Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Author Spotlight - Claire Robyns

Today we welcome one of Carina Press' launch authors, Claire Robyns. Claire's historical romance novel, Betrayed, is now available on-line here. I am especially delighted to be introducing Claire as she is a fellow South African (albeit living now in England).

Claire, thanks so much for joining us here today. Now let's get onto those Minxy questions ...

Where were you in your writing career five years ago?

I’d been concentrating on writing and submitting category romances (no luck yet), learning the craft with shorter titles and spending a lot of time in the eHarlequin forums. Interestingly, it was around 5 years ago when we moved from South Africa to the UK, I had several months off work to settle the family in and grabbed that opportunity to try my hand at a longer length book and started writing Betrayed.

Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?

I’ve always loved reading historical romances. After a writing session where I was once again trying to rein in those pesky secondary characters, it struck me that historical romance is the one genre where intruding secondary characters are welcome and Betrayed was born. Literally. The title came to me first, and I built my story and characters around that. Most of my plots come to me as a title or single-line blurb, and then I weave the story and characters to fit in. My writing life would be a lot easier if the full story came first in a dream and I just had to think up a good title to match.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years' time?

My ultimate dream is to be a full-time writer. Not because I hate the day-job, but because I love writing more and there are just not enough hours in a day. That’s what I hope for, anyway. What I know for certain is that in 5 years I’ll still be writing because I cannot imagine not doing it.
Betrayed is also my debut book, so I hope to have built up a backlist of sorts in 5 years time.

Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Not the whole book, just these few lines…
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
I never even saw it coming.

I can’t get over how those lines hooked me in while I was flipping through the book in the bookstore. If I could ever have that effect on my readers, I’d be a happy gal!

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be an author?

I could give you a long list of authors I love… Karen Marie Moning, Judith McNaught, Virginia Henley, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Liz Fielding, Trish Wylie… I’d better stop now, but the list is nowhere complete.

But I’d have to say that all authors out there made me want to be a writer, because it was my passion for reading that one day turned into a passion for writing… and that started when I was about 6 years old reading The Secret Seven and The Famous Five.

Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy - or neither?

I used to find the idea of writing love scenes cringe-worthy, but when I eventually wrote my first one, I found that it wasn’t at all.

Currently I’m finding the idea of readers reading my love scenes cringe-worthy, friends and family in particular – hopefully once Betrayed is released and being read, I’ll discover that it isn’t at all.

What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?

Ooh, this is an interesting one, because I didn’t particularly find it romantic at the time. My husband proposed by tossing the engagement ring into the deep end of the pool and suggesting we go for a swim. It was the middle of winter.

Me: Are you crazy? It’s the middle of winter.
Him: It’s refreshing.
Me: I don’t think so.
Him: Just give it a try. Come on, it’ll be fun. Don’t you trust me?
Me: Um, no!
And so it went on until he was finally forced to admit what he’d done and that this was actually a marriage proposal. I should add that we had a couple of friends around at the time for a dinner party.
Me: What? You’re asking me to marry you?
Him: If you—
I have no idea how that sentence ended. I was underwater. He joined me and we had to dive a couple of times to find the ring, lol.

Thanks to a few too many glasses of wine, afterwards I actually thought it was a pretty fun way to propose. It was only years later, once we’d been married for a while, that I started to regard that proposal as truly romantic. Because it was so typical of my husband. Everyone who’s known him in Cape Town jokes about his tendency to swim all year round, usually in the middle of the night. And he made sure our close friends been invited that evening to share the moment with us.

Now when I think back on that proposal, I get a warm smile in my heart that I would not feel had he done something totally out of character like take me to a fancy restaurant.

What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were published?

Well, this is something I’d been told many times, but never really believed it: The fear of rejection doesn’t stop once you’re published.

Now I know it’s true.

In fact, I’m dreading rejection now far more. Before, it was only a nameless face writing a form rejection slip out there somewhere. No one beside me knew about it or cared. But now I’m worried about a reviewer slamming my book on a public blog. I’m worried that readers will hate it, or worse, what if no one bothers to actually buy my book? Will my publisher realize too late that they made a huge mistake in thinking my writing had any merit? Will my editor love the next book I’m working on or will she totally hate it?

The fear of rejection doesn’t end when you’re published. Believe it!

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Take what good you can from a rejection and then toss it aside and don’t look back. If you’re a writer, you’re going to get rejected again and again and again. It’s not easy to keep the belief in yourself and it’s important to remember that every rejection is subjective and not necessarily based on the quality of your writing and story content. I had this repeated to me many time over through the years and it really helped to keep me believing in myself.

