Should fiction writers talk about politics?

I find I don’t have so many opinions these days, more just feelings and questions. And one thing stoking these feelings lately is the idea that fiction writers shouldn’t talk about politics.

When I was a younger reader, I certainly wondered why on earth they would. Unless an author was writing contemporary political fiction, what would real-life arguments that no one seems able to agree on have to do with their work?

Then I started taking my own writing more seriously and realised, wow… actually, politics has A LOT to do with fiction.

Let’s set aside the idea of “moralising” or “sending a message” here. It’s kind of obvious this happens, and whether an author intends for their fiction to push an agenda is always down to the individual author and the piece of work in question. Also, this isn’t the thing I want to talk about today.

I want to talk about world-building. Specifically, how worldly mechanics and market forces help shape the setting of a story and drive the drama. Even in romance fiction, where the conflict is about how the MC and LI succeed or fail in answering the call of love, it’s stuff like politics, economics and social issues that offers fertile ground for interesting conflict to grow.

Take Sarah Smith’s Simmer Down as a contemporary example. If Nikki lets Callum nick her parking spot, her sales will drop, resulting in less income to support her family. Their conflict over food truck territory is ultimately an economic one. This novel may not feature US economic policy per se, but it does examine the impacts of capitalism on the individual, albeit in a super hot, sexy and entertaining way.

A glowing plasma ball
Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Speculative fiction, by necessity, may include its fair share of politics, which I think stems from authors having to create an entire universe by extrapolating from real-world circumstances and events. Policy influences how people behave, decides how technology may be created and used, and deems what actions are acceptable when we want something we don’t have.

The effect is subtle in Pia Manning’s Star Brides series, where xenopolitics encourages the interspecies marriages that lead to romantic tension, giving us a taste of how humans and aliens might resolve differing ideologies within an intimate partnership. In my own work, It Starts With A Kiss, the romantic conflict occurs against the backdrop of issues surrounding industry automation and regulation of UBI (universal basic income).

But then there are stories where you also get to see characters actually do a politics. Stories like Frank Herbert’s Dune, A.R. Vagnetti’s Storm series, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight universe (the Volturi), and James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse.

But let’s get back to present-day realism.

We share this world. We are all connected. Sometimes we mean to be, but most of the time it happens by accident. The events of 2020 highlighted quite profoundly how strong our connections are, even when we can’t see them.

Politics (governmental or otherwise) is the means by which we negotiate the influences and resources within our world. It’s in the air we breathe, the water we drink, it even governs the ground we walk on. Just try setting foot in a restricted area and you’ll get a first-hand lesson in how your society regards “property ownership”.

If we’re lucky enough to be aligned with the dominant political and socioeconomic position where we live, we get to take it all for granted. That doesn’t mean we’re apolitical, it just means we don’t have to think about it all the time. We get to pretend we’re happy-go-lucky and stuff doesn’t matter.

If that’s not the case, though, then we remain almost constantly aware and conscious of the fact that everything stems from politics. We may never get the experience of not thinking about it.

A toy dinosaur sits atop a stack of books
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

The book on top of your TBR pile got there because certain worldly forces permitted it to be. Maybe you live in a place where books like that are allowed to be printed and sold. The author must have been afforded the ability to sit and write it, then to have it be published and distributed. And you were able to acquire it because someone somewhere paid good money for it to be at the right place at the right time. All of the forces that put that book in your hands were shaped by the negotiations in our shared world.

I daresay fiction writers must be aware of this, at least on some level, in order to write relatable and interesting stories. Even when we make the argument that fiction should be about helping readers escape from vexatious politics, writers must still create those places they can escape to. These places may not feature political conflict, but politics—in some fashion—will always be relevant.

Now, I don’t think fiction writers should necessarily talk about politics. But my feeling is there may be no reason why they shouldn’t, as politics are necessary to create an interesting world.

And appreciating how worldly forces have enabled me to sit here and write this post, I can’t help but wonder—how can anyone talk about anything without ultimately being political? 🤔

Guys reading romance

When I read The Kiss Quotient last year, I was floored by how relatable Stella (the MC) was. I told my partner that if he wanted to understand how I think and feel, he needed to read this book. To my surprise, he did. He finished the whole book in a day.

And he liked it.

Romance is conventionally regarded as a “women’s genre”, often attracting the ridicule of many men (and women too) who see romance novels as formulaic, unnecessarily lusty, and poorly written. And, to be fair, maybe some books have rightfully earned those labels, thus painting the entire genre a frightful shade of blue in the eyes of the uninitiated.

So for me, as a writer of love stories, it’s extra exciting to see non-romance readers—especially men who don’t see themselves as readers who’d touch a romance novel—be open-minded and curious enough (both very attractive traits, in my opinion) to look past the stereotypes and find out for themselves.

Some fellow writers and readers helped me out with this post. They’ll jump in from time to time to share their thoughtful insights.

Gentleman with dark jeans and a grey blazer clutches a worn hardcover novel beside his leather satchel, as he walks along a country road.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Painted with the blue brush

Romance is a huge genre, so based on probability alone, it’s reasonable to expect that low-quality or formulaic stories will work their way into the mix as writers and publishers strive to keep up with market demand. Though, personally, I take issue with the idea of stories being “low quality” or “formulaic”, because there’s more nuance to those labels than what they suggest.

When we call a story “low quality”, we need to consider the audience it’s intended for. You know that joke about buying your cat a fancy new toy only for her to play with the paper and ribbon it was wrapped in? If the audience doesn’t care about someone else’s definition of quality, then what good is it?

And then we get to “formulaic”, which is an interesting concept when you consider what defines a romance story. From About the Romance Genre (Romance Writers of America):

Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending… Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction.

I know I’ve heard some guys criticise romances for the predictability of two people falling in love, encountering some conflict, and then ending up happily ever after. For a story to be called a romance (in commercial terms), it certainly must follow a particular form, but to consider that a formula is kind of like criticising the dictionary for being, predictably, a book full of words and definitions.

But what about the lusty part? Are the dissenters right about all romances being trashy sex books? Haha, nope!

A.R. VAGNETTI (author of the Storm Series):

They have this misconception that all romance is smut. I absolutely hate that word. Now there are some sub-genres of romance where the whole book revolves around sex, and that’s fine for some, but I think in general, romance is about the growth of a relationship. You take a ride of twists and turns, ups and downs, and navigate the pitfalls and struggles of being a couple.

Contemporary romances have generally moved away from dated stereotypes to more realistic and modern relationships, which can feature challenges such as addiction, single parenting or domestic violence. Throw in suspense or historical events and that makes it even better.

What if blue really is the warmest colour?

Bros can learn a lot about their partners by reading romance. It can be hard to express a thought or feeling or desire in a conversation, because sometimes there’s so much to say and the words don’t do it justice.

There are so many stereotypes and misunderstandings about “what women want” from sex and relationships. And in all fairness, the confusing and ambiguous circumstances we encounter in real life can inadvertently reinforce those misconceptions.

DK MARIE (author of Fairy Tale Lies, Love Songs and Taste of Passion):

The biggest misconception romance has debunked is that only men are sexual beings. That they alone crave the pleasures of sex. This is SO untrue. It is more that many women were taught to let men take the lead and not share what they like and dislike. This is one of the things I love about romances. Many feature confident women. They tell men what they want and expect pleasure and satisfaction.

Romance also disproves the fallacy that most women want a man to protect them. There are those romances, but I have read so many where the woman wanted a partner, not a white knight. They want someone to share adventures and disasters with, not someone to take care of her and fix all her problems.

Even when it’s pure fantasy, romance novels offer readers an insight into real-world wants and needs. By and large, ones written by women will naturally feature a woman’s perspective on shedloads of desires that men don’t always see or understand.

SARAH SMITH (author of Faker and Simmer Down):

I remember when I was a youngster, sneaking romance novels out of my auntie’s stash, reading a lot of too-good-to-be true sex scenes in romance novels. Like, there’s very little foreplay or the woman orgasms easily or it’s the couple’s first time together and they magically know each other’s physical hot buttons so sex is a total breeze. And I think that if you were reading those kinds of books and didn’t know any better, you’d end up with some unrealistic expectations for what sex should be like.

I feel compelled to mention here that it’s not all about the “woman’s perspective” as much as it is about the perspective of carefully crafted characters who have realistic human experiences. Due to the nature of this post, we’re looking at this through a heteronormatively gendered lens, but modern romance—and indeed modern fiction—is tending towards challenging those old boundaries.

