If you like romance in faraway places, then Stockholm Diaries, Caroline, the debut contemporary romance by Rebecca Hunter, is just the book for you. And, since Rebecca lived in Stockholm for some time, she is able to give an accurate flavor of the city in which her heroine and hero find their way to true love. I think you will also enjoy her answers to the interview questions. I was particularly intrigued by her views on the differences between contemporary and historical romance heroes.
Please welcome Rebecca Hunter . . .
Q: What is your favorite romance genre, and why?
A: Good comtemporaries are my favorite, but I think this is the hardest genre to get right. The reader judges the hero by today’s standards—often her personal standards for a man—and not every reader has the same standards, of course. The writer has to play by all of today’s rules, while writers in other genres are freer to make up their own rules about the world they write. So when a contemporary novel hits the mark, it’s doing all the right things!
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: This is a fun question, and I spent a little time debating whether or not this was too personal to answer! At a dinner party, some friends jokingly suggested that the prize for our yearly holiday party contest would be to feature as the hero in one of my books… an idea I immediately rejected, of course! But I guess I do, in fact, incorporate snippets of real life in my characters, things like anecdotal experiences, funny quirks, conversations, that kind of thing. But the hero himself is his own, unique character, and I don’t think of any real-life "models" as I develop his character.
Q: Many authors have said that writing the first pages of a new story are the hardest to write. Do you find that to be the case?
A: I think the first pages set the tone for the entire book, and a reader often decides whether or not the book is worth the time by these pages. So these are the hardest pages in the sense that I definitely have to fiddle with them the most to get them right.
However, the line-by-line writing is not at the top of my list of struggles as a writer. For me, the hardest part about writing a full-length novel is foreseeing enough of the story’s twists and turns to weave the plot together well. I have a lot more experience writing shorter texts, both fiction and non-fiction. While shorter pieces have to be "tighter" with less room for wandering, the advantage is that I can hold an entire short story in my head, so I know most of what will happen before I even sit down to write. This is very definitely not the case with a novel, which is far too complicated and unwieldy to hold in my head!
Q: Did your latest romance just flow as you wrote, was it a battle to capture in words, or something in between?
A: Before I wrote Stockholm Diaries, Caroline, I wrote a mystery… which is still on my computer, awaiting another round of edits! Not only was this my first attempt at writing a novel, but the story is built around multiple perspectives, clues, red herrings and other pieces that make it more complicated. I even changed the antagonist halfway through the book, which changed a lot of other details.
After that story, writing a romance with one perspective and a linear narrative was a huge relief! The story flowed much more naturally. Also, I found a wonderful writing partner who was there along the way to discuss the plot flow. I’ve found that when I have a strong sense of where the story is going, the actual process of writing goes pretty smoothly.
Q: Other than one you have created, who is your favorite romance hero or heroine?
A: Hmm… that might be Lisa Kleypas’s Derek Craven from Dreaming of You. We watch Craven struggle hard with his past and the idea that he isn’t capable of love. He resists Sara for as long as he can, but unlike many historicals, the couple is happily together by the middle of the book. He is clearly devoted to Sara, but the rest of the book is about Derek’s attempts to adjust and to let himself love.
When compared to contemporary romance heroes, a historical hero can be a little more over-the-top, a little crasser or more hardened or melodramatic, his history a little more fantastical. I think this is because a reader like me is more willing to suspend disbelief when the setting isn’t connected to anything in my own experiences. This is especially true of Craven, whose past I probably would never accept from a contemporary hero but somehow feel comfortable with in a historical hero!
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: Caroline (the heroine) is a photojournalist, and photography plays a role in the plot as well. This is more than a career for her; it’s also the way Caroline understands parts of people, including Niklas, and readers are along for the ride in this discovery process.
Q: If you could have dinner with one romance author, who would you pick?
A: I’d love to have dinner with Sylvia Day. This dinner would certainly be much more interesting for me than for her because I’d spend the whole meal peppering her with questions! I think Day is one of the most astute businesswomen in romance, and I would love to know more about how she made different business decisions and what her next steps will be.
Q: Beyond the satisfaction of the happily-ever-after ending, in your opinion, what else does reading a romance novel offer its readers?
A: While romance ends in Happily Ever After, the best romance plots are filled with the struggles of imperfect people making difficult decisions. Characters are forced to choose between love and many other competing priorities, such as power, loyalty, fear and other real-life pulls that everyday people feel. And love always comes out on top. So while the Happily Ever After of romance plots can be a little glossy and unreal at times, the fundamental message in these books about choosing love over our darker sides is powerful.
Q: In your opinion, is romance read only by women, or do men also enjoy reading romance novels?
A: I think this is an industry that is predominately written for women, by women, and about women getting what they want… and that’s a lot of its appeal. Anyone is welcome to read it, of course, but I wouldn’t want this last fundamental piece to change. I want to read about women struggling to get what they want—and succeeding.
Q: What do you think is the most common misperception today about romance novels held by those who have never read one?
A: I was an English teacher for many years, and most of my friends read literary fiction, so I’ve heard a lot of mispercetions, and yes, mostly by people who never read them! Some are about bad writing and boring plots, both of which I think were more common problems in the past than now. But the loudest criticism I’ve heard is that romance novels are anti-feminism, that the books perpetuate stereotypes about women. Yes, books with stereotypes exist, but these days there seem to be just as many counter-examples as there are examples. As a side note, I find it interesting that this criticism is rarely wielded against the mystery genre, despite the fact that most mysteries are about female victims and male aggressors—how’s that for a disturbing stereotype?
Stockholm Diaries, Caroline Blurb
A Swedish pro hockey player with a rough reputation meets the American girl next door in a steamy twist of travel and adventure. Will they be able to overcome his dark past and her uncertain future to turn their sensual nights into something more?
Photographer Caroline Mendoza finally sheds her safe life in Michigan for adventure and a fresh start, and her first stop is Sweden. But Stockholm suddenly becomes more than just a casual stopover when Caroline discovers her reclusive next-door neighbor is ex-Red Wings player Niklas Almquist, whose high-profile alpha bad-boy image, both on and off the ice, has followed him back to Sweden.
While Niklas’s darker side draws her to him, she knows the sensible decision is to move on from Stockholm before she gets too attached. Her time in Stockholm is running out. She must choose between what is safe and what her heart tells her is right. Is she strong enough to take the risk?
Buy Link for Stockholm Diaries, Caroline:
Free on Kindle Unlimited and available as an e-book or in paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Stockholm-Diaries-Caroline-Rebecca-Hunter-ebook/dp/B00XZN6PVW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Rebecca is a writer, editor and translator who has always loved to read and travel. Though she earned a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in English Education, most of what she learned about writing romance has come from other sources.
Rebecca has, over the years, called many places home, including Michigan, where she grew up, New York City, San Francisco, and, of course, Stockholm, Sweden. After their most recent move from Sweden back to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her husband assured each other they’ll never move again.
Well, probably not.
Connect with Rebecca online at: