Talented romance author, Kat O’Reilly, joins us today to share a little about writing romance.
Hey Kat, thank you so very much for joining us this month. As you know, we’re all about “Romance and Relationships” at Writer’s Round-About this February and with Valentine’s Day just last Sunday, love is still on many of our minds.
1. You’ve written a series of historical romances already, what inspired you to begin these novels and to write in the historical romance genre?
Honestly? I had a dream that started the first book, “Kiernan’s Curse”. Half of the dream is the opening of the prologue. The other half is later on in the book. That’s really pretty much why I started writing the books. From the way Kiernan was dressed in the dream, I knew it had to be historical, but I didn’t know what era, so I had to do quite a bit of research to find that out.
2. There is at least one key relationship in any romance, what is involved in developing the relationship between your hero and heroine?
Mutual attraction brings them together initially and that does remain, but there has to be something more. And it’s not always about chemistry. No relationship is without conflict, so a big part of why they’re together is how they work things out. It’s different for each one, but the key is that they grow individually and as a couple with each one.
3. What do you think is the most important aspect a character needs to truly connect with your readers?
Likeability. Even the antagonists need to have at least one likeable trait. You hear about characters people love to hate. That’s because there was something the readers identified with that they actually liked in the character even if they (thought they) hated them.
4. Do you find this aspect is also what brings your Hero and Heroine together?
Definitely! If the hero & heroine weren’t likeable, there’d be no reason for the story.
5. Although the romantic relationship between your Hero and Heroine is the most significant in a romance novel, do you think it is important for the characters in romance novels to have relationships with additional characters? How do these other relationships benefit the story?
Again, definitely! Without the other relationships, the story is flat and readers don’t really get to know the characters as people. That’s important to me in books I read, so I want to give the same feeling in my books.
6. Recently, you mentioned that your current work-in-progress, “Trevor’s Triumph might be the steamiest of the three…”, what makes a romance novel “steamy”?
I have a friend/mentor who would say the “smut factor” makes a romance novel steamy.
Sexual tension definitely contributes to the steaminess of it. Some romance novels stop there. I don’t. I actually go behind closed doors. In the beginning of the book, if Trevor lived in modern times and were a woman, he’d be called a slut. He meets the woman he’s supposed to be with and immediately gets the hots for her. He respects her father, the head of another clan, so he doesn’t try to get into her skirts (yet), but he goes back home and gives himself a hand-job. That’s in chapter two. (I’ve had another hero do that, but not until quite a bit later in the book.)
I do my best to keep from including such scenes gratuitously, but I can’t give a guarantee that all of them (usually 2 per story, if that many) are absolutely 100% necessary.
7. One of the aspects that make romance novels distinctive is the broad variation of “love scenes“, from the tender caress, to the no-holds-barred sex scene. What do you think is most important when writing these kinds of scenes?
Even with a no-holds-barred scene, you’ve got to leave some things to the imagination. Otherwise, it borders on porn. While I might write erotic scenes, I don’t do porn. Some writers do (and I’ve actually read some that has been done well). I try to be erotic without being too smutty.
The most important thing in these scenes, other than the imagination factor, is if the scene works. How does a love scene work? If you get turned on. At a conference one time, I heard a romance writer (I can’t remember who at the moment) said if you get turned on writing the scene, your reader will when they read it. And you know the scene works.
8. What do you think is the true purpose of “love scenes” in romance writing?
I think it varies. Sometimes it’s meant to show that the main characters are sexually compatible. Sometimes it’s to show some character development. I try to do a bit of both in the scenes I include.
9. Reflecting on the novels you’ve written yourself, which lines stand out the most in your own memory? Why do you think you’re drawn to those in particular?
Do you mean actual lines I’ve written? That’s a tough one.
In “Navajo Rose”, which is a contemporary romantic suspense, it’s during the second intimate scene with Paige and Ricky. The first one, she panicked and made him stop. Here’s the bit from the second one that stands out the most for me:
- She squeezed lightly and smiled when he moaned. She did it again and sat up to give him a lick.
He stopped her then. â€œI canâ€™t do that right now.â€ It sounded as if someone else spoke. He had never heard his voice so husky.
â€œIf I start, Paige, I wonâ€™t be able to stop.â€
She frowned and growled at him. â€œIâ€™d kill you if you stopped right now.â€
His shaft jerked at her tone. â€œI donâ€™t have a condom.â€
â€œI donâ€™t care!â€ She squeezed again.
The key part of it is where he tells her he wouldn’t be able to stop.
10. Which book do you think has had the greatest impact on your romance writing? Why do you think it influences you so greatly?
I don’t think there’s one book in particular. There are four authors who do, though: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Karen Marie Moning, and Katie MacAlister. Each of them have some aspects that I try to learn from. With Sherrilyn & Katie, it’s their immediacy. With Karen, it’s her description. With Christine, it’s the closeness to her characters. (They all have great closeness, but with her Ghost Walker Series, it’s even more pronounced since they’re all somehow psychically enhanced.)
Here’s a little secret: The first sex scene I ever wrote, I read one of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s intimate scenes (I think it was in Dark Side of the Moon) as a kind of guide as to how to structure it. *s*
Thank you again for your time, Kat. I truly appreciate having this opportunity to share in your experiences. Writing for the romance genre can be particularly challenging but it’s a very popular theme and it has universal appeal. We all want to experience a little love in our lives. Writing romance must be a wonderful way to be immersed in the sensation of new love and the roller-coaster of romantic relationships.
What do YOU think makes a romance “steamy”? Have you read a love scene that really turned you on? What do you think is the true purpose of “love scenes” in romance writing? Have you ever written any of your own?