Day 3 Susan Donovan – Joyful & Important Romance

Channeling Journeys of Love

“Write What You Know”

That’s among the first bits of advice a new author will hear, and I think it’s valid. But what if you aspire to write intergalactic alternate-reality erotica? Or, in my case, hot and funny contemporary romances? Did I have to experience everything I’ve ever written about? Goodness, no. I swear I never tried anything like that poolside/ spray cheese scene from my third novel.

Susan Donovan Book coverBut here’s what I will admit – I’ve walked the emotional path of every character I’ve ever created. I believe readers are smart, and they know when something doesn’t ring true in a novel. As romance authors, our job is to bring to life the whole emotional spectrum of love. The magnetic pull of sexual attraction. The exhilarating moment of decision followed by the tipping point, and the free-fall into passion.

Our job is to open a vein to convey the kind of dead-weight heartbreak that makes it difficult to ever trust again. We need to make the reader’s belly flip with anxiety at that moment the heroine professes love to a man she isn’t sure loves her in return. And, of course, every romance writer should know a little something about the joy and contentment to be found a committed, loving relationship.

I’ve been down every one of those roads. Sometimes more than once. I’ve had my share of fender-benders, flat tires, and empty tanks along the way, too. So by that definition, I suppose I do write what I know.

Romantic love is among the most joyful and important of all human journeys. We wouldn’t have a human race without it. At the same time, romantic love can be the messiest, most complicated, and maddening of all of our experiences here on earth (or in those intergalactic alternate-reality kinds of places.) And that’s why I love to write about love.


I recommend historical authors Celeste Bradley and Grace Burrowes (RARM 8/22), and contemporary author Robin Kaye. (Just as an aside, they are exceptional people in addition to being brilliant writers.) I also recommend newer contemporary authors Sugar Jamison (read her RARM content here) and Kimberly Kincaid.

Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

The second most daring thing I ever did was jump out of an airplane. Yes, I was given a parachute. The most daring undertaking of my life was my decision to become a mother. No one ever offered me a parachute.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I’ve always known I would be a writer, and newspaper journalism was my first career. I worked as a reporter in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Albuquerque, covering everything from crime to fluffy features to long-term investigative projects. All the while, I told myself I would have my first novel written by the time I was forty. One day I woke up and discovered I was thirty-nine, freaked out, and started typing.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

This is a tough one. In fact, I don’t think it should be legal to ask a writer that question. ☺ Like many people, novels and works of nonfiction routinely change my life by changing the way I see the world, myself, and others. I can’t limit it to one. A few do stand out, however.

When I read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women in fourth grade, I learned how deeply I could care about make-believe mockingbirdpeople. I was horrified when Jo dumped Laurie and married some old German dude. What had that girl been thinking?

I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as an adolescent, and I learned that a perfectly crafted novel did nothing less than define what it meant to be human.

I remember reading my first Barbara Kingsolver novel – The Bean Trees – and being humbled by the beauty and power of her writing.

After reading “ A Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I understood that a gifted novelist was like a great chef. He or she could mix ingredients and cuisines and add a dash of magic to create something completely new and delicious.

When I decided I wanted to be a romance novelist, I was scared because I wasn’t sure my sense of humor would be accepted by readers. Then someone suggested I read Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Crusie, and their writing gave me the courage to let go and just be myself.

Lately, the book that has had the biggest impact on the way I see the world is Eckhard Tolle’s The Power of Now. This tell-it-like-it-is book has been so important to me that it’s beat up, written on, and wrinkled. I should probably buy a version for my Kindle.

Susan Donovan is generously offering the first three titles in the Bayberry Island series—Christmas on Main Street, Sea of Love, and The Sweetest Summer—to one U.S. winner (apologies to international readers). She will also send the winner the fourth novel in the series – Moondance Beach – when it comes out in 2015! Entry form at the bottom of the page.

And don’t forget to enter the RARM Week 1 giveaway – A Month of Romance: 31 Novels from Berkley Romance authors.

Susan DonovanNew York Times bestselling author SUSAN DONOVAN’s novels have won accolades for their humor, characterization, and sexual tension – “brain candy for smart women,” as she calls it. A former newspaper reporter, Susan has written more than twenty novels and novellas that have been translated into dozens of languages. Her novel, TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, won Romantic Times Bookreviews Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2003, and THE KEPT WOMAN and NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL were RITA finalists.

She is a former newspaper journalist with degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She lives in Maryland with her family and dogs.

Buy Susan’s Books: 

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