Romancing The Romance Authors… with Stefania Hartley

Romancing The Romance Authors

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.

Why romance?

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.  

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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.

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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

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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:

Website: https://www.stefaniahartley.com/

Facebook: Stefania Hartley Author

Twitter: @TheSicilianMama

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Romancing The Romance Authors… with Suzanne Snow

Romancing The Romance Authors

Very excited to have my next guest on my new feature where I quiz romance authors on what inspires them. This week I am joined by author Suzanne Snow.

Welcome to the blog, Suzanne. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write contemporary romance and my books are set in rural and/or village locations. After joining the RNA two years ago, I was offered representation by Susan Yearwood Agency following the 2019 Conference and signed a 3 book deal with Canelo this year.

Why romance?

I love the expectation of following a developing relationship to an uplifting ending and a romantic or inspirational setting is a big part of the story for me. 

What inspires your stories?

Very often it’s a landscape; perhaps a walk I’ve done in a beautiful area or an old house and garden with a story to tell. Sometimes it can be character driven, when a person pops into my mind and I begin to think of their life and where that might be taking them.

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

I loved Jilly Cooper and Danielle Steel in the early days; now I read everything by Karen Swan for her ability to bring a setting to life and craft a love story from unexpected circumstances. Audrey Harrison for Regency and Ella Hayes for Mills and Boon are two new favourites and I’ve discovered many wonderful authors through the RNA, Kate Field and Christina Courtney being just two examples.

So many of my favourite authors mentioned there, and the odd RNA friend! If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

The Perfect Present by Karen Swan, it was the first of her books I read. I loved it for the world unfamiliar to me that she depicted and the developing love story between characters with no obvious place to go. 

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Haunted by a past she can’t escape, Laura Cunningham desires nothing more than to keep her world small and precise – her quiet relationship and growing jewellery business are all she needs to get by. Until the day when Rob Blake walks into her studio and commissions a necklace that will tell his enigmatic wife Cat’s life in charms.

As Laura interviews Cat’s family, friends and former lovers, she steps out of her world and into theirs – a charmed world where weekends are spent in Verbier and the air is lavender-scented, where friends are wild, extravagant and jealous, and a big love has to compete with grand passions.

Hearts are opened, secrets revealed and as the necklace begins to fill up with trinkets, Cat’s intoxicating life envelops Laura’s own. By the time she has to identify the final charm, Laura’s metamorphosis is almost complete. But the last story left to tell has the power to change all of their lives forever, and Laura is forced to choose between who she really is and who it is she wants to be.

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

It would be with Frederick Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I like a hero who is sensitive, and I think he would view marriage as a partnership as far as he was able in those days. The perfect weekend would be spent in walking in the countryside with time to relax somewhere scenic or a city break exploring galleries and museums. I’d probably include dinner at The Old Stamp House in Ambleside as it’s one of my favourite restaurants

Oh, I love him. Writer of possibly the most romantic love letter that exists in literature! What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The community of friendship and support I’ve found in the RNA and the brilliance of Conference for learning and making friends. I’ve definitely learned a lot since joining, and the 1-2-1’s at Conference gave me both confidence in my writing and the opportunity of agency representation.

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

If they’re not in the RNA, then join as soon as possible! And if they are, then do get involved via social media and absolutely go to Conference if they possibly can. The RNA offers so much in the way of teaching, community and being amongst people who love and understand what we do.

Tell us about your latest book.

The Cottage of New Beginnings is a heart-warming village love story for fans of Julie Houston, Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley. It is out now as an ebook and you can buy it here.

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One crumbling cottage. One broken heart. A chance to start over?

When Annie returns to Thorndale, the village where she spent much of her childhood, she’s looking for a new start. All she wants to do is fix up the cottage her godmother left her and fix up her broken heart.

When she clashes with local hero, Jon, Annie can’t help but wonder if coming back to Thorndale was a mistake. The village has clearly changed and the last thing she needs is more drama. But avoiding the distractingly handsome Jon is proving impossible, especially when Thorndale seems to be conspiring to throw them together…

Annie is looking for a fresh start with zero romance – but what if the only way to learn to trust again is to take a risk on love?

About the Author

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Suzanne Snow writes contemporary, romantic and uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found in a garden or looking to the landscape around her for inspiration.

Connect with Suzanne:

Website: https://www.suzannesnowauthor.com

Facebook: Suzanne Snow Author

Twitter: @SnowProse

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.

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