A few months ago I gushed about a recent contemporary romance I had the opportunity to review. It was called About Last Night, and its author is not only a singularly talented and exciting new voice in the romance genre, but she’s also a pretty cool person. Today I have the pleasure of asking Ruthie a little bit about her writing process, her take on the romance genre, and just what a romance author looks for in a real life hero. Read on to see what Ruthie has to say and to enter for a chance to win an e-copy of About Last Night!
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1. Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to be an
author, and an author of romance novels in particular?
Actually, no, not that I can remember. I started writing toward the end of 2010, after reading a ton of Harlequin Blaze novels. I was in a yoga class, and I had an idea for a story of my own — a vacation fling romance set in Hawaii involving a tour guide and the geeky grad student who falls for him. So I wrote that, and then I wrote another one, and another, and somewhere in there I thought, “This is really fun. I want to keep doing this.” I found an agent, and the rest is history! (That first manuscript didn’t go anywhere, by the way, but the second one was About Last Night, and the third was Ride with Me.) I’ve never considered writing anything but romance novels. They’re the only thing I want to read and write at this point in my life.
2. Who are your favorite couples from the classics, from historical romance, and from contemporary romance?
Ooh, good question. Hmm. My favorite classic couple is … Can I stretch the definition of “classic”? Because I love nineteenth-century British literature, but I can’t think of any British couples I’d consider “favorites.” I do really love Celie and Shug from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, so I’m going to go with them. From historical romance, I have to go with Will Parker and Elly Dinsmore in LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory. *swoooon* And in contemporary romance — that’s tough! One couple that’s really stuck with me is Tara and Ford from Jill Shalvis’s The Sweetest Thing. I really believed they belonged together, in the end. Or maybe that they were stuck with each other.
3. Is there a character trait that tends to turn you off to the romance when you’re reading?
I don’t like characters who are mean to each other. I’m fine with them fighting if they have strong motivations for their arguments, but I can’t hang in with a hero or a heroine who’s just plain cruel when there are options other than cruelty available to them. If it’s one or two cutting remarks, I’ll wait to see where it’s going — I thought Charlotte Stein did this really well in her erotica short Restraint — but flat-out assholery is difficult to redeem, for me. (I make an exception for Cara McKenna’s psychologically interesting assholes, who aren’t mean so much as terribly, terribly broken, with their brokenness manifesting as meanness. But that’s a whole ‘nother answer.)
4. Do you find romantic inspiration in real-life events? What’s one of the romantic things someone has done for you or for someone you know?
Um, not really? Honestly, if you met me, you would probably think I was the least romantic person you’ve ever met. I don’t really like emotional spectacles of any kind, so real-life romantic gestures make me cringey. But my parents have been married for forty years, and my dad sometimes says that my mom’s been five different women since he met her. I find love that is willing to embrace challenge and change is very romantic — which is one reason that I’m on record as having a difficult time with epilogues. They often feel so static to me (Look! Everything is perfect!), whereas my idea of romance is a relationship that remains open to constant evolution. I conceive of the happy-ever-after as a brief, perfect moment at the end of the book, followed by the resumption of real life.
5. If you could piece together the perfect romantic hero Frankenstein creation from existing romance novel characters, what would he look like (personality-wise, not physically, although that’s fine too!)?
Oh, but this is what I do for a living, right — piece together perfect romantic heroes, all Frankenstein’s-monster-like? Some people use photographic inspiration to come up with their heroes, but mine exist purely in my head. One that I’m working on right now has a lot of the personality of sheriff Seth Bullock from Deadwood — he’s intense and furiously dedicated to Right with a capital “r.” Throw in a splash of Germanic orderliness and that delicious accent, à la Ralph Fiennes, plus the whole overwhelmed-single-parent dynamic from Mr. Mom and some crazy-hot skills in the sack, and you have the man who is currently occupying my stray thoughts. I’m calling him Otto Schoen. We’ll see how he turns out.
6. We all have fangirl moments, so fess up; when was the last time you fangirled?
Oh, I’m a fangirling machine. Half my Twitter friends are people I’ve fangirled. Romance novelists are so nice that pretty much everyone I’ve ever gone gushy over has turned out to be someone I consider a friend. I stalked Cara McKenna in an embarrassing fashion after I read her (genius) erotica book Skin Game. First I e-mailed her, and then I joined Twitter primarily for the purpose of further stalking. Then I made friends with all her friends. Then I got the same haircut as her and started shopping everywhere she shops, and then I stole her husband. After that, I got arrested.
Wait, no, scratch the husband bit. That was a movie I saw once. But most of the rest of it is true, for realz.
Thanks for having me and for asking such great questions! This was fun.
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Ruthie has offered to send one lucky reader an e-copy (format of winner’s choice) of About Last Night. To enter, leave a comment letting me know what you’re romance hero Frankenstein’s monster would look like, along with an email address so I can contact you if you win. Contest is open until midnight, October 5.