In your opinion, what is one thing that a romance novel should have in order to be successful?
I’d say tension in the plot, to bring the worst and best out of both main characters.
I almost said ‘a hero and heroine we can love’ but there’s more to it than that. They may both have the kindest hearts and best intentions, but if we never see them responding to danger, threats or sudden surprises, their potential will remain untapped. I believe the best stories have a nice balance between action and reflection.
When it comes to writing romance in novels, is there any kind of formula that you follow? Or does it just come together organically?
I’m more of an organic type of plotter. A friend once showed me a guidelines booklet she’d acquired from a particular romance publisher. It was full of formulas which absolutely had to be stuck to. These included everything from the main characters’ backgrounds to their financial status and appearances. I felt how restrictive and repetitive this might become over time, like working on an assembly line.
I aim for my characters and situations to be a fresh surprise with each new book. Having said that, I wonder whether having some sort of twist or shock revelation could become a sort of formula on its own. Maybe one day the twist will be that I write a novel in which there is no twist. But these are features I love to incorporate, and whenever one occurs to me, I’m happy.
Of all the novels you have written, which one would you say is your most romantic and why?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve written nine novels, and in each of them the romance took priority in my planning process.
I think I’ll say ‘The Greenfield Legacy.’ It’s a collaboration I wrote with three friends. We all love weaving romance into our plots, so multiplying it by four makes a lot of romance. Each of us wrote from the point of view of one of four main characters, spanning several generations, and each had their own romance. It was great fun to work on, and so far, readers have enjoyed the way it all came together.
Do you have a favourite romantic trope? A least favourite trope?
This is fun and makes me think, as there are so many.
One of my favourites is that of sworn enemies becoming lovers. It may be a well-known trope, but for good reason. There are so many ways this can be achieved without clichés, and I always enjoy reading about the inner processes of their hearts and minds as they come to admit their attraction to each other. I’ve even written a few.
My least favourite is the cringe-worthy misunderstanding, when one of the pair assumes something bad about the other which simply isn’t true. Instead of being straightforward (s)he goes off to stew, making the situation even worse for a time.
Close behind this is the unequal relationship, often incorporating major age or education differences. This may result in either the hero or heroine regarding themselves as a mentor to the other. The George Knightley/Emma Woodhouse scenario, when one is in the position to lecture the other, is not my favourite for romance. I prefer a more equal footing.
What are some authors/books that you read when you just want to enjoy a good romance novel?
Names such as Julie Klassen, Karen Witemeyer and Jody Hedlund are always good to see on new release lists, for that very reason.
There are also several great Australia Christian fiction authors I enjoy. Apart from the three co-authors I mentioned before, names to look out for in romance include Andrea Grigg, Mary Hawkins, Narelle Atkins and Skye Weiland for contemporary and D.J. Blackmore for historical.
Thanks very much for inviting me to share on your blog, Embassie.
More about the author:
Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.
Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.
Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.
Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.
Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, was published in April, 2014.
Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy.