I’m welcoming back Rosanna Leo, a multi-published author from Toronto, Canada.
She has a background in recruiting and classical singing, but most importantly for the topic at hand, she is an experienced writer. Her publishers are Samhain Publishing and Liquid Silver Books.
This year, her recent novel Predator’s Fire was chosen as Top Pick with a 5-star review from The Romance Reviews. Several of her other books have been chosen as Top Pick at Night Owl Romance and Two Lips Reviews.
The topic is writing romance. Although I have dabbled in some romance writing, it is far short of my forte. I enjoy bringing on authors who have experience to share with my readers. As evidence from Rosanna’s last interview, there is much to learn from her experience.
Ryan: Rosanna, thanks for joining us again.
Rosanna: Thanks Ryan. I’m very happy to join you for a second interview.
Ryan: I’ll admit, in my younger writing days, I sniffed a little at the romance genre. Then I realized that there are elements of some type of romance in virtually every book I read. Even though I may never publish in the romance genre, I finally learned that I should pay more attention to romance in writing.
Rosanna: I appreciate you saying so, Ryan, and I understand there are a lot of “sniffers” out there. I think it’s easy for people to pooh-pooh romance as a genre. It’s predictable in the sense that we know the boy will always end up with the girl (at least, he should). However, why not explore the theme of love? It touches on all our lives, makes us better people and gives up something to which we can aspire. Romance is, I believe, the second highest selling genre in fiction. People love a good escape, and I love providing it. Nothing wrong with that.
Ryan: What brought you to want to write in the romance genre?
Rosanna: When I began writing, it was a given. I always knew I’d write romance, or at least have books with romantic themes. It’s what inspires me most. When I think of the novels that make my heart pound, it’s always been the love story in them that obsesses my thoughts. I want to make my readers sigh and swoon. I want to make their pulses erratic with want. It’s a heady feeling to know you can achieve that through your writing.
Ryan: What are the pros and cons to writing romance?
Rosanna: I would say the cons definitely involve making your story as original as possible. After all, we already know the overall plot: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. I see it as my job to make this basic plot interesting and fresh. As far as the pros, I would say the biggest element is audience support. You really feel the love when you write romance and readers love sharing their thoughts.
Ryan: What are the expectations in the romance genre? And in your opinion, what expectations are acceptable to break and which ones aren’t?
Rosanna: I think the biggest expectation, and most romance readers will throw tomatoes if you don’t uphold it, is providing a “happily ever after.” If you’re not providing a happy ending, there’s a chance you’re not writing traditional romance…or plan a sequel. And even in cases where the story continues, you need to show some resolution. As far as which expectations you can break, I think it’s become acceptable for romances to explore a darker side to human nature (or inhuman, in the case of paranormals). Characters are not the fluffy, perfect drones they once were. It seems to me today’s audience often craves darker romance, something with an edge. Heroes are not all-knowing, infallible beings any longer.
Ryan: What common offenders do you often see when reading romance books?
Rosanna: One of the biggest offenders I see is when newbie writers struggle with their writer’s voices. It’s not an easy thing to pin down, and I suppose it can be tempting to try and emulate another author’s style. However, if it doesn’t come easily to you, it’s probably not a good voice for you. Once I found my voice, the stories flowed much more easily.
Ryan: What advice would you give authors who don’t wish to write in the romance genre, but want to include elements of romance in their books?
Rosanna: I would say you definitely want to know from the start whether or not your couple is going to go the distance. And I would suggest adding some wonderful romantic tension that keeps the reader flipping pages. Will they? Won’t they? Keep your reader guessing. Feed bits of information to the reader here and there, but get them invested in the romance by not giving everything away at once.
Ryan: When raising the stakes in a non-romance genre book, I might put risk to the protagonist’s life or well-being. What are effective ways a writer can raise the stakes in a romance genre book?
Rosanna: In a romance, you always have to seek to tear the couple apart before you finally let them come together. Explore the external conflicts. Are their lives threatened? Make use of inner conflicts, as well. What about those characters will hamper the relationship–past experiences, broken hearts, family circumstances. Any of these things can get in the way of true love.
Ryan: What’s your best advice for aspiring writers who are trying to crack into this genre? Would you say that it’s easier or harder to break into the romance genre than other markets?
Rosanna: I would say romance is a welcoming genre for newbies. It’s easier than ever to submit a manuscript nowadays with online submissions. However, I know of many romance writers who have struggled for years. Certainly, not everyone sees their name in print. My advice would be to always put your best foot forward. Polish that manuscript and have someone you trust look it over. Accept honest criticism and make changes when they can improve the book. Be open-minded…always.
Ryan: Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Nicholas Sparkses of the world seem to be more of a rarity. What would you say to the male authors reading this that want to write in the romance genre?
Rosanna: Welcome to the romance world, gents! It’s a great place and we’re happy to have you. Be proud you write romance. So many people hide their romance covers. I say flaunt them and tell the world about your wonderful stories.
Ryan: Last time you mentioned your upcoming release The Stand-In. What is another project/book of yours that you’d like to share with us? And where can we find your books?
Rosanna: My summer 2015 release will be Vice, a contemporary romance set in the Las Vegas gambling world. The hero is the owner of a successful casino hotel and the heroine runs a support group for families of compulsive gamblers. This is a personal book for me as my family was touched by gambling, and I definitely know the heartache. This one will come to Samhain Publishing, and I can’t wait to share it. As far as my other books, you can find them at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, ARE, iTunes, and http://www.lsbooks.com. Keep in touch with me at www.rosannaleo.blogspot.com.
Ryan: Again, thank you for joining us, and we look forward to your next project.
Rosanna: Thanks so much, Ryan. This has been tremendous fun.
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Image courtesy of Ali Nishan via Flickr, Creative Commons.