It is my pleasure to introuduce everyone to Clare Connelly. I met Clare at the recent RWAustralia conference in Adelaide at the cocktail party. Here we are -
We got chatting and I dsicovered that she'd written dozens of category romance novels as an indie. I was very excited to learn this given how category romance is my first love and to meet an Aussie indie author who loves it as much as I do and is making a successful career out of it, is totally aweome. So we asked her to come and tell us a bit about herself because we know how much you guys love category romance too and finding a new author to love, especially one with such an extensive backlist, is like finding gold! So...here she is!
A huge thanks to the LoveCats for inviting me to post on the blog today. I feel really (really, really) thrilled to be here.
Thus began the first false start in my career as a romance writer, and wasn’t it a doozy?
I wrote my maiden full-length category romance at fifteen, and you’ve just suffered but a brief excerpt from within its pages. Looking back, it’s a hybrid that reflects with horrifying accuracy a crucible of my interests. At the time these were, Jane Austen, The Bold & The Beautiful, all things Emma Darcy and apparently a weak-spot for hyperbole and repetition.
But I wrote the thing, all fifty thousand words of it, printed it out, had my mother and sister edit it (what they must have thought!). Despite their kindly-couched tips for improvement, I sent the manuscript off to the London Harlequin office. This was in the days well before e-submissions and I waited with baited (you might even say arrogantly hopeful) breath to hear. Six months later, on beautifully watermarked letterhead I received the crushing death knell to my teenage aspirations: WHILE WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUBMISSION … You can imagine the rest. I consoled myself with the dreariest Hanson song I could find (WEIRD, for those of you playing along at home.)
It would be more than a decade before I completed another manuscript though, like many aspiring writers, I wrote tirelessly in the interim. I filled the internet with the ramblings of my heart (thank you, Wordsworth), penning blogs, emails and recipes. And all the while, I read voraciously – on average, a category romance novel a day. It’s a wonder my feet could touch the ground!
In 2012, I gave up a dream job working with Maggie Beer to have my little people. The business of being a mum to two kids under twenty months was H-E-C-T-I-C and I craved both the routine of my career and the distraction of grown-ups – even if I had to make them up.
And so I wrote. I treated my writing as a job long before I had any real hopes of publication. I figured that the best way to be a real writer was to start acting like one.
My word-count-goal used to be two thousand words per day. Multiply that by thirty-ish days and bam! A full-length category romance could be completed in roughly a month, if it was well-plotted. Because writing is easy and things always go to plan, right?
It took a lot longer the first time around, and it was rubbish (plot holes everywhere). The first five I completed felt wrong. Something was missing. I wrote, and I wrote, and I read and I read and finally I finished a book that, after giving it some breathing space and returning to it with fresh eyes, caused within my heart the same flutters it feels when I read my favourite romances.
Having yet again knocked ever so gently on Harlequin’s doors and been told ‘no thanks’, I was becoming convinced I would need to set aside my dreams of making any kind of career out of writing. Until my sister strenuously urged me to stop being such a wuss and do that thing everyone’s talking about: self-publish.
And so, dear reader, I married him. Wait. That’s not right, but you get the gist.
I self-published with remarkably little research, preparation, fanfare, and with a compensating degree of Dutch Courage in the form of red wine. Thanks to Amazon’s almost Orwellian reporting algorithms, I saw a sale flash up on my graphs about five minutes later. And then another. And then another. I wasn’t going to be the next EL James just yet but, right from the start, hundreds of copies of my book were selling each week which, to me, was utterly surreal. Who were these people, and how were they finding me?
It’s been two years since that large glass of Maggie Beer Shiraz (you know she produces wine too, don’t you?) and I have published thirty-eight single titles, several anthologies and now write full-time. Or as full time as a five and four-year-old allow.
Which brings me finally to my predilection for angsty alpha-males (sorry, having dragged out the old MS I don’t seem able to stop.) Even as a teenager I seemed drawn to those passionate anti-heroes. The kind of bad boys who are all heart – but a heart that’s buried a long way beneath their arrogant, angry, mocking exteriors (and what exteriors they tend to have, swoon). Half of my catalogue falls into contemporary catalogue romance (think Billionaire Mediterranean hunks) and half are Sheikh romances, which I adore for their arrogance-by-birthright. I no longer describe their purity of anger and I allow them to have a little lust in their eyes…
What kind of hero makes you tick? Are you a sucker for good-at-heart-bad-boys or do you love to read about those sensitive, kind new-age guys? Or a little bit of both (because who says you can only have one book boyfriend at a time?).
Clare's bio -
Clare Connelly first discovered romance novels as an adolescent and learned almost everything she knows about life from within the pages of a Mills & Boon. She has a small family and a bungalow near the sea in South Australia. When she isn't chasing after energetic little children, or wiping fingerprints off furniture, she's writing, thinking about writing, or wishing she were writing.You can check her out a little more or just perve at the background picture) at www.clareconnelly.com