Sunday, July 6, 2014

Karina Bliss asks, Twin stories: love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Every book I write has its own challenges, usually discovered at a point of no return. After starting my Special Forces series with an issue-driven book in Here Comes The Groom I figured I’d change the pace with a light-hearted caper for the second – Stand-In Wife released in August.
When my editor, Victoria Curran mentioned Super readers like twin swaps, I thought, ‘Perfect. I’ve read some great twin swap stories (my favourite's by Daphne Clair - Wife to a Stranger - which had a plot twist that caught me completely by surprise).
My twin heroine, impetuous, impulsive Viv, had no problem writing herself into the story and I already had her hero - alpha soldier Ross Coltrane, friend to the hero (Viv’s brother) from Here Comes The Groom. All about control and economy of emotion, the Iceman needed a topsy-turvy ride through a book with a heroine who pretty much railroaded over him.
Then I hit a snag. Plausibility. How do you make a twin swap believable in a contemporary line like SuperRomance, which has a brand promise - Romance has never felt so real!
Gee, you’d think I’d have thought it through, right?
As usual, other writers had made it seem easy.
My swap was of more than twin sisters, it was of lifestyles, of a single career woman with a separated mother of two. I had to come up with a good reason for the exchange for both of them. I mean why would a mom leave her two kids in the care of a sister who’d never shown much interest in them?
Also families tend to be able to tell each other apart. So do husbands - ex or otherwise. I had to make it plausible that at least some of the twins’ family bought the swap....which led to even more plot twists. Turned out it wasn’t only the hero who got a topsy-turvy ride.
And speaking of heroes, I had to deal with the fact that my hero couldn’t find my heroine attractive as long as he thought she was his brother’s ex wife. Doh!
Eventually I answered all these questions and have hopefully added another great story to the twins’ sub genre. I guess you’ll let me know. G>
So what’s the draw of twin stories? There’s intrigue and suspense - can they pull off a swap? Multiple happy endings, not just in the romance but between the siblings themselves as they solve longstanding differences. And there’s the chaotic fun of watching someone live a very different life. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘You can’t solve a problem at the same level you created it.’ A twin swap automatically throws a different perspective and approach to a situation that might have stymied her twin.
Romantic Times describes twin stories as “hilariously funny what-ifs. There is a dramatic interplay between the twins, who appear to be mirror images, but in reality are far from similar, and the reader is the only one besides the pair that is aware of a charade….Inherent in all twin romances is the opportunity for another chance.”
The chance to do things differently…don’t we all want that sometimes?


Writing this blog I checked out twins and romances and found a host of books. Here’s a quick list if you've got a thing for twins: False Colors by Georgette Heyer, Dancing on the Wind by Mary Jo Putney, Twin of Fire and Twin of Ice by Jude Deveraux, Silver Angel by Johanna Lindsay, Thursday’s Child by Sandra Brown (lots of people seemed to like this one). All I want for Christmas by Nora Roberts. Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon; Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. (Read it, loved it). Beautiful Stranger by Ruth Wind, Catch of the Day by Kristin Higgins. (Again, read it. Loved it).
And lo and behold, I discovered some SuperRomance authors have trodden this path before me and will be hunting out their stories: Kathryn Shay with The Unknown Twin, Barbara McMahon with Cinderella Twin and C. J. Carmichael with A Sister Would Know.

So twin stories…love ‘em or hate ‘em? Got any recommendations? Opinions? Make a comment and go into a draw for any two books (except Mr Imperfect, I'm down to my last copies) from my backlist. Or, if you can stand to wait a couple of months, an autographed copy of Stand-In Wife.


Karina

www.karinabliss.com


59 comments:

Sonya said...

Christine Feehan featured twins marrying twins in books #4 and #5 of her GhostWalkers series. I loved them.

