Today, I’m Interviewing Romantic Suspense Author, Robena Grant, whose new 3-book Desert Heat Series begins releasing this month with the first book, Unlock the Truth. Robena writes contemporary romance about ordinary women who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Travel and discovering new places brings her great pleasure, and she often includes these discoveries in her stories. She is Australian by birth, lives in Southern California, and has two grown children. Robena may be contacted at: www.robenagrant.com where she blogs weekly, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
So, Roben, tell me: When did you first begin writing romance?
I started writing in 2000. I thought that I was writing romance but soon discovered (when I joined RWA) that what I’d written were two women’s fiction novels. I tried for several years to write for Harlequin, but my stories were too long and never fit cleanly into a line. I was always crossing genres. Then about three years ago I developed an interest in romantic suspense, and wrote the Desert Heat series.
How do you get ideas for your stories?
My ideas come from observing something or hearing something said. My mind then takes whatever it was and toys with it. Before I know it I have the beginning of story. I really enjoy observing human nature and for me the character generally shows up first, then I put him or her in an appropriate setting and it takes off from there.
Which writers have influenced you?
Jenny Crusie, for her ability to make me laugh about the most ordinary of situations, Pat Gaffney for her pure writing brilliance, and Amy Tan for introducing me to a culture that I know little about but showing that the human condition changes little from one culture to another.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished a contemporary romance with a European influence, and I’m halfway through a second one, and although I’d intended writing no more suspense, there is a suspense trying to insert itself. ; )
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Sitting in the chair, and not because I don’t want to write, or don’t have enough new ideas, but because I have low back pain issues. I’ve tried writing standing up but can’t do that for long periods of time.
Do you have any special quotes or sayings that you keep visible in your work environment to help inspire, motivate, and encourage you?
“Don’t be defeatist it’s very middle class.” ~Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, Downton Abbey~
“Hope…the thing with feathers.” ~Emily Dickinson~
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a writer?
“Every love story, buddy story, partnership story, is about the exchange of gifts: emotional, spiritual, or personality, and they come from the character’s strongest traits.” This quote was taken from a course that I took from Laurie Hutzler, Media Consultant for film and television.
What advice do you have for a new aspiring writer?
Don’t try to write like anyone else. Don’t be afraid to let loose and put your true feelings on the page. You’re offering the reader something of value…a little piece of you.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
Travel is my number one joy. Reading is a close second, because if I can’t afford the first I can always travel in my mind if I have a good book.