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Author’s Corner Renaissance Writer… Writing Across Genres L ocal author C.S. Lakin has yet to meet a genre she didn’t like, or couldn’t write. From literary fi ction to mystery, to fantasy, to thrillers to westerns, Lakin’s prolifi c pen keeps trying new things. Raised in a home with a screenwriter mother and brother, the Morgan Hill author of more than 30 books was steeped in writing from her earliest age. “I was always writing,” TODAY . she told Her most recently published novel, “Wyoming Tryst,” the sixth in the Front Range series, a sweet historical Western romance, was an adventure into a very different genre than any she’d written before. In fact, it bears her pen name, Charlene Whitman, because the genre is “very clean, characters kiss like maybe once or twice,” she explained. “I’ve always loved Westerns and my husband and I have joked about writing a Western for years because he loves them,” she said. However, what pushed her to journey into sweet Westerns was not just the love of the craft; she also takes the business of writing seriously. She had seen this specific genre be very successful for other authors and hoped to see some financial success for herself. So she sat down to “deconstruct” it. Deconstructing a genre is a lot “like a painter at the Louvre trying to copy a painting,” she said, “an act of apprenticeship to the craft. If you want to write anything, you have to study that genre specifically. You grab a bunch of books in the genre, and just look at what the vocabulary is, how long are the chapters, what are the character arcs, etcetera.” When writing thrillers, for instance, she said, “I have to scale back on the internal processing of my characters. Not a lot of pages of a character thinking about what just happened.” Right now she’s studying supernatural thrillers for a book she intends to begin about a man hit by lightning who gains powers in the process. “He’s a very troubled person suffering from a lot of guilt after his brother died when he got hit by lightning,” she said. “He feels like lightning is his nemesis, always after him, like God is punishing him.” Though Lakin has written numerous novels, she didn’t really start to write them until she was around 30, and not because she had a bunch of free time, either. “I wrote my first gmh 58 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Written By Jordan Rosenfeld books when I had young babies and was running a bed and breakfast,” she said with a laugh. Those babies are now grown women, ages 30 and 33, and Lakin has two grandchildren. Like all writers, she has experienced some setbacks and frustrations, but has always come back to novel writing. He r first published novel, “Someone to Blame,” a relational drama, won a contest with Harper Collins. After that, she landed a contract with a small publisher for a seven-book fantasy series based on fairytales, called the Gates of Heaven series. “I always wanted to take fairytales from my child- hood and turn them into 400-page books,” she said. Her publisher gave her a lot of latitude in both story and cover design, and she is particularly proud of the beautiful art on each cover. Once she commits to writing a book, the self- proclaimed “super plotter” plots out the entire story from start to finish, with every scene in between. Only then does she begin to write, though she lets herself be flexible. “Sometimes I’ll start a scene and it will turn out different than what I intended, so I trust my gut,” she said. From there, it will take her, on average about three months to write the entire first draft. When she’s not writing novels, she’s copyediting full time and blogging at her popular writing blog, LiveWriteThrive.com, as well as teaching at writing conferences around the country. Her writing cheerleading and analysis of the writing craft has also morphed into a series of books on the craft of writing. Her most recently completed, but not yet published, book since “Wyoming Tryst” is the first in a series of darkly comic novels called The Menopause Murders, co-written with Ed Markel (he writes the husband, she writes the murderous, menopausal wife), which she is hoping will be optioned into a TV series. But don’t ask her to focus on just one of these projects. “I love writing everything and that’s my problem. I would like to write in ten genres all the time,” she laughed. JUNE/JULY 2018 gmhtoday.com