MJ Williamz interviews Renee Roman:
I just finished Stroke of Fate. What an excellent book! Congrats on your second novel.
I really enjoyed Epicurean Delights, your debut book, but man! Stroke of Fate was even better. What did you learn between the two books that led to the even stronger character development?
Thanks! I appreciate your enthusiasm. As for what I learned from my first…a ton. Submersion is the best word to describe how I grew with character development. I had to get inside their heads, become them, feel what they felt. I had a little of that with my first book, but I think I got it with the second.
And who do you credit for that learning?
This might sound a bit egotistical, but I have to take credit for being dedicated to the craft of writing. To wanting to learn and grow and get better every time I pick up a pen. My two editors, Victoria Villasenor and Cindy Cresap, gave me great examples during edits which are paramount to the way I learn. I need to see it. See how to fix it and see why it does or doesn’t work as written. Both provided those tools.
Where did your idea come from? An author and her bodyguard. What an awesome combination.
As an aside, I identify first drafts of manuscripts by the theme or occupation of one of the characters. I started with Jade Rivers, the author. I saw her as cocky, self-assured with women, out and proud. As for her counterpart, I like strong (both physically and mentally) characters, and there will likely be one in most of my books. Women who are confident and in control. I tried to think about what that woman would look like. How would she act? What about her past would shape how she interacts with Jade? Enter Sean Moore. She was everything Jade wasn’t and vice versa. Their differences made them compatible…in and out of the bedroom.
Had you been working on this one for a while? Or did it pop into your head after your first?
I’ve been writing since grade school. But it wasn’t until I realized how passionate I was about it and got serious around ten years ago. I started writing Stroke of Fate four or five years ago. The basics were there. The story line, the story arc, etc. Although (laughing) at the time I didn’t know the correct terms for a lot of what I was doing. Since my first publication I’ve come up with three or four ideas. We’ll see where they lead.
Let’s discuss research. I love it. It’s my favorite part of writing. How do you feel about research and how did you research for Stroke of Fate? Particularly Sean and her occupation and history?
Unfortunately, I am not a fan of research, though I know in many cases it’s very important. Jade was easy for the most part, although there were some characteristics I took from many different individuals. Sean was another story. I had to google and read about the Secret Service, their role in our nation’s security, where they originated, on and on. Though there wasn’t a lot about her training or time, it was integral to knowing what caused her to act, and react, the way she does. That’s the lesson I’m learning now—giving depth to characters. I’m getting there and I’m grateful to my readers for coming along on the journey with me.
Stroke of Fate was an intrigue rather than pure romance. Why branch out?
Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t fit into a box. I dislike people being categorized, especially me. I write what moves me. I don’t think about “I’m going to write a romance” or “I’m going to write an intrigue.” I write where the story takes me. A true pantser at heart!
Which was more fun to write?
That’s a tough question. If a project wasn’t fun, I’m not sure I’d be able to see it through. I enjoyed writing them both for different reasons. A pure romance is easier in that there’s one story arc to concentrate on instead of two because a romantic intrigue demands both the romance and the intrigue need equal time. Equal emphasis.
What made you decide to try your hand at intrigue?
Your guess is as good as mine! LOL. It was part of my what-if process, which happens as I write. If I feel the story becoming slow, I ask what-if questions until it feels right.
What do you plan to focus on in the future? Romance? Or Intrigue?
I’ll focus on the story, whatever genre that might be. I’m like a leaf in fall. I go in whatever direction the wind takes me, so we’ll see what the future holds.
Is there another genre you’d like to write a book in? What would that be?
An erotic novel is definitely in my future. I have one idea I’ve been playing with in my spare time (ha-ha) and have about 20k words. We’ll see where it goes. I’d also love to do a first-person novella but I’m just beginning to feel comfortable writing shorts in that point of view, so it will be a while yet. I’d like to find a tutor to help develop that skill first.
Since I’m lucky enough to call you my friend, I know you always have a book going. But, for your readers, how many books do you have scheduled at this point?
You know me too well. I have a short story in the Bold Strokes Books anthology, Escape to Pleasure, due out in January. My third novel, Where the Lies Hide, is another romantic intrigue and is due out in August 2019.
How do you find time to write these excellent books? Are you a full time author?
