Friday, 11 January 2013

Romancing with Alison Henderson

Welcome to Romancing the Novelist.
This week I'm hosting the talented Alison Henderson. Welcome Alison.

What draws you as a reader to the romance genre?

I started reading romance about twenty-five years ago when the first big, lush historicals by writers such as Kathleen Woodiwiss dominated the market.  I was instantly hooked by the larger-than-life characters, high drama, sensuality, and, of course, the happy endings.  Romance fiction has evolved into a cornucopia of sub-genres since then, and I enjoy reading (and writing) many of them.  Fortunately, readers can still rely on the most important element—the happily-ever-after ending.

What is the most difficult part of writing a love story?

I don’t think love stories are harder to write than any other kind of story.  The hardest part for me is always creating sufficient conflict between the hero and heroine.  I know they’re perfect for each other, and I struggle to throw enough obstacles in their path to keep them from recognizing it too soon.

Is creating a book title easy for you? Tell us about the process.

I enjoy coming up with titles. Since I need to have a solid working title before I get too far in a new book, the title is often the first thing I write.  It’s important to me that the title connect with the essence of the story.  Here are a few examples:

My first book, Harvest of Dreams, is the story of a young Civil War widow who owns an apple orchard and has buried her dreams along with her husband.

The title of my second book, A Man Like That, refers to the heroine’s mother’s haughty dismissal of the ex-outlaw hero.

In my new novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, the hero and heroine are hunting for different types of treasure and risk missing the real treasure right under their noses.

Do your characters love the direction you take for them or do they have other ideas?

I’m a plotter rather than a pantser, so I have a good idea of where my story is going before I start writing.  I also do detailed character studies in advance.  My characters sometimes surprise me with the things they say, but so far they haven’t fought back against the story I’ve given them.

Any tips for writers that you'd love to share?

You’ve heard it a hundred times, but I’m going to say it again—never give up.  I’m not kidding.  I wrote my first manuscript more than twenty years ago.  It was never published and didn’t deserve to be, but I learned so many important lessons writing it—not the least of which was that I was capable of writing an entire book.  I wrote a second, followed by a third.  I signed with an agent and fired her.  Refusing to give up, I climbed on the submit/re-write/submit merry-go-round for several more years.  Along the way, both books won multiple contests, and the encouraging words of the judges kept me going.  Ultimately, I found a wonderful publishing home with a small press and couldn’t be happier.

Tell us about your next book.

I’ve completed a sharp, snappy contemporary romance featuring the proprietor of an all-female bodyguard agency entitled Unwritten Rules that I’m considering self publishing to learn more about the process.

I also have two WIP’s going at the moment, another humorous western historical novella entitled Delilah and the Badman and the first in a contemporary trilogy about three sisters who are artists in a fictional California coastal town called Sanctuary Cove. 

Alison Henderson
Buy The Treasure of Como Bluff 

Thanks so much for guesting on my blog, Alison. 


  1. Thinking about what you said about the evolution of romance novels. There are so many sub-genres now, it's no wonder they out sell all other genres. As times get tougher, we need those HEAs even more.

    1. Sandra, I completely agree about the HEAs. I'm basically a very optimistic person, but romance novels have carried me through the roughest times of my life. That's got to be the primary appeal for readers.

  2. I struggle with the conflict part of it too. I know I have to keep my characters apart for most of the story, but I don't always want to. I'm as eager as they are to finally get to their HEA!

  3. I think the difficulty in creating enough tension between the H&H is the reason I like writing suspense. When they begin to get a little too close, you ramp up the suspense aspect to keep them apart. Great interview.

  4. Oooh, bring on the bodyguards! I love the idea of your contemporary. I also love what you say about the different kinds of treasure in Como Bluff - it's great when titles have layers to them and give you different perspectives on the story.