CAIDYN (reviewer at @caidynsreads):

People read romance because it represents their wants/needs/interests in life. Perhaps it doesn’t fit their life exactly—some people like different kinks/niches that they don’t have in their day to day life—but it’s something that fits them.

I think that it’d be great if we could normalize people not having to be sexual but can be romantic. Or that it’s all cool if someone isn’t into that sort of thing. That’s what I’d like. I’m just tired of seeing romance as a reason why you should buy something. It doesn’t get me as a consumer. I usually find romantic subplots pointless. I read for good plots and romance just distracts me completely.

That said, one of my favorite books of 2019 was Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. It’s got a LOT of romance. And I really, really loved it. It was just a great read with amazing characters and plot, so I was able to get into the romance.

A gentleman reads a worn paperback in bed, in his cosy well-decorated bedroom.
Photo by awar kurdish on Unsplash

For me personally, reading and writing romance gave me a safe space to understand and explore my own needs and feelings within a romantic and sexual framework. This may be the case for many readers from all walks of life who, much like me and perhaps you, turn to books and media to help them comprehend themselves and their place in the world, or to simply get away from a reality that doesn’t gel with them.

A.R. VAGNETTI:

I believe there should be an equal mix of diversity as it fills our society. As a reader/writer I prefer the fictional fantasy of my characters. I read to escape the harsh reality of life, while for others, having characters that are disabled, characters with mental or chronic illness is cathartic. And I think those dynamics in the romance genre are changing to fit those needs.

DK MARIE:

I think diversity in romance is fantastic and much needed. I have read many and enjoyed them. There is the fun mix of relatability as a woman and also learning something new, reading a different life view than my own. I believe these stories are important for society. When we understand people’s struggles, we are able to offer kindness and empathy better.

SARAH SMITH:

I know what it’s like to grow up being an avid reader, yet never encountering a character who looked like me or had the same background as me or who went through similar experiences as me. It’s a really empty feeling. So whenever I read a book by an #OwnVoices author, it means so much. It means I feel represented in an industry—in a form of entertainment—that I felt excluded from for a very long time. Making even more readers and authors feel more welcome—making them feel like they are part of this world—is a good thing.

Guys, take note: reading romance makes you sexy

Not just because it makes you look open-minded and secure enough in your manliness to read “a girl’s book”. And not just because it shows you don’t pander to stereotypes and what the men who do might think of you.

DK MARIE:

As for men, I admire those reading romance. This is someone who won’t be told by society what he should like and read. He is confident enough to read what he enjoys. He is his own person, that is admirable.

It’s because what you learn from modern romance novels gives you access to the secrets. Yes, the very same secrets that self-identified “clueless men” claim to be clueless about. They’re hardly mysterious, but hard to discern if you grew up in an age where toxic masculinity was the norm. These are the highly prized tools of interpersonal decency and desirable indecency that would make an encounter with anyone something worth writing home about.

SARAH SMITH:

Honestly, if I ever saw a guy reading a romance novel, it would give me so many happy feels. Even though some people think of just sex when they think of romance novels, I think one of the most important things that romance novels do is show the importance of communication. Some of the major plot points in romance novels are when the main characters are working through misunderstandings and having breakthroughs about their needs and wants. All of those are types of communication. So in a very real way, romance novels are showcasing the importance of communication in sex and relationships, and show how literally everything stems from having healthy communication.

A.R. VAGNETTI:

I believe, men reading romance novels would greatly benefit their current or future relationships and maybe bring back a spark to a stale one. Romance novels are about so much more than just mind blowing sex. In some cases, it can be a real learning guide on how to avoid the pitfalls we all spiral into during a relationship. Like how we tend to jump to conclusions, making the mistake our partner thinks like us. Or burying our feelings, letting resentment build, until we reach a serious crossroads. The underlining message in all romance literature is learning to take a leap of faith, trust, and communicating with our partners. Everyone can benefit from that.

DK MARIE:

Men, you’re getting an inside view of women’s hopes, desires, and wishes. If your wife, girlfriend, or lover has a favourite romance author, it would be a good idea to read one or two of their books. Romances range from sweet and sensual to BDSM. Find out which stories she loves to read and why. Not only will you learn more about her and therefore become closer. I’m willing to bet things will become more fun in the bedroom as these books will open up discussions of romantic and sexual expectations.