I long to be writing full-time, but alas, I have bills to pay. I write every day on one thing or another. I work well under the pressure of deadlines, so I will occasionally drag my feet. If I get stuck on a WIP, I’ll write a short, or work on character sheets, or some other project. As long as I’m writing, I’m happy. My wife and friends are used to seeing me with my writing wherever I go, and they are a great support system.
Let’s talk sex, because I’m all about that. There wasn’t a lot of sex in your book, but what was there was very well done. The sexual tension between Sean and Jade was palpable and well maintained throughout the book. What’s your secret? How do you keep the tension ramping up from chapter to chapter?
Asks the erotica author…lol. I don’t have a secret. Sex…sex scenes, and even the intent or desire for sex, is organic for me. When it feels right, I put it in. I don’t write sex just because—there has to be a reason. A spark, if you will, that motivates the characters into each other’s arms. Or at least the temptation of being in each other’s arms, even if it doesn’t happen. When the characters get close to having sex and then it doesn’t happen, and the reader wants to scream, “Just do it for goodness’ sake,” I consider that a great sex scene.
The use of strap-ons was appreciated, at least by me. And I liked the way they each asked for consent. It really added to the scenes. Was it important to you that they had permission? Why or why not?
Funny you bring this up. Another author recently asked about permission. I don’t specifically make a note about asking permission, but I’ve gone back through a number of sex scenes I’ve written and found there’s some form of permission in most, especially when something different is introduced, like a strap-on. Some women like them, either giving or receiving, some don’t. But I do think it’s important that every woman, and man, understand they have a right to consent as well as to ask for what they desire. It makes sex all the better for it.
Your sex scenes were organic and felt so natural. Is it easy for you to write sex scenes? Why or why not?
I have to be in the mood (pun intended) to write sex scenes. I’ll play different scenarios in my head, thinking about what would work mentally and physically for the two characters. I probably write a small number of scenes in my books because as opposed to real-life, written sex can be repetitive. I totally get why—there are only so many ways to have/perform sex—but I don’t like to read the exact same action(s) more than once. When I have a good idea what I’d like to write, I get to it and include different nuances. Though, to be honest, sometimes the characters lead me into a totally different direction that’s more effective, which is great!
What was your favorite part of Stroke of Fate to write? Why?
I have a number of them, but I think my absolute favorite is in the beginning of the first chapter when Sean has dropped Jade off at the airport and is on her way to Kyle, a woman she sees to take care of her physical/sexual needs. It sets the tone of Sean’s character and how she handles herself and her desires.
What’s your favorite book that you’ve published or are scheduled to have published? Why is it your favorite?
I just signed a contract with Bold Strokes Books for book number four. I’ve been intimately involved with these characters for a long time (years) and I can’t wait to bring them to life in a fully developed novel.
Who inspires you? In your day to day life? Other Lesfic authors? Romance authors? Intrigue authors?
Inspiration surrounds me. Every day I find another reason to write, whether it be based on a person, place, or thing. I believe creativity is about being open to the world and all the joy, pain, and everything in between it has to offer. That’s life, we just retell it in fiction in a way that pleases us, personally. That’s what I do. As for authors, how much time do we have? First, I owe my newfound career to Radclyffe. Not only in her writing and as a publisher, but through her encouragement and tutelage. I’m not going to single out authors by name. Let me just say each one contributes to the escapism that we all seek.
If you could curl up with any book ever written, what would it be? And why?
Ha! I grew up on Stephen King, but the older I got the more nightmares I had, so he’s no longer #1, though he’s brilliant at what he does. If I had time I’d revisit The Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel. She crafted an evolutionary world that I was fascinated by.
Where can readers find you? Do you have any events scheduled?
I’ll be doing an Albany area reading in early spring, though the place and date are still being discussed, so stay tuned. In the months ahead, I’m planning to attend the GCLS Conference in July in Pittsburgh, PA, and Women’s Week in Provincetown.
What about in Cyberspace? Where can readers find you online?
Readers can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and at my website as well as at my publisher, Bold Strokes Books. Readers can email me to talk about books, or the craft, or just to say hi.
MJ, I want to thank you for a great Q&A session and a huge thank you for spreading the word about how much you enjoyed Stroke of Fate. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting. Especially, thank you for being my friend. Peace and Love…Renee