Today is the day! The first instalment in my new feature, Romancing The Romance Authors, where I interview an author of romantic fiction about what makes their love-filled heart tick, what influences their writing, and ask them to give me and other budding romance authors some tips on the genre.
I am delighted to welcome as my first
guineapig guest, lovely romance author and friend of the blog, Claire Huston. Claire won my #underwatervampireerotica competition (it’s a long story) at this year’s RNA virtual conference to be awarded this dubious honour, so let’s hope it was worth it.
Now for those searing questions we all want the answers to!
Claire, tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.
I self-published my debut contemporary romance in April this year. I’ve finished my second book since, another contemporary romance, but I don’t know yet whether that one will be traditionally published or whether I’ll self-publish again. Watch this space!
I enjoy reading a range of different genres. But when it comes to writing, I think I’ve gravitated towards romance because if I’m going to spend months inhabiting a story I want it to have a happy resolution in which things turn out well for the deserving characters. Writing a romance is making a little island of happiness and fairness for readers who live in a world in which those things often struggle to prevail. It’s like spinning a joyful dream you can share with others.
What inspires your stories?
All sorts of things. Books, movies, conversations with friends, random things overhead when out and about… It all marinates in the back of my mind and eventually ideas emerge out of the soup!
Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?
Sorry for the unoriginal answer, but I have to say Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. We read Jane Eyre at school when I was twelve, and I think it’s probably influenced me more than I’ll ever realise.
In the present there are just too many brilliant romance authors to mention so I won’t start in case anyone feels I’ve left them out ☺
If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?
Persuasion by Jane Austen. It’s my favourite Austen and is often overlooked, partly because it hasn’t had as many lavish screen adaptations as her other works. It’s wonderful and particularly impressive when you consider she was already ill when she wrote it. It hints at how terrific her future books would have been had she not died so young.
At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune or rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.
Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel too and it may be making an appearance on the blog soon in some guise! Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?
This answer will make me sound weird, but… I think the best romances are so effective because readers don’t just fall for the hero, but rather come to love the idea of him and his other half as a couple. It’s the combination of two characters we root for. And so I don’t think I could go off for a romantic weekend with any of the heroes in my favourite books because I’d spend the whole time counselling them about their relationship with their fictional other half and telling them to get back to them! The meddling romance novelist in me couldn’t let it go!
In that sense, I’d probably have a better weekend at a spa with a romantic heroine. I could have a good gossip with Lizzy Bennett and find out how she’s managing Darcy and his ten thousand a year.
What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?
Getting to talk to other romance writers who are in the same boat as you. Writing can be a lonely and frustrating business. The RNA are a warm, helpful, friendly community and the advice and support of your fellow members when you’re struggling can stop you from wanting to chuck it all in and never pick up a pen again.
I must give a special mention to the Birmingham Chapter members who are the only ones I’ve ever been able to meet regularly in person. They’re a lovely, incredibly talented group and hopefully we’ll be able to see each other soon as I’ve missed our meet ups!
What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?
There’s no right way to write a book. You may hear prescriptive advice telling you what you must and mustn’t do, such as “You must write every day”. But when I hear definitive statements like that I always think, “What utter rubbish!”
If you’re starting out it’s likely that you’re squeezing writing in around all the other pressing commitments in your life. So write however suits you and whenever you can. If it works for you and gets you to “the end”, go for it.
Tell us about your latest book.
My debut novel, Art and Soul, came out in April 2020. It’s available in ebook and paperback and free to download with Kindle Unlimited. You can buy it here.
An expert at solving other people’s problems, single mum Becky is hired to help artist Charlie get out of his creative slump. But when she starts falling for her client, will she be able to fix her own love life?
A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake.
About the author
Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Art and Soul is her first novel.
A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.
Connect with Claire:
Facebook: Claire Huston Author
If you are a romance author and think you would enjoy answering this random assortment of questions about writing romance, please do get in touch and you can take part in a future instalment of Romancing The Romance Authors.