With all these benefits, I can’t help but wonder if there may be other factors behind some of the male ire for romance. I’m definitely not qualified to comment on men’s business, and perhaps that’s why I’m prone to being curious: could some of the negativity come from shame and fear?

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDB6ezxgHvP/

PsychCentral has this to say. From Male Sexual Shame and Objectification of Women:

Passage into manhood often exposes [boys] to humiliation during a period when openness and honesty aren’t allowed. They have to hide their feelings and natural instincts.

Romance novels centering on female experiences and sexuality typically come with a generous serve of emotional real-talk, often at point blank range. In my own experience, when I’ve been through my own phases of emotional fragility (a necessary part of growing up), I certainly found that kind of honesty and rawness extremely challenging and confronting.

Anecdotally, the men I know who have enthusiastically given romance a go (either to support a writer friend or to learn more about female perspectives) seem to demonstrate a lot of openness and comfort with their emotional and sexual selves—or at least a willingness to confront their discomforts and courageously own them.

A.R. VAGNETTI:

Romantic literature can lead to improved sexual confidence, greater sexual activity and greater sexual experimentation. Surveys have demonstrated that many readers of the genre use romantic literature to foster a healthy monogamous relationship while vicariously fulfilling sexual desires. Women who read romance novels also reported that they did not negatively compare their real-life partners with fictional male protagonists or heroes. Which might be a fear some men harbour regarding romance novels.

Well, I do know one thing. Whenever my partner reads the romance books I read (or at least the parts that count), we both come away with a shared vocabulary and context for assessing and analysing our own relationship. We’re not immune to the problems that affect other relationships, and working through those problems—no matter what they are—always starts with the two of us on the same page.


This post was made possible by the experiences, knowledge and insights of the following people. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all <3

Sarah Smith, author of Faker, If You Never Come Back, and the hotly anticipated Simmer Down, coming out 13 October 2020. Sarah is a copywriter turned author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time.

“Romance is just plain fun to read. It’s incredibly entertaining to read about these characters as they go through relatable issues, read their banter, get excited when they flirt and fall in love, and of course get amped up when the steamy parts happen.”

Caidyn (he/him, aroace, trans), the book omnivore and licensed social worker behind @caidynsreads, who names his all-time favourite book as American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

“I’d love to see more accurate trans, aro, and ace rep in romance. I’d be more likely to read it if that happened.”

DK Marie, author of Fairy Tale Lies, Love Songs and Taste of Passion. They’re a mixture of heart, heat, and humour. Brimming with confident heroines and kind heroes, all living, loving, and lusting in and around her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.

“Romance readers are the people who either believe in the Happily-Ever-After; they see the good in a world often overflowing with sadness and hardship. Or they are the ones needing an escape, something to lighten the weight of the day-to-day thrown at us. I fall into this category. Romance makes me feel lighter, hopeful.”

A.R. Vagnetti, author of the Storm Series, transporting readers into a fantastical world of paranormal romance where bold Alpha males will sacrifice anything for the strong, deeply scared, kickass females they love. Her latest book, Forbidden Storm, is now available across major e-retailers.

“No matter how damaged or rough your past, you can overcome, deal with, or completely conquer your personal demons with the love, trust, and support of your chosen partner. I wholeheartedly believe in the love conquers all scenario.”

What I’m not reading — Aug 2020

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

There must be something about this time of year that gets me doing stuff other than reading. It’s Djilba in these parts, according to the Noongar calendar, described as “a transitional time of year”. Now, I don’t know if that refers to people and emotions as well as the weather, but I’m certainly feeling a sense of flux.

Although, if you were to watch me through the window, it would appear I’m only fluctuating between gaming at the computer or bingeing Netflix on the couch 😅

Well, it’s not reading, at any rate, and here are the lovely books that are taunting me from my house-sized TBR:

Forbidden Storm by A.R. Vagnetti

A pensive heroin clutches a sword against the backdrop of watchful lupine eyes, on the cover of Forbidden Storm by A.R. Vagnetti

Newly released and hot off the press, this is the long-awaited sequel to Forgotten Storm. This time, we track the escapades of sexy Kurtis (I loved him in the first book, but who doesn’t love a hot martial arts hero?) and the enigmatic Lucretia.

