Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Writer's Wednesday - Brainstorming 101 or The Making of Hot New Romance Series Fairy Tales of New York

This Writer's Wednesday at the Pink Heart Society is all about how to construct a series of novels, each book written by a different writer.

Heidi Rice digs deep into her email archives to relate the story of how she and fellow authors Amy Andrews, Kelly Hunter and Lucy King talked their way into creating a brand new quartet of ebooks for Tule...

Once upon a time, way back in December 2013, Amy Andrews suggested to me that we do another continuity after we’d both had so much fun working together on themed Christmas short stories for Entangled (with Aimee Carson and Kate Hardy) and the linked continuity The Wedding Season for Harlequin KISS (with Aimee Carson and Kimberly Lang).

I said, hell yeah… We wanted to do four books, four authors (although it was just the two of us at this point) and then the brainstorming began…

Heidi Rice to Amy Andrews 17/12/2013:

Maybe we could do some kind of Valentine's Day themed thing to start and them go from there... Could we do four heroines running some sort of dating agency? Or is that old hat? I'd love to do a New York setting.

Amy to Heidi 17/12/2013:

I think the dating agency might be old hat…
Maybe we can do something more sophisticated. Base all four on some fairy tale theme….. Four sisters, maybe they’re all arty in some way.
Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel. But not whimpy and waiting around for their prince to come, just echoes of the story etc. Maybe they aren’t sisters, they all met in foster care? They’re passionate about making the world  a brighter place…

Out on June 19th

Heidi to Amy 17/12/2013:

Hmm, not so sure about the fairytale theme, just because I can't think of one of those fairytale heroines I like … But will have a think.
Know bugger all about arts and crafts. Foster sisters could work, but would it be stretching it to have them from three different countries?
Absolutely with you on the dating agency thingy, thought it was old hat even as I was writing it.
Definitely lots of food for thought.

Heidi to Amy 18/12/2013:

Ok, I've had a think about the fairy tale idea and I'm starting to really like it (fickle? Moi?).. Like the oblique idea, and am keen on the Rapunzel... Think I could definitely do it as a sort of inverted Cinderella, daughter of a rich New York socialite (conveniently educated in British boarding school!) who wants to prove herself and the hero could be a construction worker- turned property developer from Brooklyn who 'rescues' her from a media storm or something!! Haven't got a plot yet, but could definitely work it....
How would you feel about setting them all in New York... It's such a cosmopolitan city it'd be entirely believable to have any nationality we wanted for our heroes/heroines and it would give us that all important US draw AND we could call the stories Fairy Tales of New York!!

Amy to Heidi 18/12/2013:

Isn’t there a Pogues song Fairytale of New York or something? A Christmas song? So that could be the series flash?

Heidi to Amy 18/12/2013:

Yes, there is a song called Fairytale of New York!! My fave Christmas song, of course. Making it a Christmas themed thing might be a bit hard if we're planning to bring the books out one month at a time though…

Amy to Heidi 18/12/2013:

Don’t think that just because the Pogues song is a Christmas thing that books have to be at all – just an instantly recognisable/catchy way to string them all together although, if we wanted, maybe the last one could have a Christmas theme??
Out on June 22nd

Amy to Heidi 18/12/2013:

Oh actually, just had another thought…. Kind of Pogues-ish. What if the books centred around a NYC bar and 4 friends and the last book is the book of the chick who owns the bar. The bar is kind of where they all intersect?
Sorry, ideas seem to be flowing like crazy now. Imagine how it will be with 4 of us!

At this point we decided to pitch the idea (very basic at this point, well basically a theme and that was it) to Kelly Hunter and she said YES!!…

Heidi to Kelly Hunter & Amy  6/1/2014:

Just wanted to touch base again re: our continuity (ooh, I love saying that). I know party planners/wedding planners has been done to death but could we give our heroines a joint business that would tie in with the seasons the books are coming out?

Amy to Kelly & Heidi  6/1/2014:

I quite like the idea of my gal running an Irish pub in NYC with her dad and her brothers who are always taking her for granted (maybe after the death of her mother???) and doing a Cinderella fairy tale.  Maybe one of her brothers could be someone else's hero?

Am wondering what would the other 2 fairy tales be? We have you, Heidi, doing a Rapunzel in the ivory tower thing and if I do Cinders .... Any thoughts on the other 2?

Heidi to Kelly & Amy 6/1/2014:

I'd love to do Rapunzel and can defo have one of your Irish-American brothers as my hero, love that idea - maybe he could be very over-protective of his sister, a natural rescuer, who rescues my heroine from a press scrum or something on his Harley (oh dear, think I ripped that off from a perfume ad!!)...
For other fairytales the obvious one is Sleeping Beauty (maybe we could have someone waking up from a coma?? could the hero be sleeping beauty??). What others are there?
The Frog Princess? Rumpelstilskin (bit of a hard sell with a very short hero!!)? The Ugly Duckling? My mind's a blank...

Out on June 26th
Kelly Hunter to Amy & Heidi 6/1/2014:

I want a brother too! An Irish pub brother who plays a wistful fiddle  and is good with his hands.

