Romantic Author Roundup, by I.J. Schecter

Other genres come and go, but romantic fiction soldiers on with the hopefulness of Emma Bovary, the resilience of Scarlett O’Hara, and the charm of Jo March. Here, romance authors at three different stages of their literary careers talk about the writing urge, the trials and tribulations of authorship, and whether or not they’d take sex over the perfect sentence.

CAT LINDLER’s (catlindler.com) first historical romance novel, Kiss of a Traitor (Medallion Press), garnered raves for its portrayal of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina. Her second romance, Starlight & Promises (Medallion Press), based on the search for a living saber-toothed tiger among the islands off Tasmania during the Victorian Age, was released in April 2010. In 2012, Medallion Press will publish her novel Shot Through the Heart, a western romance set in Mexico in 1885.

TINA DONAHUE (tinadonahue.com) is a multi-published novelist in contemporary and historical romance. Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Romantic Times have praised her work, and she has reached the finals and/or placed in numerous RWA-sponsored contests. Tina was the editor of an award-winning Midwestern newspaper, has worked in story direction for a Hollywood production company and is currently the managing editor for a global business document concern.

JENNIFER BLAKE (jenniferblake.com) has been called a “pioneer of the romance genre” and an “icon of the romance industry.” A New York Times and international best-selling author, she is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, member of the RWA Hall of Fame, and recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement RITA. She has written over sixty books with translations in twenty languages and more than thirty million copies in print worldwide.

When did you first feel the writing bug inside you? What did you do to feed it?

JENNIFER BLAKE: A teacher told me at thirteen that I had talent. I loved the thought of it, but was too in awe of great writers to try anything beyond school assignments. Then at nineteen I had a particularly vivid dream set in Scotland, which I wrote out in story form. That was so satisfying that I tried other small things, mostly stream-of-consciousness pieces and poetry. I subscribed to Writer’s Digest, bought Writer’s Market, took a correspondence course on writing. Over the next few years, I sold a poem or two, a short story, and a few newspaper articles. Having been paid for my work, I was considered a professional, so became eligible to join the National League of American Penwomen. The members of the local branch were writing a book on Louisiana landmarks at the time. We were each required to research and write essays on two historical landmarks. It was while walking through an old plantation house that it occurred to me what a wonderful setting it would make for a Gothic novel. The manuscript was returned unread because I hadn’t sent a query letter, something that was just being required. Since I had no idea how to write a query, I sent the manuscript to publisher number two, Fawcett Gold Medal. Two months later I received a letter saying it was too short for their list, but if I could add thirty pages, they would buy it. The book was published in 1970 as The Secret of Mirror House.

CAT LINDLER: When I was ten, I wrote an essay on what it meant to be an American, which won a contest. Two years later I started writing my first romance. A girl stows away in the hold of a Viking ship—this is before I found out Viking ships don’t have holds—meets and falls in love with a horse and a Viking. I’ve written ever since, but didn’t really start writing fiction in earnest until about ten years ago.

TINA DONAHUE: I can’t remember not wanting to write. I wrote my first series of stories when I was nine—children’s stuff called Dimples the Adventurous Flea and The Musical World of the FaLaLas. I illustrated my stories and sold them to my friends’ parents. After that, I was hooked. During college, my poetry evolved into short stories and then into novellas and, finally, my first novel.

How would you fare as the protagonist of one of your own books?


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