Today I'd like to welcome Alana Lorens to 'Romancing the Novelist' my weekly blog feature. Great to have you here! *What draws you as a 'reader' to the romance genre?
I grew up reading the old "gothic" romantic suspense--Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, even Jane Aiken Hodge. I loved the mystery/suspense aspect of them and the adventure. The love story, too, but these were the days of the slow steady buildup to a connection. I prefer these to the "jump-in-bed-first-thing" romances.
*What is the most difficult part of writing a love story?
I'm still learning how to write sex scenes naturally. I've written several that don't even have them, "sweet" romances that are about the people meeting and connecting outside the bedroom. But I know most readers like that fantasy, so I'm working on it all the time.
*Is creating a book title easy for you? Tell us about the process.
Ha! The title is always hard. I look through quotations and try to find something appropriate that I can play with, maybe twisting the words around to be a little catchier. A lot of times I'll mine Shakespeare lines. But what I find is usually the editor has other suggestions anyway. So I try not to get too attached to them. :)
*Do your characters love the direction you take for them or do they have other ideas?
I confess I have never experienced that situation I hear other writers talk about, where their characters just "take off with the story." I like to think I know them well enough that they do what I plan for them to do from the beginning. I think if your character is genuine, his/her actions will naturally follow their inclinations.
*Any tips for writers that you'd love to share?
Take special care to heighten the emotion in your work so that the readers are drawn into the web of your story almost without their intention. A true moment of emotion where your reader recognizes and internalizes the feelings your character experiences can make or break whether they turn the pages and finish the story.
*Tell us about your book.
THAT GIRL'S THE ONE I LOVE came out in 2012, and is the story of a young woman, Leyla Brand, who falls for Arran Lake, a budding rock star on the eve of his success. They finally meet face to face at the Asheville NC Bele Chere Festival and have one night together before he's gone to find his fortune. A couple of years later, after she's had a failed rebound marriage, someone contacts her on social media asking her about Arran Lake's latest hit. Is it something he wrote for Leyla? Can she let him back in her life after all the water that's been between them?
Leyla Brand has one perfect day in her life: the day she meets rock singer Arran Lake at the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville. They have so much in common, Leyla is sure they are soulmates and will have a future together. The very next morning, when Arran receives the call to hit the big time, he vanishes into the world of California rock and roll to become an international star, leaving her behind. Only a few phone calls keep them in touch — until his phone is disconnected. After that, all she has of him is every new song that hits the charts. Five years later, she gets a message on the Internet from an unfamiliar address. Someone wants to know if she’s the Leyla of Bele Chere. Should she open that door and discover who this might be? Who else could it be? And if it is Arran, why does he want to contact her now, after all this time? Will he just break her heart again?
“So you grew up fast,” Arran observed, reaching out to gently touch one of the tea roses along the walk.
“Had to. My dad worked all the time, and I kept house, cooked, you know, all that.”
She walked beside him, close but not touching, noting others’ glances at them. People stared. Did they recognize Arran, or was it the smile on her face, the one she couldn’t control, her delight warm and shining through?
He laughed, but it wasn’t an amused sound, more a bond of understanding. “My parents really quit keeping track of me about the time I turned fourteen. They spent more time finding the bottom of their bottles.” He hunkered down to examine the leaves of a plant. “So it seems like we both had to grow up on our own.”
“Well, kind of.” She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She really didn’t want him thinking she was just another loser. “I had plenty of friends, too. So I got out of the house a lot. Spent a lot of time running from reality, actually.”
“Oh, I know. Me, too.” He grinned. “Some pretty bad years there, about age fifteen, sixteen. I’m surprised I’m still alive, actually.”
She wondered what he’d done that was so bad. She knew her own sins. She’d bet everything in her wallet that they’d echo each other. We’ve got time to discover all our shadows. “Amazing,” was all she said.
The scent of flowers all around them, she added, “I did write some pretty bad poetry.”
“See now, poetry—well, lyrics—saved me. I had a lot of friends who liked to jam, so I got a guitar and started writing music.”
“You’re very gifted,” she said. “Can I say that without sounding sappy?”
He stood up, close enough to look deep into her eyes. “You can say it all you like.”
Her cheeks flushed hot. “I mean, I guess everyone tells you that. For me, it’s so true. Like your song That Girl’s the One I Love. The details you put in there, about that girl, the taste of her, the way her hair looked in the sun, the soft pitch of her voice. I know she’s real.” She kept her gaze locked on his. “Isn’t she?”
“She is. Was.” He looked away, his jaw set.
Thanks for guesting with me, Alana. Wishing you lots of success with your books. :)