Romance novelists always promote Valentine's Day
Monday, March 04, 2002 9:29:00 AM
by Barbara J. Baldwin
|Jennifer Detweiler of the Manhattan Mercury interviewed Barbara Baldwin for an article about writing romance that appeared in the paper on Valentine's Day.
Ah, the romance of the romance business
By Jennifer Detweiler
Feb 14, 2002
Barbara Baldwin is in the love business. Passionate kisses, adoring glances from across the room, perfumed bosoms swelling with desire — she’s the expert.
She’s a romance novelist, one of two who live and write in Manhattan. Today, Feb. 14, might be the official Valentine’s Day; but for Baldwin, every day is a tribute to love.
“Romance should be 365 days a year,” she said. “We need to celebrate Valentine’s Day every month (to) remind ourselves relationships are important.”
Baldwin had her first novel published in October. For her, writing is more hobby than profession; to pay the bills, she maintains a “day job” as a teacher at the diploma and learning center in Clay Center.
Her contemporary Linda Madl has been a bit more prolific. She’s working on her 10th romance novel, and has six novellas (shorter novels packaged in a book with a few other authors’ works) on her resume as well.
Both authors have extensive writing backgrounds. Baldwin’s a poet; she’d been published in several anthologies before deciding a few years ago she might have a book in her.
Wadl spent 20 years in Saint Louis writing promotional materials and project profiles for engineering firms — extremely technical, no-nonsense prose.
“I knew I wanted to do popular fiction,” Madl said. She also knew “the romance market’s very strong. They buy a lot of manuscripts.”
Madl also had a friend in the business, who gave her a huge push. Getting a book published when you’re an unknown author is extremely difficult, she said. Baldwin knows all about that; she produced four books before a publisher actually bought one.
Madl was able to sell her first effort in about six months.
Both women write what are called “historicals”: romance novels that are set in earlier eras. Baldwin’s work has an element of time travel, too.
Because of that, their writing requires a lot of research. Madl spent three years researching her first book, “Sweet Ransom,” set in 17th Century Russia.
Otherwise, the women follow the traditional romance novel formula in their work: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, “and they always have a happy ending,” Madl said.
And don’t forget those love scenes.
There’s a rating system for romance novels that designates how racy they are. “Sweet” means there are a few kisses; the actual lovemaking is left to the imagination. “Sensual” is a little more detail — both Madl and Baldwin fall in that category.
“The love scenes that come as a natural part of the relationship,” Baldwin said.
Novels rated “steamy” pretty much detail everything, and the “erotic” — well, the rating speaks for itself.
“I have a lot of sweet old ladies who ask (my rating),” Madl said. “I have had some that say they really only like the steamy.”
But it’s the happy endings that keep Manhattan’s romance novelists penning their stories.
“I write fairytales,” Madl said. “There’s a lot of things I could have chosen to write ... mysteries ... I don’t really want to fill my life with that.”