Author Karine Saint Jacques pens Contemporary Romance where wounded characters venture into romantic, obstacle-filled, and often forbidden territories that challenge them to fight for true love.
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One Christmasby Karine Saint JacquesPublish: Nov 19, 2018Contemporary Romance Romance
I was born in Martinique, a small French island in the Caribbean. When I was a young child, I had plenty of Barbie dolls and even a homemade Barbie house that I got for Christmas. I used to play with them and invent their stories.
And then, when I turned 14, I realized that movies were my number-one passion. I would go to the movies every single Saturday, often with my mother.
I also enjoyed reading books, but they were more of my mother or aunt’s taste.Do you remember the first book you ever read? Who is your favorite author?
I think the first books I read were the comic books, Billy & Buddy and The Adventures of Tintin, the comic strip series Tom & Lili, and Disney fairy tales.
As for the first novel, I, unfortunately, don’t remember. It must have been one of those school assignments.
But some of the first books I really enjoyed were the ones by Mary Higgins Clark, because they were the ones my mother or my aunts would read. And I believe that while I was reading those books, small seeds of passion and destiny were starting to take root.
And then, at the age of 16, one book inspired me to write down my first story for a movie. But at the time, I couldn’t dare to believe that I had what it took to write a movie script, much less a novel. I only did it because I imagined myself being a movie producer in the future. The novel that inspired me was Runaway to Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Barbara Smucker.
I love reading too much only to have one favorite author, and I love discovering new authors all the time. Recently I have enjoyed books by Sylvia Day, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Shayla Black, Vi Keeland, Colleen Hoover, and Brittainy C. Cherry.What is the biggest challenge of being an author? Which genre do you enjoy writing the most?
For me, the biggest challenge of being an author is to connect the right readers with my books.
I enjoy writing romance and fantasy the most. These are not so coincidentally also the genres I love reading the most.How do you use your imaginative thinking and creative flair to bring your stories to life in engaging and entertaining ways?
For me, writing a story is like creating tiny little pieces of a painting and assembling all of the pieces in a beautiful, harmonious jigsaw puzzle.
There are two levels when writing a fiction book. The first level is the story itself; you create the story with all these tiny pieces that have to fit together. The second level is how you tell the story; you have to shape the story into prose in a way that is both clear and entertaining to read.
First, I brainstorm original and unique story ideas, which are called high concepts. Sometimes a movie or a book can spark an idea, and I also keep a list of topics and elements that fascinate and revolt me.
Once I have the story concept that I want to work with, I start with the first level: the story. I brainstorm scenes in relation to the concept. I have found that mind mapping is very helpful. Then, I arrange the scenes in the most satisfying and logical order. For characters, I create character profiles by asking a set of questions. Sometimes, I can ask the characters some questions and free write the answers.
And then comes the second level: how the story is actually told. For each scene or chapter, I view them as mini-stories, and I make sure that each one of them is entertaining, meaning that they are filled with conflicts or obstacles, because without them, there’s no story.
And then, like a sculpture or painting, you have to use the right words and right combination of words to make each chapter the most engaging it can be. So I read what I wrote and rewrite, testing words and combination of words until I’m satisfied.How do you come up with book titles? What is the significance of the title of your book, One Christmas?
Sometimes, book titles come to me easily. Sometimes, they are buried deep and require a little bit of digging, a lot of brainstorming.
One Christmas only came to me after a lot of brainstorming and time.
Since One Christmas is an ensemble, I wanted to spotlight the event, Christmas, and how that particular Christmas brought magic and beautiful change to all the characters.Do you think book covers play an important role? Who designs your covers?
Book covers do play an essential role. It takes only a one-second glance at a book cover for a reader to decide if they want to find out more about the book.
The cover needs to be appealing, to convey the genre, and most importantly to be unique, because it becomes the identity of the book. This is why I try to do my best to stay clear of stock photos, but unfortunately, it is more expensive and time-consuming for the cover designer, and for that reason, not all cover designers have the resources or the desire to use original images and create unique covers.
I think authors should be more careful about creating a unique cover, because if a reader doesn’t like one book and sees the same image on another book cover, they might not take another glance at the new book, just because it is the same picture. Shannon Designs created the cover for One Christmas. I wanted the cover to be beautiful, to give a sense of warmth and love, and to show that the story is about several characters.Have you ever modeled any of your characters after your friends or yourself? If so, what did your friends think of the character?
Not after anyone else, but all of my characters have a small part of me somehow, and I have a deep connection and understanding of them. To build my characters, I mostly use the Enneagram system, which is a typology of nine personality types.Who is your target audience? What are some things you wish your readers would take away from your books?
My target audience is mostly women, but some men have read my book and enjoyed it.
I wish they would come away from my books believing that unconditional love has the power to move mountains, that life can be magical, that our differences actually make us beautiful, and that working together makes us stronger.Who inspired the character of Christopher? How do you come up with names for your characters?
Well, the character of Christopher is a creation of my imagination and a little part of me. I wanted him to be challenged by his story—A man who falls in love with a woman he is forbidden to love, his cousin’s girlfriend. So he had to be a very loyal man who would struggle between a chance at true love and the risk of losing his cousin.
That being said, I love picturing actors and actresses for my characters, and for Christopher, it was the actor Bryan Greenberg.
I usually choose names that I love from a baby names site and make sure that they fit the characters and that they don’t all sound the same.One Christmas has so many exciting characters. How do you keep track of all the characters you have created in a story?
I know, right? It’s very challenging to build a story with so many characters. So you have to do it piece by piece. When I develop the characters, I do a character profile for each one of them and make sure that they have some distinctive traits from each other. Since there are five storylines in One Christmas, I worked on each storyline one at a time and focused on the characters that appeared in the storyline I was working on.
I also create what I call character series (a term used by author Stuart Horwitz in his writing books Book Architecture and Blueprint Your Bestseller) for each character. These series are tables that track the characters and show in what scenes the characters appear and what they do or what happens to them, which also helps to make sure that their journey is the best it could be.
And then I take the manuscript and follow each character one at a time to make sure that all their actions, reactions, and dialogue fit the character.If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?
I would ask them how they manage to write so many books in a year, how they come up with high-concept ideas, and if they could describe their writing ritual.What is one thing you wish to accomplish before you die?
Before I die, I wish to write a beautiful, unforgettable story that will touch and entertain millions of readers, and which then gets adapted into a movie for millions more viewers.What are your top five writing and marketing tips that you would share with the young writers out there?
* Tip #1 — Before writing your manuscript, take the time to develop a solid high concept that you would love to spend months, even years, to develop and write. A book with a high concept will have a better chance at being discovered by readers. * Tip #2 — Know your brand, the reason why you write. Know the types of stories you love to read and write, and only choose stories in line with your brand, your worldview, and what readers want. * Tip #3 — Learn story craft and practice storytelling and writing regularly. * Tip #4 — Read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies and TV shows, so you’ll know what kind of stories you love, what you like and don’t like about them, and what concepts have already been done so you can write a story that will stand out. * Tip # 5 — Get as many readers as possible to read your book before the launch, including book bloggers, and take the time to contact them directly so that you’ll have a better control of how many readers request your book or not.What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on several writing projects: - A fantasy-romantic comedy book, expected to come out this year - A thriller script for a web series that will be available online - And more books in developmentCould you offer us some of your thoughts on AllAuthor and how it has benefited you?
AllAuthor is a great platform for authors. It has allowed me to connect with fellow authors and to make One Christmas more visible to readers.
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