Fly on the Wall: Peek into a Conversation Between Karen Booth and Naima Simone

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Harlequin is known for creating multi-author series. A multi-author series is set in a particular world with characters that can cross over but still maintain the ability for each book to be read somewhat as a standalone. You wouldn’t want to read just one, the series has a bigger overarching plot that gets resolved in the final book. The latest Harlequin Desire multi-author series is Dynasties: Seven Sins. As you can probably guess, there are seven interlinking books. Today we have a discussion between Naima Simone and Karen Booth. Their books kick off the series and set the pace for what’s to come. Check out how they do it and what it feels like to write a book and having to incorporate someone else’s character and voice.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

NS: Karen’s a young pro (see what I did there? Hah!) at this, but this was my first time working on a multi-author series, and it was awesome! I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, but when I received this 70+ page story bible complete with character profiles, pictures and a synopsis for each book, I was like, Whoa. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. LOL! It was a change being given the storyline instead of coming up with it and the characters on my own. But it was also kind of a break. LOL! We are assigned our placement in the series, and I don’t mind admitting that I was happy to receive book one. It’s a little intimidating starting it off, but waaaay less strings to make sure are weaved through the story. The book number that would have me a little “OMG, WHY DID I AGREE TO THIS??” would be #7. LOL!! 

KB: Naima, thanks for calling me young! This was my third or fourth time (I’m bad at math) writing in a multi-author series. I have been that author who’s stuck with the last book, and let me tell you…it’s not easy. It’s a huge challenge to wrap up the various storylines that come out over the course of 7 or 8 books. Luckily, for the Seven Sins series, I had Book 2. I just had to follow Naima, which is intimidating in an entirely different way! Follow the queen and see how you feel about yourself.  As far as the process goes, Naima summed it up well. We’re given a big chunk of source material to start from, but then it’s the authors’ jobs to digest it and turn it  into a cohesive series. 

NS: Follow the queen? I’m up here caught between preenin’ and blushing. Tell me more about my eyes. *batting lashes* LOL! I’m excited because Karen and I will be working on another continuity again that comes out next year! She’s always the one who sets up the FB group and gets things rolling. I’m like, Karen. Teach me your ways! Pleeeaaase!

KB: That’s way too funny. I’m just being my normal get-the-ball-rolling self. I try to be hyper-organized when it comes to these multi-author series, but that’s only because I’ve had to learn the hard way. The first time I did a Texas Cattleman’s Club book, I had the second-to-last book and it was such a huge job to keep track of every storyline that had come before mine. My brain is too old to juggle that much information!

HOW, JUST HOW? 

NS: With Ruthless Pride being book one, I approached the writing like any other book, but had to make sure to sprinkle hints about future storylines and characters throughout. The authors set up a private Facebook group where we can communicate, ask questions, make sure we’re all on one accord. And of course, we email one another. Since Karen’s hero appears in a scene later in my book, I sent her that scene to make sure how I portrayed him as far as voice and personality coincided with how she was writing him. So, yep, we do check in with each other. 

KB: The process requires communication, collaboration, and some flexibility as well. Sometimes you have to change something in your book because it messes up someone else’s story. There’s typically a lot of back-and-forth via email and the private Facebook group. It’s a big challenge, but it’s also fun. I love working with the other Desire authors.

NS: Like, I had to email Karen and ask her did I make her hero look like an a-hole. Fortunately, she said no. Then, she sent me a scene with my hero in it to make sure she captured his voice. Of course, she did it perfectly. And after I read it, I had to go drink a Walmart frozen margarita and assure myself that I was a good writer. LMAO!! She’s freaking amazing, y’all!

KB: OMG, Naima. You’re killing me with this. I think all of the Desire authors feel that way when we work together. It’s definitely a mutual admiration society. We all know the level of work and dedication it takes to not only write a good romance, but do it within the parameters of Desire. It’s a very specific skill set.

WHAT IS IT LIKE WRITING TOGETHER? 

NS: I have to admit something. Karen Booth was one of my favorite Harlequin Desire authors before I received my first contract. So getting to know her when I first signed on and then working with her on this series? It’s been amazing! She’s so cool and sweet! And I just adore her! Okay, girl crush moment over. LOL! Because we were given very detailed story bibles, we didn’t brainstorm together, but we did stay in touch because of the crossover of our characters. I tell you what, if I hadn’t been assigned Joshua, I would’ve LOVED to write Zane, Karen’s hero. One, his name. That’s just such a hot name. LOL! He’s such a delicious, broody hero! 