I like twin stories, but then I like anything that’s written well! Growing up I counted twins and triplets amongst my friends. What really interested me was how different they were from each other. I was much better friends with certain siblings than others, and might be invited over after school to visit one of the triplets; they didn’t all have the same friends even though we were all in the same class.

I find the relationship dynamics between multiples interesting. Of course, I’m also desperate for your new book, so twins or no twins, I’d still want to read it!

Sarah Mayberry said...

One word, Ms. Bliss: gagging. As in "gagging to read your next book." When is this little puppy out?

JV said...

It's all in the execution! I have read twin-swap stories that I've loved, and I've read some that drove me nuts because they were so very implausible.

In general, I think the more the twins are alike in personality and the more they are close (both in physical proximity and in emotional bond), the easier it would be to write a story where twins substitute for one another because the twins would have more shared experiences, be familiar with one another's routines and friends, and have heard office (or other job) stories. That's not to say that there wouldn't be significant differences in them, but when you're subbing in a relationship situation, the more details you know, the better you'd be able to wing-it, I'd assume.

So, I'm imagining that you had quite the challenge to substitute a twin with little maternal (or even aunt) instinct for a separated mother of two for a career-oriented single woman. I can imagine some of the incidents where one comes up against an unfamiliar person or situation and has to sweat through it. I can't wait to read it to see how you worked it all out!

I can't think of any stories in particular that I've read off the top of my head, but I'm glad you mentioned Kristan Higgins' story. I haven't read that yet and am thinking I may have to find it and read it, too.

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Hi Karina,

I like twin stories and I have read many of the books on your list. Twin swap stories are fun. And my daughter loves the Olsen twins. She has all of their old movies. I am really looking forward to your new book.

Kaelee said...

Hi Karina, I think twin stories done well are wonderful. Since I love your writing style I'm sure you will pull it off with lots of interesting angles.

msullivan said...

Karina, I haven't read a twin story in a long, long time--I can't even think of any titles--so I'm definitely overdue! I love your writing and can't wait to read Stand-In Bride.

CrystalGB said...

HI Karina. I like twin stories. I am always fascinated by how different or alike they are.

Helen Brenna said...

I've never been drawn to a twin story simply because it's a twin story. I've even read several of the books you listed and don't remember them as twin themed!!

Now that you've explained the draw, Karina, it makes so much sense. Sounds fun to write, too!

Ellen Hartman said...

Yesterday I met a guy at work who is an identical twin. I told him I wanted anecdotes from him because I'm a romance author and twin stories are always popular. He gave me a good one right there in the meeting.

When I was a kid, writing my very first stories, there were always twins. Usually orphan twins. With puppies.

I loved Here Comes the Groom. I can't wait for your twin book. May I ask if it includes any puppies? :-)

chey said...

I like some twin stories. I can't remember any tittles .

Summer said...

I loved the Sweet Valley Twins books growing up, and I'm reading an older Danielle Steel book right now about a pair of identical twins. They're fun reads, though none of them are all that concerned with reality so I'm really interested to see what your more down-to-earth, Super-style twin swap will be like.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Ah, my dad dated twins! At the same time!

I hadn't really enjoyed twin stories for the same reason I didn't like secret baby stories. The secrecy drove me nuts. But I got over it with a good story or two that made me change my mind. I think the appeal of twin stories is the possibility of the other person knowing innately you are different even though externally you look the same. We all want someone to see the "real" us and there is such a challenge/obstacle when these stories involve twins that it makes the HEA all the more satisfying.

Peace, Julie

Karina Bliss said...

Hi guys...I'm up in NZ and see Sarah Mayberry in Australia was up much earlier, to show me up!

Sonya, thanks for the Christine Feehan recommendation, I enjoy her writing. I've always noticed one shy and one outgoing twin in the pairings I've met. I do find the dynamic interesting, particularly for identicals...seeing yourself age for example. Hard enough once a day in the mirror! Great to hear you're looking forward to the book. Hope you enjoy it.

