2018 releases

Hell's Bell
Scent of the Jaguar
His Outback Nanny
The Queen's Game
366 Days of Flash Fiction
On the Horizon: Simple worlds of speculative adventure
Lusting the Enemy

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Magic Thursday: Confessions of a Failed Romance Writer

Apologies for the late post....

Today's Magic Thursday brought to you by R.C.Daniells (Rowena Cory Daniells).

'Not enough emotionality’ – This is what used to come back from the editors when I submitted my manuscripts to the romance publishers.

Now I understand what they mean, but back then I was scratching my head. Now I know my subplots and sub characters were too strong and, while the main characters were motivated by love, it was not the all-consuming thing in their lives.

I was writing mainstream with a love story, embedded in the narrative.

Which brings me back to The Price of Fame. It’s not a paranormal-romance. There’s a love story (two, actually) and these loves are important to the characters and they run parallel to the developing mystery but they aren’t the dominating focus of the narrative.

So I’m calling this book a gritty, noir paranormal mystery. It’s been a long time in gestation. I wrote my first draft when I was twenty-three. When I was thirty-six, I corrected a couple of spellings and sent it off to the Harper Collins $10,000 Fiction Prize and it made the long-short list. At that point it was the 80s story about the band, the street kids and the taxi driver who tried to help them, with just a hint of paranormal.

In my forties I decided to add another layer to the story. I created the contemporary layer, set twenty-five years later told from Antonia’s point of view. She wants to make a documentary about the band, which rocketed to fame after the murder of one of the girl singers. I wanted the story to work on two levels, the mystery and the paranormal.

Since I began interviewing writers on my blog, I’ve discovered a lot of them write both fantasy and mystery. I think this is because (and here I come back to Eleni’s original suggestion for this blog post) the similarities in writing fantasy and mystery.

What similarities, I hear you say. Well... with a fantasy book I have to build the world with all its back-story and reveal just enough of it for the reader to make sense of what’s happening to the main characters as the story unfolds. With a mystery, I have to build a mystery with all its back-story and reveal just enough of it for the reader to piece together the unfolding story. Both of these things require the writer to have the ability to hold an invented world-picture (fantasy world/mystery world) in their heads and to sense what needs to be known at any given point for the narrative to make sense to the reader and sustain suspense.

I must admit writing a story set in our world, even if it does run on two time lines, is much easier than writing a story set in a fantasy world. If I write about the drug and prostitution scene in Melbourne in the 80s, I can draw on assumed knowledge, but this is set in Melbourne not some generic US gum-shoe underworld city, so I need to give it a distinctly Australian feel. With fantasy if I write about a castle, I need to paint a word picture that draws on the reader’s knowledge of castles, while making this castle distinctive, rather than generic. Actually, now that I think about it, there are a lot more similarities. At least if I write about a laptop in the contemporary story, I don’t have to stop and describe what a laptop is and what it does, which is what you’d have to do if you were writing science fiction.

I have a copy of The Price of Fame to give-away. (It should be printed by mid June). This book revolves around an 80s band and their quest for fame. To win the give-away, tell us what is your favourite 20th century time period for music and why.


  1. I think the only way to describe 80's music is funky. Got to love that.


    1. I must confess I'm a fan of classical music, Mary. But I do remember funky being a popular word in the 80s!

  2. Hard question, Rowena because the 20th Century made huge leaps and bounds in music. Jazz, rock'n'roll, funk, disco, rap. So very hard indeed. But since I tend to stick to rock music and hard rock at that I would say the 70s was big in the big hair and the tight jeans, and the oh so velvet tones of the rock bands. Think Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Think Black Sabbath and then think Queen. What a decade because I also think Abba and Tina Turner and well even Elvis. The era had it all.

    1. I love the Jazz era, Eleni, which isn't 80s at all. Queen, Darkside of the Moon. Purple velvet. Lou Reed. Oh my.

  3. I'm not really sure if I have a favorite since there's so many different choices that I love altogether. Everything brings something new and different to the table and as long as it's something that has the ability to make me emit some sort of emotion just from the lyrics and the beat of the song I'm won over.

    1. Serix, I think it is amazing how music goes straight past the intellect and connects with the emotions.

      We writers have to battle with words to produce emotions.