Guest blogger: Melanie Milburne
Does becoming a romance writer inhibit or enhance your love of reading romance?
Before I was published I used to read dozens of romance novels every year. I read bundles of category and single titles as well as other genres of fiction. But now with having just completed my 75th book for Harlequin Mills and Boon, I’ve been reflecting on my current reading patterns and they are quite different from the start of my career.
Firstly, I find it almost impossible to read a category romance now (or any romance, really) without my editor/author cap on. It takes a really powerful and well-crafted story to make me take that cap off and get fully immersed in the story.
Do I still enjoy them? Yes, mostly. But that pesky editor inside me is often critical of things like head hopping or overuse of adverbs, or a weak plot or unrealistic dialogue or clichéd characters.
Did I do those things early in my career? Yes. I am ashamed to say that up until my 47th book I was still head hopping, not sentence by sentence but it was still head hopping. I thought that was the way romance novels were supposed to be written but then I started reading more and more books on the craft of writing and found it was considered a big no-no. One scene, one point of view. It took me a while to change but I’m so glad I persevered.
I am sure there are many readers (and writers) who don’t worry at all about head hopping. But I’m noticing more and more of the newer writers are not head hopping and I think it gives their writing a level of sophistication I wished I’d had early in my career.
Secondly, I read category with more caution now, as I’m worried my subconscious will pick up a phrase or scene and transplant it in my mind. I often sit in front of my computer after I’ve typed a phrase that sounds good and thought: Yikes! Is that mine? Or someone else’s?
The thing is, creative people do think alike so there will always be a book on the shelf next to mine with a similar story line or even characters in similar careers.
But is it just romance novels that I am critical of? No. I am just as critical when I read other genres of fiction. Perhaps this happens to most authors, they see things differently because they are now part of the industry, which used to have mystique when they were outside of it.
What are your experiences as a reader or writer? Have your tastes or tolerances changed? One signed copy of The Temporary Mrs Marchetti, my March 2017 Harlequin Presents release for one commenter. (The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Amy Ella.)
Melanie Milburne loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it. She grew up with a love of reading and reading her first romance book at age seventeen heavily influenced her decision to become a romance author.
She has won several awards for her fast-paced, passionate stories, including Australian Romance Writers Romantic Book of the Year in 2011 and Australian Romance Readers in 2008 and RT top pick and Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Awards. And a HOLT Medallion winner in 2015. RWNZ Koru Award of Excellence in 2015. As well as HOLT Medallion Award of Merit in 2014 and 2016.
The Temporary Mrs Marchetti
The rules of engagement …
hen Cristiano Marchetti proposes to former mistress Alice Piper, the deal has an expiry date. He has six months to fulfil the conditions of his grandmother’s will. But the hotelier has another agenda—exacting revenge on Alice for daring to walk away seven years before!
Alice needs the financial security her enemy is providing, but soon their every clash is a shockingly tempting encounter. Yet as she uncovers the man beneath the hard-hearted exterior, the future Mrs. Marchetti wonders if she could break the rules of their engagement … and walk down the aisle as more than Cristiano’s temporary bride!