Congratulations to Fiona Marsden who is a finalist in the 2017 RUBY Awards – nominated for her novella Swept Away, part of the Beautiful Disaster Anthology. Below, we chat to her about the romances that inspired her to write, and about those rumours about authors who write in pajamas…
Congratulations, you’re a finalist in the 2017 RUBY Awards! How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?
Disbelief. This is a prestigious award for published authors and I only have the one novella published, apart from short stories in the Little Gems Anthologies.
Please tell us about the story you’ve been nominated for. Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?
The title didn’t change, which is one advantage about self-publishing, I’m told. It fitted my brief to write a tsunami story. The story setting did change, however. When I was invited to join the anthology, I planned a historical but when the only other historical author dropped out of the anthology, it seemed better to do a contemporary.
Do you write romance books in secret, or are you loud and proud?
I love that I write stories and I love that they are romance stories with happy endings. I think being able to write a story for other people to read and enjoy is something to be loud and proud about.
Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or a vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?
This is a tricky one. So often a cover is the first indicator of what is inside. I like a broad range of romance genres so I’m good with most styles of covers. I do prefer a couple on the cover so long as they at least vaguely resemble the book characters.
What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
Those rumours about being in pyjamas all day, or in my case, a nightgown, are totally…true. Mostly. (I prefer you to visualise something glamourous and frilly like on the cover of a Gothic novel rather than a pink Big W t-shirt with a pair of flamingos on the front.)
Do you remember the first romance you read, the one that inspired you to continue reading and writing in this genre?
I think Georgette Heyer was the first author that inspired me to write romance. I started quite a few pieces of fanfiction based on her world during my high-school years. Back before fanfiction became an internet thing. I also wrote Anne McCaffrey fanfiction, not realising that they were romances.
Do you hide any secrets in your plot line that only a few people will find?
I’m sure there are heaps of secrets in my plots not even I know are there. My characters constantly surprise me.
How you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
Differentiate? Romance fiction makes me mushy, erotica makes me *cough* warmish, porn makes me nauseous.
Naughtier? Another tough question. I think readers are wanting real life situations from the relationships they read about, with that added element of fantasy. We are much more open about what goes on in the bedroom these days and readers are aware that for most relationships, the bedroom is where a lot of significant growth occurs in the relationship. I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t uncommon for a couple to marry without taking the relationship into the bedroom so romances didn’t need to go there.
More women read romance than men, but some men do. What do you know of your male audience? And why do they read you?
I’m only aware of one man who has read my novella. He says he likes romance because he’s an old softy.
What advice would you give aspiring romance writers?
Just keep writing. Allow yourself to be depressed or disappointed when you are knocked back but get back up and keep writing. There are so many options these days that eventually you will be published. But don’t be that writer who self publishes the first half-baked, unedited story you write. You can do better.
Thank you for answering our questions, Fiona!
Beautiful Disaster Anthology
Beautiful Disaster is a collection of six contemporary romances from rising names in the romance genre and talented newcomers.
Swept Away by Fiona Marsden - Swept apart by the force of a tsunami, Sean and Sophie have fought their own battles to survive. Now they must confront the challenges caused by the decisions they made separately, if they want to be together again.