With Love Q&A: Shayla Black
When did you first fall in love with romance as a genre? When I was a junior in college, I visited a new and used bookstore just off campus for a hard-to-find textbook. They had a section of romance novels, all dog-eared and well loved. While the clerk was looking for the textbook I needed, I browsed the romance shelves and recognized one my babysitter had been reading when I was a kid, Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I remember my sitter being GLUED to this book but she wouldn’t let me near it because it was too adult. So at eighteen, I picked up this book, probably more as an act of rebellion than anything. But I loved it enough to buy another. And another. And another...
Who are some of your authorly inspirations? For a long time, one of my principles has been to just be me. So I really do my best not to spend time or energy thinking about what others are doing. I can’t be them, only myself. So that’s where I focus. I find most of my inspiration in music, human interest stories, even pets. It’s everywhere! I don’t limit myself to being moved by one category of people.
Fill in the blank: romance is whatever I want it to be. The parameter of the genre are so wide open, that I could write or read virtually anything in a romance these days— from a sweet Victorian maid experiencing the first blush of innocent love as she takes her bow into society, to an inked-up rocker/biker/billionaire, to intrepid explorers from other planets discovering love in zero gravity in the midst of interstellar war. Couples, trios, quads and more. Gay, straight, both... Love takes on every single form in romance today. The only “rule” is that people must fall in love.
What makes a good romance novel, hero or heroine? The same things that make a good person. I’ve seen heroes and heroines of all backgrounds, personalities, and attitudes. I’ve written some incredibly diverse characters. I think as long as they have the capacity to grow as people and to love another, they are worthy.
Tell us about your newest book? On shelves currently is the latest in my Wicked Lovers series, Holding On Tighter. A British bodyguard who’s been burned by love finds himself protecting an ambitious fashion designer who never believed in love at all. When the past comes back to haunt them, will they both live long enough to resolve their hearts? Releasing April 11 is MORE THAN WANT YOU, the first book in my new contemporary romance series, More Than Words. What’s it about? A ruthless hotshot involved in the deal of his career meets a sexy, sassy free spirit. He’s determined to hire her to distract his fiercest competitor—his own brother. But what’s he going to do when he falls for her himself?
What’s your all-time favourite fictional love story (it doesn’t need to be a book!)? Pride & Prejudice. Maybe that’s cliché, but I love me some Mr. Darcy.
What are you reading now? A great deal of non-fiction to prepare for an upcoming book, but I’m hoping to get back to reading strictly for pleasure soon!
What are some common misconceptions people have about romance readers or writers? We’re not all Joan Wilder. The romance writer is not made up of any one age group, socioeconomic background, or ethnicity. We’re also often at the cutting edge of publishing. For instance, our readership was among the first to adapt to technology. We were among the first to embrace the indie revolution. We also have a difficult job. Ask a hundred random people for their definition of love and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Yet we must craft stories that convince readers our characters are in love and will be forever. On top of that, we have a voracious readership who will not happily accept one book a year from their favorite authors. So not only must we convince readers about the viability of our characters’ romances, we must do so frequently.
Describe your dream date (and your dream date partner). After twenty-five years of marriage, I’m happy to be at home with my hubby doing whatever we feel like at the moment—talking, gaming, swimming, laughing. I’m happy for every moment with him.
Speaking of dates, if you could choose anyone, living or dead to have a coffee with, who would you choose? Walt Disney. He’s always been a huge inspiration to me for taking chances and creating something the world hadn’t even yet dreamed of.