by Janis Patterson
I have a split personality. No, really it’s true. I do.
Part of the time – as Janis Patterson – I delight in writing the foulest murder, stories of people who exterminate their fellows without a thought or qualm – and what is really scary is that I like it! I delight in finding new and obscure ways of killing someone, and am absolutely over the moon when I discover how such a heinous act can be gotten away with scot-free. (The only unfunny part of this was when in real life a truly creepy person asked me if I do consulting. Brrrrr…..)
However – the rest of the time – as Janis Susan May – I’m an unabashed romantic who writes tender stories of two imperfect people surmounting obstacles and finally find the perfection of true love. I adore giving them trials and misunderstandings and difficulties and differences of opinion, making it seem that they will never get together… then just when things look darkest bringing them together in a satisfying happily-ever-after ending.
And never, hopefully, shall the twain meet.
So what causes this rather radical dichotomy? I have no idea. I just know that some stories demand romance and hearts and flowers, while others have to have revenge and murder. Those of you who know me know a little about my working process – I don’t plot and I don’t do character sheets or anything like that. The stories just come… and so do the characters, independent people who simply walk in, tell me their name (and Heaven help me if I try to change it) and what they’re going to do. Far too many times I don’t feel like I am writing but instead merely transcribing.
It makes for an interesting work process. On the other hand, I am never bored. And neither are my readers.
For example, my Ancient Egyptian time travel romance PASSION’S CHOICE is now not only a standalone novel, it is also included in the Love Across Time box set – ten full novels by bestselling authors, right now on sale for 99 cents at Amazon! An unbelievable bargain you should go get immediately! PASSION’S CHOICE is the story of Elissa, an average young American woman on a tour in Egypt when she falls over the railing at Deir el Bahri, temple of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. The only thing is, when she hits the ground the temple is under construction, and the general in charge of the project believes her to be a pleasure woman. (You can guess what that is, can’t you?) Before she knows what’s going on, Elissa finds herself in a dangerous masquerade at the pharaoh’s court, one that not only puts the life of the man she loves at risk, but the fate of Egypt – and perhaps the future – as well.
By contrast, my newest murder mystery release is about arrogant, wealthy, aged sleuth Flora Melkiot, who has been called the dark side of Miss Marple. In MURDER IN DEATH’S WAITING ROOM, Flora has been confined to a rehab facility by her painfully conventional daughter, an act that infuriates Flora, who says it was only a little traffic accident and she could manage perfectly well with a broken wrist in her own home. Then first one of the patients and then another are brutally murdered, and Flora once again finds herself in the position of solving the crimes. As always, Flora is convinced that she can do anything… and usually she not only can, she does. When drugs get added into the mix, what should be a place of healing comes perilously close to becoming a death trap.
See? Two completely different kinds of writing, genres, even characters, but just one of me. One of my longtime beta readers – who has read almost every word I’ve ever written – looked at me one day and asked how I did it. How did I manage two such different genres, two such different conventions, two such different worldviews and do both of them equally well. I thought for a minute, then gave her the only answer that was possible.
I don’t have a clue.