Little Match Girl? Of course, she dies...

 Gotta confess that I've yet to wrap my head around the fairytale element. Currently busy interior decorating an Irish pub. Do we need a fairytale about three brothers? Does it need to be a fairytale? Could we re-imagine Greek myth or characters? I always did have a thing for Icarus.

Heidi to Amy & Kelly 6/1/2014:

I'm totally invested in the fairytale theme, I've got my ivory tower and everything, but could we have Icarus as one of the fairytales? Don't think we need to be that specific about which fairytale it is, people will spot Cinders and Rapunzel but I think they can be as oblique as we want them to be (as long as we can keep the Fairytales of New York title???)
Another thought I had, could we have the heroines connected through the exclusive catholic boarding school they went to in upstate New York? Rather than a business? That way they've know each other since girlhood (and will therefore know Al's heroine's delicious Irish-American brothers) so me Kelly and whoever else comes in with us can have one each??

Heidi to Amy & Kelly 6/1/2014:

Or I could make my heroine's guardian her super-rich and distant older half-brother... Could he be your heroine's hero Al?

Amy to Kelly & Heidi 7/1/2014:

I like the idea of linking them as friends ( am good with boarding school) and keeping their jobs separate to that? That way they can all do their own thing and the bar is the place where they hang out and intersect?

Amy to Heidi & Kelly 7/1/2014:

Oh I love the idea of Sleeping Beauty and amnesia/coma and The Ugly duckling!!! Brilliant! But am ok with some Greek mythology in there.
Do we know who else we'd like to ask? Lucy?
Out on June 29th

Kelly to Amy & Heidi 7/1/12014:

Doesn't have to be Greek. I could work with ugly duckling. Am getting the hang of this fairytale business. The Frog Prince. The Little Mermaid. Shrek! (sorry). 

Having all the heroines as friends but not working together does give us more scope.

Who else? Yes to Lucy.

At this point we asked Lucy King to come on board and be our Fourth Musketeer…

Lucy to Kelly, Heidi & Amy 8/1/2014:

OMG, yes, yes, yes!!!

That’s when we REALLY got down to business setting up our own Yahoo email group… Lucy suggested doing Beauty and the Beast for her story (cannot find that email) and away we went!

Heidi to FTNY Yahoo email group 9/1/2014:

I read Lucy's message about going for Beauty and the Beast, I think that's brilliant. Wanted to say I've been thinking of my heroine I want her to be a sort of celebrity princess type (for some reason I'm picturing Keira Knightley!!) - who has a rep for being wild and outrageous. Anyway, I wanted her to be an orphan and then figured maybe she could have an older brother who holds the purse strings, rattles around with her in the family mansion on the Upper East Side, could he be your scarred Beast hero Lucy? Maybe the parents died in a car crash and the brother was with them (or even driving - that could give him lots of emotional scars too!).
I also wanted to ask you Al if my hero could be the oldest brother of your heroine?
Have to say I'm leaning towards these women knowing each other from way back... so these books wouldn't just deal with them finding love but also coming to terms with eac other as adults?? Or something...

Lucy to FTNY  9/1/2014:

LOVE that idea re my hero, Heidi. Survivor guilt! Angst! Lots of bottled up emotions! And maybe some terrible-yet-sexy scars somewhere. Yum.

 Maybe he has to learn to let go of it all - the guilt, the responsibility he feels he has for his sis etc...

Lucy to FTNY 9/1/2014:

I did toy with the idea of making my heroine a fiery aristocratic Argentinian who now lives in NY but that may not fit, so will toy further.

Amy to FTNY 9/1/2014:

I love the idea of an Argentinian, Lucy!!

Heidi to FTNY 9/1/2014:

Hell yeah, let's work on his sexy scars. Gotta love a hero with sexy scars.
Have another question for Al, where is your heroine's family's bar gonna be? Would you be interested in putting it in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan?

And so it went on as we pinged emails between the UK, Spain and Oz with ideas for our characters, the prologues (featuring all the girls at school together as teenagers), the running order, the settings, and eventually got down to the minutiae of how all the stories fitted together... 

Until we all lived happily ever after with four fabulous stories, about four friends, four uber-hot dudes and their scorching hot happy ever afters! Here's a little teaser from each of the books...

 And just because we are SOOOO excited about these stories we're doing a Rafflecopter giveaway of an epub version of Kelly Hunter's Pursued by the Rogue, which is the first in the series and launches in just 3 days time on 19th June. 

You can check out more stuff about the stories on our Fairy Tales of New York Facebook page.


  1. Oh, the memories! Thanks, Heidi. I'm so excited about these coming out soon. I think they're delicious! Could be a little biased...

  2. Oh I loved reading these again! Such fun. Am so exicted that they'll all be out soon. Squeeeeeeee!!!!!

  3. Have loved every minute of this. Oh, the conversations!!!

  4. Yes, you should thank me... I had to edit down about 1500 emails... Astonishing how much extraneous stuff we found to chat about when we were supposed to be WORKING... LOL