Lauren Blakely knows romance. In 2018 alone, she’s released five books and has at least five more coming. Here, she shares her tips for aspiring writers, romance or otherwise, and explains how a good sex scene makes a reader sweat.
On how she manages to write eight books a year
I try to get as much writing as I can possibly do in the mornings because it’s so easy to get sucked into other things like Facebook or managing the business side. After I come home from walking my four dogs, I try to settle in and usually try to write 2,500 or 3,000 words before or right after lunch time. And then in the afternoon, I try to focus on business stuff. But I try to be as structured and disciplined as possible because otherwise it’s spilling over the entire day and you’re writing at two in the morning and that’s probably not the best time.
On writer’s block
I don’t believe in writer’s block, which I know might sound kind of silly, but I really don’t, and it’s partly because before I wrote romance novels full-time I was a journalist. I covered the TV, media, and advertising business for a number of trade publications for about 15 years before I started writing [books], and being a journalist, you have deadlines and you have to produce a certain amount of words every day. It was actually the single best training that I could possibly have for never getting writer’s block. It really taught me how to always be creating … you look around and keep your brain open all the time, and there are always ideas. It’s very real for people who are going through it, but I made a choice that I don’t believe in it, so I just keep moving forward. Burnout is absolutely a thing, but I think writer’s block is something that we as writers can all overcome.
On her favourite romance tropes
I am such a sucker for friends to lovers. It’s sort of a simple trope, but at the same time it has such a real conflict and I’ve met so many readers for whom it resonates. I don’t write a lot of forbidden love stories, I don’t think it’s my strength, but I do also get a kick out of something not taboo necessarily, but something that’s, like, a little bit forbidden. And I do love matchmaker tropes. That can be such a fun one, where the matchmaker has to set up the guy and of course they fall in love with each other during the process.
On realizing her strengths
Before I started writing romance I was writing young adult novels under another name, and the biggest hurdle for me was actually realizing and accepting that self-publishing was ultimately going to be the better way for me to go. I was trying in young adult and I had publishing deals, but those books were never successful and they never found an audience. The biggest challenge was finally realizing, “OK, it’s not going to work, and I need to do something else and I need to return to my first love.” Because I was that girl who loved Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon growing up and devoured all of those stories. I realized, “Oh, this is the genre I’m supposed to be writing in.” Not the one that I’m banging my head against the wall trying to get published in and then not finding an audience in. Once I did that, I was much happier and much more successful.
Her best writing advice
Edit! And then edit again. And then edit one more time. Everything should be edited more. It’s so important to keep reminding people: just keep editing.
I certainly made mistakes early on where my books weren’t well-proofed enough and they had typos and I don’t like that, it’s messy. But it’s not even just about typos. It’s the reminder to really take time with your work and treat it like you’re building a house, and make sure that everything is lined up and built properly from the foundation up. Make sure your story is solid. Make sure you’re working with a talented, smart editor who you respect to shape it into the best thing possible. Make sure the copy editors and proofreaders and all of those people are the best that they can be so that you can get the story out there.
And just try to know that it’s not gonna be for everybody, but hopefully, you’ll find an audience for it. One of the things that have probably made me happiest as a writer is knowing yes, I do have a decent audience for a lot of my stories, and there are also people who don’t like them as well. And that’s OK!
On what makes a good sex scene
It should be more focused on what the characters are feeling rather than a paint by numbers. Sex scenes that bore me are the ones that are sort of like, “And then he trailed his tongue here and then he moved his mouth down my arm,” and I’m like, “But how does it feel?” Are you going up in flames? Does it feel like fireworks are igniting in your chest? Those are the things that I want to feel as a reader, or as a listener if I’m listening to an audiobook, and those are the things that I certainly try to do when I’m writing sexy-times scenes so that it doesn’t just feel like a manual.
On why everyone loves romance
Because it’s so yummy! Who doesn’t want to be in love or fall in love? It’s really connected to this basic, human thing that we’re all aspiring to. We all want to fall in love, we all want to give love and feel love, and I think that’s what it delivers on. The other reason that it’s perennially popular is that we know ultimately there’s this promise of a happy ending. Life is really screwy and messy and painful, but for these two hours, I’m gonna get lost in this world where it’s all gonna be yummy and delicious all the time. Or at least at the end, it will be!
On why she prefers audiobooks sometimes
I have this great superpower which is insta-sleep, and I pretty much fall asleep as soon as I get into bed at night. So if I didn’t listen to audiobooks throughout the day I wouldn’t even get to consume that many books. I’m walking the dogs and I’ll listen to books, I’m working out I’ll listen to a book, while I’m cleaning or whatever it is, driving. But I also have always loved the theatre and loved entertainment, so hearing it performed is something that I just really enjoy. A good narrator can bring this whole new experience to a book, and that’s what I really connect with.
On listening to her own audiobooks
I don’t always listen to all of them but I usually try to. I definitely listened to all of Wanderlust because [the narrator is] Richard Armitage, and how can I resist when his voice is like melting chocolate and amazing wine and everything good in the world? Oh my god, it sounds incredible! When I first heard the files, I was messaging my editor like every five minutes, “Oh did you hear how he did this line and did you hear how he did that line?” I’m like, “OK, I’ll stop eventually.” But maybe not. Maybe I’ll just keep messaging you! I definitely listened to that one all the way through.
Source: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/books/a21049284/lauren-blakely-interview/. Reproduced for educational purposes.