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Category: Books

An interview

I’ve been doing a number of on-line interviews lately, and while I can’t share them until after they’re published, it occurred to me I could post some older ones here — assuming you’re interested, of course.

  1. Define “romantic fiction” and “contemporary romance fiction” in your own terms, and offer a distinctive difference between the two terms.

    Anne: Genre romance has the development of the romance as a central part of the story and has a happy (or satisfying) ending, whereas “romantic fiction” is more open, and can include tragic stories where one or both of the romantic couple dies

  2. What is your favourite contemporary romance novel?

    Anne: Do you mean contemporary meaning recently published, or a novel with a contemporary setting? The most recent romance novel I’ve loved was Bec McMaster’s Heart of Iron — it’s steampunk/paranormal romance, set in a fantasy Victorian era. My favourite contemporary romance novel is always changing but I loved Kylie Scott’s YA romance, TRUST.

  3. Who are your favourite heroines and heroes from any romance novel?

    Anne: How long do you want the list to be? <g> Damerel and Venetia from Georgette Heyer’s Venetia, Peabody and Emerson from Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodile on the Sandbank, Daphne and Rupert from Loretta Chase’s Mr Impossible.

  4. What is your favourite sub-genre of romance (such as paranormal, crime, suspense, etc.)?

    Anne: Historical, though I also enjoy paranormal.

  5. How long have you been writing historical and comedy romances?

    Anne: About 15 years.  (Clearly this interview was a few years ago)

  6. What are your opinions on romance novels written by authors such as Marian Keyes and Jane Green, whose novels deal with issues such as alcoholism, depression, domestic abuse and bereavement?

    Anne: I wouldn’t call them romance novels — they’re more relationship novels or women’s fiction. I loved Marian Keyes’s Rachel’s Holiday. I think romantic fiction (and romance) can deal with the tough issues really well. Romance is fantasy, sure, but it can also be grounded in reality — we need both the dark and the light. My own books have dealt with some quite grim issues, but they work their way toward a happy resolution. If it was all skipping through fields of flowers it would be horribly boring. Not to mention twee.

  7. Moreover, what are your opinions on novels written by authors such as Sophie Kinsella and Melanie La’Brooy (i.e. novels featuring successful – albeit flawed – women who are often perceived as “ditzy”)?

    Anne: I love Sophie Kinsella’s non-shopholic novels — I haven’t read Melanie La’Brooy. Kinsella’s novels are fun and entertaining and that’s fine by me. I don’t think novels of any kind need to “be “responsible” or “represent women.” There’s a huge variety of novels out there and I think that’s what represents women — the variety.

  8. Do you think romance novels are criticised for their occasionally unrealistic portrayal of the romantic hero?

    Anne:  I think romance novels do get a lot of flack about “unrealistic expectations” but IMO it’s because they’re written by women for women. People don’t criticize novels by men with heroic characters like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, or Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe, or movie heroes like James Bond or Indiana Jones — for being unrealistic portrayals of men —they just enjoy the fantasy and the adventure. I think we should do the same for romance heroes. We’re all grown-ups here — there’s no harm in a bit of fun and fantasy.

  9. What is your opinion on the standard, frilly pink jacket covers for contemporary romance novels? Do you feel that the covers adequately represent the content of the novels?
    To Catch A Bride by Anne Gracie
    Anne: 
    They’re not all pink and frilly, but while they’re not my personal cup of tea, it’s a branding thing. If you don’t signal “romance” on the cover, readers who are looking for a romance novel will miss it. My worst selling book had a “nothing” sort of cover — a browny-yellow background with a  bunch of roses. (On the right)  Yet it was listed on several prestigious “best of” lists in the USA and nominated for several major awards. That cover let the book down because it didn’t signal anything about the story and the sales were dismal. My next book had a bride in a really gorgeous dress (see below) and my sales shot back up. Branding is important.The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie
  10. Finally, what does the future of romance fiction look like? Do you think the genre will remain a prevalent genre in wider society? Why/why not?

    Anne: Who knows what it will look like? The genre itself is constantly changing and expanding and has been doing so all the time I’ve known it —most people have no idea of the variety within the genre. As well, the face of publishing is changing rapidly with the advent of easy self-e-publishing, and all kinds of books that would never have been taken up by a publisher in the past are becoming bestsellers—without the aid of a publisher.
    I think romance will always remain a prevalent genre mainly because it is always reinventing itself and growing and changing as society changes. And also because love and the search for love is deeply rooted in the human psyche. It sounds like a cliché but I think it’s true that romance novels speak to people’s hearts—at least the good ones do.

