Saturday, June 16, 2012

Overheard on...Romancing the Genres

Deanne Wilsted and Friend
“This is why I write historical romance, even if it means trawling through dusty books in the library” by Margaret Tanner on 9/10/11 (which in itself is funny!)

As many of you may already know, I have a penchant for overhearing the most interesting conversations: potty talk by kids (and sometimes adults!); business men / women discussing their next boondoggle; politically charged debates; even a sad teenage breakup. Each of these topics and many more have been game in my blog about the things I overhear. At first I was worried about the day someone I knew would read it and recognize themselves in my writing. So far, it hasn’t happened… or if it has they hopefully have not been offended enough to challenge me on it.

I think this is because the overhear is typically only a jumping off point for me. The real story is not what was said, but what it led to inside of me. For example, the potty talk one was about how innocently sincere children can be and how useful it would be if we could all be as honest in our dialogues. The break-up led to a blog about body language and how to use it in our writing.

Each time I catch a snippet of conversation I try to store it so I can use it for a future blog or novel. Sadly, my storage device (aka brain) loses memory at an alarming rate. Many overhears I am able to write down before they disappear… and some my friends or family remember and share with me… but others are simply lost, like so many beautiful shells in the ocean.

Contemporary writing is all about capturing and recreating details like these. Unlike historical romance which requires looking back in time for context and culture (and apparently through dusty books!) , my research is drawn from how people act immediately or in the wider world around me. Setting is therefore critically important, since unless I know the locale personally, I set myself up for a lot of online research and perhaps even travel.

In my second book, Untangling the Knot, which should be published before the end of 2012, my heroine, the church wedding planner,  flees after realizing she has fallen in love with the groom and his two adorable children. The fact that she has been subconsciously sabotaging the wedding drives her Catholic guilt to a whole new, unacceptable level and leads her to Italy; the very place where she can exorcize her own demons.

The good news while writing this was that I had spent a bit of time in Italy… the better news was that Italy has always been one of my favorite places in the world… and the very the best news was that last year a close friend got married there and so I had multiple reasons for a return trip. I loved the setting and the research I did on Italy so much, in fact, that I set the entirety of my third novel, Molto Mayhem, there.

When people ask me how I come up with the stories I write I often wonder, how do they not? Inspiration surrounds us, in the trips we take, the conversations we share and the details we observe or overhear.

I feel incredibly lucky to have an excuse now for my snooping; and even more fortunate that most of my research takes place at Starbucks. For me it is far more fun to be surrounded by interesting (if hopped up) people than by stacks of dusty books.

Deanne Wilsted was convinced of her particular writing talent when she won an Honorable Mention award at her local county fair at age eight. Since that point, writing has been her passion… even when it was not her day job. After years of working in business she decided to pursue writing as a career in 2001 and has since produced three novels; Betting Jessica (available on Kindle), Untangling the Knot (scheduled to be published at the end of the 2012), and Molto Mayhem (currently in revision). 

Deanne is an active member of Willamette Writers and is current President of Rose City Romance Writers, the Portland chapter of Romance Writers of America. Her blog, Overheard at… can be found at:

When Deanne is not writing she spends her time goofing off with her husband, young daughter and crazy dog… or daydreaming about her next trip to Italy and beyond.


Paty Jager said...

Hi Deanne! Welcome!

While I'm one of the dusty book authors, I'm also a contemporary author and love watching and listening in on people too. I think it's a prerequisite to be a writer-- you have to listen and watch people to be able to show them in a realistic way in stories.

What fun! So many trips to Italy.

Congrats on the recent and upcoming releases!!

Judith Ashley said...

Welcome, Deanne. I agree that we are surrounded by inspiration. Another side-benefit of writing are the trips. So glad you found Italy a place you love. My one trip to Italy was frought with frustration and a modicum of peril so, while it is featured in one of my stories, it isn't my favorite place - but, Ireland? Id go there in a heartbeat.

Diana McCollum said...

I think we all have our "favorite places". Mine is Scotland. That is my fantasy trip. Ah-h-h to hear the Scottish brogue in person. Not to mention maybe sleeping in a castle! I know some rent rooms. I write paranormal historical, so some dusty books, and Romantic Suspense. I write what I enjoy reading.

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for Guesting with us, Deanne. Thank god we can deduct research trips from our taxes!

Running out of inspiration has never been a problem for me, either. Your blog sounds so interesting - think I'll go check it out!

deanne said...

I love all the comments and am inspired to ask my twitter friends what country they most like to write about/visit.

Many years ago I lived in England and loved it, but left feeling disappointed that in my time there I never got to Ireland or Scotland. They are assuredly on our bucket list in my houshold. As is Egypt... for a daughter who is enthralled by ancient civilization and to see the setting of Cassiel Knight's books:>)

The fun thing is that every place can be an adventure worth writing about; I think that is how I cam eup with my tagline... Journeys Inspired by Love.

Peter Walsh said...

Inspiration from Europe!! It's funny to us Europeans that we take the place for granted and find America so much more interesting. Apart from the people (not to mention the ridiculous sized food portions) you have every part of the European countryside on your doorstep.

Talking of doorsteps, Scotland is a mere hour and three quarter drive from my door, but you have to venture further into the highlands to really encounter the real Scotland. I spent a vast majority of my childhood in Ireland and the two countries and people are very intertwined, it must be my Celtic blood but both places make me feel completely at ease and in awe of nature all around.

Saying that I'm off to America in less than six weeks and I can hardly wait.

Keep up the good work, I thought of you today as I stood in starbucks and tried to listen to other peoples conversations but they kept asking me to leave their table, you must own a Harry Potter invisibility cloak.

Peter Walsh (silly ol skunk)

deanne said...

Yay... what a great surprise to see your comment here. I loved your insight on the northern parts of the uk... it was very poetic, but that must be in your irish blood.

We r heading to tahoe as I write this... and gettimg excited to see u all there next time we go. Till then, thanks for beimg my very best international supporter. U r workimg your way toward being included on another acknowledgements page:)

Cathryn Cade said...

I think writers are all Watchers. Some of us are just more subtle about it, lol. I sometimes wish I could turn off my internal camera, but people are so weird and fascinating.

As one writer said, tongue firmly in cheek, 'I love to be around people. They're so useful when I run out of ideas for writing.'

Anyway, the fascinating ones will appear sooner or later in our writing, right? In mine, a terrorist on the news may morph into an galactic alien, or a buckle bunny may become a makeup artist in Hawaii, but it's all about human quirks.

And here's to writing off travel! It's research. Someone's got to do it.

Can't wait to try your Italian stories!


deanne said...

Little known fact about me: I collect dusty old cookbooks, especially ones that include household tips. Re-reading my guest blog I've decided I must have been hormonal the day I wrote it... I do love to overhear things, but I'd much rather be in Powells looking through their used books while doing it than even Starbucks. Dusty old books are like treasures: you never know what you will find. Aside from that poem I got an award for at age 8... the other way I knew I loved literature was that whenI was 9 years old I spent all my money on an old set of Dickens books at a library sale... just because they looked old and dusty and classic. I didn't actually realize they WERE classic :>)