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?
First of all, congratulations to my Tule sister Robin Bielman. She has a new book out today!
Robin and I go way back. We’re also Entangled sisters. We first met face-to-face in Las Vegas after on-line dating for a few months. Robin was moonlighting as a pole dancer back then. We both signed non-disclosure agreements, so the rest of our history together will forever remain a mystery.
I had ten questions for Robin today, but after spending six months in jail for a crime she swears she didn’t commit, she’s pretty cagey about putting out in public (did I say that right?) and only answered 6 of them, plus the bonus question, so I’ll give her credit for 7. It turns out she found some of them intrusive—but FYI, I can’t be the only one curious as to whether or not you can catch STDs from stripper poles.
Here we go. Not the interview I’d planned, but fascinating nonetheless.
- Who’s your favourite—of your own books—female and/or male character? (Come on. We all
I honestly don’t have just one! My favorite hero is usually the one I’m currently focused on, meaning the one I’m writing or the one in my newest release. So right now that would be Prince Theo. (But I’m also in love with Mateo, the hero in my current WIP.) See? I cannot pick just one.
- Which book could you have worked on forever?
My newest release, Once Upon A Royal Christmas. It takes place at Christmas time and my hero is a prince! I could have spent lots of time writing fun and sexy winter activities, but I was happy to give him his HEA, too.
- You’re a USA Today bestselling author. Tell us about THE MOMENT you found out, and what the heck, tell us about the book too.
I found out on Twitter. LOL At the time, I didn’t realize when the announcement was shared, but I was on Twitter and I saw a tweet from Laura Kaye congratulating me on hitting the USA Today list. Needless to say, I went happy-crazy after that. The book that hit the list was Kissing the Maid of Honor, the first book in my Secret Wishes series. My hero, Luke is and extreme sports photographer and the best man, and oh, how I love him. (He’s definitely a favorite of mine.) *wink*
- Which book would you love to re-write? Why?
Veiled Target. I’d like to go back and do some more world building as well as make a few changes to my heroine. I loved her, but she didn’t resonate with everyone.
- Why write? Why not do something easier? Because I don’t know about you, but writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Writing is SO hard! But I can’t imagine not doing it. I love spending time with my characters and I’m always thinking about my stories and ideas for new ones. I’ve loved to write in some way or another since I was in college so I think it’s just a part of me. And a huge reason I keep at it is to hopefully make readers happy. To make them smile and for a little while forget any troubles they may have.
- What’s your favourite pastime? And keep it clean. My kids read this.
Well, reading of course. I’m also a TV junkie and love to go hiking. And I recently started collecting sea glass.
Bonus question: What’s a little-known fact about you? What’s your dirty secret? (And if it’s a fabulous ability to hide dead bodies in unorthodox places, just a head’s up—I’m pretty sure CSIS stalks me on-line.)
How did you know? 😉 Hmm… besides my time behind bars (totally joking), I’ve got nothing super interesting. I was a field reporter for a local cable program waaayyy back when, and if those pieces were ever made public again, I’m sure I’d die of embarrassment.
And that, folks, is your introduction to Robin Bielman.
You should run right out and grab her new release, Once Upon a Royal Christmas—available today! The links I’ve provided are for Amazon, but that’s because I’m lazy. It’s available at other online retailers, too. Isn’t the cover pretty?
When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts most of her story ideas.
She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.
She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com
It’s no secret that I write mostly for women.
Mostly. Not entirely.
When I was little and read books written for boys–and there were many–in my head, if there wasn’t one, I always inserted a girl. IMHO, girl perspectives brought something extra to those stories. While boy books made me think, I looked for books that also made me feel. Those weren’t as common as you’d expect.
As a teenager I was reading westerns I borrowed from my father and Harlequin romances supplied my grandmother. That’s how I got my thinking/feeling fix. (I once referred to Louis L’Amours as romances for guys and I thought the male librarian was going to have a stroke.)
I got my start reading fantasy a little later in life with Thieves’ World. Those books had female protagonists. They were kickass. I was hooked. I moved on to Piers Anthony’s Chronicles of Immortality. After that it was Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings, and Terry Goodkind.
But that’s not all I read. Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and M.M. Kaye all factored in.
These days, as a writer, my optimal mix is 50% romance and 50% plot. While I write primarily for women, I want my books to also appeal to those male readers who want a story that makes them feel as well as think.
All of this brings me to the point of my post. Yes, I write for profit. This is my career and I love it. But I also write for fun. I want to share what I love with my reades, and I love ideas (and apparently cowboys). I love exploring “What ifs.” I have enough story outlines to take me through the next decade.
I hope you’ll join me.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m thrilled to have writing contracts while working on projects of my own. I love both my publishers. A part of me secretly loves the adrenaline rush that comes with working under pressure, too. But deadlines have to be met. I think it’s written in some law somewhere. The thought of missing one gives me anxiety attacks.
I’m a slow writer. I try to write the cleanest first draft possible so my editor and I can concentrate on making the story the best it can be, not have to fiddle with grammar and spelling. I dawdle. I polish. I choose my words carefully.
This week however–the one before the book is due–all that goes out the window. Things get ugly. I’m currently resorting to pen and notebook so I can clean up the important scenes as I add them to the electronic file. This process keeps me off Facebook and away from spider solitaire. (My win percentage is 25%, btw.)
I’ve got spreadsheets, story outlines, and cheat sheets for scene structure. I have an awesome critique partner as a fresh set of eyes who keeps me accountable. She’s waiting for new pages. I’m super organized at this stage because I have to be. There’s no time to rewrite the major turning points or change character motivations. I don’t get to play with my word choices. (I wish I could say the same about spider solitaire.)
While the deadline itself can be hell, especially when the countdown on this last week has started, the day after that deadline is sweet.
I have two sets of revisions already lined up to keep that adrenaline pumping.
We had another recipe win this week. Black bean and sausage chili. Just swap out the kidney beans and hamburger, cut the sausage into bite-sized chunks and cook it, (or what the heck, crumble it up and fry it like you would hamburger), and voila! It’s pretty darned tasty. Not to mention easy. And easy is the biggest seller for me when it comes to cooking.