Kate Cuthbert, Editor, Booktopia Romance Buzz:
Victoria Dahl is an author to watch, and one of the most exciting new voices in romance. (Also, I think she’s groovy because she helps feed my insatiable appetite for hot, fun contemporary romance). What’s even better is that she writes both historical and contemporary romances, so it’s really reader’s choice for how you’d like your Dahl fix. She’s got two novels out this August, and she stopped by to answer our Nine Naughty Questions.
Nine Naughty Questions
1. I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.
I can’t speak for others, but I was definitely made. I’m shamefully unromantic for a romance writer. I don’t like mushiness and I’ve forgotten my anniversary for several years in a row now. But I started reading my mom’s romance novels when I was twelve, and I was hooked! The drama and torture and sex! I loved it all.
As further evidence, I always knew I wanted to be a romance writer, but I didn’t have any romantic notions about my chances. So I majored in business in college and worked in finance and banking until I started writing full time.
2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?
A little bit of my life goes into every book I write, but I wouldn’t say I ever feel exposed. What I really feel is touched. Often-times, the most personal experiences seem to resonate with readers, and some of the letters I get bring me to tears, especially when they deal with the struggles of my heroines. I believe passionately in writing imperfect heroines, and each of them means something different to each reader depending on her own experiences. That means so much to me.
3. Please tell us about your latest novel…
I have two books out this month! The first is an historical, It’s Always Been You, which is the second in my York family series. I love a tortured hero, and Aidan York has had his share of heartbreak, but anything seems possible when he’s reunited with his first love, Kate Tremont. But nothing is as simple as it seems, and Kate has to convince him that they have no future together. But even the most dangerous of secrets can’t stop her from responding to his touch…or his love.
My newest contemporary, Good Girls Don’t, is out on August 31st, and it’s the first in the new Donovan Brothers Brewery series! Tessa Donovan has her hands full. Her younger brother’s playboy ways are threatening the business, and the tensions could tear her tight-knit family apart.
In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their “baby” sister. Especially a dangerous police detective like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumours about Luke to the man beneath, and she’s determined to convince him that she’s not as sweet and innocent as she seems.
4. Is the life of a published romance writer… well… romantic?
No. N-O. It’s hard work and late nights. It’s juggling laundry, dishes, and vomiting children while writing an impossibly hot love scene. It’s going six months without a haircut because you have two books due and a family vacation to plan. In other words, it’s no more romantic than any other full time job, with the added stress of not getting paid for the first year or two. Or ten.
5. Of all of the romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?
I can’t say that I have one specific romantic moment that I look to. For me, love is about respect, above all else. And respect is a daily activity between lovers. It’s not something that comes and goes. It’s not showy. It’s not dramatic. It just is.
6. Sex in romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can’t see a thing’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?
Personally, I need there to be some sexual tension, at least. An acknowledgement of that need and desire. If that isn’t there, then it’s not romantic love, it’s friendship, and I can make new friends any time I like. *wink* My personal reading preference is hot, but I’ve read amazingly sexy books that never show anything more than a kiss. And I’ve read frightening explicit books that didn’t move me at all. But ideally…I want to be reading with wide eyes and flushed cheeks. LOL
1. As You Desire by Connie Brockway. This book was the revelation I needed to write characters who are imperfect and make real mistakes. Connie Brockway gave me the courage to write people I really wanted to read about.
2. Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols. Jennifer’s writing blows me away. Her smart humour and amazing words make me want to be a better writer.
3. The Gift by Julie Garwood. I have no idea how many times I read this book as a girl. I loved that Julie Garwood wrote historicals that were FUNNY. You can never have too much laughter in your life.
4. Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I hated the hero and heroine for the first couple chapters of this book, but I was entranced. I could NOT figure out how the author was going to redeem these people and make them sympathetic and worthy of love. Ms. Phillips really rocked my world and opened my eyes to deep and complex characterisation.
5. Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. This was my favourite romance for years and years. I bawled my way through the ending so many times. I still remember so many things about it. This book helped shape my love of romance.
8. Paranormal Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?
I think it’s easy to lose yourself in a paranormal, just as it is in historicals. It’s another world. It’s a journey and an escape from day-to-day reality. And there are so many permutations and possibilities, that there is something in the genre for everyone!
9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
Just write. Write that first book even if it’s terrible. Every page is practice, and if the first book sucks, the next one will be better. And the one after that? Even better. It’s the only way to learn and grow. My unpublished manuscripts aren’t failures; they were necessary steps, and I’m proud of the work. We all should be.
Victoria, thank you for playing.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to join you for the day!
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.