I find myself in awe of my guest today, Rachel Leigh Smith, a romance author who has overcome real-life trauma. She affirms my belief that romance is not only a pleasant recreation, it can also be a life-affirming balm to the soul, as it clearly was for Rachel. She is also one of an emerging group of romance authors who write hero-centric romances, which are becoming increasingly popular with romance readers, even if most major publishers have not yet come to grips with that trend. Nor can I resist noting that Rachel is an author after my own heart, since, just as I did in my own debut romance, she has named her heroine after a flower. A natural and delicate name for a woman of strength and courage.
Please welcome romance author, Rachel Leigh Smith . . .
Q: What is your favorite romance genre, and why?
A: For almost twenty years, my go-to romance genre was Christian historical romance. But then I got really bored with it, couldn’t find the character types and settings I wanted, so I abandoned it. About two years ago I discovered Sherrilyn Kenyon, and haven’t looked back. Paranormal is my go-to favorite right now.
As for the why, it’s easy. Paranormal is populated by my favorite kind of hero—the tortured hero.
Q: How do you begin thinking about a new story, with the characters or the plot?
A: Characters come first for me. My debut novel, My Name Is A’yen, started with A’yen introducing himself to me in a dream. I made some notes while I ate breakfast the next morning then opened a document, titled it My Name Is A’yen, and followed him into the story to see what would happen.
And the hero always arrives first. Always. I write romance that’s all about the hero.
Q: When you craft a hero, are you incorporating traits from men you know, or are you writing about a man you have never met, but would like to?
A: My heroes are loosely patterned on my dad, who flew halfway across the country to save me from a marriage gone bad while he was exhausted and sleep-deprived. He’s been an incredible example to me of how a husband should love his wife, and how a father should love his children.
Q: Do you always have control of your characters when you are writing, or do they sometimes get away from you? If so, can you share some examples of how you got them back in line, or did you just go with the flow?
A: What’s this idea of being in control of what happens? I have no experience with it whatsoever. My hero is in the driver’s seat, the heroine is in the passenger seat, and I’m in the back trying frantically to keep up.
I don’t try to get them back in line. When I don’t listen to them about what needs to happen next, I end up going off-track and deleting all of it. So I listen.
Q: Did your latest romance just flow as you wrote, was it a battle to capture in words, or something in between?
A: The one I most recently finished was all of the above. The first attempt at it was a battle. Turns out I had the setting and conflict wrong. When I listened to the hero, Taran, and moved location and focus, everything flowed.
Q: When you begin to write, do you know how the story will end, or does that come to you as part of the process?
A: I have a vague idea of how it will end. My favorite thing to do is mirror the opening, and show how far the characters have come since that point.
Q: Other than one you have created, who is your favorite romance hero or heroine?
A: Acheron from Dark-Hunter. No one else can compare. He’s tall, he’s tortured, he’s compassionate, he sacrifices, he cares deeply, and he’s an Atlantean god. How much more perfect can a guy be?
Q: Without spoiling the story for readers, can you share something about your latest romance which is not in the blurb or any available excerpts?
A: The heroine, Jasmyn, has six siblings. One of them is her identical twin, Violet, named after my grandmother who died while I was writing book two. All of the girls in Jasmyn’s family have flower names: Jasmyn, Violet, Laurel, Raisa, Dahlia, and Holly. The last child is the only boy, and he’s named after their father’s brother who died in a terrorist attack.
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: In my room, all by myself. I don’t write well if I’m around others. I’ll do it if I’m desperate, but I prefer the solitude of my room.
Q: If you were not a romance author, what other creative activities would you pursue?
A: I love doing counted cross-stitch, so I’d do that a lot more than I do now. Before I started writing I could spend six or seven hours straight on a weekend doing nothing but making little x’s on my fabric. It’s one of my favorite ways to relax, and whenever I’m watching TV I’m either doing cross-stitch or crocheting a gift for someone.
Q: Beyond the satisfaction of the happily-ever-after ending, in your opinion, what else does reading a romance novel offer its readers?
A: No matter what trials the characters go through, no matter what secrets they’re hiding, no matter what their pasts say they should be, everything’s going to be okay. That speaks very deeply to me, because I’m a domestic abuse survivor and I believed everything would never be okay again. My happily ever after was shattered by my ex-husband, and it took me a year to get back to a place where I believed the future would be bright. I didn’t write a word for that year, and reading romance helped me get through it.
Once my words came back, writing romance helped me heal. A’yen’s Legacy is a special series to me because A’yen, the main character in the first three books, arrived in my life on the night of what would have been my third wedding anniversary. That day is no longer a memory of what I lost. It’s A’yen’s birthday, and a reminder of everything I’ve gained as I crafted new dreams for myself and learned how to live again.
To Save A Life, A’yen’s Legacy #3 Blurb
A’yen’s loved ones are under attack. To save them, he’ll risk everything.
Half the Lokmane are free and the resettling of Lok’ma is in progress. A’yen is crowned king, but it isn’t stopping his enemies. Someone is after Ro, and the woman he’s falling in love with is caught in the middle.
When Fae is injured in a cave-in at a dig site, A’yen knows who’s to blame. Proving it is the hard part. Things get worse when he walks into a political trap, and Ro is framed for murder. Saving his reputation is easy compared to saving Ro. Ro’s demons come for him, taking him back to a life not worth living.
A’yen races to save Ro before he can act on his deepest desire: killing his tormentor. Happily ever after can’t happen if Ro is dead.
To Save a Life Buy Links:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Leigh_Smith_To_Save_A_Life?id=6EVTCAAAQBAJ
About the Author
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…
She’s a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found at http://twitter.com/rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.
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