KB: Don’t mind me…I’m just dying a very quiet death over here after what Naima said. She’s such a singular writer that having her even LOOK at one of my books is such a huge compliment and honor. Knowing my book was going to follow hers, I was nervous. I worked extra hard on my first chapter in particular because I wanted it to have some of the snap Naima brings to the equation. I wasn’t copping her style (because who could?), but I wanted to make sure the transition worked. I think the different author voices you get in one of these longer series is a big part of the fun for readers.

NS: Honest to God, I just did a hair flip. LOL!! But you’re so right! One of the reasons I love reading these continuities is because of the different voices but that are still cohesive and add their own flavor to this world, whether it’s in Falling Brook, NJ or Royal Texas. I think that’s part of the magic of these multi-author series.

KB: Yes! It’s also a chance for readers to check out authors who are new to them. I know I love finding a new must-read author. 

BIGGEST CHALLENGES 

NS: The biggest challenge for me was making sure I weaved in hints about future plots and characters without it basically screaming, “Hey! This is a hint about another author’s book! Pay attention! See me!” LOL! It had to read organic and seamless. So here’s to hoping I did that! *crossing fingers and toes–which my husband says looks like fingers* 🙂

KB: What Naima said! It’s the tiny details. It’s having a character from the next book just “pop” in so readers can get introduced to them, but still making it seem completely natural. You have to do a lot of foreshadowing for the book that comes after yours, and if there are any threads that go through the whole series, you have to carry those forward as well. It’s a lot to cram into 50,000 words when you’re trying to write a romance, too!

NS: Aaaaaaamen! That’s why I’m looking at Janice Maynard, who’s the author of Slow Burn, Book 7, and am like, I bow down. I wrote Book 4 a few months ago in another continuity and my story bible looked like a coloring book with all the highlighting and colored tabs to make sure I mentioned this person or storyline or weaved in this event that affected my characters. Whew. I don’t know how she does it!

KB: Agreed. Janice is a goddess. 

BEST PART

NS: The best part is what I mentioned above. Besides Karen, this series has an incredible line-up of authors. All of whom I’ve read and are fans of. So to be able to work with them and be included in a series with them? Oh yeah. I definitely had fan-girl moments when one of them commented on a post or popped up in my inbox with a question. LOL!

KB: I sincerely love my fellow Desire authors. Everyone is so talented, gracious, and generous. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit, so getting to work together on a big project like this is really rewarding and helps take the edge off the loneliness. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to spend too much time on social media. “I have to be on Facebook. It’s for work!”

NS: LOL!! OMG, I use this excuse too! My husband will walk by and glance at my laptop, then will say, “I thought you were supposed to be working.” And I’m like, “I AM!” Getting an attitude, too…although I really just commented on someone’s meme about Hallmark movies. LOL!! But seriously, writing is, for the most part, solitary because it’s on you to write the book. But to be able to communicate and commiserate with people who know EXACTLY what you’re going through? It’s like a sisterhood!

KB: Amen to that!

About the Authors:

USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey, Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts many years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Though her first attempt at a romance novel starring Ralph Tresvant from New Edition never saw the light of day, her love of romance, reading and writing has endured. Published since 2009, she spends her days—and nights— writing sizzling romances with a touch of humor and snark.

She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.

Karen Booth is a midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ’80s music and repeated readings of Forever by Judy Blume. She writes steamy contemporary romance, almost always about the dreamy guy you never thought you’d get. Case in point, her husband: she crushed on him for two years before he got a clue. Twenty-five years later, they have two college-age kids and one bratty cat.

Karen is co-founder of the 3500+ member Seasoned Romance Facebook group, devoted to the promotion of romance with characters 35+. She has been a finalist for RT Magazine’s Series Romance of the Year, RT Magazine’s Gold Seal of Excellence, the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award (NERFA), the Booksellers’ Best Award, and the Holt Medallion.

Ruthless Pride by Naima Simone, out now!

Millionaire CEO Joshua Lowell earned his icy reserve and arrogant pride through painful experience. He refuses to allow gorgeous but determined reporter Sophie Armstrong to dredge up his family’s dark past—or circulate rumors of his secret child. But Joshua’s fierce pride is at war with his heated desire for Sophie, the only woman who could ruin him…or save him from himself.

Forbidden Lust by Karen Booth, out June 1!

Allison Randall’s older brother’s best friend, Zane, has always been off-limits…and Zane is determined to keep it that way. But when a storm strands them together, neither can hold back. Everything Allison dreamed of is finally in reach…but there are secrets between them that could ruin everything.

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