As a writer of rural romance do you feel constricted by the tag genre writer ?
Not in the slightest. Just because I write in a genre doesnt mean I cant explore broader issues. For example, Promises investigates, in part, the devastation suicide wreaks on everyone it touches. My second book, to be released next year, also looks at emotional issues beyond romance. Perhaps non-genre writers and reviewers see the tag as restrictive but I certainly dont.
What do you see as having been pivotal or core to your desire to become a writer?
Reading amazing books as a child and experiencing the power of stories. I can still remember how Walter Farleys Black Stallion books made me feel. The excitement and romance of Alecs relationship with The Black was unforgettable, and when The Black met Flame…oooh! Of course, it wasnt just the Black Stallion. Over the years other books have had similar impact and I knew quite early on that I wanted to write. I wanted to create stories that wouldnt let me go, characters I could laugh with and cry over, and develop worlds so vivid they seemed alive. It was a passion I didnt let on about much, but it burned. Given romantic stories affected me most, it was inevitable that would be what I chose to write.
There are some influences, sure, my experience with horses being the greatest. Characters can take on aspects of people I know or knew, and emotions also come from within. Weve all experienced embarrassment and its squirmy heat, for example. Same with anger, love, hurt, frustration, joy and every other emotion you can think of, so theres a deeply sunk well I can dip my bucket into when it comes to writing. Whats important to remember is that my characters arent me and will react to those emotions in their own unique way. But generally my ideas tend to come from other sources. Im a great one for cutting out newspaper and magazine articles that have struck some sort of a chord. Sometimes Ill gain inspiration from a documentary, movie or television show and then mull on it until it twists into something new. Inspiration is everywhere.
What are the three essential ingredients for a strong romantic story?
Number one is conflict. Its what drives the story and keeps your reader engaged. No one wants to read about people whose lives are going swimmingly well. Wheres the drama in that?
Number two is to create likeable and relatable characters. This is especially true for the heroine. The characters can have faults in fact, theyre much more interesting if they do but the reader must empathise. If they dont care about the character they wont keep reading.
Number three is to engage the readers emotions. Make them feel not only a part of the story, but a real part of the characters lives. They need to laugh and cry with them, feel their anger and joy as if they lived inside their hearts, so that the end of the story the readers only response is to hold the book to his or her chest and sigh in satisfaction.
If you werent writing within the rural genre what would you try your hand at?
Ive already tried my hand at light fantasy, erotica, and an Indiana Jones type romantic adventure, and have plans (time permitting) to continue writing all three. But I would dearly love to write a cosy mystery involving a mischievous elderly couple, and I wouldnt mind attempting a Jackie Collins / Jilly Cooper-esque bonk-buster. Thatd be huge fun. My reading is quite eclectic so my writing aspirations tend to be too. But rural romance is my first love, and I dont anticipate that changing any time soon.