Today on my month-long Romantic Novelists Association feature. Each day in February I will have a different author on the blog, talking to me about their books. It is to help celebrate the sixtieth birthday of the RNA and to raise awareness of how it might be a great fit for you if you are an author. I hope you enjoy the features over the next few weeks. Be sure to give the authors a follow on social media and add the books you fancy from the selection of great authors to your own TBR.
💫Romantic Novelists Association
The Romantic Novelists’ Association was founded in 1960 to both celebrate, and demand respect for, romantic fiction. Founder members included Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland, Elizabeth Goudge, Netta Muskett, Catherine Cookson and Rosamunde Pilcher. The first President of the Association, Denise Robins, noted that although romantic fiction gave great pleasure to many readers, the writers almost felt they had to apologise for what they did. The RNA was going to put a stop to those apologies and, instead, celebrate and promote romantic authorship.
In 1966, an early Vice President of the association, Elizabeth Goudge, commented that ‘As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes and ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself.’
Today, the RNA continues to support and champion the authorship of romantic fiction that shows the value of imagination and the possibility of a happy ending and also celebrates the broader spectrum of romantic fiction that explores the more challenging aspects of relationships and human experience.
Emily Royal is a mathematics geek who grew up in Sussex, England and has always had a passion for romance and hot alpha males in need of redemption. After graduating from Oxford and enjoying a brief dream of becoming an airline pilot she started a career in financial services to indulge her love of mathematics.
She now lives in rural Scotland with her husband, two daughters and a menagerie of pets including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor. She re-ignited her love of romance when she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
When not working on algebra, writing, or keeping Twinkle from slithering over her keyboard, Emily enjoys painting, playing the piano and can often be found wandering in the Highlands of Scotland, looking for inspiration.
💫 Roderick’s Widow (London Libertines Book 3)
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
Very non-linear! I started taking writing seriously around 2013 and began submitting in 2015. After four years of rejections I managed to land three publishing contracts during 2018/2019 and had four books released in 2019.
I joined the RNA in 2015 under their New Writing Scheme and was signed by an agent at the end of the year. They were unable to get me a publishing contract and we parted company early 2019. But during all that waiting, I kept writing books. The first offer I had was from a direct submission to a small press in 2018, and that book should be released this year. My debut novel came from a twitter pitch in 2018 when another publisher showed interest – and not long after my agent and I parted company I managed to get a 3-book deal for a series, with a third publisher.
Can you tell us how you became involved with the Romantic Novelists Association and what it means for you to be part of it?
The RNA played a huge part in my publishing journey. The report I received from the New Writing Scheme gave me the courage to submit my manuscript, and I found a wonderful tribe of critique partners and author friends through the RNA who have been enormously supportive
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
The idea came from a secondary character in another book. She wasn’t a particularly likeable character – she breaks a good man’s heart and has a really tough time afterwards. I’d never intended to write her story, but I couldn’t get her out of my head. I think the inspiration came from wanting to portray a character I didn’t at first like, in a better light. I love emotional, angsty second-chance romances, particularly where characters who’ve suffered still manage to get their Happy Ever After.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
The beauty of writing a series is the characters can make cameo appearances in later books, so I can say hello to them again! To be honest, I struggle more with keeping the characters in future books out of my head. I tend to plan more than one book at a time, and when I’m drafting one book, ideas for later books always pop into my head
What was your favourite read of 2019?
That’s a really tough one! There’s a lot of books I enjoyed reading in 2019, but if I have to pick a single book where the characters have stayed with me for a long time afterwards, it has to be The Man I Fell in Love With by Kate Field.
Do you read other romance authors and who would you recommend?
Though I read a lot of different styles, I really love darker romances. Aleatha Romig writes wonderful dark romantic suspense. I also read (as well as write) historical romance. Kathryn Le Veque writes wonderful Medieval romances. And I have a big weakness for the classic historical romances written by authors such as Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, if so which one?
I can’t think of a particular moment, but in general, whenever I’m feeling down, it’s wonderful to escape into a book. I think that’s part of the attraction of historical stories because you’re transported to a completely different time period.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
My critique group, the “Beta Buddies”, have been great for moral support during all the rejections and they’re great for razor-sharp critiques and general morale boosting when one of us gets a rejection, or a bad review, or is struggling with getting the words down on the page. I love my UKRomChat twitter friends, too. And I must mention the delightful Sarah Painter who’s been there through thick and thin!
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
It’s probably a cliché to go with a Jane Austen book. But I love Persuasion and think everyone should read it – I’ve already said I love a second-chance romance! The writing is a sharp observation on snobbery in society and contains one of the most romantic letters a hero has ever written.
Another book I’d recommend is something I read in the 1980’s and often pick it up to read again: Skallagrigg by William Horwood is a heartbreaking story covering the treatment of the disabled through the years, family breakups and emotional reunions. It’s pretty bleak in places, but a mesmerising read nonetheless.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently drafting two projects – the fifth book in my Regency series and a free novella for my newsletter subscribers, which is a prequel to the series. At the moment I also have a manuscript in my inbox in the final stages of editing, a Medieval romance which is due out this year.
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
I like to read (and write) about alpha males and a few steamy scenes! Does this put you off the whole book or if steam’s not your thing, can you skip the naughty scenes and focus on the rest of the story?
I write historical romance so I do a bit of research to check the facts, and sometimes mention historical figures in my stories, but I also make some things up – for example, many of my heroes are titled but I’ve not used actual dukes or earls from history! How much to you value historical accuracy in a romance?
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💫 Final Thoughts
Thank you to T.A Williams for taking part in my special feature.