What I love about writing military romance is that I get to explore the close relationship men have when their lives depend on one another. It’s that same relationship that made Lethal Weapon such a fun movie. It’s a fascinating relationship and something we gals don’t always get to participate in.
And so I began creating my team of Air Force pararescue jumpers or PJ’s. I read everything I could get my hands on. There were several books that dealt with the team of PJ’s that works with the Forest Service doing a wide variety of rescues on Denali. I also wrote to every unit that had a web site, hoping to have a technical advisor from one of the teams, to no avail. No one would talk to me. And so I continued reading, researching, learning some of the secrets (like the very special tattoo they each have) and how the team’s operate. By the time I had to crash a helicopter in Book Two, the fates had brought me the perfect technical advisor, a retired chopper pilot that flew the PJ’s into and out of danger. (Note: he did a wonderful introduction to the team on my website.)
My favorite part of a new book is creating the characters. We novelists have one very important job: torture our characters. In order to torture your characters, you must know what makes them tick. You must know what they value and the things that they would never do in a million years. And then your job is to put them into a situation where they must do what they would never do in a million years. For example, in Book Three , my hero Chris finds himself having to choose between honor and loyalty. For that book, I asked myself what it would take to tear this team apart. It was a fun, angst-ridden ride. And that which did not kill them made them stronger.
The first book in that series made it to New York City, to Silhouette. Alas, it did not make the cut. But I was fortunate once again in that another small press, bigger than the first, took the whole series based on the first book and the synopsis of the remaining four. Then, I had to learn how to write on deadline. That was a whole new experience.
A challenge that I found when writing a longer series was not writing myself into a corner. I had to establish the characters with an eye to the eventual conflict they would face. Character had to be established, possessions had to be established, and the gun had to be the right place at the right time. I wasn’t always successful; it’s hard to think of everything ahead of time, especially when these folks take on a life of their own.
A technique that I “stole” from Suzanne Brockman was that I wove the romance for the characters for Book Five throughout the first four books. Kit and Cruz’s relationship was up and down through those first books, and my readers were chomping at the bit by the time the fifth book, which told their story, came out.
I think it worked out well. My readers seem to think it worked out well, and they are always asking for more books in that series. I guess that’s a good thing. Will I write more in the PJ series? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Thanks, Jax, for being my guest this week.
For more information about Jaxine Daniels and her books, visit her website, where you’ll find fun video clips and helpful articles for writers.