Amazon Romance expert Lena Cohen spoke with best-selling author Roxanne St. Claire
about her writing process and her emotional involvement in her books in this exclusive
I was hoping we could talk a little bit about your upcoming release in the Barefoot Bay series, Barefoot by
the Sea. I was really impressed by how masterfully the storyline wove
together in this book.
Roxanne St. Claire:
I love that book. I am really touched that you like that book. I don’t know
what happened, but sometimes lightning strikes; the characters are cooperative,
the story has natural organic conflict, and you don’t tear your hair out and
cry. Some days when you’re writing you sit there and think, “What’s supposed to
happen next?” This book just flowed right out of me, and I really enjoyed
LC: I found
myself falling in love with the characters and really empathizing with the
things in their life that they’re striving for. Do you find yourself developing
empathy for your characters when you write? Do you get emotionally involved?
RSC: Oh, I get
emotionally involved. In fact, if I’m not emotionally involved then I think
something is wrong with the book. Barefoot in the Rainis the second book in the series and it came
out so weepy. A big part of the story is the relationship between the
daughter and her father who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s, but it’s changed his
personality tremendously, in a good way. He wasn’t a pleasant man before and
she has to forgive him. It was just an emotional wipe out to write that book. There
are scenes in that book, when I would be in his point of view, and I got worked
up. Good thing I don’t wear mascara when I write! [Laughs] You also
mentioned empathy. I don’t want to protect the characters. I have to put them
through a rough time, and if it’s not rough enough, my editor is going to say
make it worse. [Laughs] So I have to put them through a rough time. But,
if it’s not touching me, then I know it’s not touching a reader.
LC: Do you
hear feedback from readers on how they are connecting emotionally with your
RSC: Yes. I
used to make a joke, and a lot of people have teased me about it, that my giveaway
for Barefoot in the Rain should have been a little pack of Kleenex because
a lot of people have said they cried. I want a book to be emotional but I don’t
want it to tear your heart out. So you want to temper that and just give the
right amount of emotion. I think in Barefoot by
the Sea you sort of
experience that she’s dealing with infertility and giving up her dreams for
him. There’s an emotional event and I probably got a little damp in the eye
with that one.
definitely some humor as well. Is that something you are trying to do more of?
RSC: If the
characters are funny, then I’ll write funny. I’m not a stand-up comic by any
stretch of the imagination but if my characters have a funny personality, it
will come out. In that series the character Zoe is very sarcastic
and snarky and funny. She’s easy to write a joke for; that’s just her
character. There are some characters that if they’re making jokes, they are not
going to sound true to who they are. Not everyone’s funny. I like the humor in
a book to emerge naturally.
LC: Are you
able to share how you go about your writing process?
RSC: Oh, it’s
so ugly. Do you really want to know? [Laughs] My process is to write as
rough a draft as quickly as I can. That process has evolved. I used to write to
perfection. I’d write a scene and then rewrite until it’s perfect. My husband
once gave me the analogy that I build skyscrapers. He said, “What you’re doing
is you’re building the whole first floor, and then you’re painting it and
putting down carpet; you're decorating it and putting plants in. Then you build
the second floor, and the third floor, and so on.” He said, “Then you get to
the fifth floor, and you realize that the stairwell doesn’t meet code, and you
tear the whole thing down and start over again.” [Laughs] It was such a
mind-blowing analogy for me. So now when I am writing I think, “I
don’t need to know that yet. I don’t need to put those plants there
(metaphorically). I just need to get the story down so that I have the bones of
my story.” In the thirty-five books I’ve written, I’m only just evolving to that,
and I would say every book is different. Sometimes you just get that magical
mix of characters that jump off the page, like in Barefoot by
LC: Did you
find that because Barefoot by
the Sea flowed so well in the writing process that you had less work to do when you went
back through it?
Absolutely. Yeah. Revisions are always heavy, because I’m a reviser. I would
rather revise than do anything. I just love to revise books. I love to just to
take something that is already done and make it better. Creating it the first
time is hard but that book was fun to write. I have personal favorite
books, and usually it’s because they obeyed. [Laughs]
of books that obeyed, congratulations on your RITA nomination earlier this year
for Barefoot in the Sand. You’ve won several awards in your career
already. What was it like to win your first award?
even before you’re published, awards are so validating and they’re wonderful. I
won a RITA in 2007. It’s a thrill. I don’t remember walking on stage because
you’re just sort of in a haze of, “I can’t believe this happened.” It’s
tremendously validating. Because we work in this lonely profession, where our
feedback mostly comes online from readers or reviews, it’s so
wonderful to have the validation of your peers or of readers. So it’s awesome. Plus
I love being nominated because it means I get to sit in the front at the awards.
the best part. [Laughs]
LC: Have the
awards changed your approach to your career or to writing?
RSC: No. I
certainly wouldn’t say I write for awards. Like I said, it’s extremely
validating. I’ve won the National Readers Choice Award three times for Best
Romantic Suspense and that was wonderful. But I would never think of writing
for an award or for a review. I write from my heart, for my readers. So, if
they love it, and it’s honored with an award, that’s amazing, but it’s not
What’s your favorite romance novel of all time?
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer. It was the first one that I felt
changed after reading it. It was one of those books where I couldn’t tell
enough people about it. My sister and I used to send books to each other with
notes inside and I remember putting that in the envelope with all my notes like
“Read this scene,” and “This is so cute.” I love that book. The one that made
me want to write is Susan Elizabeth Phillips’Nobody’s Baby but Mine. I
closed that book, and I said, “I want to make someone else feel the way I feel
right now. I have to try this.” I had a completely different career in public
relations. So I decided I want to try my hand at writing.
LC: So what’s
next for you?
RSC: Well it
looks like there will be three more books in Barefoot Bay series. You may have
noticed that there were three wedding planners that were part of Barefoot by
the Sea and I’m moving them to the resort to start the Barefoot Brides. So
I am working on the first one in that trilogy right now. I am writing it right
now and its fun, so far, so good.
LC: Thank you
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