The Kyanite Press: Volume 1, Issue 1

A ghostly hand reaches towards us from a starry night sky on the cover of The Kyanite Press Volume 1, Issue 1

This is one book I wish I had taken with me on my last plane ride. It features speculative shorts of all sorts, and knowing what kinds of stories Kyanite Publishing likes to collect, this would have kept me properly distracted on the long transit home.

The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

A Black woman holding a laundry basket chats to a Chinese guy holding a cat on the cover of The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

This book was an insta-buy when I saw it on Instagram, which is a shame because I’ve since done some research and learned that Mindy Kaling is one of the audiobook VAs. Oh how I wish I got the audiobook edition instead, because I love Mindy Kaling’s voice! It’s not ridiculous to buy the audiobook of something if you already have the Kindle version of it, right? Maybe it’s time to dust off the ol’ Audible subscription…

Not Meeting Mr. Right by Anita Heiss

A redheaded lady contemplates the mediocre men in her life on the illustrated cover of Not Meeting Mr Right by Anita Heiss

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m looking for until it finds me. That was this book, another insta-buy from an author I’ve heard good things about. I eagerly await a chance to get stuck into it, though if it’s as “Sex and the City”-esque as it sounds, I should probably load up on wine and snacks first.

Dirty 1st Dates: The Arcade by Harley Laroux

A tattooed guy stands in a gaming arcade on the cover of Dirty 1st Dates: The Arcade by Harley Laroux

Harley Laroux is a top shelf smut writer. While a few of her books await me on my Kindle, this one in particular is bubbling to the top. The next book I read will most likely be this one.

Reverb: Live, Die, Rave, Repeat by David Fuente

A crowd of clubbers dance the night away on the cover of Reverb: Live, Die, Rave, Repeat by David Fuentes

Another insta-buy—everything about this book sounds like a riot. This bit from the blurb was what got me in the end: “Expect Sun, Sex and Sangria all mixed in with EDM, even more Sex and Narcotics.”

The Heart of the Deal by Lisabet Sarai

A business woman sits in an executive chair on the cover of The Heart of the Deal by Lisabet Sarai

Lisabet Sarai has been on my reading list for ages, but it was the “Ruby and Rick compete for ownership of a strategic factory in Malaysia” bit that drew me to this book. Who says representation doesn’t sell?

Endgame by Aisha Tritle

A skull stylised with an abstract circuitboard theme on the cover of Endgame by Aisha Tritle

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but the circuitboard-styled skull really sold me on this. That and the techno-thriller vibes in the very intriguing blurb. I have a thing for guys named Alexei too, so that’s a trifecta right there. Oh, Kindle, my Kindle, we shall spend time soon ❤️

Status Update — May 2020

CampNaNoWriMo was a success. And by that, I mean The Dragon’s Den WIP is finally in a usable first draft state. It still needs so much research and revising before it’s even close to becoming a book, but I was very happy anyway and celebrated with a couple of new videogames (tell you about them in a tick).

The Basilica Conspiracy

The Dragon’s Den is book 2 of The Basilica Conspiracy, a sci-fi/retrofuture mini-series that follows the development of Rhys and Adria’s romantic relationship after they accidentally stumble on some business they weren’t supposed to see.

The first book, Chasing Sisyphus, came out in 2017 and while book 2 should have started as soon as book 1 was finished, now that I’ve reached this point in the WIP, I realise I just wasn’t ready to write The Dragon’s Den back then. The story was too complex, character motivations too intense, and my writing nowhere near strong enough to tell the story needing to be told.

But I’m ready now…I think. And after a short break, I’ll be starting the first proper revision of The Dragon’s Den as well as the first draft of book 3, Sins of the Other.

Sunset on a Distant World

…is back on the worktable after almost a year of sitting in a box. There are a lot of problems with the first draft, but a lot of interesting ways to fix them. There is a plan for this book and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you when it’s done.

Shop talk

I hope you enjoyed reading about the revision process for It Starts With A Kiss, as there’ll be more where that came from. “Shop talk” is a new category of content I’ll be sharing in my newsletter and on this blog, talking about writing craft, mindset and “the trade”. I know most of you also write, so I hope you’ll find the information useful in your own creative endeavours.