Page Proofs

I’ve just sent off the page proofs of Marry In Secret — Rose’s story.
I find page proofs agonizing to do. This is the final step in preparing the manuscript for publication — my final step that is, not the publisher’s. It’s the last time I get to change anything. 

The stages in writing for publication go like this:

1) I send my manuscript to my editor at Berkley.

2) She reads it and makes comments, tells me the bits she likes, points out areas she thinks aren’t clear or that I could strengthen or tighten or expand on — that kind of thing. She doesn’t change my sentences or anything — these are just general comments about the story. It’s called a structural edit — concentrating on how the story unfolds.

3) She sends her comments back to me, and I go through the manuscript again and make any changes I want to, keeping her comments in mind. It’s usually been a few weeks since I read it, so I can see it with a fresh eye. 

4) Then I send it back and she reads it and if she’s happy with it, it will be sent to a copyeditor.

The copyeditor edits on a word and sentence level. She will correct typos and apply house style to things such as hyphenated words and the use of commas. Copyeditors are wonderfully picky — they will spot that the timeline doesn’t quite follow — mine actually prepares a day by day calendar for each story — or spot that someone’s eye color has changed, or a butler had been renamed. Continuity things.

They also spot grammatical errors, and the words that I’ve forgotten to change to American spelling — Australian spelling is the same as English spelling, so my people go travelling not traveling, and move towards the door, when apparently Americans would say toward. A copyeditor also spots when water gurgles nosily down a pipe instead of noisily. She will query expressions like “walking in a crocodile” (the way school children walk in a line, two by two) in case readers might not understand, and “the wee small hours” which could be a tautology. (It is, but it’s also a common expression.)

5) The copyedited manuscript then comes back to me to go through again, so I can approve  or reject those changes and make any other changes I want to. It’s the last time I really get to change anything. As well as the small things the copyeditor has flagged, I might decide to delete a scene, or add one in — I did both this time around. 

6) Then it’s back to the main editor for a final read through, and then it goes to be laid out exactly as it will appear in the final book. 

7) This then comes back to me in a pdf for a final final read through to spot any mistakes. I find this stage in the process excruciating. By now I’ve read the story I don’t know how many times and I’m usually sick of it. But I have to read it, not for story, or expression or characterization, but for tiny little mistakes, a comma in the wrong place, or a typo that everyone has missed — really nit-picky stuff.  Because if I miss something, it’s certain that a reader will pounce on it. This time I found 7 small mistakes — to instead of so, that kind of thing. I might have missed some but by now I’m practically cross-eyed.  The next time I see this book will be as a real book, published, bound, and when it’s too late to change anything.

8) I send back my changes — I list them in a document, but I also print off the pages affected, mark the changes clearly with a pen and take a photograph of each page and email that to my editor. That’s how it’s done these days — all electronic.

So now Rose and her story has gone. I always feel a bit sick when the final final version has gone. There’s nothing I can do now except hope people will like the story. And get cracking on the next story — George’s story.

 

Exciting news

Nominations for the Australian Romance Readers Association annual awards are out, and I have three listingsFavourite Historical Romance (for Marry in Scandal), Favourite Continuing Romance Series (My Marriage of Convenience series) and I’ve been nominated for the Favourite Australian Romance Author 2018

The full list is here.

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner in Sydney on February 23rd in the gorgeous historic dining room at the Castlereagh boutique hotel. 

These dinners are always a lot of fun, as readers and authors mingle, eat, and talk books. I love them because I get to catch up with friends — both readers and authors.

It’s always a fun night. You can book for the dinner here.

Alternatively (or additionally) you can attend the High Tea that takes place from 11am – 1pm and devour yummy cakes and savories while you meet people and talk books. For the high tea booking, click here.

I’m also pleased because the photo ARRA is using of the awards shows three of the awards I won in 2016 and one by my good friend Keri Arthur.  That was our table — and yes, we did drink that champagne.

 

Last year my table was also very lucky. I won three awards and my friends Kelly Hunter and Keri Arthur also won. That’s them in the photo below,  holding their awards.

 

 

 

Thank you to all the volunteers who organize and participate in ARRA — romance readers are so wonderful and enthusiastic and encouraging.