I’m having so much fun connecting with all the smart authors and bloggers I’ve met online. This is the latest entry in my series of conversations with other romance authors, who join us to share about their creative process, their habits, their inspiration, and more. Our guest today is Alisha Rai who claims writing sexypants romance as her superpower She will be joining me on the panel of the Gender Feminism, Sexuality, and the Romance Novel Symposium in February.
1. How did you first discover the romance genre and why did you love it so much?
I started sneaking romance novels home from the library when I was 12 or 13 (I had to sneak, because my parents were super focused on academics…fiction wasn’t really encouraged). As I grew more open about my reading choices, I discovered a huge diverse network of (mostly) women who loved this thing I loved: my cousin, a lab partner, roommates, colleagues, strangers all over the world. Romance comes with a built in fanbase where you can instantly bond with so many people you might not otherwise befriend.
There are so many things about the genre that have kept me here. I think ultimately, the message that love can conquer any dark moment is a message everyone needs.
2. What’s your writing routine like?
I don’t have one! I plot, but my plots are pretty flexible. I tend to write best in long bursts, and then go days without a single word on paper. My first draft is always terrible, and I end up rewriting huge chunks of it. Edits are where the magic happens.
3. You have written several different series, as well as standalone novels. What do you like about writing a series vs. a single standing novel?
Standalones are great because you don’t have to keep coming back to the same world—every book feels fresh and new. The problem with that is every book is fresh and new, so sometimes it takes a bit longer to do the heavy lifting of world building.
I love series for the same reason other people love series: revisiting favorite people and seeing how they’re doing with their happily ever after! It’s like going to an anniversary party or a reunion. There’s a lot of satisfaction in getting a chance to flesh out older characters even while you’re moving forward with something new.
4. What do you feel is most unique or challenging about writing erotic fiction and romance compared to other types of writing?
I try to really thread the eroticism through the whole book (which results in weird notes like, “make eating this cinnamon bun sexier”), and that can be a challenging extra ball to throw in the air when you’re already trying to juggle plot and characters.
Also, contrary to popular belief, sex scenes aren’t simple to write. They have to do a ton of work: be hot, organic, true to the characters, and move the plot forward. I spend more time on sex scenes than I do any other scene.
5. What advice would you give aspiring romance writers?
Don’t be afraid to delete words. Deleting your words doesn’t always mean those words are bad, it just means they aren’t right for your book right now.
Special thanks to Alisha Rai for participating in this series! To find out more, visit her website. You can also follow them on Twitter (@AlishaRai). You can also find her books on Amazon and Barns and Noble. Check out her hit book A Gentleman in the Street for a good read.