...on how she creates her characters
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...on how she started writing
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...on what makes a romance novel
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This prolific scribe has more than 100 novels under her belt, from the shamelessly titled "Carnal Innocence" and "Brazen Virtue" to the ultimate in literary love triangles -- trilogies like "Born in Fire," "Born in Ice," and "Born in Shame" and the "Dream" series. Which one is her favorite? The one that's out now, Roberts always says.
Roberts' latest novel ,Sea Swept, is part of a planned trilogy
Anatomy of a Romance
The secret to writing a successful romance? Contrary to popular belief, says Roberts, there's no formula. However, she notes, there are a few key ingredients to the genre:
A love story
A happy ending
What's in a romance?
Blockbuster Nora Roberts on the art of the form
January 31, 1998
Web posted at: 12:15 p.m. EDT (1215 GMT)
ATLANTA (CNN) -- If anyone could write a romance, as conventional wisdom has it, the world would have run out of trees long ago. Take, for instance, the example of Nora Roberts. This wildly successful romance novelist has published more than 100 novels in her career, including six New York Times Best Sellers last year alone.
With such titles as "Genuine Lies" (Bantam, 1991), "Hidden Star" (Silhouette Intimate Moments, 1997), "Private Scandals" (G.P. Putnam's Sons,1993) and "Honest Illusions" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992) to her name, Roberts intends to keep stocking the shelves in 1998, beginning with "Sea Swept" (Jove), the first novel in a trilogy about three men united by an extraordinary family bond.
How does Roberts manage her prolific pen? CNN's Bobbie Battista talked with the author recently about the art of romance. Following are excerpts of their conversation:
BATTISTA: Well, you have to be the queen of modern-day romance. ... How do you keep up the pace?
ROBERTS: Oh, I really love my work. And I have a fast pace. That helps a lot. But I work every day just like a regular job -- six, eight hours a day.
BATTISTA: I have known people who have attended romance novel-writing
seminars. And I'm wondering, is it true that they stick to a fairly strict formula? And can you share any of that with us?
ROBERTS: No, actually, there is no formula. There is a framework, as there is with any genre. If you are going to do romance, obviously, you have to have a love story. And that has to be the focus of the book. And in a romance, we want that love story to end happily. ... There has to be conflict. There has to be emotional commitment. And there has to be sexual tension. That's it. Everything else is up to you, the writer.
BATTISTA: A lot of writers will probably think: "Well, I could probably write a romance novel." But it isn't that easy. ... What does it take?
ROBERTS: Well, it takes -- it takes a good story teller, first and foremost. Romance writing isn't different from any other ... sort of popular fiction in that -- plot, narrative setting, dialogue -- everything has to be there. You have to have good, interesting, strong characters. And for a romance, you have to have the dynamic between a man and a woman. You have to have a strong committed relationship and show that developing relationship throughout the book.
BATTISTA: Now the new book "Sea Swept" is largely about brothers, isn't it?
... Don't you usually have female heroines?
ROBERTS: No, not necessarily. ... This was a little different in that it is more from the male point of view. I like writing family stories. Of course, there's a strong central love story in "Sea Swept." But it's very much about the dynamics of three brothers and how one man -- their adopted father -- changed their lives, and the young boy that ... they promised to take care of for him.
BATTISTA: How did all of this start for you?
ROBERTS: In the blizzard of '79 is when I started writing. ... I live in the country in rural Maryland. And I was snowed in with my two young sons. They
were 3 and 6 at the time. And every day the radio came on and said there would be no morning kindergarten.
BATTISTA: Uh oh.
ROBERTS: Yeah, after several days of that, I think, "What am I going to do?" I never thought about being a writer. But I always had stories in my head. I thought everyone did. So at that point in my life, to keep sane, I took one of the stories in my head and I wrote it down. And everything changed for me. I realized that's what I wanted to do.
BATTISTA: We ask all of our authors this on the show before we say goodbye: We wonder what you are reading? What's on your bedside table?
ROBERTS: ... I just finished Karen Kijewski's new paperback release. ... I'm a big fan. She writes mysteries. And it's called "Honky Tonk Kat" (Putnam, 1996). It's a mystery series with a female protagonist. I like her work a lot.