by Julie Kenner
Secrets, Sex and Scandals …
Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy… Get ready. The storm is coming.
Nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, the bucolic town of Storm, Texas, seems like nothing short of perfection.
But there are secrets beneath the facade. Dark secrets. Powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart. The kind that can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams. All it takes is one little thing to shatter that polish.
Ginny Moreno didn’t mean to do it, but when she came home to Storm, she brought the tempest with her. And now everyone will be caught in its fury…
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An Exclusive Interview With Julie Kenner:
~ with Jillian Stein of Read Love Blog
Ok, so I am totally in awe of this project and the concept of a readable soap opera of sorts! Where on earth did you come up with the idea?
Thanks!! I’m so glad you love it!
You know, it’s really hard for me to pinpoint the exact how of most of my ideas. But waaaaay back in 2011, I was trying to think of a new project, and one of the ideas I had was for a continuing series where we followed a heroine across social media platforms and in ebooks. So the pieces of the story would come together from digital novellas, twitter posts and facebook posts (now, I would add Instagram images). My not-well-developed-heroine was on the run and anonymous and so that was how she communicated with those who were trying to help her.
I thought it was a great idea, not done before … and completely unwieldy. But it did get me thinking. I was also writing a screenplay at the time, and my co-writer and I had been having meetings with directors, talking about the possibility of TV instead of film, and that got me thinking, too. And I realized that one of the things I would love to write (and read!) was the kind of thing I love to watch—a continuing drama over multiple books. But short books, so it felt like you really were watching a television show.
I didn’t have a story at first, just a concept. I even started to call it, to myself, Must Read TV, and I brainstormed first how to put such a creature together. I figured at first I would write them all, because that was the norm. But then I realized that what really excited me was the idea of being a “showrunner” – coming up with the story and then having a “writers room” of folks who wrote the episodes.
I also realized that if I wanted this project to be a thing, rather than an idea, I needed help. So naturally I called my best friend, Dee Davis. I also figured she’d be a good reality check as to whether this was a crazy idea or not. Thankfully, she not only didn’t tell me I was nuts, but she was super excited by the project, too. Together, we batted around ideas but were very early on drawn to the idea of a small Texas town. We came up with the basic idea of Storm, Texas—and then we settled in and started to build our world!
I loved the twists and turns you’ve given us in the just the first book. Was it difficult to come up with the drama for these characters?
Once we dug in, it really wasn’t. In fact, just the opposite. Dee and I love working together, but haven’t really had the chance in years (and even then, we critiqued each other’s work, but never wrote together). So we had a blast building the town and the people.
We actually did a huge chunk of the character and plotting work in a B&B in Fredericksburg, Texas, a town in the Texas Hill Country about an hour away from our fictional town. We explored Fredericksburg (no hardship there—it’s an incredible town with great restaurants and wineries) and took pictures and plotted and worked out most of the stories and characters.
First, we came up with the basic idea of the families and then started to fill out their family trees. We looked at our “lead” characters first and the sort of stories we wanted to tell, and once we got going other characters would spring to life, and that would suggest another plotline and that would suggest another character, etc. etc.
Honestly, it was a blast.
What were some of the challenges in coordinating a project with so many people and moving parts?
It was smoother than I thought it would be, actually. First off, we needed people, and the approach was, “So my friend Dee Davis and I have got this project that hasn’t really been done before, but do you want to come play in our sandbox?” A couple—huge soap opera fans—were like, “you had me at hello,” and others just loved the concept and thought it would be a hoot to participate.
After that, we had to have a bible that gave detailed information about all the episodes, because people were coming in to write a story that fell inside a much larger, overarching story arc.
Timing is an issue, too. This project was a long time coming because while we do have a detailed bible of what’s going to happen in every story, the writers are still filling in a lot of gaps. And, sometimes things get added and/or changed that work well and cause subtle shifts. So we timed it out so that each author had the previous episodes to read before diving into theirs. I think Tempest Rising has the longest time between writing and publication of any book in my career!
Frankly, the biggest challenge for me was working out the character and town details ahead of time—something that is obviously needed if you have multiple people working on the same project.
Fortunately, this is not something that’s a challenge for Dee. (I swear, I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning to a map of Storm in my in-box!). As a writer, I’m very much the “Oh, I need a restaurant; I will invent one now!” type, whereas Dee can tell you a character’s great-grandmother’s name (and most likely the name of all her cats) even though neither great-grandma nor the cats will be in the book! And that’s another reason we worked together so well on this project.
Marketing, of course, is another challenge for a project like this, and we’re so happy that Evil Eye/1001 Dark Nights was excited about Storm. Dee and I realized early on that if we wanted other authors we needed something to offer them other than “um, it could be fun!” Because 1001 Dark Nights had just launched and I had a book in the first year, I knew what they were about, and I suggested to Dee that we approach them to see about working with us to get this project launched the way it should be. Thankfully, they were as over the moon about it as we were, which meant that Dee and I could focus on the story, and they could focus on spreading the word!
