I was pretty excited meeting all my favorite authors at RT16. When you read 15 books by a particular person, you feel very connected. You have been living in their imagined worlds and spaces for extended periods of time. Their particular Authorial Voice is in your head.
Sylvia Day was the first author I heard speaking in a session. She is kind of spunky and has a wry humor. I enjoyed her Crossfire books because although she uses the “damaged” hero/heroine trope, she emphasizes their survival and strengths in an authentic way. The session was on how to get the most out of the Convention for both aspiring and published authors. Sylvia Day served in the military and I totally would not cross her. She declared, “No going up to authors in the bathroom.” Yes, ma’am. She talked about pacing oneself at the convention, which I largely ignored and then crashed and burned by Friday night. She talked about self-publishing digital books while being a traditionally published author, which is a route a lot of the big authors are going down. Sylvia Day had rights returned to her for some of her early novels and she turned around and made them available as digital downloads on Amazon and other platforms with new covers. This is a hot new trend and one that really excites readers as they can finally read books that they have been unable to find for years. Other traditionally published authors are self-publishing eBooks so they can explore distribution avenues that they cannot with their publishing houses or to publish novellas, which are notoriously tough to make a profit on for a publishing house. The publishers are happy to let author’s self publish digital books as it helps function as publicity for the author’s other works. Sylvia Day works with her publishers so they can coordinate schedules effectively.
At a party one night, they had authors signing free books. I love strength training by hauling around armfuls of books while trying to drink wine. Hey, no one said this was going to be easy. Lynsay Sands was there and I sputtered with great intelligence “But I love your books.” She writes hysterically funny vampire books. I would call them light humor but there are sweet poignant moments in her books. Really. She demanded me to name a favorite title, which I hemmed and hawed about. I think I said “Single White Vampire” because Lucern (our handsome hero vampire) writes Paranormal Romance and falls for a high-strung editor from his publishing house. They end up at a Romance Writers Convention. OMG. Hysterical. Then we chatted about my favorite novella about Teddy, the Sheriff. Lynsay Sands said it’s harder for her with a novella because as an author she wants to keep going to expand the character but everything has to be perfect in a shorter space.
The next author with a stack of books and no one in line was Loretta Chase, a classic Historical Romance author. She has written about 25 books over the last quarter century. She writes beautiful novels with interesting women who often have professions or have jobs or have fallen on hard times. I just sort of stood there with my armful of books and wine glass while she eyed my tag and wrote my name in the book and signed it with a gracious smile and head nod. Gah! I am such a dork. She blogs on website called Two Nerdy History Girls. It’s all about the important stuff: whose wearing what and who is sleeping with who. Basically the history you want to steal to write a novel. Well sometimes. Currently they have a great piece on an ignored woman artist from the French Revolution (Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun) http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/
I think Nalini Singh put it best when I asked her about being at a convention where people shout out “I love you.” (that was me). She said she loves these conventions because people recognize her. Nobody pays her any attention otherwise. Her family is still vaguely suspicious of her so-called career as a writer. I don’t know if they know or appreciate what constantly being on the New York Times Bestseller list for years means. She said that Indian families tend to like more practical professions for their children. Hah – my mother wept when I went to Art School so maybe it’s more than just Indian families bemoaning their child’s career choices. Nalini Singh did start out as a lawyer but she said it bored her to tears. New Zealand is a casual and friendly country and small so no one is probably going to get excited about meeting you because they probably already know you.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips popped up several times. She kind of invented modern romance novels – well that’s what I think! She has been writing since the 80’s and her character are snappy smart women falling in love with strong men – lots of athletes. I think the heroines often save the heroes in her books. It’s a trope now, but she invented it. It was lovely to hear her talk about her books.
I already talked about Kresley Cole but since her books kinda ring all my bells….I will mention her again. People are always talking about the details and complexity in the “Immortals After Dark” series (16 books) focusing on a group of Valkyrie. She says she has a great spreadsheet. Yes, Kresley Cole is funny, cracking jokes and making naughty sotte voce jokes or sales pitches for her books. She is genuinely nice. “Sympathique” as the French would say. But there are dark threads running in her work and dark heroes and mad violence of other worldly battles. And yes lots of rocking sex. Her latest book Sweet Ruin is awesome.
I went to a lovely cocktail party hosted by the grand dames of small town romance – Robyn Carr and Susan Mallery. These ladies are prodigious authors and they write exceedingly well. Carr has 50 novels since the 80’s and Susan Mallery has written 80 since the 90’s. They write about normal working people in poignant situations falling in love. I am in awe of authors who can produce an amazing and entertaining novel in 4 months and do it 4 times a year. These women are craftsmen. Disciplined and Talented.
Now I have to get back to writing…..