Tell us about your latest release.

Betrayed is a medieval Scottish romance set in the reign of the first King James I, shortly after his release from England.

Two Feuding Families
Amber Jardin has no taste for the bitter feud started before her father’s banishment. But now that he’s passed, she’s had to return to Scotland and his barbaric people. After her bloodthirsty uncle kidnaps one of the family’s rivals, Amber is in turn captured by Krayne Johnstone, the enemy laird. Despite their enmity, their attraction is immediate—and unfortunate, as Amber has sworn to escape.

One Lusty Temptation
Krayne is amazed at the wildcat’s repeated attempts to flee. He should steel himself against her beguiling ways—yet with time, he is driven more witless with lust. When the ransom exchange fails and Krayne is left with Amber, he finds he cannot tolerate the thought of her with another man—and she cannot tolerate the thought of returning to her uncle’s home.

Will passion and love win out over mistrust and betrayal in time to prevent an all-out war?

Krayne Johnstone became laird of Wamphray at the age of 12. He’s a man shaped by the harsh land. His heart is for pumping blood to his sword arm and nothing else. Before he could even start to fall in love with Amber, I had to teach the poor man what love is. But he is honorable and noble, and he has excellent reasons for distrusting scheming women.

Amber Jardin has led a pampered life in England and is totally unprepared for the barbaric realities of Scotland. But she’s not one to simper and bemoan her fate. She’s determined to shape her future and use whatever means on hand to do it. In this case, it’s her body. Amber is not perfect, far from it, but then I’ve never liked my heroines flawless. I don’t necessarily approve of everything she does, but I admire her courage and determination.

You can read an excerpt at

What's next for you?

I’m currently working on another medieval Scottish romance, although this is not a sequel. Different set of characters, and set in the reign of Queen Mary of Scotland.

Well, it’s been fun and thanks again to the Minxes for having me here.

Betrayed is available now from, on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

You can connect with Claire Robyns on


Sally Clements said...

Hi Claire, great interview! And your proposal story was lovely, as you say a truely romantic one. Really looking forward to getting my hands on betrayed, and congratulations on your sale!

Maya Blake said...

"His heart is for pumping blood to his sword arm..." Wow, Claire, that powerful statement alone makes me want to read Betrayed! Thanks so much for joining us today. I also loved your most romantic proposal! Good luck with your writing xx

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Swimming in a Cape Town winter? You *really* must have wanted that engagement ring!! Lovely story, though! :):)

I'm sure you won't be getting those rejections you fear! Betrayed is a great book.

Also laughed at the cringe-worthiness of family and friends reading the love scenes you've written. Pretty daunting thought, I must admit!!

Good luck with your current writing project.

Claire Robyns said...

Hi Sally, I really do treasure that proposal now, especially when I think how hard my poor husband had to work to try and get me into the pool. He so badly wanted me to dive in and "find" the ring in the bottom of the pool by surprise - lol, he's just lucky the creepy crawly didn't eat it up

Thanks Maya, the nicest compliment you can give an author is considering some of their words a "powerful statement"

Judy, yeah, swimming in CT. When I first met my husband, his "thing" was to strip (after many, many drinks) and go midnight swimming - summer and winter. I've never been drunk enough to consider jumping in with him and he always used to be me to do it, said it was refreshing HA HA Anyway, I guess he decided that if he was going to propose, I was going to finally cave in and go or that mid-winter swim
As for my mother, I'm "forgetting" to remind her that Betrayed has released. The problem is, if I tell her not to read it, then she'll go straight out and buy the book to see what her daughter has been getting up to.

Thanks for the well wishes everyone, and thank to the Minxes for inviting me over today!

Janet Ch said...

Hi Claire,

What a great proposal story. Will it ever find it's way into a book or do you plan on concentrating on historical novels?

"I’m worried that readers will hate it, or worse, what if no one bothers to actually buy my book?"

I've read it and I loved it. It's a gripping story and word of mouth will get you lots of sales.

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Loved your interview, Claire. Betrayed sounds fantastic - can't wait to read it.

Claire Robyns said...

Janet, you've given me an idea *evil grin* wonder how well it would work for a Scottish laird to drop the ring in the nearest lake, lol, suppose nobody would ever find the thing again.

Suzanne and Janet (and everyone else), thanks for your words on Betrayed, I keep these comments close to my heart whenever the doubts set in

Joanne Coles said...

Your story sounds wonderful, Claire.

As for your husband, I have severe jealousy--as proposals go that must be one of the loveliest I've ever read. A definite keeper ;-)