The Pink Heart Society is Super-thrilled to present a special Sunday post - SUPERROMANCE Sunday with SUPER editor Victoria Curran. Ok, so that's a lot of Super. But you aren't going to want to miss this - especially if you've got your eye set on the Superromance pitch session coming up soon at eharlequin.
Welcome to the Pink Heart Society, Victoria! We're very excited that you're here to answer a few questions about the line with us.
1. What makes a Superromance so super? What qualities characterize it as a line?
The super-terrific stories, of course! Actually, the “super” in Superromance was originally inspired by the fact that we’re one of Harlequin’s longest series romance lines. We still are the longest contemporary series at 60- to 65,000 words, but the title reflects much more than the length of the book (because we all know it’s not about how big you are, but what you do with what you’ve got!). Our stories plumb the depths of characterization and often include enriched secondary stories and sometimes even secondary romances. Fundamentally, our books are character-driven reads we know will resonate with contemporary readers who recognize themselves and their family and friends and neighbors—and colleagues—in the diverse range of stories we offer. Except that these recognizable and familiar situations to today’s reader always work out in a satisfying happy ending. If you think you’ve got it bad at work right now, read how poor Cynthia Merritt ends up hiding in the broom closet of her office in Abby Gaines’s Her Surprise Hero (out this February). I guarantee you, though, no matter how bad things get for Judge Cynthia, she’ll land on her feet in the end…with sexy single-dad rancher Ethan Granger’s help, of course—or perhaps in spite of it! Talk about your wish fulfillment.
2. Superromance is sold all around the world but the settings are mostly North American. Are you open to settings in other parts of the world?
Yes, we’re sold around the world, although our biggest readership is in the United States. We are open to stories set outside of the U.S., though. In fact, I contracted a new author last year from New Zealand, who set her debut Superromance there. Zana Bell’s Tempting the Negotiator—a deeply emotional novel with a strong sense of fun running through it, not to mention a gorgeous champion surfer—will be on shelves in March. And Zana’s my second New Zealand author who sets her books there. Off the top of my head, we’ve also had stories set in Australia, Canada, France (in an always-exciting holiday romance storyline) and the U.K.
Ah, sensuality. I once had an author express concern that her hero and heroine just didn’t seem to want to get into bed with each other, and was that okay? Well, Ellen Hartman may not have been able to wrestle her lead characters into bed in His Secret Past, but she wrote a sizzling scene at a wedding reception, with the hero and heroine fully clothed in the middle of a crowded dance floor. So sensuous is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, and we publish a range of levels of sensuality. I’ve edited sex scenes that made me feel like having a cigarette afterwards…and I don’t smoke! If authors need to keep the bedroom door shut for the sake of characterization, so be it: Superromance is first and foremost a character-driven line.
4. What kinds of heroes and heroines populate the Superromance world?
Contemporary ones! As far as our heroes go, they run the gamut from Alpha to Beta to…Omega (if that’s even possible). We just need to make sure they’re contemporary Alphas, not traditional Alphas. And regardless of how poorly the heroes act, they’re men we know our heroines are safe with. “Relevance” is a word we use a lot in the Harlequin editorial department. We try to publish stories that are relevant to our readership. In the case of Superromance, that means a contemporary story grounded in realism. Not many billionaires, sheiks and princes in our line.
As for heroines, the contemporary woman would never end up a victim tied to a railway track by a villain, waiting for a Mountie to ride in and rescue her. She’s motivated, proactive and takes action…and then has to deal with the consequences of her actions. We try to steer clear of stories where events out of the hero and heroine’s control shape too much of the read.
And motivation applies to all characters, even cameo appearances. We want our authors to break away from stereotypes and breathe life into the people who populate the world of their writing. If they need a secondary character to play the role of a rich, jealous woman who’s set her sights on the hero, readers need to identify with something in her—it’s not all “dahlings” and tottering around on expensive stilettos. Characterization is about shades of gray, good and bad, not the most obvious or extreme choices. Surprise us!
5. What upcoming Superromance titles are you particularly thrilled about?
I could answer that question because there are so many good books coming up…but then, as they say, I’d have to kill you. Either that or my authors would kill me!
6. Are there any themes/premises you wish you would see more of? Any you think are currently over done and that really need to be done extra well to make the cut?
With six Superromance novels a month, we publish so much variety in our line that we don’t put a lot of restrictions on storylines. Our writers throw a lot of pregnancies, babies, cowboys and dysfunctional families at us, but I’m not sure there can ever be too many… I think it’s safe to say infidelity stories rarely work in romances, and for us specifically, marriage in jeopardy themes don’t seem to resonate as well with our readers.
7. What are you looking for in a pitch?
I hope the writer who’s pitching has read something about Superromance and knows she or he is targeting the right line…and if I come across paranormal or historical elements, that’s a clue to me they haven’t! Beyond that, I need to know the fundamentals of setting, plot and characterization, but there’s not a lot of time or space to convey those in a pitch. That’s what makes aspiring authors so nervous about pitching, I think, although to me it would seem easier to get it down succinctly in a written pitch. In a nutshell, I need to know the who, what, where and why. I want to quickly understand who the hero is and what motivates him (what he wants) and who the heroine is and what she wants. I need to know where they are, what situation brings them together and what is keeping them apart (what is going to sustain the romance for 65,000 words…and I hope it’s not a simple misunderstanding or avoided conversation!). It would be great to get just a sense of how the characters are going to act based on what they want, and how their actions will drive the plot forward. And in an ideal world? I’d love to know what exactly each of the lead characters stands to lose in loving the other one—what high price this romance is going to cost them. I don’t ask for much, do I?
That's wonderful information, Victoria! Now for some important links for our readers:
For a great workshop to hone your pitch: Check out Winnie Grigg's workshop on eharlequin
The thread for the Superromance Editor Pitch at eharlequin
The Superromance Editorial Guidelines
And for a GREAT resource, it's well worth the time to listen to the Meet The Editors Podcast featuring Wanda Ottewell and Victoria.
Victoria is going to be popping in on Monday to check the comments, so this is the perfect chance to ask her any questions about the upcoming pitch session and the Supers line!
And a huge thank you to Victoria from the PHS for taking time out of her crazy schedule to visit!