Karina Bliss said...

Hey Sarah, you early bird...must be a true professional. Book is out August. And I'm thrilled to say I sold two more in the SAS series this morning. Phew. So there'll be four books in all. I'm working my way through your historical recommendations. All terrific.
Karina

Karina Bliss said...

JV, you hit the nail on the head. The quandary between knowing each others habits and needing some separation so the nearest and dearest are easier to fool. Normally technology is not a writers friend...it's very hard to isolate a couple when everyone's attached to the world through a phone. In this case it worked because I could have my twins communicating by cell to fill in any knowledge gaps.
Kristin Higgins is a wonderful storyteller. I recommend her book.

Karina Bliss said...

Tammy, I'm impressed you've read so many of the twin books I came across, and hope you'll give me a critique when the book comes out.
Karina

Karina Bliss said...

Mary, I haven't read a twin story in a while either and I was really surprised how many I've missed when I started looking at the theme. Or the twin angle was something I noticed only fleetingly in the books I had read. Daphne's book in particular is so good...she literally had my mouth drop open in surprise.
Thanks for the kind words! Karina

Karina Bliss said...

Thanks Kaelee! Yep lots of angles in there. Oh boy...again, I encourage a critique.
Karina

Karina Bliss said...

Crystal, it would be interesting to get a twin's view of twin books. Whether they enjoy reading them or avoid them like the plague. (Like moms of under fives avoiding books with kids).
Karina

Karina Bliss said...

Helen and Ellen, okay I'm writing that just because I like the way it sounds together.

Helen, I was also caught by surprise at the twin list...I can't remember Kristin's heroine being a twin and intend doing a reread (no hardship).

Ellen, I watched a few doco's with twins...funny how when you're writing a book, this material miraculously appears. Love your orphan twins with puppies.
Dare I admit, there is dog in the book, a mean schnoodle, hostile to the heroine. Knows shes a fake.

Karina Bliss said...

Chey, hopefully I've given you a reading list. I agree, it's all the execution. Gulp.

Karina Bliss said...

Summer, I've never read Sweet Valley High but they seem mythic in the States...they're a series right? Written by different authors? Wasn't there a tv show about them?

Karina Bliss said...

Julie, go dad...now there's a story. The secrecy can be frustrating, which is one of the reasons I found it hard to plot. I had to have the hero spring her releatively quickly so the romance could get underway. Obviously I can't have him fancying his sister in law. But I made it a table turning moment which was fun.
Plus you raise another good point. They look the same, but their lover always 'sees' them. That was lovely to work with.

Autumn said...

That's what it's all about isn't it. The true pull of twin swap stories is that the right person sees the essence of the person, not just the outward appearance. What we all want really, to be truly seen and loved for who we are, not who the other person things we are!

Now you've got me wanting to resurrect a twin story I wrote a while back and filed under D for dud. Three years later I maybe, just maybe, have learned enough to make it work, though it has to get in queue with all my other half-baked ideas!

Autumn said...

Oops, "thinks" not "things"!

liztalley said...

Twins? I grew up with a set who lived around the corner. Totally identical, but not to me. I still can tell them apart. So I'm not enamoured with twins, but your book sounds very, very intresting.

And I think it must have been very hard to write. I feel like an ol' whiny baby crying about trying to write suspense in mine when you've got to do a twin switcheroo.

Karina Bliss said...

Autumn you put it much better than I did..."the right person sees the essence of the person not just the outward appearance. Waht we all want really, is to be truly seen and loved for who we are." Nothing wrong with half-baked ideas. Like you said, give them a couple of years of craft to rise, and you can write a great book. My rock star book started that way and it's one of my favourites now.

Karina Bliss said...

Liz, what helped tell them apart for you? I'm a whiny baby with every book (ask my critique partners). You mean that isn't a part of the process? G>

Virginia said...

I love twin stories, my mother was a twin and some of the stories she told on her and her brother was fabulous.

