Today I am welcoming to the blog, author Stefania Hartley, to be forensically grilled on being a writer of romance.
Welcome to the blog, Stefania. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.
I write contemporary romance/romantic comedy and short stories for women’s magazines. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is my first full-length novel.
I love reading romance and I love writing it. There’s nothing like the thrill of falling in love!
What inspires your stories?
Most of my characters are inspired by people I’ve known or met and found interesting. Once I’ve decided on my hero or heroine, I imagine who would be the last person they’d want to fall in love with, and I put them in a situation where they just can’t help it.
Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?
I love Helen Fielding for her amazing humour, I fell in love with Beth O’Leary’s incredibly sweet hero in The Flatshare, I enjoyed Helen Hoang’s steamy The Kiss Quotient, and I’ve just discovered Talia Hibbert with the Brown sisters series. I was swept by Elizabeth Enfield’s Ivy and Abe, and I like Sarah Morgan’s style. There are many other romance authors that I like, but I’m leaving out all the ones that I know personally, just to make sure I’m being objective.
I adored The Flatshare! (Cute fact: Helen Fielding and I went to the same school, although not at the same time. Joanne Harris also went there!) If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?
This is another difficult question, because I would probably recommend Bridget Jones’s Diary, but I guess that you have already read it.
A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?
As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.
Welcome to Bridget’s first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.
Which romantic hero would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?
I would spend my perfect romantic weekend with Mr Darcy at his ‘place’, possibly frolicking in the pond while he wears the famous white shirt.
What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?
The RNA is a wonderful family. I have never felt so understood as in the RNA. I don’t think that family and friends can ‘get’ a writer like another writer can, because we are all a little obsessed. And nobody can understand a romance writer quite like another romance writer or a romance reader, and in the RNA we are all both things.
What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?
Read a lot of romance books because there is an enormous variety within the genre, and readers have specific expectations from each subcategory of romance. A tip to writers in general: develop a thick skin against rejections and arm yourself with shiploads of perseverance.
Tell us about your latest book.
Sun, Stars and Limoncello is my first full-length novel and it is set in Sicily. You can buy a copy here.
Sonia believes that men equal heartache and disaster. Brad has sworn never to love a woman again. It’s a pity they’re so irresistibly attracted to one another.
After her traumatic teenage years, Sonia’s teaching job would be the best thing that has happened to her if it weren’t for Brad Wilson. Her arrogant, standoffish colleague never fails to rub her the wrong way. But when she’s faced with the choice between canceling the school trip to Sicily or accepting his ungraceful help, she swallows her pride and resigns herself to spending an entire week in close quarters with him. Little does she know just how close.
A tragedy from his past still haunts Brad, and he’s sworn never to let his heart be shredded by grief again. Loving another woman is not in the cards. That’s why his petite olive-skinned colleague is so very dangerous.
What could possibly go wrong when their mutual destination is one of the most romantic places in the world?
About the Author
Stefania Hartley, also known as The Sicilian Mama, was born in Sicily and immediately started growing, but not very much. She left her sunny island after falling head over heels in love with an Englishman, and she’s lived all over the world with him and their three children. Having finally learnt English, she enjoyed it so much that she started writing stories and nobody has been able to stop her since. She loves to write about hot and sunny places like her native Sicily, and she especially likes it when people fall in love. Her short stories have been longlisted, commended and won prizes. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is her first novel and is a contender in the Joan Hessayon Award.
Connect with Stefania:
Facebook: Stefania Hartley Author