Thursday, December 07, 2006

What season is it, anyway?

It may be December to you, but what month is it for a novelist?
Weird question, right? But time plays strange tricks when you’re writing a book that might take place during an entirely different season – or in another climate.
Embarrassing problem for us Southern Californians: We forget that people in other places have to wear coats in the winter. Of course, sometimes the problem is subtler than that. I once described a heroine in Austin, Texas taking a sweater along on a summer night in case she got cold. My cousins who live in steamy Austin found that extremely funny.
In case you’ve never been to the LA-Orange County area, it’s a semi-desert climate where temperatures can drop as much as 40 degrees. We hardly ever have hot nights.
The time shift can be tough on readers, too. I’ve had books come out in entirely the wrong season. While it may be pleasant to huddle in front of the fire and read about sunny summer weather, I’m sure it’s disconcerting to hear sleigh bells in July. Of course, our friends in Australia and New Zealand are probably used to that!
I’m actually a little surprised to realize that my February release, The Doctor’s Little Secret, is – get this – set in February. That’s a rarity, believe me.
The editors at Harlequin have my sympathy. It must be tough to schedule four books a month, planning well in advance. Sometimes a book that’s slated for a particular month gets delayed, and another has to be moved up to fill the slot. I’m sure they try to take the seasons into account, but they don’t have magic wands.
Of course, in writing a trilogy like the one that starts in February, I have to think ahead about the months and how they’ll affect the storylines. The second book, Daddy Protector, which comes out in May, takes place during June and July. The third, Twin Surprise [September release],starts in October and ends on New Year’s Eve.
Wait! They’re actually coming out at the right times of the year, or as close as humanly possible.
Maybe those editors ARE superwomen.
In any event, if you’re shivering right now, hope you’ve at least got a good book to read in front of the fire. And some chestnuts or marshmallows roasting. Happy holidays!

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