Linda Warren said...

Karina,

I wrote about twins back in 2002, but they were twins separated at birth, not a swap. And it was two books. Each twin had her own story. One was a school teacher and the other a stripper. It was interesting how they finally met. I had a gigantic headache from putting the back story together. That's my only experience with writing twins. Yours sound great. Can't wait to read it.

I have a book coming out in August too.

Linda

JV said...

Ooooh, Julie! Your father dated twins at the same time? How did he manage that?

Karina, I love schnoodles! My husband and I found one shortly after we were married. The vet said she was between 5 & 8 when we found her, and she lived happily with us for 11 years. Such a great dog! Now I KNOW I'll have to read it.


And just as an aside, I read a fascinating article about identical twins who were adopted out to different families and raised entirely separately, never having met. It was interesting to see the in-born similarities and the different families' attitudes. One mother said, "My daughter is such a picky eater! She won't eat anything unless it has cinnamon on it." When the other twin's mother was asked about her daughter's eating habits, she said, "Oh, she eats anything as long as it has cinnamon on it!" One was glass half-empty, and one was glass half-full! I wonder how it infuenced the girls' personalities?

Karina Bliss said...

Virginia...hey there's an idea. A twin swap where they swap sexes as well as lives. Oh wait, Shakespeare had a crack at it in Twelfth Night. Maybe I won't follow the master.

Karina Bliss said...

Hi Linda, I thought there must be more Super authors out there who've written twins than the three I came across. A school teacher and a stripper, they sure took different paths. Sounds like a lot of fun...must see if I can find them.
Backstory for a separated at birth duo would have been hard to get right. I'm already defaulting to the basket in the rushes.

Joan Kilby said...

Karina, I've never attempted a twin story. They seem very tricky to pull off but I can see you've thought about it a lot and your book sounds fun. I can't wait to read it! My fave twin story is the movie Parent Trap. I liked both the Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohen versions. Not a twin romance but a romance with twins, I guess.

Karina Bliss said...

JV, I just love the word, schnoodle. And there's such a variety of 'looks' to choose from in the breed. A friend has one, they're a lovely dog. I'll try and remember to post a pic of 'my' schnoodle in my next website update.
Don't they say you're born an optimist or pessimist...it would be interesting how those ID twins were influenced by their adoptive mothers world view.

Karina Bliss said...

Hi Joan, try a twin story if you want to be tied up in knots...it was way more of a challenge than I expected. You tend to think of the fun and games rather than the plot mechanics. I loved the Parent Trap too...haven't seen the Linday Lohen version.
I just read Two Against The Odds and loved it. Now that was a plot that posed incredible challenges. I thought you pulled it off superbly.

Joan Kilby said...

Hey, thanks, Karina! It was a tough book to write. Glad it worked for you. Do watch the Lindsay Lohen version. She was terrific when she was a young girl. And it stars Dennis Quaid who I also like.

Karina Bliss said...

I've got a soft spot for Quaid too...thanks for the rec.

linda s said...

I haven't read a twin swap story in ages. I look forward to your new book.

Karina Bliss said...

Cheers, Linda S!

Jo's Daughter said...

I rather like twin stories, always wanted to be a twin. I guess I was just lonely and considered it to be the perfect solution to my being without a BFF. I like the Cynster twins from Stephenie Laurens stories.

Karina Bliss said...

Jo's Daughter - I'd forgotten about Stephanie Lauren's books...and she's a favourite author. I think the twin fantasy is one a lot of kids have at some point - someone who'll really understand you. That's the appeal of romance novels too, don't you think?

Debra Salonen said...

I'm a day late--that's what happens when you have run to town and life gets away from you.

I love twin stories. I've written several--and one set of triplets! But never a swap. You're right--getting your head around the how and why is tough.

My current two releases have heroine twins. They're the different as night and day type. But they're also very close. I patterned them after my twin nieces--love those girls!!

