Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday Thoughts with Zahra Owens

All authors are dreamers.

We dream of a better world, of a happy ever after for our characters, and of writing that one story that will propel us into the bestseller lists.

This author dreams of her characters. In fact, I know I’m doing things right when I start dreaming about them. You see, to me, they are real. And to be able to write them, they need to become as real to me as any person I interact with on a regular basis.

Some stories start out with intriguing characters and then the plot will happen because they’re interesting people, but sometimes a plot bunny bites me and I need to go in search of characters for that plot.  Since I’m an avid movie buff, I call this “casting my characters”. Just like with movies, my story will succeed or fail with casting the right people for their roles. I need to be able to understand how they talk, walk, feel. How they will react in certain situations. I want to be able to imagine them in and out of their clothes. I want to know what they smell like and taste like.

Yup, that’s pretty intimate.

For that reason, my characters are often based on actors or an amalgam of actors. You see, it’s easy to get a feel for actors if you’ve seen them perform on stage or in the movies. And it’s easy to imagine that you’re writing another role for them to play.

And like actors need to audition, I often need to give my actors a trial run.  So when do I know I cast the right character?

When I dream about him. As my character. Living his life as my character, dressing like him, talking like him, and yes, smelling like him. Ha!

More than once I’ve realized, after another dream-filled night, that the two actors I’ve cast don’t get along, or don’t have any chemistry, although individually they’re both perfect of the part.  So the process starts again from the start.

Writing Conflict of Interest  started with one character. I wanted to write a man who wasn’t standard Romance material. A consummate professional who was married to his work. Tall, sandy blond and blue-eyed, but in his forties, with less perfect skin than your average romantic hero, and no interest in pursuing a relationship.  He had good reason for this, of course, but it wasn’t something he pondered about. Until he met a man more than ten years his junior, and totally out of his league.  Enter character number two. Much more romance material this time. Although he’s not tall, or blond. He’s got dark, curly hair, talks all the time and is very much blue collar (unlike my first character, who comes from old money). They couldn’t be further apart, so they needed a common goal. And then my love for British Detective Stories popped up. They needed to solve a crime together. In London, of course.

As always they’ll get their happy ever after.  And they’ll catch the bad guy.

And it all happened in my dreams.

Aren’t you glad I remember them so vividly? (that took practice, let me tell you…)


Conflict of Interest

When a material witness changes her story during a court interrogation, allowing the man who assaulted her little boy to go free, Senior Crown Prosecutor Finn DeHavilland's legendary self-control goes out the window. His subsequent suspension from appearing in court leaves Finn with time on his hands. Desperate to continue working, and after regularly attending his mandatory psychiatric sessions, he accepts a delicate case involving a fraudulent Scotland Yard police detective.

Excited to be assigned to the case, DS Tommy Drummond, who has had a soft spot for Finn since Finn defended him during an internal investigation, and his partner, Stevie Fielding, begin uncovering evidence. A series of seemingly random occurrences muddle their investigation. 

Believing they’re on the right path, the team pushes forward, until Tommy’s apartment goes up in flames. Offering Tommy a guest room in his home turns up the heat on the growing feelings between Finn and Tommy. But Finn’s baggage may be too much to deal with, and paranoia threatens to tear them apart. As the net around the corrupt detective tightens, it becomes clear he must have had help from high places, and Finn and Tommy become pawns in the game.

Conflict of Interest is available everywhere in eBook and Print:

Dreamspinner Press         Amazon         Barnes & Noble         ARe

Zahra Owens is a multilingual globetrotter who loves big cities but also has a weak spot for the wide-open spaces that are so rare where she lives.

She likes her men every which way they come and never tries to change them. Men who are tough on the outside but have a huge soft center get extra credit, though, as do the strong, silent types who think they hide their damage well… but don’t. She makes it her personal goal to find them their happily-ever-after, even if the road toward this leads via hospital beds, villas with gorgeous vistas, or ranges full of horses.

Zahra is a proud member of the Rainbow Romance Writers, a special interest chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and won’t quit until M/M romances are treated like every other romance story. RWA allowed her into its Professional Authors Network, but she hasn’t quit her day job yet since it allows her to work in a man’s world. And what girl can resist that?

If Zahra had her wish, a day would have at least thirty-six hours, because how else would she find the time to finish all the novels still inside her head?

You can find Zahra at Twitters @zahraowens and plays around on Facebook and Pinterest

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