You may not realize it, but you may be sitting next to a romance novelist right now.
They aren’t easy to spot in the wild. You won’t find them wearing feather boas, or flamboyant hats better suited to a British wedding (unless it’s Halloween). Many of them have full-time jobs, families, pets, and hobbies other than writing fiction. And they probably belong to AKRWA—the Alaska Chapter of Romance Writers of America (http://akrwa.com). The organization prioritizes mentorship of new writers as well as ongoing education in writing, publishing, and marketing for experienced scribes.
Meet a few of the romance authors living in the Anchorage/Eagle River area:
E.M. Shue writes in the romantic suspense, and likes reading “hot and steamy action/adventure”. Find her at https://authoremshue.com.
Maxine Mansfield has a touch of magic in most of her stories and writes in a variety of subgenres including Scottish time travel, contemporary, and fantasy erotica. Her website is https://www.maxinemansfield.com.
Tamsin Ley’s romances include fantasy and science fiction elements (“emotional world building is my jam!”). Read more about her at http://mates4monsters.com.
How long have you been writing?
EMS: I’ve been writing to share with people for only four years, but I’ve always enjoyed writing. In high school, I wanted to be a writer, but I was told there was no money in it and to get a real job. Now here I am writing part-time and working full-time. I love it!
MM: I have been writing now for approximately twenty years.
TL: My love of writing began in middle school after I came down with a terrible case of chicken pox and was housebound for two weeks. Mom and Dad wanted to limit my TV watching, so Dad brought me tons of library books (Andre Norton! Yay!) and when I was tired of those, I tried my hand at my own storytelling. However, I didn’t begin seriously writing until college, when I began writing my first novel as my senior thesis. That novel took me ten years to finish and will never be published because it’s so awful. I write much faster now!
Why did you choose the subgenre you write?
EMS: I love suspense. I tend to watch crime shows.
MM: Everyone needs a little magic in their lives, a little escape from reality for a short time. And who doesn’t wish for a second chance to start over or get something right this time?
TL: My first published novels under a different pen name were post-apocalyptic fiction with romantic elements, which is what I prefer to read (although I do love a nice, steamy alien romance). Since writing post-apocalyptic, I’ve learned that there are two kinds of writing: the story of my heart, and the story I can market. I love both kinds, but the story I can market takes the reader into consideration more heavily.
Do you write full-time? Are you otherwise employed? What other kinds of work have you done?
EMS: I write part-time. I work full-time at a local surgery center. I used to be an endo-tech, a travel agent, an admin assistant, and a volunteer firefighter.
MM: I work full-time in the medical field and have for the last thirty-seven years, but since my job allows me to work three twelve-hour shifts a week, it leaves me quite a bit of free writing time.
TL: I recently became a full-time author, but I have done everything from selling moose-nugget jewelry (yes, tourists in Alaska love them) to technical writing for a big corporation.
What are you writing now?
EMS: I’m currently writing book 5 of my series, Securities International.
MM: I am writing the third book in my time-travel romance series, A Love for all Time. It’s the story of a thirty-something woman who dies of cancer, and Fate transports her back to 1643 Scotland where she is given the chance to have the family she never had in her first life. My second time-travel novel, For the Love of a Highlander, comes out later this year. I also just finished a contemporary short called Destiny’s Diner. It’s a 5,000-word short snack coming out later this year from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press.
TL: I’m currently wrapping up my mermaid romance, A Mermaid’s Heart, which is book three in my Mates for Monsters series. I swap back and forth between my series, so in a couple of weeks, I will begin the third book in Galactic Pirate Brides. After that, rumor has it there is a gargoyle story in the works.
Share a fun fact about yourself or your writing.
EMS: My whole family helps with my writing. My husband takes me to test drive cars or shoot guns. He also helps me plan out fight scenes. My oldest daughter helps with researching guns and knives. My middle daughter is one of my personal assistants. My youngest helps me find music that fits my characters.
MM: I’m not sure how fun this is, but it will certainly tell you how weird and stubborn I am. At the time, I was the only person in the state of Ohio to go completely from kindergarten through graduation without missing a single day of school for any reason. Someone else has done it since then, a few years back, but it’s still something I’m very proud of.
TL: I suffer from extreme motion sickness and my husband says I have a negative sense of direction. I get sick on escalators and lost in shopping malls (not kidding!) One reason I love building new worlds is because it lets me explore exotic places without getting lost.
If you read romance and are looking for people to talk to about what you’re reading, the Chugiak-Eagle River Library is starting a romance book club which will meet the 3rd Saturday of each month at 3 pm starting in September. Read whatever you like in that genre, then come share with other romance readers!