I was on the radio earlier this week (thank you, News 95.7 and The Sheldon MacLeod Show !) promoting my Spy Games series and one of the questions was about romance writing and why I chose it. (My husband once asked me the same question, btw–“Shouldn’t you *be* romantic?!?”)
But honestly, that’s not what interests me the most in my writing.
My contemporary books come in with a fairly even mix of romance and plot. I’m as interested in my characters’ daily lives as I am in their developing relationships.
(And I don’t only write romance. I have a dystopian fantasy series—previously published as the Demon Outlaws, now rewritten and with brand-new covers!—coming in the fall of 2017, and they have much more plot to them now. They’re no longer classed as romances.)
I have a background in social anthropology however, and it’s the snapshot in time that fascinates me about romance novels in general, both from a macro and micro perspective. For example, romance novels track the feminist movement. When I started reading them in the 1970’s, heroines were secretaries and nurses, and submissive to the more powerful heroes. We then saw the rise of the “bodice rippers” which showed women asserting themselves more. Now heroines are CEOs, doctors, pilots, (and spies!) and the relationships are more of a partnership. There’s room in these books for the alpha hero, but also the beta. These trends are reflected in the other genres, but I write contemporary romances so I’m talking about what I know best.
Culturally, romances also show glimpses into today’s society and what’s happening in daily lives. They reflect what’s relevant to the Real World. Characters are using Blackberries. (ßThat’s meant to be a dated reference. Who uses Blackberries anymore?) They’re traveling to popular destinations. We now have same-sex romances and multi-cultural romances. You see a lot of romantic suspense involving Navy SEALs. A few years ago, they were all searching for Osama bin Laden… I got tired of those so I wrote about Canadian spies. (If you want to know why, then read more about me here. It turns out I have useful knowledge!)
Even the romantic relationships themselves are snapshots. “Falling in love” is the first step to a lifelong commitment. Women’s Fiction (a separate genre) often follows what happens next in human relationships–or perhaps the murkier, messier side of them.
I know I have a lot of writer and reader friends out there. What’s your take on romance? Why write it? Why pick one up to read?
Why would you not?
I have news!
I just signed a contract with Tule Publishing for the second book in a contemporary romance series based in Sweetheart, Montana.
The Sweetheart Brand will follow the Brand family (clever, right?) I first introduced in Her Sweetheart Brand, which is Damon and Jess’s story. It’s available now:
Book 2, Branded by a Kiss, is about Damon’s sister Alayna.
These are redemption stories. There is nothing I enjoy more than torturing a man and each hero has to work hard to prove himself if he wants to win the girl. Alayna might be shy, and unwilling to take chances, but she does know the value of her heart and she plans to protect it. Meanwhile, Patterson’s is about to take a serious beating.
Back to our originally scheduled program.
My fourth Spy Games book, Her Spy at Dawn, is coming soon, so today I want to introduce you to Dan and Alycia.
These are two of my more complex characters. They have a past history, complicated by a mutual tragedy, possibly with a bit of betrayal involved, all of which leads them to places in their lives where they both feel they’ve come out the other end stronger for it.
That is, of course, until they run into each other again. Who knew calm, cool, collected Dan had all these issues, while Alycia? She’s always been fiery-tempered, so one would expect hers to be deeper—and one would be wrong.
Dan and Alycia have to figure out that they really aren’t the same people anymore, be willing to forgive and forget, and learn to love all over again.
So let’s get to know them a little:
- Me: Dan and Alycia, you parted ways back in university. I’ll leave the details for the story, but tell me—what’s the attraction these days?
A: Dan has all this calm, quiet confidence. He’s all action and very little talk. When something needs to be done he does it, and it’s really rare for him to make a bad decision. (Casts him a sly, sidelong look.) But I think it was his striptease that really tipped the scales in his favour.
D: (Raises eyebrows.)The striptease was all it took? Because for me, it was the way you said, “Give me” and “More.” (Turns to me.) Alycia has a social conscience. She believes in things. She’s also far more resilient than I gave her credit for. While I like her confidence in me, I love that she can take care of herself. What can I say? I like strong women.
- Me: Alycia, I hear you have control issues.
A: I wouldn’t call them issues. I certainly don’t have a problem with them.
D: I don’t have a problem with them either…especially when she’s saying, “Give me” and “More.”
