Linda Jones and Linda Howard share insight into their experience of writing their new novel Frost Line. They divulge why a spark of genius on an escalator and an interest in tarot cards led to creating this amazing new paranormal series.
Linda Jones: Confession time: I own several decks of Tarot Cards. I pull them out infrequently, but they do sit in a special cabinet, and I have favorite decks and a few instructional books. In the past several years I’ve done a few readings for friends — and for characters. You might call it a hobby. So, Linda Howard and I are familiar with the basics. We know the Major and Minor Arcana, and understand the basic meanings for most of the cards. We were at a conference in New York, walking back into the hotel from yet another trip to Juniors (cheesecake!), talking about our next project.
Linda Howard: Figuring out our next project was going nowhere, because neither of us had any idea what we wanted to write. Maybe the Junior’s cheesecake was inspirational, but as we were going up the escalator, out of the blue I said, “What if Tarot cards came to life?” No, I had nothing beyond that initial remark. I hadn’t even been thinking about Tarot, it was one of those musing, inane comments I sometimes make. But LJ (Linda Jones) acted as if she’d been struck by lightning. She gasped and turned around, eyes big, and I knew the words had resonated with her. We stared at each other, which is kind of dangerous when you’re on a moving escalator.
Linda Jones: The words I remember most from that escalator ride were Linda Howard’s, “I can see a woman stepping out of a card, but I don’t know which one.” I did. I immediately said, “Strength. It has to be Strength.” I saw it, in that moment. I saw a woman stepping out of a huge Tarot card. A foot, a leg, a wisp of a white dress. Now and then writing brings these fantastic moments that are gifts from the blue. This was one of them.
Linda Howard: We were giddy with excitement, at the way this idea had fired our imaginations. When we were in workshops we weren’t paying attention to the speakers, but instead were researching names, looking for the perfect ones. We kicked around ideas for the hero. He couldn’t be subservient to the Major Arcana, so we came up with a different kind of being, a universal type of cop who could travel freely between all the worlds — because the Major Arcana couldn’t. Somehow we ended up back at Junior’s (more cheesecake!) and I was so electrified I had chills racing over my skin.
Linda Jones: And so it began. Even though we were familiar with the Tarot when that initial idea came to life on the escalator, much research was involved. I know a lot more about the cards than I did when we began. When the research starts, you never know what detail will come into play, what might spark yet another idea.
Linda Howard: I couldn’t begin to count the back-and-forth e-mails as we tried to nail down the world-building, the contradictions, the inevitable, “Well, that just isn’t logical!” details that we had to make logical (or at least acceptable) because we both skew highly analytical/logical in personality tests, which is an interesting twist when we’re writing paranormal. As far as the physical surroundings in the book, we tend to see them in mirror images, so I’ll have a character running left and LJ will have that same character running right, going to the same destination. This has happened in every book we’ve written together; eventually we’ll learn to sketch out floor plans and neighborhoods to circumvent this type of thing :-). As much work as the actual writing was, though, the bolt of lightning excitement we felt at the dawning of the concept made it all worthwhile.