ravenna_c_tan: (slytherclaw)

I went to the massive Romance Writers of America national conference this past week and one of the best things about this conference is that so many of the top writers in the genre are here. RWA and the romance community at large is extremely open. It’s the only place I know of where you can take workshops presented by writers who have literally sold in the tens of millions of books where they tell you how you can do it, too.

One event I did not want to miss was the Paranormal Authors Chat with Heather Graham, Nalini Singh, and Rebecca Zanetti. Since I have a paranormal/urban fantasy series starting with Tor Books in 2017 (The Vanished Chronicles), I definitely wanted to soak up whatever wisdom I could. These women are three giants of the field, plus Heather Graham was so unbelievably nice to me when I was a young struggling writer years and years ago that I still remember it vividly.

(The story: We were at a group signing together at a bookstore, I was feeling like an unknown, unwanted piece of chopped liver, while she had a line out of the door. I was at the seat next to her. She could have ignored me and instead she made me feel welcome and included. I love her forever, and this same spirit of inclusion and helping others pervades the whole RWA so far as I can tell.)

You can look up each of these writers’ bona fides but if you are new to them, they are all New York Times bestsellers many times over. Nalini Singh is the author of the Psy-Changeling and the Guild Hunter series among many dozens of other books. Rebecca Zanetti has published over 25 dark paranormals and has been a finalist for the RT Award. Heather Graham has written close to 200 vampire and paranormal novels at this point and was a founder of Florida’s chapter o the RWA. Giants, I tell you.

What I’m presenting here is a boiled-down version of the chat that took place. It looks like a transcript but I only capture about 60-70% of what is actually said, and I don’t always get exactly the right words, so don’t take this as quotable gospel. Also I only include here the portion with moderator questions. The audience questions were also fantastic and I learned a lot, but you know, if you want ALL of it, you have to start coming to these conventions yourself… (or buy the audio recordings of the convention, which are available through the RWA!).

Why did you chose paranormal?

Nalini: I write about telapths and shapefhuters and vampires and angels…why? I started with that because I’ve always been fascinated with the potential of our minds, if we could use 100% of our brains 100% of the time. But what’s the cost of that? What it drove you insane? That was the genesis of the Psy series. The shapeshifters just kind of showed up in the book, as they do because it’s a paranornmal. I wanted to write some shifter that were at home in their skins because I had just read a bunch of books wher the shifters are never happy! I thought I would love to be able to change into a tiger. Why aren’t there any shifters in books who like being shifters? So mine are. The Guild Hunter series… there are angels and vampires and… I just believe in not thinking too much about it. If you think too much about it you think, wow that’s weird… I really believe just let it out and it might be bonkers but let it be awesome bonkers.

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ravenna_c_tan: (slytherclaw)

I hurried out of the room this morning to try to get to Nalini Singh’s workshop on Writing Paranormal Romance after hearing tales of how some other workshops were so full that there wasn’t even standing room: people were standing out in the hallway trying to hear them. (The one on “How to Write Faster” was one of them: glad I slept in a little bit instead of trying to get there only to be shut out. Fortunately all RWA members can download the handouts from that class and many others through the conference app! Win!) Funny how the threads tie together in life: two weeks ago I was on a panel at Readercon on recommending romances to sf/fantasy readers, and of course Nalini’s praises were sung. Now here I am at a romance convention and I get to hear the woman herself impart wisdom. I love my life, did I mention that?

First, a little note about diversity. Yes, this conference is notably “whiter” than a lot of the conferences I attend. Many of the science fiction conventions I go to have actively recruited writers of color as speakers and fans of color as attendees. It’s really noticeable to me to go somewhere now where the small percentage of people of color stick out like sore thumbs. I don’t know if that’s part of RWA demographics or the fact that we’re in San Antonio (where I’ve never been) or that the hotel convention rate was a whopping $229 a night and maybe that skews the attendees base toward the most privileged. All I can say is this con seems very white. So it was interesting that at Nalini Singh’s talk, I felt like there were more people of color in the audience. I counted: out of 62 attendees in the workshop, 12 were visibly women of color. (There were only 4 men in the room, all white.) That seemed like a higher percentage than in the general population here, and I wondered if that was because Nalini herself is a person of color, leading to a greater comfort level? Or because paranormal itself so often deals with themes of integrating the “other” or embracing the “other”? I can only speculate, but diversity and representation are issues that come up again and again in my activist work and in the fandom communities I am part of, so it’s on my mind.

But now to the actual subject of the workshop, Writing Paranormal Romance. Nalini is witty, fun, and smart, and I didn’t write down even half of what she said, so let me assure you if you think you can just read my blog instead of attending a conference like this one and still get all the good stuff: you’re wrong. Here’s a tiny fraction of the wisdom imparted:

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Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.


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August 2017

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