CataRomance chats to brand new Harlequin Superromance author Emmie Dark about sexy heroes, emotional romances and unforgettable books!
Thank you so much, Emmie for joining us here at Cataromance. Your debut novel, Cassie’s Grand Plan, was published in March. Could you please tell us what the book is about?
Cassie’s Grand Plan is the story of Cassidy Hartman and Ronan Conroy. Cassie, the operations manager for a chain of furniture stores in Australia, has a plan to get her life under control. First, she’ll get herself promoted. Then she’ll update her appearance. Steps three and four—marriage and family—well, those will have to wait until the work stuff is all sorted out. Then Ronan McGuire shows up. The sexy business consultant has the power to derail Cassie’s plans before she’s even really started—and he’s proving quite the distraction. If he doesn’t approve her promotion, she’ll be back to square one. Cassie needs to keep her focus on that first step, no matter how much Ronan tempts her to skip ahead to the third and fourth ones…
What inspired you to write Cassie’s Grand Plan?
The inspiration for Ronan and Cassie’s story came from a number of different places, but primarily it was based my own experience and that of my family. I grew up in a retailing family—my parents owned furniture stores for most of my life (they’re retired now) and my sister worked in a furniture store for a number of years. I grew up with conversations around the dinner table about deliveries and orders and customer service. I’ve had more of a corporate career, so I was familiar with the concept of audits and consultants coming in to review your work. From a plot perspective, I just took those two things and asked myself—what if a consultant came to review a chain of furniture stores?
What attracted you to writing category romance and Harlequin Superromances in particular?
I actually didn’t deliberately set out to write romance! When I first sat down to write some fiction, I was surprised to find that what I liked writing most were relationships – and I also liked to write happy endings. I suddenly realised, hey, this is romance! Then I went on a search for where my writing could best find a home. I hadn’t read category romance in a long time, but as soon as I picked up a couple and started reading again, I couldn’t wait to read more. I found SuperRomances really appealed to me – I liked a number of the authors writing for that line and I liked the style and subject matter. I’m so glad to have found a home there.
What are the challenges of writing for Harlequin Superromance?
The word count for SuperRomance is 85,000. I guess some people might see that as a challenge, compared to the typical 55k limits in other category lines. For me it’s actually a benefit – when I was targeting other lines, I always struggled to fit all I wanted into my stories! I think one of the key challenges with SuperRomance is to write a story that is real, relatable, and down-to-earth, while still bringing in the escapist, romantic elements that readers are looking for. I really love the true-to-life feel of SuperRomance and the fact that we steer away from some of the typical romance clichés.
What do you think accounts for the success and enduring popularity of romantic fiction?
I think it’s just that we explore the very “human” side of life – relationships, connections, love. I think that to say it’s “escapist” fiction sometimes does it a disservice, but that is a part of it – a chance to live in another world and get away from the everyday of life for a while. I also think the “happily ever after” plays a part – it’s nice to have some certainty about how you’re going to feel by the end of the book. The best authors make you work hard to get there. I love it when I’m reading and I think: “how are they ever going to work this out?”
What’s a typical day for Emmie Dark like?
Each day usually starts with a cup of tea and checking emails. Then I spend a decent chunk of time writing. Once I’ve got my daily word count done, it’s on to all the other business of the day (my non-writing job, as well as all the non-writing aspects of being an author!). Although I generally work in an office by myself, throughout the day I’m on the phone and I’m always on various forms of communication technology. Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest – you name it, I’m there. Like the characters in my upcoming book, I often enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day too. My most common errand during a typical day is to visit the post office. I’m on a first-name basis with most of the staff at my little village Australia Post store. They’re lovely.
What’s your all-time favourite romantic novel?
I absolutely cannot chose just one! I’m terrible at those “desert island” questions where you’re only allowed one song or one type of food too. I’m a variety junkie. Whatever I’ve liked this week, I’ll continue to love but I’ll find a new one by next week. I can tell you my all-time favourite romantic movie, though. “The Princess Bride”. I know, it’s not a terribly original choice, but it’s just such a wonderful film. “As you wish…”
Any advice for aspiring writers?
I remember hearing a quote ages ago that was something along the lines of “the key to success is being ready when your luck arrives”. I think it’s very astute. There IS some element of luck to getting published—you have to have the right story in front of the right editor/agent, at the right time. The real trick though, is that when the planets align in your favour, you have to be ready to grab that opportunity with both hands and don’t let go!
What’s next for Emmie Dark?
My second book with SuperRomance was published in August this year. It’s called “In His Eyes” and it’s a reunion story about two teenage lovers reunited after ten years, having been separated by a traumatic event. It’s set in a wine country, and my heroine, Zoe, is a winemaker, while the hero, Hugh, is the owner of a large wine conglomerate. I was able to use all the knowledge I’ve gained over long years of wine tasting to help write the book—I knew all that chardonnay drinking would come in useful one day! I also was lucky to gain invaluable insight from friends of mine who run their own vineyard and winery. That book is now done and I’m working on what I hope might be my third SuperRomance—I’ll keep you posted…
Thank you so much for joining us here at CataRomance, Emmie. If you want to find out more about Emmie and her books, visit her website at www.emmiedark.com