By KJ Howe
I had the pleasure of attending Seton Hill University while completing my Master's in Popular Fiction, and, recently, a large group of graduates have contributed to a fabulous book about the craft of writing. MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT is a compilation of craft articles from graduates of Seton Hill, and it was edited by the talented Heidi Ruby Miller and Mike Arnzen. I'm proud to be part of such an exciting project, and I thought I'd introduce a few of the romance contributors to our Romance Bandits crew.
First, I'd like to introduce the wonderful Dana Marton who came to the United States from Hungary, learned English and sold her romance novels to Harlequin. She's an absolute inspiration:
Romance is a big part of my books. Usually, with a Harlequin Intrigue, 40% of my plot is romance while 60% is suspense. Romance adds an extra layer of conflict, an extra layer of color and substance to the suspense plot. It brings everything into focus and brings things to another level. A lot of my heroes are commando type or secret agents, etc.—tough and rough. They're not very much in touch with their softer side So it's always interesting to watch them fall in love.
I've only published romantic suspense so far, but I've written in other sub-genres of romance. The romantic element does vary, as does the sensuality level. Ultimately, every element must serve the story itself. The romance must fit the personalities of the main characters. Their feelings and how they react to their feelings should reveal a lot about them. Do they jump in with both feet? Do they resist? Why?
-Dana Marton, author of The Socialite and the Bodyguard and The Spy Who Saved Christmas
Dana Marton - http://www.danamarton.com
The Socialite and the Bodyguard - http://www.amazon.com/Socialite-Bodyguard-ebook/dp/B002WEPF8O/ref=sr_1_cc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306029288&sr=1-1-catcorr
Next up is Penny Dawn, and this girl writes the best love scenes ever, so if you're looking for some hot romance, check out Penny. Her storytelling abilities, both on paper and in person are unforgettable:
Romance plays a great part in all of my work, even if I'm writing psychological thrillers. I believe characters ought to be written true to life, and I've yet to meet a human not interested in romance. Disinterested in dating? Sure. Disgruntled with marriage? Absolutely. But most people thrive on sharing themselves with another.
In books centered around relationships, obviously, the romance is the main focus. However, if I'm writing criminal suspense (of which I am currently in the throes with the marvelous Patrick W. Picciarelli,) romantic inclinations become subplots, meant to enhance characters. As my work is character-driven, I use romance to flesh out the personas in my head. To my thinking, one finds herself only after a major experience in politics, religion, occupation/economics, or matters of the heart. Once I drive a character through desire, heartache, climax, and fulfillment, she's reached Velveteen Rabbit status--she may as well be alive.
I have never written without romance, and I've rarely written without sensual threads. I hope I never see the day, when I stray from this edict. Love is a pulse within each of us. Ignoring it is detrimental to character development.
-Penny Dawn, author of The Carman Chronicles and Measuring Up
Penny Dawn - http://www.pennydawn.com
And please welcome Adina Senft who has written under several names. She amazes me with her ability to be successful in any genre. And, for everyone who knows about our Golden Rooster, you may be interested in asking about Adina's chickens!:
Whether I’m writing a young adult novel, a category romance, or a women’s fiction novel set on an Amish farm, romance always factors into my plots because the courtship story is so important to me. I could be reading a hardboiled David Morrell thriller, but if he puts a romance thread in there, that’s what will hook me rather than the flying bullets. So when I’m writing, romance is inevitable.
It does vary with the type of book I’m working on, though. In category or single title romance, of course, the courtship and building the relationship is the whole plot, and issues and subplots are secondary to it. But in YA and women’s fiction, the core story is about a woman finding herself and her place in a community, so the focus is on the journey of self-discovery. Along the way, in my books at least, part of that self-discovery includes my heroine’s capacity to love someone and build a meaningful, healthy relationship. This can happen in a co-ed boarding school, as in my "All About Us" series of teen books, or in a farm community in the Amish country of Pennsylvania.
It’s almost more challenging for me to write the romance thread in women’s fiction novels, because the reader may not be the core romance reader who is looking for that satisfying conclusion—the happy ending. And in YA, for example, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a 17-year-old looking forward to her high school graduation to find "the one" and get married. But she is looking for an emotional connection as part of her growth as a human being, and my urge to write romance can be satisfied with a first kiss for that character. In my women’s fiction, especially in the Amish setting, that first kiss can pack the punch of an entire love scene. There may not be as much romance in such a story as there is in a single title, but as the writer, I want to make it immensely satisfying—both for myself and for the reader.
-Adina Senft, author of The Wounded Heart
Adina Senft - http://www.adinasenft.com
And, Heidi Ruby Miller's incredible organizational skills are evident in everything she does, from building unforgettable worlds for readers to reaching out to every student at Seton Hill and making them feel special. A huge thank you to Heidi for her efforts in putting this book together:
The tag line for my latest novel, Ambasadora, says it best: If everyone told you love wasn't real, would you still be willing to die for it?
Of course, we want the characters to say YES, then prove it! And, mine always do.
My brand is strength through a lover, so the relationship is just as important to me as the adventure. The adventure takes many forms—space opera, thrillers, fantasy—but the coming together of one or more couples within that framework is a must for the story. I love reading emotional scenes of intimacy, and for me, they are just as exhilarating to write, so I make consummating the relationship as big of a grail as stopping the bad guy. In my mind, it's the most satisfying ending.
It was only in my recent work that I wasn't afraid to admit how much I loved seeing couples fall in love because as a woman trying to write science fiction and spy thrillers, I felt I had to write for a male audience and feared losing that audience to sentimentality. So I wrote like I thought a man would write and about things I thought a man would write about. It was difficult always holding back what I really wanted to put on the paper, reworking the vision I had for my own work. Then one day I had enough and just started to write for myself—a woman who likes to be titillated by those shy glances and deep kisses as much as she likes the adrenaline rush of two powerful characters coming to blows. I found out that romance makes my stories better, and it certainly makes me happy when I'm writing them.
-Heidi Ruby Miller, author of Ambasadora and co-editor of Many Genres, One Craft
Heidi Ruby Miller - http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com
Many Genres blog – http://manygenres.blogspot.com
Thanks to all you for coming to visit the lair today. I have such fond memories of my time at Seton Hill and meeting all of you. For anyone looking to find a craft book with many different perspectives and genres, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT could be the right fit for you.