Your new one sounds very intriguing!

Deb

Snookie said...

I'm coming in late... been busy busy busy! I love twin books, could be swap or not and I still love them. BUT and here's the big BUT, they have to be written well and be plausible (esp. when there is a swap of some sort!).

Parent Trap was one of my alltime favorite kid movies! I saw the one with Haley Mills, not the more recent one.

Karina Bliss said...

Hey Debra, how does writing twins and triplets stories differ from say, writing a trilogy around 'normal' siblings? Is there a difference?
I'll be sure to check our your new releases...your nieces must be thrilled to have stories written for them.

Snookie, yep well written and plausible are the key factors in slightly off the wall storylines. Hayley Mills obviously made an impression on a lot of people with that movie.

marybelle said...

I cannot recall reading any twin books. I can see the possibilities though. Worth checking out.

ClaudiaGC said...

I've read some pretty good books about twins but sadly also a few quite awful ones (can't think of any right now). I absolutely hate it when one twin disappears and the other one takes its place and no one notices it (happens a lot in historicals).

Jackie S. said...

I can't think of a book about twins that I have read.....will look forward to yours.

ClaudiaGC said...

I've read some good and some bad twin stories but I'm really looking forward to your new book!

Silvia said...

I'm intrigued by twins.
There special band is something to envy slightly.
Don't have any siblings and sometimes wondered how it would be.
To have someone related to you who is just like you.
I enjoyed Eloise James' twins Alex & Patrick.

Instant Coupons said...

I don't just love the story but I love AShley and Mary Kate as well. I love twins. I know someone that has a twin and she said she can feel something if her twin is sad or if there is something bad happened to her. They can't just explain the feeling but she really does feel something.

Karina Bliss said...

Hey guys, I've had trouble getting on...
ClaudiaGC and Linda S, hope you enjoy it!

Silvia...I'll add Eloise James twins to my reading list.

Instant Coupons, I've read about that twin bond...I guess I could have added a paranormal element.

Karina

JV said...

I also recommend the Lindsey Lohan version of Parent Trap. As a general rule, I tend not to like remakes of movies (or of songs) that I've really liked. I'm not sure why, but that's just how it usually goes. However, I preferred the Lindsey Lohan version. She was brilliant in the movie. (Such a shame to see what her life has become since then!) I really loved Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson in it, too. It was a very charming movie!

P.S. At your recommendation, I read Catch of the Day yesterday. A great book, though I sobbed through about 4 chapters of it.

Karina Bliss said...

Thanks, JV, I'm always wary of remakes. No, Keira Knightly, you will never be Elizabeth Bennett to me! Good to hear it beats the original. Catch of the day is a great book, isn't it? Might be my favourite of hers.
Karina

Anonymous said...

Hi Karina,

I can't wait to read Ross and Viv's story in August. Very happy to hear there are two more books in the series. I can't wait to read about the rest of the guys. As for twin stories, the only one I can remember reading is Claire Cross Double Trouble. I also enjoyed the movie Parent Trip with Lindsay Lohan.

Thanks for the all the recommendations, I have a lot to catch up on, Carol

Karina Bliss said...

Hey Carol, hope it lives up to expectations. I'm excited by another two in the series as well. I'm getting really attached to these guys.
Karina

Laura Russell said...

Karina,
As a mother of twins I do like twin stories. Agreed that one hurdle is family members being fooled-- but definitely not everyone in the family can reliably tell my boys apart. So that can work. Looking forward to reading your story.

Laura Russell said...

PS- my sister dated twins and invited both to my wedding as her dates. Just know that at that point no one was serious about anyone. The twins wrote a very sweet note to me and my husband with their wedding present including a wish that we might have twins!

Colleen C. said...

Oooh twin stories... love them! I enjoy their stories whether one is good and the other is evil... enjoy mistaken identity... etc... making note of some you listed... thanks for sharing!

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