1/ Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published?
When I started writing romance novels, there was very little information available about markets and editorial needs. I think if I’d known that for every 10,000 books submitted, Harlequin’s London office was accepting about ten in a good year, I may have been daunted. But probably not. My motto has always been “bite off more than you can chew, and chew like crazy.” I believe in writing what you love, never tongue in cheek or to meet a market. This believe no doubt led to my first acceptance, Love’s Greatest Gamble, which broke a few moulds at the time.
Every year of my career has seen me try something different, starting with non fiction books such as Growing and Using Herbs (my very first published book) to my writing guides, most notably The Art of Romance Writing and Heart and Craft, the anthology I edited containing practical advice and experience from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best-loved romance writers. Lately I’ve ventured into near-future romantic suspense with Birthright, which features what Erica Hayes calls, “aliens and evil astronauts” set in my fictional south pacific kingdom of Carramer.
2/ How many books have you had published so far in your career?
Over 50 novels, 25 nonfiction titles, novellas, dozens of short stories for major magazines, an award-winning travel documentary and most recently, a movie script currently in pre-production.
I believe a good, page-turning story is always key, no matter whether it’s in an ebook, a movie script, a print book or a holonovel (still waiting for that though). I’m always interested in what’s happening in the world. For many years I belonged to the World Future Society. I’ve also been a Star Trek fan since forever, helping to organise conventions in Sydney and once entertaining actor, George Takei, in my then-unrenovated terrace house in inner Sydney. Low light, lots of candles and champagne made that work, not to mention a life-sized Dalek. I love Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook, and blogging, just wish there were more hours in the day to keep up with it all *and* still write.
4/ What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?
I still get a kick out of holding each new book, or in the case of Birthright, linking to its shiny new Amazon page. The print edition will be along soon. And I love seeing new translations of my work including my favourites, the Japanese manga editions. A career highlight was speaking at RT Book Reviews Convention in Los Angeles last year, where I was presented with a Pioneer of Romance Award, the first Australian author to be so honoured. Being invited to become an Australia Day Ambassador is also a special thrill. 2013 will be my sixth year.
5/ Which of your books is your favourite, and why?
That’s like asking a mother to choose a favourite child. My favourite is usually either the one I’ve just finished, because it feels so good having it in existence, or the one I’m about to embark on, because everything is still possible and the hard grind of producing words has still to set in.
I started out the most fanatical plotter in existence. I would outline, then outline my outlines until they grew into books. With experience I learned to let my characters guide me through their story. I start out with an idea of the overall story arc but am open to unexpected twists and turns as they reveal themselves to me. I’ve also learned that if a character throws something at me out of left field, such as a hobby or sibling I didn’t know they had, it’s best to let it stand. Invariably, it will turn out to be exactly what the story needs, nudged along by my subconscious.
7/ What’s the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Write what you love even if it’s not what the market currently wants. Eileen Dreyer was on the panel I chaired at RT and said her editor many years ago had told her Harlequin wasn’t ready for a dead body in a Harlequin romance, especially not one that had caught on fire. These days we’d call it a romantic suspense or a paranormal, depending on what caused the flames. I had a similar experience with a hero who just might have arrived by UFO – Star Trek influence here LOL. The book, The Leopard Tree, got all the way through Acquisitions until Alan Boon decided UK readers weren’t ready for a UFO in a romance. The book was published by their sister house, Silhouette, in the US and started me on a career that led directly to my new romantic suspense. Sometimes you just have to write other stories and wait for the market to catch up with you.
8/ What do you love most about being a romance author?
What I love about being an author in general is the freedom to create your own worlds; to right the wrongs we can’t do a lot about in real life; and to make things come right in the end, as they rarely do in life. I love the meme going around the net which says, “I’m a writer. What’s your superpower?”
Thank you Valerie for answering our questions.
To celebrate the release of Valerie's latest release Birthright, the lovely team at Corvallis Press is giving away a fabulous $50.00 Amazon voucher to one lucky commenter!