Squawk Radio

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ELOISA ON THE CHALLENGES OF WRITING

The State (Columbia, S.C.) is running a review of TAMING of the DUKE this week. Here's how it opens:

"Eloisa James doesn't shy away from a challenge. In the third book of her Essex sisters series, she matches a character portrayed in the first two books as selfish, whining and overbearing with a slovenly drunkard with a pot belly."

When I began to read the first paragraph I got that "Alert! Alert!" siren sound that an author gets when they start to read a bad review. It's the kind of alert that I imagine you'd feel in a sinking submarine: RUN! -- quickly followed by, EEEk! Nowhere to Run!

A second later I calmed down and realized I was being complimented. I got to the end of the review and discovered that the reader really loved the book (grin). And then, finally, I realized that the reviewer had gone straight to the heart of something I deeply believe as a writer: you must continue to challenge yourself. If in your very deepest soul, you're not a little unsure that your heroine and hero can grow and learn enough to be together, then your readers won't be unsure either.


And if your reader's not unsure...what's the point of reading? The deliciousness of a romance is knowing that a certain couple will fall in love (because it's a romance) but being unsure that they will really overcome the odds to get together. Without uncertainty, the reading experience would be like reading a mystery in which it turns out the dead guy just fell down a stairs and there was no murderer. Talk about a let-down! If my hero and heroine are perfectly balanced, rational and rich people who adore each other from page one...why keep reading? They'll be in bed by page eleven, and you'll be asleep, with the book falling from your fingers and landing on the floor. For me, the challenge is everything in a romance, perhaps because I consider myself just as much a reader as a writer.

So I have a two part question: Is there any part of your job in which you have to dive into the unknown, unsure whether it will "all work out"? And, as a reader, which romance have you read lately that made you the MOST unsure that things would actually work out?
Eloisa James, 2:17 PM
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