15 November 2009

Guest Author: Kate Bridges

This week we're welcoming Kate Bridges back to Unusual Historicals. She's celebrating the release of ALASKAN RENEGADE, her latest Harlequin Historical romance set in the wilds of the northern frontier.

When the Skagway town nurse, Victoria Windhaven, sets off on a dangerous medical journey through the Alaskan wilderness, she is forced to ride with a man from her past--bodyguard Brant MacQuaid.

Five years ago in St. Louis, Brant left her heartbroken sister standing at the altar. Victoria can’t forgive him. He is one of three men who deserted Victoria when she needed him most. Now it's up to them to battle the wilderness, a vicious criminal who is in desperate need of medical help for his father, and the undeniable attraction that grips them.

Award-winning author Kate Bridges enjoys writing sexy historical romances set in the Canadian and American West. Her novels have been translated into nine languages, studied in over a dozen colleges in commercial fiction courses, and are sold worldwide.

"...fans will love her latest hero..." ~ Romance Reviews Today

"The wild north heats up whenever Bridges brings her alpha heroes and strong-willed heroines together in a battle-of-wills romance." ~ Romantic Times magazine


Welcome back, Kate! What was the most difficult thing about writing your new book, ALASKAN RENEGADE?

Figuring out the backstory of each character. That part often doesn't come to me fully until I have the plot points in place. That's when I go back and delve deeper into their mindset. The backstory--life history and motivation--is what makes the storyline ring true or not for the reader. In this particular novel, I have three major characters (plus the villain) who all play an important role.

The last time you were here, you were in postgraduate studies in comedy screenwriting. What was that like?

A ton of fun! I wrote two screenplays during that time, went to a lot of comedy shows in Toronto, did improv classes at Second City, and learned comedy techniques from some of the most talented people in the business. It was a real eye-opener for how serious the comedy business is. Craft and skill are honed and perfected and much attention is placed on building characterization. Great characters we can root for in a story are everything--whether it's comedy or drama.

How has comedy screenwriting affected your novel writing?

Comedy is surprise. A surprise turn of a phrase, an unexpected look, an unexpected action. I haven't tried to make my novels any funnier, because Westerns aren't that type of genre – although many readers tell me my books do have funny moments, and the medical student in ALASKAN RENEGADE provides comic relief--but I have learned to put in more twists and surprises in my writing.

In general, the structure of screenwriting has helped me tremendously with the three-act outline and creating turning points. I started using screenwriting techniques ten years ago when I first started novel writing--this isn't something new for me. The comedy part is, although I think I've always had a flair for comedy and it was waiting to come out in a bigger way--hence enrolling in the comedy studies. The course program states that they can't teach a person to be funny, but they can teach a person to be funnier.

What do you think Hollywood gets right about romantic comedy movies, and what does it get wrong?

Ah, the eternal question we romance readers and writers love to speculate on. Every film has to be weighed on its own merit--much like every book--but in general, I think Hollywood is great at high concept ideas for romantic comedies. (A short logline or sentence that gets a big idea across we can instantly connect with.) For example THE GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST, WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE. Sometimes, though, the movie flops because the situations stretch credibility or they don't give enough character background to let us 'like' these characters enough to make us root for them. I'd say that's the biggest problem--there's not enough depth to their emotional makeup--the film starts with a big bang of action or a big situation and we never learn why or what motivated that person. They're just a one-note character--continually silly or continually angry, with little range.

What's next for Kate Bridges?

Two more books next spring (release dates TBA)! One of them is an anthology of mail-order bride stories with two of my favorite authors--Jillian Hart and Carolyn Davidson. I'm also pursuing the screenwriting aspect of my career, sending out my work and currently developing other ideas.

Thank you for inviting me to come chat with you! For anyone who leaves a comment or question today, I'll put your name in a draw for a free copy of ALASKAN RENEGADE. Are there any of you out there who've tried screenwriting? What are some of your favorite romantic comedies or screwball comedies? What appeals or does not appeal to you in relationship movies?


Thanks for stopping by! You heard the lady, dear readers. You can answer her questions about comedy and romance, or just leave a question or comment for your chance to win ALASKAN RENEGADE. I'll draw the winner next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!