- Me: Dan, rumour has it you’ve killed a man.
D: The rumour is wrong.
A: (In an aside to me.) Read into that what you like. Dan’s very good at evasion.
- Me: (Clearing throat.) Moving on… Alycia. Boxers or briefs?
A: Boxer briefs.
- Me: Dan. Bikini or boy shorts?
D: What are boy shorts? (Turns to Alycia.) Are those the lacy little things that ride up like a thong, but still sort of cover your cheeks? (Grins.) Yeah. Those.
- Me: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: Mind control, like Professor X or Jane Gray. But I’d only use it for good, not invading privacy.
D: She’s lying. She would completely invade people’s privacy. She’s an RCMP investigator. She invades privacy for breakfast.
A: He’s right. I still want it as my super power.
Dan: I’d want invisibility and I make no promises as to how I’d use it.
A: He’d only use it for good. He’s predictable that way. He’s like a white knight in tarnished armour.
- Me: If you could change one thing about each other, what would it be?
A: Nothing. He’s perfect.
D: (Taking her hand and gazing into her eyes.) I can’t top that so I’m not even going to try.
Me: Oh! That is aDORable!!!
A: (Rolling her eyes but not letting go of his hand.) Again with the evasion, and again, read into that what you like.
- Me: One final question. Tell us a secret about yourself that doesn’t appear in the book. No spoilers, please.
A: I own more than yoga pants and panties to spend my leisure time in. I’m looking at you, Author.
D: I don’t own either yoga pants or panties. I’m thanking you, Author.
* * *
If you’d like to learn more about Dan and Alycia’s story, you can read the first chapter of Her Spy at Dawn here. If you want to check out other books of mine that are already available, follow me on social media, or sign up for my newsletter to hear about new releases, you can find everything you need on my website.
And if you have any questions of your own for Dan and Alycia, or me, you can leave them in the comments section.
Thanks for stopping by!
Today’s interview features the incredibly talented, USA Today Bestselling author Roxanne Snopek. She’s a fellow Canadian, and although she lives on the west coast, she’s a prairie girl at heart. Between us, we’ve got this country represented.
Roxanne and I write for the same publishers. We’ve also had a few romantic getaways together. Las Vegas, New York… She keeps insisting they’re called “Romance Writer Conferences,” but whatever. I got to hang with her and tell complete strangers we’re buddies and that’s all that matters.
Did I mention she’s beautiful as well as talented?
Roxanne’s latest release is THE CHOCOLATE CURE from Tule Publishing. I’m lazy as well as Canadian, so I’m offering two links to purchase (and I highly recommend you do!): Amazon and Kobo. But it’s available at other online retailers, too:
As a head’s up, the next book in the series, THE CHOCOLATE COMEBACK, releases in April. I scored an advance copy and trust me, you won’t want to miss it either:
So now we’re going to turn things over to Roxanne. She’s answering 10 nosy questions:
- What is your least favourite author question? And what is your response?
When are you going to write a “real” book? (Holding up my latest book) What is this? A bagel?
- What is your least favourite author task? Tell us why you hate it.
Updating my website. Because the entire time I’m doing it, I’m aware that anyone half my age could do it in a quarter of the time it takes me, with 100% less muttering and fist-shaking.
- Who’s your favourite—of your own books—female and/or male character?
I love my tortured hero Zach Gamble in HIS RELUCTANT RANCHER. He’s got the weight of the world on his handsome shoulders and, when Des, the female lead, finally FINALLY gets through to him… this tough, stoic cowboy cries. I love Zach.
My favorite female character, I think, is Carrie Logan, from FOREVER YOURS, SWEETHEART. She overcomes her fear of dogs to help the hero get his Belgian shepherd to the vet after a bear attack. You know me… I’m a sucker for people who help animals in need.
- Which book could you have worked on forever?
Holy smokes. I could work on them all forever. They could all be better, to my eye. But at some point, I tell myself, “Roxanne. This is the best book you can write at this moment. Stop it now or you’ll go blind.”
- You’re a USA Today bestselling author. Tell us about THE MOMENT you found out, and I’m feeling magnanimous (actually I just wanted to use that word) so tell us about the book too.
