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 Toya Richardson a multi genre writer including not only contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and fantasy romance, but also YA fantasy too!
1) When did you discover romance and what drew you to it?
Toya Richardson: I honestly cannot say what or when I was specifically drawn to romance. I guess being a hopeless romantic myself helped to steer me in that direction, so I guess it’s in my blood. I’ll see a gorgeous guy or pretty woman in the street and my mind starts to work overtime. I wonder what sort of life they lead, do they have dilemmas to face and secrets to tell one another. Then the stories begin to unfurl in my mind, sometimes it’s a fantasy or paranormal and others it’s contemporary. The more I think about their story, the more compelled I become to get it down on paper. It’s like a kind of addiction.
I like to think that love conquers all and this is what I try to promote in my work. For instance in my contemporary romance thriller, Amberley has to learn to let go of the past in order to have a chance at a loving relationship with Greg. She is hunted down by a jealous abusive ex and suffers an extremely traumatic experience. Without giving the story away, bear in mind I am a romance writer so things should go well…eventually. Even though my series, The Fireblood Saga, is predominantly a YA fantasy, there is a romance within it and again, the couple have their love tested to the max.
It’s the same with my paranormal romance series too, The Eternal Love of the Seekers, there are some extremely harrowing scenes, but I have to have these in order for the couples involved to fight for their love and come out the winners.
2) What is your writing routine like?
Toya Richardson: My writing routine is rather chaotic. I don’t tend to have set times and write when the muse takes me. Sometimes, I can wake in the middle of the night and I’ll grab the notebook by my bed and scribble the idea down. I find if I don’t do it right away the idea evaporates and then it’s lost forever. I think about characters and storylines all the time, it’s as though they’re continually asking to be heard. I also text myself with ideas when I discover that I don’t have my notepad with me, thank goodness for technology
As I’m writing for this blog now, I am sitting on a beach in Tenerife and have just visualized a character in my mind. Guess what I’ll be going after I’ve finished this??
3) On your blog you’ve written about doing some open mic events. How has that experience been and has it influenced your writing at all?
Toya Richardson: I was absolutely terrified when I did this for the first time. I took advice from people about roughly how many words to read and to remember to read slowly. I read the pieces out loud to myself for about a week before to ensure I was confident with my choice. I shook like crazy when I stood up but soon relaxed into it and enjoyed the experience. I’ve done two now, I read from Flame for the first one and then from Defender of Stargor, Book One of the Fireblood Saga, for the second.
It was great because everyone is so supportive and gives you feedback. It’s also been a great way to network with like-minded people and give advice to one another. I have another one coming up soon and just have to choose what to read next. I may try one of my unpublished works for a change.
4) Where does your inspiration come from when you write?
Toya Richardson: My inspiration comes from many different sources. It could be a place, a specific face, a person’s mannerisms and sometimes a name badge of a shop worker. I have a couple of examples that spring to mind.
Years ago, I quite literally had a Eureka moment. I was in the bath listening to a genre of music that I don’t normally, it was actually Ladies & Gentlemen by George Michael – I’m normally a rock fan, when an image of a couple sharing a passionate kiss came to mind. I literally jumped out of the bath and scribbled some ideas down. That was how Flame came in to being.
I went to New Zealand and Australia in 2015 and one day, we went to Waiheke Island which is off the coast of Auckland NZ. I stepped off the ferry and bam, ideas flooded my mind like crazy. It took me just five weeks to write the first draft of Faith and Dean’s story called Island Love, which I am desperately trying to publish. From this sprung, Leah’s Story, a book from her best friend’s POV. This also gave way to Passionate Discoveries, based on Tenerife. All contemporary, sweet romances with some steamy scenes. I’ve called the series, The Summer Loving Selection, all unpublished but there are excerpts on my website.
5) What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Toya Richardson: People always ask plot or no plot? For me, it doesn’t work to write one. I find it helps me with ideas but I have never followed any that I’ve written. To be honest, it’s personal choice so just go with what works for you.
Writing the book is the easiest part of the whole author/writer experience. Then comes the editing, synopsis, book blurb which are all time consuming but very important and have to be done to the best of your ability.
I have said this on countless occasions and continue to do so. I was at a workshop a few years ago and a published author gave me this great advice and I quote, “write because you love to write. If you’re doing it for the money, you might as well stop now.” Very sound words in my opinion. If you have no love or passion for your work, it will never work out for you.
Although we all get disheartened by rejections, even with 2 publishers I still get rejections for other work I try to submit, but if you love what you’ve written stick at it. Keep telling yourself that you love your stories and keep on trying.
I’m still learning, it’s a continual learning curve in this business. Get networking on FB and Twitter, get a website, join local support groups. I know it can be time consuming but it all helps.
And most of all, keep on enjoying what you’re doing, happy writing
Special thanks to Toya Richardson for participating in this series! To find out more, visit her website. You can also follow her on Twitter (@ToyaRichardson1), Facebook or Amazon. Check out more from Toya from her publisher Red Sage Publishing or Little Bird Publishing House.
See also: Five Questions Series
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen