Romancing The Romance Authors with… Kathy Strobos

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I am delighted to be chatting today to another romance author about why she loves and writes in the genre. Please welcome to the blog, author… Kathy Strobos.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I’ve written three books so far, all of which have been through the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. I’ve also taken a lot of classes. My first writing course was the Penguin UK Writer’s Academy “Constructing a Novel” course, and my teacher said the exchange between Audrey and Eve (two characters in Partner Pursuit) was “sparky.” That made my month. I realized I could write commercial fiction—and not just legal briefs. I took some more courses and finished the novel. I submitted it to the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. I received very positive feedback that encouraged me to keep writing. I think I floated on air for several weeks as a result of this final line of my first report: “In this rollercoaster narrative, the plot is deftly handled, and the conclusion is fun. Partner Pursuit has plenty of the feel-good factor that makes this romantic comedy such an enjoyable and satisfactory read.” 

I published Partner Pursuit in October. It was briefly in the Amazon Top 50 Best Sellers for City Life and Humorous American Literature in paperback. I will publish Is This for Real? in January and then publish Caper Crush in May 2022. And then write some more. 

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An opposites attract, friends-to-lovers, slow burn, fake dating romantic comedy

Love is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Usually me. I admit it, I’m a relationship-recluse. Ironic, given that I write romantic comedies. So, I’m on a sabbatical from dating.

Which is why fake dating my best friend Rory is fool-proof. Rory suggested it because he needed a date for work functions. And I can use our experiences as fodder for my romcom novel. Plus, my sister doesn’t know it’s not real and she is thrilled that I’m not walling myself off emotionally. Her words, not mine. But I do wish she would stop saying that she always suspected there was something more between me and Rory. She should realize that we’ve been friends forever so I’m immune to his appeal. 

We would never work. Rory is such a romantic; he still believes in that perfect love similar to his parents’ marriage. My parents fought bitterly. So, we are better off as friends. I can’t risk losing our friendship, even if this might be my chance—before his ex-girlfriend wins him back.  

Those flickers of attraction? Easily extinguished by cold water reality—like a two-mile hike in drenching rain over sand with wheelie luggage. 

But our relationship is not sticking to the plot—or is it?

I think that they are all a mix of women’s fiction with romance/romantic comedy/chicklit. Partner Pursuit focuses a lot on Audrey’s journey and her legal career. Is This for Real? is more focused on the romance. And Caper Crush is more focused on the romantic comedy.

Why romance?

I read romance, probably because I like to read stories with a HEA. And it took me awhile to find my husband, so I had a lot of dating stories (good and bad) while I was single. Audrey’s bad date in Partner Pursuit was based on one of my dates, although I made it much worse in the book. 

What inspires your stories?

I initially started drafting Partner Pursuit because I watched a really bad romcom, and I thought, I could write a better one. I really miss the brilliant romcoms like When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Proposal. So, I started writing scenes of Partner Pursuit. Partner Pursuit was also inspired by my having a hard time finding work/life balance while working as a corporate lawyer. But I also did make a lot of great friendships at the office, so I also wanted to convey those friendships. 

I love fake dating stories and friends-to-lovers so that inspired Is This For Real?

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

Jane Austen, Sophie Kinsella, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Giulia Skye, Jill Mansell, Helen Fielding, Hester Browne, Judith McNaught

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Kinsella is brilliant at comedy. 

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Samantha thrives under pressure. A high-powered London lawyer, all she can concentrate on is taking the next step in her career; eating, sleeping, seeing friends – even taking a breath – will have to wait.

But just when she’s about to get everything she has ever wanted, Samantha makes a mistake. A fifty-million-pound, career-destroying mistake. Unable to face the consequences, she does the unimaginable and runs away…

Catching the first train she can, she finds herself in the countryside, outside a beautiful grand house. Mistaken for another woman, she falls into a new job as the family’s housekeeper.

Disaster ensues. In a blink, her life has shifted from writing briefs to washing them – and she has no idea how to work the washing machine. Let alone the oven. A former master of the takeaway menu, she’s now expected to whip up fine cuisine.

But gradually, she falls in love with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

That is super difficult. After much consideration, I’ve picked Nelson of the Hester Browne Little Lady Agency series. For my perfect romantic weekend, we would fly to Costa Rica. We could go sailing there (Nelson can sail), do a little easy hiking, have romantic dinners with beach breezes etc., and spend some time at the beach. 

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

I have gained so much. First, my favorite thing is the friendships I have made. I made so many friends when I was at the RNA Conference in Leeds. That was an amazing experience. Everybody was so friendly. I went not knowing anybody.

I met my now-critique partner Giulia Skye on the train to Leeds, and we immediately clicked as we discussed The Hating Game and the novels of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Now we email each other weekly, and she is the one who encouraged me to indie-publish. But I’ve made a lot of friends at the RNA (also online via the Facebook groups). It is great being friends with other writers.

Second, I think the critiques in the NWS are invaluable. 

Third, I also enjoy the camaraderie, friendships and mentoring in the Facebook groups. 

Also, the RNA Conference, the online classes and the magazine articles are really helpful. I had a 1-to-1 consultation for my Partner Pursuit blurb at the RNA conference this past summer.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Join the RNA New Writer’s Scheme. (If I am only allowed one piece of advice). Second, just write. You can fix a rough draft. For me, I get better ideas when I re-read what I’ve written. 

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Audrey is a workaholic lawyer. She is trying to make partner—with only six months until the decision. She’s torn because she’s stressed by working so much, but she also loves being a lawyer and the analytical thrills. And then she meets Jake.

Jake is a fun-loving music marketing executive. He definitely doesn’t want to date a workaholic lawyer—because his dad was one, and his dad often put work before family. I made him a music marketing executive because when I became in-house counsel, I worked for the parent company of a music company, among other things. When I would ride up in the elevator in the morning, other people would talk about how they’d been up all night at a concert. I thought, “wow, that’s so different than my life writing a brief or compliance policy until late at night.” You can buy a copy of Partner Pursuit in ebook and paperback here.

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When a workaholic lawyer meets a fun-loving music marketing executive for opposites attract, friends-to-lovers adventures, which partnership will she choose?

Workaholic lawyer Audrey Willems is not going to take any chances with her bid to become a partner at her New York law firm—especially with only six months until the decision. 

Until she bumps into Jake—her new neighbor. Jake is a fun-loving music marketing executive who might just be The One.

He’s funny, caring, supportive—and able to kill water bugs in the bathroom.

But Jake will never date a woman married to her job. His father was a workaholic lawyer who never had time for family. 

And she’s just got the case of a lifetime—the one she needs to win to make partner.  Working 24/7 at the office may not even be enough hours to pull off a victory.

If only she had not met him now.

Audrey is determined to prove that she can juggle work and romance—even if managing court cases, candlelit dinners, and bike rides around Manhattan is a lot harder than it looks.  She keeps canceling dates for yet another case crisis.

But when making partner is like a game of musical chairs and the last seat is a business-class alone, which partnership will she choose?

About the Author

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Kathy Strobos is a writer living in New York City with her husband and two children, amid a growing collection of books, toys and dollhouses. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Harvard-Radcliffe University magna cum laude, and Columbia Law School. She spent two semesters abroad at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. She previously worked as a lawyer. She left law to pursue her dream of writing fiction full-time and getting in shape. She is still working on getting in shape.

Connect with Kathy:

Website: https://kathystrobos.com

Facebook: Kathy Strobos Rewrites

Twitter: @KathyStrobos

Instagram: @kathystroboswriter

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