Friday, December 8, 2023

A romantic interlude

 Here we  host a guest blogger, that most weird of things - a romantic fiction writer!  How do they write so well without killing anybody. How do they resist it?

Here's Fiona Lindsay, riding high in the kindle charts as I type this!

She answered my probing questions while sipping a herbal tea!

When did you start writing?

At university – I loved books and, after reading a few that really captured my imagination, I decided to have a try at writing a (very bad) novel myself.


What drew you to writing romantic fiction?


I’d started off writing character-led books about relationships, but one evening I having a jokey conversation with a writer friend about whether we had it in us to write a Mills & Boon (I suspect the answer is a resounding “no” and it’s not nearly as easy as we might think). The idea must have appealed to me, though, as, the next time I had a free afternoon, I started writing a romance. However, I found I couldn’t take it seriously, so it morphed into a rom-com.



People who know about things say that crime fiction reflects the society it exists in. Is it the same for romantic fiction?

 I’d say so – there are many books around at the moment about dating in the modern world, for example – using apps such as Hinge and Tinder, rather than meeting IRL (in real life). There’s a whole new vocabulary around it, to the point that one book I read has a glossary at the back, including such terms as ghosting, flexting and zombie-ing. On the other hand, Regency novels are perennially popular, I presume because readers enjoy reading about the society of that era and like the idea of a dashing Regency buck fighting for the heroine’s honour.


What do you tend to read?

I do like books about relationships and what makes people tick, especially if they’re funny too (e.g. David Nicholls), but I also enjoy a tightly plotted detective story or a psychological thriller (Barbara Vine is spellbinding). I don’t normally read short stories, but I did love Hings, by Chris McQueer and Ely Percy’s Duck Feet, both written in West of Scotland dialect and laugh-out-loud funny.


Some of the situations in your books are very funny (e.g. the wedding). Do you find those scenes easy to write?

 Yes – much of it is observation. The hen party was (loosely) based on a work night out/hen do in Paisley, and I got inspiration for the wedding from my ex-boss’s. I actually took along pen and paper and scribbled some notes (my colleagues didn’t mind – they’re used to me).

 How do you plot a romantic novel? (We start by killing someone).

 I start off with a character, and then add someone he/she can partner up with, but I want the story to have some substance, and am quite fond of the “friends to lovers” trope, as you can’t truly fall in love with someone unless you have trust and a strong friendship first. I’d never heard the word “trope” until fairly recently, but it’s a current fashion in romance fiction to use story lines which have long been popular, but with a tongue-in-cheek twist. Some examples would be: friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, second time around, grumpy meets sunshine and, my personal favourite, the “one bed” trope.

 Where do you find your characters, and all those handsome musicians?

 I’ve always worked in local government – big offices with hundreds of people from different walks of life. If I wanted to research the viewpoint of a nineteen year old, I could always find one to ask. However, I’ve only ever once completely based a character on someone I know – a hilarious, larger-than-life girl in my team, but, even then, she was exaggerated. In terms of musicians specifically, I’m not musical at all, but love listening to music and have known quite a few musicians (and interviewed a couple).

 Is Kirklochy real, or where is it based on?

 Unfortunately, it isn’t real, but I was greatly influenced by a holiday in Ullapool, so, if Kirklochy did exist it would be just near there (i.e. about an hour and a quarter’s drive north of Inverness).

 Do you hang around with clothes designers? Do you look in designer shop windows? What research do you do?

 I’ve always been interested in fashion – it runs in the family. My great aunt was a fashion buyer by profession and my mother and aunt chronic clothesaholics. Even my brother is quite a natty dresser, but by instinct rather than choice. I’ve read up on it and gone to exhibitions, and I have also hung around with fashion designers. I was a volunteer for an ethical fashion project and met some seriously cool people, especially at a fashion show we ran (I was backstage, ironing garms).

 And the covers?

 I love colour and I like to design my own covers – it’s another form of self-expression. My latest novel is set in Camden Town and I went there for research purposes and tried to capture what it’s like – all the brightly coloured houses. I also work with a cover designer, Rebecca Johnstone (aka Dainty Dora). Rebecca enhances my artwork and overlays it with the typescript. She also designed my logo and bookmarks.



Would you like to live in one of your books? If so, who would you be?

 Definitely – I’d be Kirsty in A New Flame, as she has a creative job as a fashion designer and lives in a funky flat in Camden Town, near the market.             


Cheers, and good luck with the books Fiona!

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