Today, Cherie Rich is reviewing my book A to Z Stories of Life and Death at Surrounded by Books Reviews . Am grateful to her for taking the time—and excited to see what she has to say.
I read all kinds of books, from literary to fantasy and horror to romance, and am always curious about the authors who write in each of these genres. Today, I present you an interview with Paula Martin, an established Romance writer.
- You have written Romance for a long time indeed. Would you like to tell us about your publishing journey?
My first book was published in 1968. It was the first full-length romance novel I ever wrote and it was accepted by Mills and Boon, the first publisher I sent it to. How lucky was that? I was also contracted for two more novels, which I duly produced.
For personal and family reasons, I then had a few years not writing, and by the time I wrote my 4th novel, M&B had changed their requirements and my kind of novel no longer suited their new ‘formula’. I sent that novel to Robert Hale, one of the only other romance publishers in the UK and it was accepted.
After that, I had a long gap before writing novels again, but wrote quite a few short stories for romance magazines. When I started writing again, it was much easier to submit to American publishers. I submitted my first novel to Mills and Boon/Harlequin again, but it was rejected (I still intend to rewrite that story!). In the meantime, I had my two novels accepted by Whiskey Creek Press.
2. What would be your advice to a writer who is just starting out in the Romance genre?
Read, read, read! Read the romance novels published by different publishers, so that you get a feel for the kind of stories they want.
3. Are there any writing tips you would like to share with new writers in general?
Don’t get ‘bogged down’ in reading books or courses about writing or else you’ll never start writing anything! So much of the advice given to prospective writers is contradictory, and you can become intimidated by all the so-called ‘rules’ that you’re thinking more about those than about your story.
Also write in the way that suits you. Some writers plot in detail and analyse all their characters before they even start writing the story; others start with a vague outline and see where their characters lead them, and some do a bit of both. Find out what method works best for you.
4. I have read Romance, but I’m not a regular follower of the genre. Could you describe some of the subcategories in this genre for readers like me?
There are so many subcategories that I’m not sure about them all! Even the category which I write, contemporary romance, can range from ‘sweet’ (i.e. no sex) to sensual (some sex but not explicitly described) to hot (very sexy) and also there are erotic romances which are very graphic.
Some publishers distinguish between different kinds of contemporary romance e.g. young adult, medical, suspense, intrigue, western, international.
Historical romances can cover any period. Regency is popular, but this category can cover anything from Ancient Egypt to 20th century.
Then, of course, there are the paranormal and fantasy romances – everything from vampires and werewolves to elves and fairies. It becomes confusing because each publisher tends to have its own definitions and its own ‘names’ for the different categories.
5. You’ve been traditionally published for a long while. What are your views on self-publishing?
Personally, I prefer the satisfaction that comes from having a novel ‘accepted’ by a publisher, but I accept the world is changing, and I know many writers do self-publish now. My main reservation about this is that, while there is a lot of good self-published work, there is also some appalling work by writers who haven’t studied the craft and don’t take the time to edit their work properly, or to have it professionally edited.
On a purely practical note, I’m not sure I have the computer skills to self-publish! Some people seem to find it easy; others have problems with formatting etc. I think I’d be one of the latter!
6. What are your forthcoming publications, and where can readers find your books?
My recently released novel is ‘His Leading Lady’, set in London’s West End theatre world which is available as either e-book or paperback from Whiskey Creek Press and from Amazon.
My next novel, Fragrance of Violets, will be published by Whiskey Creek next February. The title comes from a quotation by Mark Twain: “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Paula Martin was born in Lancashire, England. She had some early publishing success with short stories and four novels, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching.
She lives near Manchester in North-West England, and has two daughters and two grandsons. Apart from writing, she enjoys travelling and loves Ireland. She has also travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, America and Canada. Her other interests are musical theatre and tracing her family history. Find her on her blog or website.
Are you a reader, a writer, or both? Do you read romance? Are a self-published or traditionally published author? What are the pros and cons of each, according to you? What sort of romance do you prefer to read or write?
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Interesting interview! I really enjoy it!
Thanks, everyone, for coming over to chat with Paula, and thank you Paula, for being such a thoughtful guest at my blog. Wish you all the best with “His Leading Lady”!
Hi J.C – I never realised there were so many heat levels either, or so many romance categories, until I went into publisher sites and saw all their different categories!
Wow, I never realised there were so many sub-genres in romance! I have heard of the different “heat levels” though (as some publishers call it). HIS LEADING LADY sounds like an interesting read!
Thanks for the interview, ladies!
Alex, no-one was more surprised than me when my first novel was accepted. At the time, I knew nothing about queries or synopses, and simply sent the whole ms to M&B. I fully expected it to come winging back to me by return post and was stunned when, six weeks later, i had an acceptance letter signed by Alan Boon himself!
She snagged the first publisher she queried – wow!
And I agree that sometimes writing tips can be overwhelming.
A lovely interview!
Thanks so much, Georgie, Jennifer and Jenn 🙂
I loved His Leading Lady–can’t wait to read your next release in Feb 🙂
Great interview, Paula. And good advice too!
Congrats on your release and for sticking with writing, despite all the changes at your different publishers!
Many thanks for sharing, bornstoryteller.
J.L. – you’re absolutely right about knowing what works for your style, and what doesn’t. Thanks for your good wishes!
Thanks, MPax – and yes, learning the craft is far better than sticking to all the rules.
Congrats on the release, Paula.
I agree about the ‘rules’. You hear all these rules then when you pick up a book [traditionally published], it breaks most of them. The rule should be ‘learn the craft’.
Paula sounds like a veteran in the romance writing business. I so agree about not getting bogged down by all the stuff that gives all the ‘rules’. I do a fair amount of reading on the craft, but I’m mindful of what works for my style of writing and what doesn’t.
Wishing Paula success with His Leading Lady.
Damyanti, thanks for hosting!
Shared. Not into romance novels, but it’s good to hear more about publishing and the like. Shared all over for you Damyanti.