Short stories

So, the writing I started “for no reason” ended up as short story, Playing Trades. This 2000-word piece was sent out to my dear readers in the April/May issue of Dot Club, and has since been accepted into Crystal L. Kirkham‘s Where the Sun Always Shines Anthology, coming out soon.

There’s a new microstory going into next month’s newsletter. If you’d like to see it, you can subscribe on my website.

Oh, and I gave up on “MOAB”. About two-thirds of the way through, it stopped feeling right, so back in the box it goes.

Projects (still) on hold

  • Project H
  • Project D (yep, there’s another unnamed project floating around)

Self-care

There’s a lot I can’t control right now, but also a lot that I can. Getting at least 20 minutes of sunlight a day is one of them. Drinking 2L of water a day is another. I still slip sometimes, but for the most part, minding these two things sets me up to be able to do other things. Like exercising and catching myself before I get too emotionally invested in ignorant hot takes on Twitter. Everyone handles stress differently, and where I can help it, I’m trying not to let some stranger’s stress tantrum become the reason I have one too 😅

Other self-care activities that have helped a lot:

Moisturising my forearms… Maybe I have a sensory thing going on, but supple forearm skin seems to be a real mood lifter 🤔

Nice smells. I’ve burnt all my smelly candles, but found a tiny vial of peppermint oil on a cluttered shelf, so we’re all candy cane country this month!

Curating my feeds. Nuff said.

Reading

  • Forgotten Storm by A. R. Vagnetti, after longingly staring at the paperback on my shelf for months.
  • True Refuge by Annabelle McInnes—I had to stop this one, as the incredibly powerful first chapter moved me more than I was ready for. But I’m ready to come back now.
  • Also beta reading for some writer friends.

Recently finished: The Way Home by Stefanie Simpson. Night Life by B.K. Bass.

Watching

  • Family Guy
  • Parks & Recs
  • Luis Miguel: The Series—Diego Boneta is a snack, even with a mullet
Actor Diego Boneta holds a cigarette between his soft lips
Diego Boneta via IMDB

Recently watched: Devs (brilliant).

Playing

Recently on the socials…

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAEn942AIwS/

Fresh Find: Forgotten Storm by A.R. Vagnetti — interview & giveaway

My relationship with paranormal romance is long and strange. I think it’s because I liked it so much in my teens, that it feels like a chain that tethers me to a tumultuous time in my life.

Well, now in my late thirties, I’ve decided to just embrace it. And Forgotten Storm, by fellow Kyanite author A.R. Vagnetti, seems like the right place to start.

JL: Tell us a bit about yourself and your latest book, Forgotten Storm.

A.R. VAGNETTI: I’ve always been an avid reader, especially in the romance genre. As a teenager, I devoured second, sometimes third hand, Harlequin romances from my family, and then when I started buying my own, I graduated to romantic suspense, loving the intensity. Until I found my passion; paranormal romance. I wrote my first novel in my twenties. It was a romantic suspense. It was so horrible. LOL I threw it in the back of the closet and walked away from writing for a very long time.

It wasn’t until about 3 years ago; I picked up the proverbial pen and wrote Forgotten Storm. The first book in the Storm Series, Forgotten Storm, is about Nicole Giordano. A young woman who struggles to overcome an abusive past until the exotic man from her dreams appears on her doorstep and forces her to battle her fears, accept a destiny foretold in an ancient prophesy, and trust him with her heart, but facing her malevolent father isn’t Nicole’s greatest challenge; suppressing her dark desires for Logan could shatter her one chance with the vampire who claimed her soul.

JL: Where did the idea for the story come from? What elements did you draw from real life?

A.R.: I wanted to write a story that had all the elements of a paranormal romance, but I also needed it to convey a deeper meaning. How to let go of whatever crap life has thrown at you and take a risk; to trust.

Trust is something I’ve struggled to deal with since I was 12 years old because it was stolen from me. Forgotten Storm is about a courages woman who never gave up, continued to fight and deal with her issues in whatever way she could; combat, pain, coffee. LOL. But most importantly, Nicole learns to take the leap of faith and trust a vampire with her battered and bruised heart. I relate to Nicole, and I’ve always maintained she is me times 10. She’s everything I’ve been and hope to become.

