Really enjoyed the recent BookPage interview with the wonderful Mary Balogh. One of my favorite questions has to do with the marriage of convenience trope, as it’s something I’ve explored, in differing permutations, in my own books. Interviewer Savanna Walker asks Mary why she thinks it’s such an enduring one.
“I think it is at least partly because the couple has to cope almost from the start with the intimacies of marriage, even if they hold off on the sex, while gradually building a friendship and, of course, falling in love,” answers Mary. “Everything is happening at once and the story is likely to be full of emotion and passion with a new couple in close contact with each other all the time. And it is always lovely to see a relationship that seems so unpromising at the start blossom into an enduring love story.”
Mary’s got a new book out, Someone to Wed, which I can’t wait to read. Check out the gorgeous cover!
Cynthia Decker created this. Isn’t it breathtaking?!?
More about Cynthia here.
As you may have heard, Eloisa James has a new book out! Who else besides me is WILDLY looking forward to reading it? (Sorry . . . I couldn’t resist.)
More about Wilde in Love here.
It’s Thursday, which means it’s Getting To Know You Day on my Facebook page! I love this question which Goodreads recently shared.
Would you like to join us? Do stop by. :)
I’m loving Solace Island, a recently published debut novel of romantic suspense, by new-to-me author Sara Flynn. It’s beautifully written, with pitch-perfect dialogue, vivid characterizations, and a crackling storyline. And I’m not the only one to think so — it’s gotten glowing reviews, and check out all these stars on Amazon!Sara Flynn also happens to be the pseudonym of Golden Globe-winning actress Meg Tilly. More about Sara and Solace Island here on her site. And for a great article in USA Today‘s Happy Ever After blog, detailing Meg/Sara’s journey toward becoming a romance author, click here.
This image recently crossed my Twitter feed and I was instantly charmed. I’m not sure exactly what makes these socks specifically engineered for reading, but somehow I just love the idea of it. :)
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.