I know it’s early, but do you think we will see more of this series in the future apart from the episodes already lined up?
Yes! Because of the time issue, we’re already into Season 2, which will come out about the same times next year. But that’s a big gap, so we are also doing a two episode “mini-season” that will release right around the 2016 RT Booklover’s Convention in Vegas. Those episodes will be written by the awesome Lexi Blake and Larissa Ione!
Slick’s review of Rising Storm Episode 1: Tempest Rising by Julie Kenner
I watch very little television these days, but back in the 80’s I was a sucker for the big sweeping nighttime soap operas like Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Knots Landing…man how I wanted to live in Knots Landing. I loved everything about them; the drama, the secrets, the romance, the lies, the back stabbing, and yes, the bitch slapping; I’m sorry but I still remember those scenes and have to say they were some of my favorites. When the co-owners of Evil Eye Concepts approached me about reading a new series I admired them for even thinking about me because they know my dislike of serials, yet they took a chance that this one might tempt me; eight episodes (books), eight authors, one town, several families, but each episode written in each author’s style, each episode building to the next, a new episode released each week for eight weeks, and they promised me it would take me back to those days of those epic television dramas.
After reading Tempest Rising by Julie Kenner I can honestly say it is everything I loved about those shows from the 80’s and more; heart-stopping, twisted, engrossing, captivating, epic all describe this very first episode of Rising Storm. Even better I FELT like I was watching a television mini-series while reading it. Each time the “scene” changed, I held my breath wondering who was up next. As each scene unfolded in this first episode I was drawn into the lives of these families, as pieces of their lives were unveiled I had a few moments of shock and awe and maybe even a few OMG thoughts and when this episode ended I was chomping at the bit to read the next one, not because I was left with some big end of season cliffhanger, but because I am already invested in these compelling characters and their lives. I am HOOKED!
Tempest Rising sets up this series; it introduces all the major players and some minor ones and it outlines the plot which has many layers. We get a “feel” for some of what is going on in this small hill country town of Texas and it isn’t all pretty. We get some ideas of who the “good guys” are and who the “bad guys” are and we have a few characters that are in that gray area, but most of all we know that many lives will be affected by what happens with these characters and that is what makes this series so fascinating and what will keep us guessing because as we all know many times things and people aren’t exactly what you expect.
So friends let me set the stage and tell you a bit about the key players in Storm, Texas, how their lives are intertwined and what you can look forward to.
First up is the Moreno family which consists of Marisol, Ginny and Luis. Marisol was 20 when their parents were killed and she stepped in to raise her siblings. Marisol runs Cuppa Joe a coffee shop and bakery in Storm. Ginny is a sophomore at UT Austin and is coming home for the summer. Luis is a high school student.
The Salt family consists of Travis the town’s pharmacist, Celeste his adoring wife whose mental state seems a wee bit shaky, Jacob a pre-Med college student who has been best friends with Ginny since childhood, Sara Jane a special education teacher at the town’s elementary school and Lacey a high school student.
The Alvarez family consists of Hector who works as a mechanic at a local gas station and has the reputation for being a mean drunk, Joanne works at the local flower shop and her father disowned her when she married beneath their status in town, Marcus who left town as soon as he could, Dakota (age 20) works at the local bank as a teller and is a spoiled princess use to getting her way, Mallory a high school student and girlfriend to Luis Moreno.
The Rush family consists of Senator Sebastian Rush, his wife Payton, Brittany a college student and Ginny and Jacob’s friend and Jeffry a high school student is best friends with Luis.
Minor players are Aiden Murphy owner of Murphy’s pub, Sherriff Dillon Murphy; son of Aiden, Kristen Douglas who works at the flower shop with Joanne Alvarez, and Pastor Bryce Douglas brother of Kristen and the town’s Lutheran minister.
All of these people’s lives are connected in some way and as this series unfolds I can only imagine the shock, outrage and problems that will result. This is a tangled web and while Ms. Kenner did a fantastic job of setting the stage; as each episode is released, the real story unfolds and I will be standing by and waiting to read each one. Rising Storm is an exciting series; I’m curious to see how these eight authors blend their styles and keep building this story and most of all I can’t wait to see how everything I know from the first episode will play out in the end. One thing I know for certain, I don’t have to sit through commercials for Jordache jeans, Enjoli perfume, Playtex bras or Palmolive dishwashing soap to find out!
Julie Kenner (aka J. Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 international bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas, and short stories in a variety of genres.
Praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations,” JK writes a range of stories including super sexy romances, paranormal romance, chick lit suspense, paranormal mommy lit, and, with Rising Storm, small town drama. Her trilogy of erotic romances, The Stark Trilogy (as J. Kenner), reached as high as #2 on the New York Times list and is published in over twenty countries, and her Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series (written as Julie Kenner) has been optioned by Warner Brothers Television for the CW Network.
A former attorney, JK lives in Central Texas with her husband, two daughters, and several cats. One of her favorite weekend activities is visiting small towns in the Texas Hill Country.
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