Saturday, June 25, 2011

Janie Franz talks about The Ruins Trilogy

Today, my guest is MuseItHot author, Janie Franz.  Janie has several books coming out soon.  Today, she's talking about The Ruins Discovery.  Since there are some graphic sex scenes, this book is released through MuseItHot, the spicier side of MuseItUp Publishing.
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? 
I come from a long line of liars and storytellers and have been writing stories since I was a child. I never aspired to have anything in print until I took a creative writing course in high school, and my teacher wanted us all to have something published before the school year ended. Ironically, in the class the poet’s first sale was a short story and mine (the designated short story writer) was an essay and later a couple of poems. Perhaps it was a glimpse into the far distant future when I became a full-time freelance journalist over a decade ago.
I never thought I’d have time to write a novel, but I did work on a few over the years, eventually putting them literally in a drawer and later in a big banker’s box. I actually have two big boxes full of handwritten story starts.

I spent several months last year, after my first book (The Bowdancer) came out, writing more tales of the bowdancer and doing substantive revisions to some of those novels I had in boxes. I finished ten books last year. It was the longest sustained writing I’ve ever done and helped me through some really difficult times in my personal life.

What genre do you write in and why?

I’ve really tried to figure out what genre I write in and I’m not quite sure. I’ve been labeled a romance writer, but I don’t fit the template exactly. I write about relationships for the most part, but these are never the typical girl-gets-guy stories. Often they have a happy-for-now ending. But mainly it’s the other story that drives the book, meaning the adventure or mystery or life experience that creates the circumstances upon which the characters interrelate. In addition, many of my books deal with culture and all the things that compose that.

I think I like writing about relationships and cultures because these are the elements that define life for me. People interact based upon social rules within a culture. Also each culture has color—music, dance, religion, healing practices, etc. These are the things that enrich our lives. When people from different cultures meet, they often have conflicts because of those cultural differences. It is how they work through those conflicts that the best qualities of humans are revealed. Looking at created cultures also allows us to look at our own with fresh eyes.

2.     Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.

My first book with Muse It Up Publishing came out in May of this year. Ruins Discover is the first book in a trilogy about archaeology grad student Kate Ferguson. It is set in Phoenix, Arizona, and Wupatki Ruins in the high country of the state. Here’s a blurb about the book:

Gold bracelets, a snake necklace, a feathered cape and a wedding dress. The daily gifts first intrigue then strike terror into anthropologist Kate Ferguson's heart.

The threats begin when she accepts an invitation to visit ancient sites frequented by a maverick native group, hoping to gather material for her thesis. Instead, she finds herself the target of a power struggle—a struggle which has always led to death and disaster for any woman attracted to Paul Rodriguez
And Kate is attracted--very attracted--to this secretive architect haunted by his past. She too has her own secrets. One is her gift of psychometry (being able to read psychic impressions left in objects) and the other—the fact that she’s still a virgin.

As Paul’s enemies draw nearer, they both have life-changing decisions to make. Paul has deserted his position as shaman and leader of his people because of the group’s sinister traditions. He must make a stand or lose the woman he loves.

Kate must learn to trust Paul, not only with her body, but with her very life. Can she do this or will the price to be paid prove too high?

Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I never outline my books. I figure if you spend that much time doing detailed outlines, you might as well just write the book. But I do take notes. 

When I wrote The Lost Song Trilogy, the next adventures of Ja-nell the bowdancer, I put a few notes down about where I wanted things to go, just a phrase or a few key words. These would go at the very bottom of the page I was working on. Then as I began the writing, I’d add things here and there, and also remove the notes I’d made as the scene was written. I’d also put research notes or even reminders about the ages and hair colors of some of the characters. (I had a large cast of characters that crossed over from book to book and they would get older, of course.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

It’s always the characters. I will have an idea about where I’d like the book to go, but often the interactions with the characters often changed anything I’d have initially in my head. So I don’t outline, and sometimes I don’t even know what’s going to happen next. For Ruins Discovery, I sort of knew where it would go, but the ending changed several times during the years of reworking it.

5.     Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why? 

I’m most fond of my Bowdancer Saga characters. They are rich and vivid. I like all of my main characters in all of my books, but it is who they interact with that I find more intriguing. But my very favorite character is Bekar, the master hunter, in Warrior Women, book 3 of the Bowdancer Saga. She’s strong, but wounded, and fiercely loyal.
6.     Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
I have to chuckle about this question. Ruins Discovery took me nearly forty years to get published. I wrote the first draft in 1977 when I first came to North Dakota, right after seeing Wupatki Ruins for the first time. I had held a potshard in my hand—also for the first time. The character Paul Rodriguez was modeled after someone I had seen in a convenience store in Phoenix. I combined those two experiences and started writing.

I put that scant handwritten draft in a drawer, only to bring it out every few years and rework parts of it, retyping many drafts of it. I’d add things as I found out more information about native groups in the area.

In the meantime, I earned a degree in anthropology.  When I brought out the latest draft to try to whip it into shape to submit to Muse It Up Publishing, I used experiences I had gathered working on my degree. I also made a trip back up to Wupatki Ruins last November to take photographs for a book trailer that is in the works. I was able, then, to add a level of accuracy to the work that it didn’t have earlier.
So to answer the question about research, yes I did a lot of research. And how long it took to write the book? This one took almost forty years….. But I wrote The Lost Song trilogy in two to three months.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like reading and watching movies---yes, I know. It’s a busman’s holiday.  I also hike and have started playing blues harmonica again.
9.     What books or authors have influenced your writing?

I read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger. He was good at creating atmosphere, and his use of language is impeccable. Ann McCafery, Mercedes Lackey, and Marion Zimmer Bradley also were big influences. But I think it was Gregg Hurwitz’s work that showed me how to make richness of language and heart-pounding adventure work together.

What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?

The Bowdancer (Breathless Press)
The Wayfarer’s Road (Breathless Press)
Warrior Women (Breathless Press)

Ruins: Discovery (Muse It Hot) May 20, 2011
Sugar Magnolia (Muse It Hot) July 2011
Ruins: Artifacts (Muse It Hot) Aug 2011
The Neighbor (Muse It Up) October 2011
The Premier (Muse It Up) November 2011
The Lost Song: Verses (Muse It Hot) January 2012

Ruins Discovery has adult content so is under the Muse It Hot dvis
Buy link for Ruins Discovery:

W  What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Read everything you can. How-to books are good, but you’ll learn more by reading other authors. Start with those you like and then branch out into those you don’t know but are in your genre. But don’t limit yourself to books in your genre.

And above all else----WRITE.

12  Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Readers can find out more about the Ruins Trilogy by going to
And they can find out more about the Bowdancer Saga here:


  1. Larion, thanks for stopping. You can preorder, I believe, at the Muse book store.

  2. Larion, Ruins Discovery came out last month, but the second book in the series will be out in August.

    Thanks for stopping by and thank you, Penny, for hosting me

  3. Janie, it's always a pleasure to have you as a guest.