How did you get into romance writing?
I think first came the love of reading in that genre. I’ve been reading romances since my early years in high school. I didn’t know you could actually make a career of it, though—I mean, growing up I’d never seen or met a romance author, and certainly didn’t know of one in Australia (how little I knew!). Then I found a romance writing course by correspondence, and that seemed to suggest the possibility of becoming a romance writer, so I jumped at it.
What drew you to the genre?
I think it’s the Happy Ever After. I’d read so many spy novels and mysteries and thrillers, I liked the sense of justice that came at the end of those, but sometimes the characters didn’t necessarily have that triumphant personal ending (especially the spy novels). When I read my first romance, I really liked that emotional triumph the characters experienced, because I got to experience it with them. Then I found there were all kinds of romances – suspenses, thrillers, comedies, family sagas, medicals, fantasies… and they all had this complex journey (inward and outward) for the characters, with emotional investment from me, the reader, and a feel-good ending. Reading a happy ending makes a reader happy – and who doesn’t want to be happy?
Are there any particular romance tropes that you avoid?
Oh, good question. I was thinking at first … no, I love them all, but looking back, I think I tend to avoid the romantic triangle. Unless you’re looking at an erotic romance, where multiples in the relationship actually work toward that Happy Ever After, it’s hard to write a story where a couple is fully committed to the other if one is distracted by another. That’s just my personal take, though. It’s also hard to cheer for a character, when as a reader you might be disappointed with the ending when that character doesn’t get their HEA. Although, it’s a great segue to the next book in a series…?
The romance market is one of today’s fastest growing genres. What advice do you have for budding writers looking to get their work read?
Respect the genre, and respect the craft. If you keep working on honing your craft, the readers will find you. From an industry perspective, the romance genre is incredibly supportive. There are many workshops, conferences, etc that are specifically designed to help romance writers get published – either traditionally or independently. The editors and publishers are always on the look out for stories, and readers—oh, my gosh, the readers are amazing, and they will find you. They are smart, they are voracious, and they want you to succeed as much as you do. There are so many opportunities to get your words into the hands of readers these days, and romance, in particular, is a genre that is very receptive to new work, new writers. So keep writing, keep practicing your craft, and network with other writers!
Shannon Curtis is a bestselling, award-winning Australian author who has worked as an administrator, dangerous goods handler, and a betting agent before writing novels. Shannon has written over fifteen novels in contemporary, romantic suspense and paranormal romance fiction. Her latest novel, Easy Target, won the Romance Writers of Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year.
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