As part of our Exploding Hearts series, we’ve been interviewing as many romance novelists as possible between February 7th and Valentine’s Day. Let your heart grow three – or even fourteen – sizes this February and check out these authors’ books, from the sweet and inspirational to the spicy hot.
Battered by a life determined to tear him down
This quiet ex-con’s scarred hands may be the gentlest touch she’ll ever know.
…if only life were a fairy tale where Beauty was allowed to keep her Beast
Ivan thought the world was through giving him second chances. Who’d want a rough ex-con with a savior complex and a bad habit of bringing home helpless strays? Everyone in Blackwood, Virginia knew he wasn’t good enough for the fine things in life; they knew he was too damaged to save. He just needed to keep his head down, work himself to the bone, and pretend he was content with the lot he was given.
Until she came into his life. Until she changed everything.
Until he realized he would do anything, fight anyone, tear the world apart if it meant saving her.
Adriana Anders is the author of the contemporary romance Under Her Skin, book 1 in the Blank Canvas series, which debuted on February 7th. We recently had a chance to ask her about her writing and influences. Here’s what she had to say.
Who are your top 5 authors or influences, and why?
I adore the books of Susan Elizabeth Philips. She puts her characters into situations from which they couldn’t possibly extricate themselves. When they eventually do, the payoff is pure magic. That is what I want to read in any book, and particularly in romance. Other authors who paved the way for what I write, with their very deep points of view and intense emotions are Megan Hart, Cara McKenna, and Anne Calhoun. Reading is absolutely my escape and I adore being transported by authors like Susanna Kearsley, who teases us with time travel, or Amanda Bouchet, creator of worlds.
What fuels your writing?
When an idea comes and characters present themselves, I get curious to know what they’ll do and how they’ll do it. There’s nothing better than sitting down with a glimmer of notion and watching it unfold on the screen as my fingers type away. Those moments are magic.
What inspired you to write your latest book?
Under Her Skin was inspired by a story that I heard a few years ago on the radio about a woman who removed tattoos pro bono for victims of abuse. I still tear up thinking about it—I remember exactly where I was, idling in my car. From there, Uma came easily. She was strong, though not always confident—every woman, in a way, torn apart by her past. I’ve learned a lot since that day—about tattoos and removing them, but also about writing and about me, as a person.
Do you have a favorite quote about the writing process?
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” –Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
How (if at all) does your geographic location influence your writing?
A room with a view can be one hell of a good place to write. Beyond that, geography isn’t all that important.
As a romance author, what inspires the types of stories you’re drawn to tell in your books? And what kinds of books do you enjoy reading?
I’m a big fan of what I consider hyper-realism in romance.
What’s your writing routine like? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?
I mostly fly by the seat of my pants, although the “job” of writing, with a publisher and a contract, has changed that. I still don’t plot the book out scene by scene, but I have an idea of where I want to go. A notion of what the end will look like, glimmers of a few scenes, some scraps of dialogue. My favorite part of writing is when the words flow, which doesn’t seem to happen if I’ve plotted too much.
How much time do you usually spend researching a novel before you begin writing?
None. I start writing first. My books are about the people more than their occupations or the location. Research becomes necessary eventually, not only to check facts, but also because it bring with it anecdotes that add richness and reality. An interview of a wonderful woman who removes tattoos for a living was a treasure trove of bizarre and fascinating information that I would never have found elsewhere. I love how much I learn while researching!
Do you have any talismans, charms, superstitions or music that inspires or helps you to write, and what’s the story behind them?
I always write with my back to a wall (or as often as possible), but that might have more to do with privacy than anything else. I tend to listen to music inspired by my characters and the scene or setting I’m working on. Beyond that, I’m not particularly superstitious.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Honestly, nothing. I’ve done everything else. I was an actress, did voices for video games, translated, bartended, waited tables, did marketing, and sang… This is it for me.
What are some of your hobbies or sports of choice when getting out from behind the desk?
I love walking with my family, although my kids are still too young for long hikes. At some point, I’d like to find time for more… right now, there’s the day job and writing and kids and… yeah, that’s about it.
What are you currently working on, and why will it melt hearts (or set loins ablaze, as the case may be)?
I spent the last two years writing two more books in the Blank Canvas series: By Her Touch (out April 4th) and In His Hands (August 1st). In the former, Clay Navarroo has just left a long stint undercover as a member of the Sultans motorcycle club. He’s come to a small Virginia town to lay low and get his tattoos removed—only things get complicated when sparks fly between him and the woman erasing them. In the third book—In His Hands—Abby Merkley struggles to escape the cult she grew up in and winds up seeking refuge with the sexy French winemaker next door. Both are gritty, emotional reads, full of hope and the possibility of new beginnings. They’re steamy, too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two.