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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- What is your favourite sub-genre of romance (such as paranormal, crime, suspense, etc.)?
Anne: Historical, though I also enjoy paranormal.
- How long have you been writing historical and comedy romances?
Anne: About 15 years. (Clearly this interview was a few years ago)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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.
- 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.