This week, the Minxes are very happy and honoured to have with us Harlequin Presents author, Lynn Raye Harris. Lynn won the Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction Competition in 2008 and has gone on to publish several books since that momentous event. She's also appeared on the USA Today Bestseller List
The Minxes put these questions to her: -
1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Five years ago, I was still aspiring to be published. I was living in Hawaii (I know: poor me, right?), and I’d joined the local chapter of RWA. Though I’d been a member of RWA for quite some time, this was my first local chapter. The inspiration and camaraderie were great, and I was working hard on my writing. (I was also writing my master’s thesis, but that’s another story!)
I’d finally settled on writing contemporary romance, after trying my hand at historicals, and I was having fun. I also met Jane Porter for the first time, when she came to our chapter and gave a talk, and I remember thinking how strong and intelligent she was. See, I’d always loved Harlequin Presents, but I’d stopped reading them during my college years because I’d let myself be convinced they were trash. And here was Jane, no fainting flower, who wrote these books. I promptly went out and bought a whole bunch and fell in love all over again. I still didn’t try to write my own until 2008, however.
2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
The Prince’s Royal Concubine sprang from the usual what-ifs that plague writers. Princess Antonella was a minor character in Cavelli’s Lost Heir, and I kept thinking that she deserved her own happy ending. She was so intriguing to me that I absolutely had to write her story. Where Cristiano came from, I have no idea – but I knew Antonella’s prince would be strong and ruthless and very, very focused on his goal. Once I got them together, the story just sort of magically happened. It was one of those books that comes relatively easy. That doesn’t usually happen to me, so I enjoyed every moment of it!
3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
I want to be writing Harlequin Presents, of course! I love these books. They are so intense, emotional and passionate, and they are tough to do well. Believe it or not, I find them to be quite a challenge! I would also love to write other books that are longer and have subplots. I have a range of ideas – from historical to paranormal to women’s fiction. What will get written and published is anyone’s guess, but I’d certainly like to try some of these other ideas out in addition to writing for Presents.
4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
It wasn’t a romance, believe it or not. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell. Gorgeous, gorgeous language. And such a compelling story! I couldn’t put it down. I wanted a different ending, but that doesn’t change the fact it was a great book.
5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
No. I always knew. It was just something I grew up wanting to do. I read a lot as a kid, and I wrote short stories. I also tried writing my first novel at fourteen. Unfortunately, being rather autobiographical, it was boring and short. I fizzled after chapter one. Though I read lots of Harlequin Presents back then, it simply never occurred to me to try and write one. Those were Real Authors with Exotic Lives and I was just a kid from the South.
6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
Neither. I love writing love scenes. That’s the moment at which the emotional boiling point of the story is reached. It’s not the black moment, but it’s when both characters are at their most vulnerable. It’s a mini-black moment of sorts, I guess. My love scenes have been described as hot and steamy by various reviewers, but I swear it’s the emotional impact I’m focusing on when I write them. The steamy factor is a by-product of the emotion as well as just something that happens to be my authorial voice. I do get a bit wound up about not writing the same love scene over and over, though. Each book is different, and I want to do the characters justice.
7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
Hmm, I don’t really know. My husband doesn’t do big dramatic moments, but he’s always been great about the little moments. Bringing home flowers for no reason, taking me to dinner without prior notice, buying me things I want just because I want them. He also never complains when I want to go away for writerly things – my chapter’s retreat, conferences, the RT convention – and I find that terribly romantic. He supports me in all I do, and that’s worth so much more than a big dramatic moment would be.
8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
Ha! I always thought, even though I’d been told differently, that getting a contract suddenly changed everything. That your doubts would go away. That you’d suddenly feel like you’d “made it.” Trust me, you are the same person after that offer as you were before. Granted, you are quite happy and giggly and it truly is the best feeling ever to sell a book, but the thing you need to know is that it doesn’t change everything. You simply trade one set of worries for another.
You’ll worry about your sales, about list placement, and whether or not your editor still loves you. You’ll worry that you can’t possibly write another book, that you’ve peaked early and your best work is behind you, that readers will hate you – it goes on and on.
See, one set of worries for another! Of course you want those worries when you are unpublished because that would mean you had sold a book. But believe me, when it happens, you’ll still get the same sinking feeling that rejections or contest scores gave you before you sold.
9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Never give up. Cut the backstory from chapter one. Never give up. ;)
10. Tell us about your latest release.
The Prince’s Royal Concubine is a story about surviving storms both literal and figurative. I really loved writing this book because it’s all about two characters learning to love and trust one another when they are the last people who should do so. Cristiano wants to end a war to assuage his guilt at losing his wife. Antonella wants to save her country to prove she’s worth more than she’s ever believed. But their goals are directly opposed, which means that one of them could be destroyed in the end.
Here’s the back cover copy:
Two glittering royal houses…
Prince Cristiano di Savaré hunts his prey by ruthless means. Tonight’s pickings…Antonella Romanelli, crown princess of a rival country and part of a dynasty he has every reason to despise…
…one majestic seduction
Antonella is rocked by Cristiano’s unexpected magnetism. But there’s ice in his wolfish smile… She’s far from the promiscuous, spoiled socialite he believes her to be, but Cristiano is here to persuade her into compliance. If bedding her is what it takes, then it will make his mission all the more pleasurable…
11. What’s next for you?
My next UK release is The Devil’s Heart, which is available now.
After that, I have a story in an anthology: Mills & Boon New Voices, coming in September. The same story that appears in the anthology, “Kept for the Sheikh’s Pleasure,” will also be out in North America in a Harlequin Presents 2 in 1 with Kim Lawrence in November. That collection is called Chosen by the Sheikh.
In January 2011, I have another UK release called Prince Voronov’s Virgin. This is a Russian set story! To read about any of my releases, including excerpts and my Behind the Book feature, visit me at http://www.lynnrayeharris.com/.