Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Quick Interview

I've had a slew of emails recently, asking me about this or that, but since I'm on deadline and have not a lot of time to write detailed emails,  I'm recycling a quick interview I did for a magazine. It covers some of the basics.

Why romance?
Originally I thought it would be a way to fund my literary ambitions, but the more I learned and the more widely I read, the more I grew to love the genre. It’s character driven storytelling with a feel-good ending – what’s not to love? And there’s such variety within the genre -- unlike the urban myths about romance, I have complete freedom to write the stories I want. Plus there’s a vast international market for it — I have translations in 16 languages so far, including Japanese print and manga editions.

There are hundreds of romance novels on the market at the moment. How do you come up with an original story?
It’s easy. Original characters make for an original story, and there is an endless variety of settings and situations and problems to overcome. It’s like music – there might be only eight notes, but the combinations are endless.

What was your big break into publishing?
When my first novel was shortlisted for a RITA in the USA – that’s the romance equivalent of an Oscar nomination. My books got a lot of buzz as a result and were published in the USA.

Tell us something we don’t know about being published.
I’ll tell you three things:
1)  that romance writers are the best, most supportive mates you will find anywhere in the writing world.
2) that when you get published, it’s just the beginning of a whole new learning curve.
And 3)  that writing doesn’t get easier; each book is a fresh new challenge. In fact sometimes it’s harder because you’re more aware of the market.

What are three reasons why romance manuscripts get rejected by publishers?
1) The writer has assumed romance novels don’t have the same features as all good fiction.
2) Clichéd, unbelievable or unsympathetic characters
3) Lack of emotional punch – people often confuse emotion with sex.

How has having deadlines from publishers changed the way you write and the way you think about writing? Does it ever get to be a drag?
It used to be something I did for fun, and now it’s my job, so that changes things. It can be difficult sometimes, usually when the book isn’t working, but then you’ll come at the story from a different angle and suddenly it’s all flowing again and it’s the best job in the world.

Other people dream of being a full-time writer. What does a full-time writer dream of being?
In a clean, tidy, well-run house.  ;)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A quick Tasmanian escape

Last week I took the opportunity to get away to Tasmania for a few days. For part of it I holed up in a hotel on the east coast, and wrote without interruption. It was a wonderful experience, and I wish I hadn't had to come home so soon.
I hired this little car. Cute, eh? It made me smile. I named it Cedric, after the car in the David Parker/Nadia Tass film, The Big Steal. (If you haven't seen this lovely movie, rent it out - it's fab!)

As Cedric and I wound through the hills, we drove through this... Cool, temperate rainforest. 

I stopped for lunch and wandered down this path...

...and walked along this beach. I shared the entire stretch with one woman and two little girls.

I drove on and found a hotel for the night. This was the view from my room.

And this, in the other direction, taken on a misty, moisty, drizzly day.

I ended up staying there several nights, writing and walking and writing some more. Got loads done.
Every morning and every night I walked along the beach, scrambling over rocks (which I love) or  sinking my toes in sand and small waves. This beach was right across the road from the hotel.

At night I sat quietly on the rocks and watched tiny fairy penguins, so sweet and shy and dauntless as they clambered and waddled over rocks and up the hill to their burrows, where we could hear hungry chicks cheeping imperiously.  I didn't take theses photos; I didn't want to disturb them with a flash, and I didn't have a good enough camera to take pics without.

On the last day, I continued down the east coast. I ate my lunch  on this beach and collected broken shells for a jewellery idea. I always collect shells and stones and bits of driftwood from the beach. Can't help myself, even when I know I'm flying home with only walk-on baggage.

I stopped here just to stare at the view...

And had a coffee here... 

This old cowshed must have the best view in the world, I think — cowshed-wise.

I came home with a firm resolve to organize a writers' retreat here one day.