Guest Blogger…Lynne Connelly

Hey guys… the family and I head out today for Macon, GA.  We’re staying there tonight then we’ll head on to Savannah for the day, and head onto Florida on Sunday.  I’m going to try and pop in and post some pics when I can, but it may not happen.  However, I’ve got some guest bloggers dropping in for the next week or so.


Thoughts from Abroad

Although I live in the UK, I write primarily for the US market. It just happens that I write the kind of books that the US likes to read, though it took me an awful long time to work it out!

In the UK, the romance market consists of Mills and Boon. That’s it for pure romance, and we get the occasional US import. Nora Roberts is shelved under Mainstream, Laurel K Hamilton under Horror or S-F and Fantasy.

The majority of the stories are either sexy stories which the US reader would call erotica – the sexual journeys of several people, like the everpopular Jilly Cooper, or the saga, set in Victorian times, or more often, in the World Wars. They take a poor girl and show her struggle for respectability. Hardly ever is it rags to riches. Just dirt poor to a bit less poor, and in the process she usually finds someone to love. It’s also known as Clogs and Shawls, and the more recent books are Mis-Lit (misery lit).

I don’t write those. I do Georgian based historical romances and contemporary set paranormal romance. With sex. Often lots of it. That’s no impediment to the UK market, but the concentration on one couple is rare.

So I’m currently happily writing for the US market, and voraciously devouring US romances (thank you e-books, without them, getting my fix would be a major pain!)

There are some problems. Like you learn most things at first hand, by networking, just by being there. Or by belonging to a big organisation like the RWA and going to meetings. I’m not a member of the RWA currently, I belong to the RNA in the UK, because I can attend the meetings.

I fly across once a year, usually to attend Romantic Times. I have a wonderful time, and my editors, readers and friends can check me out in person. Yes, it’s expensive, but so worth it. I try to leave some time to visit the location, too, get a flavour of the place. I love visiting different parts of the US, not necessarily the parts that tourists visit, but last year I was lucky enough to stay with Kathryn Falk and Ken Rubin in New York and I had a wonderful time. I did all the tourist stuff, visited with agents and writers, and received a welcome like I never imagined. And during these visits, I’ve discovered the joy of travelling alone. It really is great fun. And it means I can stop to take notes any time I want.

Writing historical romance is actually easier from this side of the Atlantic because it means I can visit the locations. I’ve been to numerous battlefields, historical sites and great houses, and last year author Jean Fullerton and I did a bit of Jack the Ripper research together, thanks to the wonderful exhibition at the London Docklands Museum, which had the “Dear Boss” letter and the original police and autopsy reports. Although there isn’t much left of the Ripper’s London, the Ripper Walk is a real treat. Later in the year I visited London and stayed at a hotel close to Brick Lane, close to where the Ripper stalked. Walking back at night gave me a shiver or two!

Writing for the US market means writing US characters. That was a real challenge, especially at first. No episode of “Cold Case” or “Law and Order” or even the glossy “CSI” can really tell you how people speak. It got easier with time, and I found my visits to the US invaluable. It’s rhythms of speech, phrases, that catch me out. If I didn’t have US editors, I’d make some dreadful mistakes. I have American beta readers, to whom I owe a lot, too.

And why oh why do people think I’m Australian? I live in Cheshire, and I have a Mancunian accent, and to my ears I don’t sound the least Australian, but especially in Texas, I’m asked repeatedly if I come from Oz. But my Aussie friend is often taken for a Brit!

To me, the United States is exotic, and when I hear them say they want to visit Paris or Rome or London, I think of the Rockies, Seattle and Washington DC. I’d love to visit more, and meet the people who are some of the most generous I’ve ever met.

Maybe, if I make that one big sale, I can tour for a while. I’d need a driver, though. Hmmm – maybe there’s a story in that!

Lynne Connolly