Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Writer's World - Friends - Annie West

Writers of romance, and particularly writers of category romance, like me, are often accused of writing heroes and heroines who are friendless orphans. I sometimes wonder if readers think we're just plain mean with the number of heroes we write who are loners after a grim childhood or heroines who are cast adrift from friends and family to face all sorts of trauma alone, or as good as.

Maybe there is a touch of meanness but truly, the reason so many characters are alone is that it can be distracting to have lots of characters on the page when the reader wants to focus on the love story. Besides, how can we get the most out of our characters, make them suffer and redeem themselves and show their true worth, if there's a multitude of supporters there to help them out and make life easier for them?

In longer stories one of the joys is often the secondary romance or other subplot, usually involving the hero/heroine's friend or relation. But those are more likely to be single title stories. That's why you'll find many category romance authors killing off family connections with great abandon while writing.

This Christmas just gone brought home to me again the importance of friends. We had family members staying with us for three weeks, which was special. So of course there was more than the usual round of festive season socialising. As well as that, we managed to catch up with some old friends - people we've known for years but who live elsewhere. Usually we swap a little news with Christmas cards but that's about it.

This year though we've had several interstate visitors, quite unexpectedly and delightfully. As well as that there have been long distance calls to others. I don't know about you but I intend to call for a chat and I think about my distant friends often but never seem to think of calling when I actually have time for a good natter. This Christmas/New Year was different.

And you know what was best of all? The fact that in every case, despite the years since we'd seen each other, the friendship was as fresh as if we'd met only the week before. Some friends are there for life, aren't they? It's wonderful knowing that they will be there to celebrate with you or support you over the tough times, when you need them.

It makes me glad I'm a romance writer and not a romance heroine. I'd rather keep my friends and family, thank you. I much prefer to have all that lonely suffering on the page of a novel rather than in real life. I must say I love the energy levels and anticipation of drama to come when I start a story where the heroine is alone and in peril of some sort.

What do you think? Do you prefer romances where the heroine and hero are surrounded by close knit family and well-meaning friends, or do you like to read (or write) ones where the heroine is facing the odds all alone?

My March release CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT features Lucy, a woman who couldn't be more alone. What's left of her family disowned her the day she was convicted of killing a man. Now it's her first day out of prison and she's facing the paparazzi and the vengeful billionaire brother of the dead man. Surely Lucy and Domenico are the least likely pair ever to fall in love?

I've posted an excerpt and pictures of the places that inspired the story on my webpage. The book is on sale at The Book Depository, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. Annie, what a lovely post! And you're right - your heroes and heroines usually are forced to stand on their own two feet. And it does them GOOD, I say! Oh, dear, I'm sounding mean too. Must stop and think of fluffy kittens for a little while! Actually I think one of the reasons even single title types make heroes and heroines so lonely in the world is that it makes the stakes so much higher and puts the reader on their side from the start. You know, if you're a little Aussie battler and nobody loves you, you're from a poor family, you're automatically getting the sympathy vote, aren't you?

    By the way, huge congratulations on CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. It's such a great story. And wow, is that a great cover or what?

    1. Hi Anna! Waving a late hello due to some connection problems. Laughing about you thinking of fluffy kittens. I know you have a soft spot for animals so you don't need to convince me. You hit the nail on the head about getting the sympathy vote for our characters by making them do it tough. Reading about a happy woman who has everything she wants in her life and no worries doesn't appeal nearly as much.

      Thanks, yes, I'm thrilled with the cover of CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Thanks for the vote of confidence in the story. It's one that's close to my heart.

  2. Congrats on your new book Annie. I find it difficult to write romance stories that would be accepted for publication because there always has to be more than just two people in my stories. My heroines always have friends....in the plural....

    What an interesting post. Most enjoyable.

    1. Hi Maria,

      Well, there are plenty of romances where the heroines have friends - just not as many of them in category length. They seem to be more in the single title stories. Something for you to consider? Thanks for the book congratulations. I can't wait for this one to come out.

  3. I can't wait to get my mitts on a copy of Captive in the Spotlight, Annie!

    Hmm...what do I prefer? Now I know this will probably come as a surprise to you, but I do have a soft spot for secondary characters -- meddling aunts, nosy neighbours and smart mouthed best friends -- I love them all. That said, I really like the odds to be high in a romance and when a heroine is cut adrift, far from home and help. Well, now... Sorry, am going to stop now before I start sound too mean too. :-)

    1. Michelle, I love the way you manage to weave in that strong sense of community in your stories. It's one of the reasons I enjoy them so much. So difficult to do without overpowering the main story too.

      Can't imagine you as mean. AC, stop giving the girl a hard time!

  4. Hi Annie,

    Loved your post Annie.

    I adore my M&B Sexy/Presents stories and I'm one of those readers who only wants to hear about the heroine and hero. The drama keeps me turning the pages and I don't want a word wasted on other characters.


    1. Hi Margaret,

      It's the drama and passion in the Modern/Presents/Sexy stories that hooks me too. Right from the start these grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. Maybe that's whey I enjoy writing them so much.

  5. Great post. True friends are wonderful. I am determined to connect up with a few this year other than a note at Christmas time.

    I now need to put Captive in the Spotlight on my to be bought list.

  6. Kaelee, I hope you do manage to do some of that connecting. I've had such a busy month or so because of that but it was worth it. It's so good to be in touch again. I seem to be smiling all the time as a result.

    Hope you enjoy CAPTIVE when it comes out in March. This is one I'll be on the look out for - want to see it in the flesh.