Hope you have a very good week. :)
Hope you have a very good week. :)
Really enjoyed this recent post on Shondaland.com featuring the inimitable Julia Quinn. Here are some of my favorite bits.
SL: What do you think takes a romance novel from good to great?
JQ: There’s a joke romance writers like to make when we’re talking about our books. We’ll be talking about the plot, and then we’ll say in a confidential tone, “Okay, spoiler alert. They get together in the end.” This pretty much always gets a laugh, because if there is one thing we all know about romance novels, and indeed, if there is one thing that defines a romance novel, it’s the happy ending.
This isn’t to say, however, that romance novels are formulaic. Far from it. You open with two protagonists who meet (or re-meet) and you finish with a happy ending. How you get from point A to point B is wide open. But no matter how varied the plots may be, they all end in fundamentally the same place. Which is why I think that if you want to take a romance novel from good to great, it’s all about the characters.
If the reader doesn’t care about the characters, if she doesn’t have a hollow spot in the pit of her stomach when things look bleak, or she doesn’t feel a thrill as they tumble into love, the book will fall flat. A romance novel is all about the emotional journey, and a reader’s emotions must be engaged. I’m known for writing humorous books, and I’m often asked for advice on how to be funny. (Short answer: I have no idea. It’s just the way I’m wired.) I always caution writers not to forsake the emotion in the pursuit of humor. A funny book will make you laugh, but a funny book that grabs your heart at the same time will stay with you forever.
SL: What do you most hope people take away from your work?
JQ: I’ve said many times that I’m not going to change the world with my writing, but I can change someone’s afternoon. There is a time and a place for the Great American Novel, and there is a time and a place for clever, well-written entertainment. I love writing the latter, and I love reading it, too.
But lately I’ve been thinking that there is more to it than that. I often hear from readers who tell me that my books have shown them that they deserve better in their lives, that they deserve a partner who treats them well. And maybe that’s why my heroes aren’t typical bad boys. (Seriously, every time I try to write a bad boy hero he turns around and does something decent and nice.) I don’t want a guy who treats women like dirt, and I don’t want to write about guys who do that, either. Then it occurred to me — in some ways, portraying a healthy relationship in literature is the most revolutionary thing you can do.
SL: Going off of that, what makes a male character sexy in a romance novel?
JQ: There are really two parts to what makes a male character sexy. The first is focused just on him. There is the physical — he doesn’t need to be classically handsome, but he needs to be attractive to the heroine. He also needs, in my opinion, a stellar sense of humor and the ability to — at least some of the time — not take himself too seriously. But I also think that a vital component of his sexiness comes in how he sees the heroine. A guy simply cannot be sexy if he doesn’t respect women. If you want to be a hero in one of my books, you have to believe in the heroine and respect and cherish her strengths and abilities. It doesn’t mean he can’t get all protective and macho from time to time — I mean, who doesn’t love that? But ultimately, he’s got to think she’s the bomb, and not just because he likes the way she looks on his arm. And of course, it doesn’t hurt if he gets down on one knee and declares that she’s the missing piece to his soul.
To read the full interview, click here.
More about Julia Quinn here.
I first met Sophie at the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference in 2016 — at the Avon Books party, to be precise. I’ll always remember her big smile, warm greeting, and how she pulled up on her phone the cover of her next historical romance, While the Duke Was Sleeping . . . and we ooh’ed and aah’ed over its gorgeousness. I invite you to feast your eyes!
Now the wonderful Sophie’s offering a giveaway of The Laird Takes a Bride on her Facebook page! Would you like to enter? Click here. And good luck!
It’s Thursday, which means it’s Getting To Know You Day on my Facebook page! Today we’re talking about (yes) doggy astrological signs. Apparently I’m a German shepherd. :) Would you like to join us? Stop on by!
Thrilled to receive a lovely review from Kirkus for The Laird Takes a Bride! Here it is, in part:
Highland spinster Fiona Douglass is forced to attend a house party designed to find a bride for Alasdair Penhallow and has every expectation of being looked over, but after a series of unexpected events, she finds herself married to the intriguing, infuriating man. . . . Berne shows a special mastery for characters who hide their feelings, even from themselves, and yearn, even when they don’t realize it. A difficult love scene is also brilliantly rendered.
A bright, intelligent, heart-tugging romance.
Would you like to read the full review? Click here.
For more about The Laird Takes a Bride, and how to order, click here.
I thought you’d like to see this cute bag. I mean — this cute CAT.
A Goodreads giveaway for The Laird Takes a Bride wraps up on Tuesday. If you haven’t already, would you like to enter for a chance to win a signed copy? If so, click here.
A new Little Women miniseries is in the works! Of course, once I heard this I had to find out who’s playing who. Here are the actresses playing Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, as well as Aunt March:
Mr. Laurence and Marmee! (And Aunt March again.)
Professor Bhaer (always a controversial casting question) . . .
. . . and Laurie!
I. CAN’T. WAIT.