JL: What were the easiest and the hardest parts about writing Forgotten Storm?

A.R.: I guess I would have to say the easiest parts were the times I was “in the zone” and the words just flowed like a waterfall. A whole day would pass before I would finally come up for air. Those were the times I enjoyed the most. The hardest parts, besides the dreaded marketing, were capturing Nicole’s most vulnerable moments. The way she uses sarcasm to keep people at arms length, the paralyzing fear of emotions, hers and others.

But I think the most difficult scenes were when she remembered her past. Those were powerful and heartbreaking. I remember at one point, tears streaming down my checks as my fingers flew across the keyboard. After, I was so drained, I just sat there in my office staring at nothing for long moments.

JL: They say one of the great things about fiction is that it gives us a safe space to figure out how we might deal with the things we encounter in everyday life. What are your thoughts on the role of romance fiction in this context?

A.R.: The great thing about romance fiction is in every book you get a little education on what not to do in a relationship. *smirk* You learn that communication is key and burying your head in the sand, overreacting, or jumping to conclusions only escalates the problem. I think most romance novels touch on these elements. Relationships would probably run a lot smoother if more men read romance. Hahaha

JL: Is there much similarity between what you like to read and what you like to write? What are some of your favourite books that have influenced your style?

A.R.: Oh absolutely! Paranormal Romance is my go-to genre to read. The very first one I read was “Dark Lover” by J.R. Ward. It was the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series and I fell in love with vampires. After that is was Kresley Cole’s Immortal’s After Dark Series. I must confess, I did read the Twilight books and there were numerous things I loved about them and several things I hated. (No fangs and sparkles to name a couple), and last, but certainly not least, since it’s one of my favorite non-vampire paranormal romances is Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson Series. (Little secret, I’ve read the series twice.)

JL: Finally, what’s your all-time favourite love story, and why?

A.R.: Funnily enough, my favorite love story isn’t even a paranormal romance. LOL Hands down, it’s The Stark Trilogy by J. Kenner. The intense passion between Damian and Nikki captivates you from the very beginning. The personal demons they must overcome reminds me of Nicole and Logan in Forgotten Storm.

Green eyes look through a storm, while a woman faces it, holding a gun and katana, on the cover of "Forgotten Storm" by A.R. Vagnetti

Enter the giveaway!

Two lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of Forgotten Storm by A.R. Vagnetti in the It Starts With A Kiss giveaway, along with Feathers and Fae by Crystal L. Kirkham,  Skye McDonald’s Not Suitable For Work, more fresh romance reads, handcrafted goodies from local Australian artists like Renée Botman and More Sundays Please, plus a signed paperback copy of my latest book, It Starts With A Kiss.

Check out the giveaway post for details on how to enter. This is an international giveaway, closing 29th September 2019.

Giveaway — It Starts With A Kiss

To celebrate the release of my upcoming sci-fi office romance, It Starts With A Kiss, I’m running a very special giveaway draw 💝

Two lucky winners will receive a signed paperback copy of the novel, along with a bundle of lovely treats featuring the work of local crafters Renée Botman, More Sundays Please and Handmade Gems; a digital download of Skye McDonald’s latest novel; and this year’s sweet ebook releases by fellow Kyanite authors Sophia LeRoux, A. R. Vagnetti and Crystal Kirkham.

What’s in the prize pack?

The rules are simple:

  1. You may enter by email, instagram, or both — yes, this means you can enter twice!
  2. To be eligible for entry by email, you must be subscribed to my mailing list. You may only enter once by email.
  3. To be eligible for entry by instagram, you must be following me on instagram. You may only enter once by instagram.
  4. If you win, you must be okay with telling me your postal address so I know where to send your prize!

How to enter by email

If you’re already a Dot Dot Dot subscriber, you’ll have received instructions already. Just reply to that email with answers to both questions.

If you’re not yet a Dot Dot Dot subscriber, it’s easy—just sign up, confirm your subscription, and the instructions will be sent straight to your inbox 💌

Make sure you get it done and dusted by 29 September 2019.

How to enter by instagram

Check out the giveaway post on my profile for instagram entry details!

A couple kissing. Text in image: Giveaway, "It Starts With A Kiss".

Good luck, my lovelies. I look forward to reading your entries! 👀