Wednesday, February 6, 2013


My guest is romance author, Susan Sey. The road to writing an engaging book has a lot of bumps, roadblocks, frustrations, and false paths. There are many necessary ingredients that must be blended just right to tell a good story. Certain components of a book are easier to develop than others, depending upon the author, and Susan discusses what is the hard part for her. 

What’s the hardest part of writing a book?  Ask one hundred authors and you’ll get one hundred different answers.  Possibly more.  (There are so many hard parts and some of us are indecisive.)  But if you’re asking me?  It’s the heroine.  Heroines just kill me.

Now according to conventional wisdom, readers want two things from their romance novels.  First, they want to fall in love with the hero.  Which is great news for me because my heroes are cooperative that way.  They jump out of my imagination and land on the page ready to run directly at the thing they want (us), conquer it (swoon!) and carry it home like Rhett carrying his Scarlett kicking and screaming (but not really) up the staircase.
*happy sigh*

So I've got that going for me.  But the other thing readers want from their romance novel experience?  A likable heroine.  A heroine who is so utterly engaging that readers not only root for her, but want to be her.  At least while reading the story.  That’s not our name on the page, but we like the character so much that, in our hearts, we are experiencing the story on her behalf, as if we are her.  And being that intensely involved in the story?  That’s what makes us close the book after THE END with a big, satisfied sigh. 
Creating a heroine who can do this, however?  That’s a problem for me.   I am, by nature, a cautious person.  It takes me a good long while--and considerable courage--to offer my friendship to somebody.  That whole instant likability thing?  Not a strong suit of mine.
It’s not that I’m writing myself as the heroine in every book.  (God forbid.)  But I, like most writers, am an introverted control freak who desperately craves connection.  As a result, every story I write is--at its heart--a journey from isolation to connectedness, at the cost of control.  In other words, while my characters are going to up happily enmeshed in family, they start out Chapter One in sort of a rough place.  Lonely.  Disconnected.  Unhappy.  But that sort of relentless grimness isn't exactly inviting.  So it’s my job as a writer to leaven it a bit with hope, comedy, and--yes--some instant likability.

My latest heroine--Belinda West from TASTE FOR TROUBLE--taught me a great deal about how that can be done.  When we meet her, Bel’s about to get married to a very good man she doesn't love.  And who doesn't love her.  And she’s fine with that.  Better than fine.  She doesn't want love in her life or anything like it.  She is, in fact, marrying her lawyer.  Her best friend is her personal assistant.  There is nobody in Bel’s life--in Chapter One, anyway--who isn't paid to be there.  She has her reasons for keeping people at arm’s length--really, really good ones--but until we discover what they are, she’s a little tough to love.

But fear not!  Nothing makes a girl more accessible than public humiliation, right?  So how about we have her fiancĂ© and her best friend discover they’re in love and run off together minutes before the wedding? 

Not enough?

What if it all unfolds on live TV?

Still not enough?

What if it’s all the hero’s fault?

Mission accomplished. 

And why?  Because we all know what risk is.  We all know what failure feels like.  We all know how public humiliation stings, especially when it comes at the hands of a hot guy who didn't even notice you standing there.  And watching poor Bel swallow the whole thing in front of an audience of millions?  Instant sympathy.  Maybe she wasn't making great choices, but nobody deserves that.  You know what that girl deserves?  A happy ending.
And guess what?  She gets one.   She earns it.  I hope you’ll join her on the journey.

  • So tell me, who’s your favorite heroine of all time?  Why do you love her?  Did you love her right away, or did she have to grow on you?


Take one West Texas bad boy...

On the field, soccer star James Blake is pure poetry. Off the field? He’s pure trouble. When his fondness for fast women and bar brawls lands him a suspension from the game, he’s prepared to take his punishment like a man. But since when does a suspension come with a live-in nanny?

Add one domestic diva...

TV baking maven Belinda West is the epitome of home-made hospitality, on-screen and off. The personal is the professional when you’re selling the good life, after all. But when her wedding day implodes in front of a live studio audience, Bel’s career goes into a death spiral. She’ll do anything to save it, even take charge of soccer’s most famous bad boy.

Mix well and stand back... 

To hell with the morals clause in his contract; James isn't about to shape up for some knock-off Mary Poppins. But since when does Mary Poppins laugh like a naughty angel and smell like sugar cookies? He’s not looking for love but that kiss of hers is practically perfect in every way. And James has a powerful taste for trouble.

Because it's about to get hot in this kitchen.  Excerpt

Some years back, Golden Heart ® Award Winner Susan Sey gave up the glamorous world of software training to pursue a high powered career in diaper changing. Two children and millions of diapers later, she decided to branch out and started writing novels during nap time. The kids eventually gave up their naps, so now she writes when she's supposed to be doing the laundry. She currently resides in St. Paul, MN, with her wonderful husband, their charming children and a *very* tall pile of dirty clothes. 

You can visit her on the web at Facebook and Goodreads.