Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!
If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!
The Best In the World
I live and work in Sweden, land of ABBA, Björn Borg and Avicii. Also a country where the Romance genre is virtually unknown.
I know. It’s almost impossible to fathom. But in Sweden we have crime and women’s lit and a lot of literary authors (home of the Nobel prize, you know). But romance? Never ever heard of it. At the book store shelves you will find a few Nora Roberts, EL James and some Sylvia Day – sorted alphabetically under fiction. In supermarkets you will find your monthly Harlequin-releases. But other than that? Nothing. No romance-shelves, no knowledge about the genre, no romance books. Nothing. Zip. Rien.
I started to write my first novel in 2007. I was an ordinary working mom with a dream to write. I come from a literary background, but I didn’t want to write about anything other than larger-than-life love. I had read romances in English (Judith McNaught and Eloisa James) and decided to write the first Swedish romance novel. I was convinced everybody would love it. For I loved romance and therefore there had to be more readers like me. Well, there was, eventually. It took some time to find them, my Swedish romance-reading soul mates. I wrote three historical romances – and I got readers. For many years I was the only Swedish romance writer. It was rather lonely. Being the only one. It also meant that I spent a huge proportion of time to explain to every journalist, blogger and reviewer I met what romance actually is.
Oh dear, the bafflement and skepticism I have met.
It’s about LOVE, you say? (wrinkled forehead, trying to wrap mind around whole concept)
It always ends with an HEA? (saucer-eyes)
But, but … (giving up)
The SKEPTICISM I have met. The ignorance and the prejudice. But also the love, of course.
Over the years I have persevered. I have written romance, talked romance and taught romance. I have also written three contemporary romances and become an international bestseller. Today, in 2016 we are actually seeing something of a Swedish romance wave in my country. More publishers are translating and publishing foreign (mostly US and UK) romances. A handful of Swedish writers have begun trying their luck in the genre. And romance is being discussed. On blogs, in podcasts and magazines and even on television. Because the readers are there. And what wonderful readers they are! The romance readers: truly the best ones in the entire world.
Simona Ahrnstedt recommends:
Questions for the Author:
Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.
As I’m writing this piece the Swedish summer is at its most magical peak. The nights are light, the sun just touches the horizon before it starts rising. I sleep less and feel close to the nature. Magical, because we have such a harsh, dark climate most of the year. The summer nights are the most romantic you can imagine, seductive, happy, promising.
Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.
The person that I share the most magical romance-moments with is my ex-sister-in-law (my ex-husbands sister) Petra. She reads all my books, several times. She loves romance with an almost fierce passion and with her I can discuss every aspect of romance. What makes a hero sexy? What makes a heroine likable? What makes people vulnerable. I truly have had some of my very best romance-moments with Petra. It’s a powerful feeling, right? The female bonding over the shared interest in romance novels.
Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?
Swedish castles have to be the most magical, mythical places one can visit. We have medieval castles. Castles in the city. Castles from every century. If you ever come to Sweden, make time to visit one of them. My favorite is Skokloster, a baroque castle built in the 1670s. A white palace, built overlooking the inlet, with a fascinating history. And a café with amazing pastries.
Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?
I have so many favorite couples. As one does. But I would like to choose two constellations – to show the breadth and wide variety of romance. First: Royce Westmoreland and Jennifer Merrick in the Judith McNaught novel Kingdom of Dreams, a novel that introduced me to romance and a couple that set its own standard. Second: the lovely, wicked, sexy threesome Devi Malik, Marcus Callahan and Jace Callahan in Glutton for Pleasure, a novel by Alisha Rai. A modern must-read.
Tell us about your dream date.
Sweden is famous for its archipelago, the rugged cliffs of the west coast, and the soft, lush islands of the east coast. To sit in the sunset, on smooth cliffs, the salty water of the sea lapping at your toes, eating freshly grilled prawns, sipping pink champagne – that would be my dream date. At least if a lot of comfy pillows to sit on were involved.
Simona Ahrnstedt is generously giving away two copies of ALL IN, one to an international winner and one to a US reader. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the *Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST Aug 20, 2016. Good luck!
***International friends, be sure to include your country in your comment so we know to include you in the international drawing. Good luck!
(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)
Simona Ahrnstedt, born in Prague in 1967, is a licensed psychologist, a cognitive behavioral therapist and a swedish romance author. In the last couple of years she has pioneered the new wave of Swedish romance that is sweeping the country and she is passionate about.
Having studied film and languages as well as law, writing came easily to her. After publishing three historical novels she launched her first contemporary novel in 2014, ALL IN. It sold to 17 countries including the US, UK and Germany. Simona who is an avid feminist, and a passionate cheese lover lives outside of Stockholm with her two teenage kids and two incredibly stupid siamese cats. She is not a crazy cat woman. Yet.
Buy Simona Ahrnstedt’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!