book two in the series? Did your book come out in Audio? Will future books follow the Man Law theme?

A.G.: Working with the Carina Press team has been an amazing experience for me. Between my editor (I call her "the fabulous Gina Bernal") and the support team, I've learned so much. Getting back to tackling difficult subjects, my editor is also not opposed to pushing boundaries and always manages to show me how to go far, but not too far. For Monk's book, the heroine is a sexual abuse survivor and she is damaged. I did a lot of research on sexual abuse and interviewed survivors because I wanted to be as true to the character as I could. I was concerned Carina would ask me to tone down Izzy's issues regarding sex, but they took the leap with me and I'm so grateful. In one scene, my editor asked me to push even more and I nearly fell off my chair in disbelief. I'm glad she talked me into it because it's another powerful scene that forces the character to change. As rough as it is for me to read, I really like that scene.

Yes, Man Law will be out on audio! Yay! The other books in the Private Protectors series will be out on September 5 and November 7. I'm working on book four now. That one is Billy's book and I am having a grand time with it.

D.B: Fantastic, can't wait to read Monk and Billy's story, or listen to Man Law on audio. In addition to the Private Protectors series, what else are you working on?

A.G.: I have a cross-genre women's fiction that I'm polishing. I'm hoping to expand that one into a series. It was a ton of fun to write and I'm told it has the zaniness of a Stephanie Plum book.

D.B.: Finally, since Five Scribes is for writers, and we’re undergoing a tumultuous publishing industry, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

A.G.: This is an easy one. It's also probably advice everyone has heard before, but I'll reiterate.

Keep writing.

Keep writing.

Keep writing!

Here's why:

One year ago, I was an unpublished writer struggling with the fact that I'd come close a few times but still hadn't sold. After a friend accepted an offer from Carina Press, I decided to submit to them. I thought if they bought my book, I'd be under the Harlequin umbrella. Not too much wrong with that scenario. One year later, I have three books being released within five months.

If I hadn't kept writing, I wouldn't have had two other books ready to submit when Carina bought the first one.

Keep writing!

Readers, are you jotting this down? Adrienne, it’s been a pleasure. Man Law is an intense, sexy, oftentimes funny read. I felt for Gina as she tries to pick up the pieces after her husband’s death and then deal with the safety of her children. She’s a great character I identified with. I think you did an outstanding job following through with storyline threads, e.g. Vic’s coming to terms with his own past, his aunt and his mom, his deep emotional connection to Gina and the kids. In a nutshell, you know how to pull at readers’ heartstrings. I loved Man Law. I know readers will, too.

For readers, if you want to develop your own PhD in Man Law, my best advice is to pick up this book. You can find Adrienne Giordano’s book at

Carina Press

Thanks, Donnell. I'm so glad you enjoyed Man Law. I love all my guys, but Vic taught me some great lessons on the craft of writing.

My pleasure. Readers, Adrienne will be giving away a copy of Man Law to one lucky commenter. We'll draw names on the evening of July 8, 2011.

Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women's fiction. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaton Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. Adrienne's debut romantic suspense, Man Law, is available from Carina Press. Her second book, A Just Deception, will be available from Carina Press on September 5, 2011. For more information please visit Adrienne can be found on Twitter and Facebook


Toni Anderson said...

Fantastic interview, Adrienne! This is on my TBR list :)

Lori Brighton said...

Okay, you've def. got me hooked! Sounds like a great read!

Edie Ramer said...

Adrienne, great interviews! I loved the excerpt of Man Law that I read. You are such a good writer. This is one book I have to get.

Adrienne said...

Thanks, Toni. I had a lot of fun with Vic. I kind of miss him! LOL.

Adrienne said...

Hi Lori! Thanks for popping in. Glad I hooked ya!

Adrienne said...

Hi, Edie! Donnell gave me great questions. So fun. Plus, it's always great to talk about a project I love.

Thanks for saying hi.

Donnell said...

Adrienne, welcome, and I have a couple of questions for you still . Monk is a great character, and I'm delighted his book is coming up... Why is it called a *do rag*?

And did you make up the Man Laws, which I'm assuming you did? Did that start out as a game that led to a story? I should have asked that question in the interview, darn it!

Adrienne said...

Hi Donnell. Great question about the do-rag. Until you asked, I'd never thought about where the term came from. Turns out it comes from the term hairdo. It's a rag that covers a hairdo, thus do-rag. Interesting! I learned something today.

As for the Man Laws. I started with the idea that my hero would only follow man laws. That was the only thing I knew. Then I started dreaming up scenarios. I did make some of the laws up to fit the story, but others came from my in-depth research, which consisted of asking my male friends what laws they followed.

Donnell said...

Love this! Ingenious, Adrienne!

GBL said...

Adrienne -

I loved this interview. It just goes to show how much we learn about writing over the years, doesn't it?

Congrats on Man Law!

Adrienne said...

Hi, Kels! It's all one big learning experience, isn't it?

Thanks for popping in!

Misty Evans said...

Hi Adrienne and Donnell. Great interview.

I was lucky enough to read Man Law a few months ago and I couldn't put it down. Adrienne is a fantastic author and writes the kind of romantic suspense I love. I'm really looking forward to all the books in this series. I hope they get put in print one of these days so I can follow A around like a fangirl and make her autograph all of them. :D

Kathy said...

Adrienne so happy to see Man Law is now in print congratulations. Loved the story may it sell a million copies. Hugs and good luck with Vic& Gina and Monk and the rest of the guys. :-) Great interview as well.

Adrienne said...

Hi gang. Sorry I had to bug out for awhile. My son had a big game tonight and Mama can't miss those!

My pal Misty, thank you for dropping by. We can be fan girls for each other! We'll go on the road! LOL.

I interviewed Vic on the Carina blog yesterday and he asked readers to send in some of their own Man Laws. Some of the laws were hysterical!

Adrienne said...

Hi Kathy! How fun to see you here! Gang, Kathy is a member of Lethal Ladies, a fantastic critique group that helped me through my early draft of Man Law. It was so fun to mention you guys on the acknowledgment page.

Thanks for stopping by!

Pamela Beason said...

I've got MAN LAW on my "must read" list now! I love that you did all that nonfiction research; that's a great way to make it real. I can't wait to read it. Congratulations on your publishing success!

Adrienne said...

Hi Pam. Thanks for stopping in. The research was actually a lot of fun. It gave me a whole new respect for sacrifices our soldiers make.