Okay, the moment I found out… I WAS ALONE IN THE HOUSE!!! There was no one but the pets to hear me scream! And then the phone rang and it was my hairdresser, congratulating me! She happened to be online and was one of the first to see my announcement. I’ll add that I’ve been going to her for years, and when she learned I was an author, felt duty-bound to read one of my books. Courtesy, you know. She told me later how shocked she was to discover that she loved it! Reading had never been a particularly enjoyable pastime for her and she says that I am the author that got her hooked on it again. <heart-clutch!> She reads all my books now. Oh, and the book: THREE RIVER RANCH, my very first romance novel. Wild mustangs, a pregnant heroine, forced proximity, marriage of convenience and a Labradoodle! Also (buffing nails and looking casual) this past year THE MILLIONAIRE DADDY PROJECT also hit the USA Today list. Just sayin’.
- Which book would you love to re-write? Why?
My first mystery novel. I love the story but it’s got some enormous problems that I’m not sure are fixable. For one thing, the worst thing that happens to the protagonist is that her dog gets sick. I mean, no one wants their dog to get sick. But great conflict this is not.
- What’s your favourite childhood memory and does it ever come back to haunt you? (In a good way—leave the rest for the therapists.)
Getting the Scholastic catalog at school! My parents always let me order new books, and it was so exciting. The possibilities! The choices! My parents read to me a lot as a child, and always encouraged my reading addiction. Now, whenever I get my BookBub newsletter, I feel a bit of that same thrill.
- We complain a lot to each other about writing-related stuff—storylines that aren’t working, characters who aren’t cooperating, when there’s no wine in the house… So why write? Why not do something easier?
I can’t tell you how often I’ve asked myself that very question. But it comes down to the same reason I’ve done anything hard, like homeschooling our kids, or Bikram yoga or resisting Cheezies: it feels so good when it’s done! J There’s nothing like seeing a brand new book with my name on it!
But seriously, despite recurring episodes of head-banging panic and self-doubt, I believe in it. I believe this is what I was meant to do, that I have something to say and that my life path is to keep trying to say it, fail, try again, fail more, succeed a little, try something new, connect with one reader at a time and keep working to uncover the essential story that lives within me.
Also, having been a human resources manager, I know a bad employee when I see one. All those ideas, you know. I’d never last.
- What’s your favourite pastime? And keep it clean. My kids read this.
Eating and drinking rank pretty highly, especially with friends. And I love to bake! My husband loves my cinnamon buns… oops. Too racy? Sadly, baking is not a friend to middle-aged metabolisms so I don’t do much now. Although I baked butter tarts this past weekend, during Snowmageddon 2017 and they were amazing. Between the shoveling and shivering, I figure we worked them off.
- And for the last invasion of privacy: What’s your favourite thing about each of your children?
Wow. Let’s see. Each of them is so passionate, in different ways. My oldest daughter is working on her first novel and is a yoga instructor. My middle daughter is a maternity nurse who likes to garden. My youngest is an artist who’s studying Psychology. I love watching their lives unfold!
Bonus question: (OK, so maybe #10 wasn’t the last.) What’s a little-known fact about you? What’s your dirty secret? (And my usual disclaimer—I’m pretty sure CSIS stalks me on-line so keep that in mind.)
I’m a certified amateur dream interpreter. Make of that what you will, CSIS.
Thank you, Roxanne!
Born under a Scorpio moon, raised in a little house on the prairie, USA Today Bestselling Author Roxanne Snopek said “as you wish” to her Alpha Farm Boy and followed him to the mountain air and ocean breezes of British Columbia. There, while healing creatures great and small and raising three warrior-princesses, they found their real-life happily-ever-after. After also establishing a successful freelance and non-fiction career, Roxanne began writing what she most loved to read: romance. Her small-town stories quickly became fan favorites; print editions of her latest series were recently launched in France.
Check out her work at her website!
Pale Moon Walking is on for $0.99 for a limited time!
This book is one of my favourites. Or maybe I should say, Libby Mayden is one of my favourite heroines (because I love all of my books). She’s a small town sheriff and retired gunfighter who hides a whole lot of secrets–not all of them hers. And now it can be yours this holiday season for $0.99!
And for the contemporary romance lovers, I also have the first book in my Spy Games series available for free at most online retailers:
I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. We’re expecting our first big snowstorm tomorrow, which always puts me in the Christmas mood. Whatever your celebration is, have a good one!