Friday, November 8, 2013

UP CLOSE (and personal) with new Random Romance writer Virginia Taylor!

Tell us about your career (and life!) prior to writing. 

Prior to my career as a writer I was an art student, then a stylist/interior designer, a computer programmer, a stylist/designer again, a registered nurse, a registered midwife, a writer, a set designer and painter, and finally a writer/enthusiastic gardener. I like to have my careers follow an unnatural progression.

How long and how many manuscripts has it taken before getting published?

I first wrote an historical romance, which I submitted to Mills and Boon, not knowing of any other romance publishers. This was swiftly rejected, but in my query letter I mentioned I was an ex-nurse. M and B asked if I would try writing medical romance. At that stage, I hadn't read genre romance but fortunately they sent me a box of medical romances to read.

Subsequently, I wrote three, all rejected in weeks. About then I realised I was never going to write a story I didn't want to read. I found another romance writer who was willing to write medicals, and I went back to writing historicals. I think I had written two more, neither submitted when I was lucky enough to score a US agent. This lovely man did his best to sell my second historical in the US since I'd failed so abysmally to sell the first in the UK. My first rejection, or his on my behalf, scored me a box of historicals to read for the line he submitted to.

Australian women back then didn't read romance, apparently, and so I had no option to be Australian published, which was my first choice since I had rigidly set all my stories, even my historicals, in Australia. This connects directly to not selling a story in the US, where the readers won't buy stories set in exotic locations like Australia, or so the publishers thought.

During this time, I wrote Dr No Commitment, my fourth medical, called something that I haven't retained either on paper or in my brain, but the title would have been really florid. In the story I used everything Mills and Boon would not accept, a point of view for the hero and the heroine, a secondary story, realistic medical scenes, and graphic sex. So there! I never sent this story anywhere because I knew I couldn't sell the aforementioned with the added burden of being set in Australia.

By the time I had completed those four medicals, six historicals, a medical romantic suspense (sort of) and two women's' fictions, and only submitted for publication the three medicals and the two historicals, I let the agent go because I had had enough. I joined up with a SA School of Art graduate, who had spent his years painting and designing sets for the Australian Ballet. At first I was his colour mixer, and I graduated to be his painter, his design partner, and then a set designer on my own. This took ten years out of my writing life, which I didn't intend to take up again. Then my husband died and my world changed.

I slowly, slowly began to re-write all my stories in other settings, after placing in my first US contest final and joining SARA. I re-set my historicals in England, except for one that I couldn't move. I had deleted all my medicals except Dr No Commitment. Then I heard Random House was taking submission for a new romance line, Random Romance, and so I sent Dr No, mainly to see what would happen. When they asked if the story was still available, I was pretty negative. Too many rejections, too many years, and I didn't really care if I sold or not. Then I realised I had been made the perfect offer for my Australian story and I ought to accept. And so I did. I can't say how glad I am. I am now in awe of this publishing process and since I am an addicted re-writer, I am stimulated by edits.

How would you describe your writing style? And, why romance?

I can't describe my writing style. I'm keen on the 'craft' of writing. As for why romance? I knew when I left nursing and took up writing that I had no chance of a happy ever after. My husband was dying. He'd been told he wouldn't live past forty, a gross misdiagnosis and a very cruel one. If I couldn't have a happy ever after, I could invent one on paper, and that's what I did.

Tell us about your new book, out with Random Romance.

Dr No Commitment is a mischievous romantic comedy about a man who has always run from love and the girl who just might catch him. Ally was warned about Rohan Sinclair when she first moved to town – and she is determined not to let this gorgeous, model-dating doctor distract her from being the best nurse she can. The problem is, this bad boy lives in the room next door. Resisting his persistent charm at home is hard enough, but almost impossible when they're thrown together at work. A little innocent flirting never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. Although he is her perfect guy in every other way, he will never commit. Falling for him is a terrible idea.

This will be Kindle-published in December and print-published in an omnibus with four other Random Romance writers, including Adelaide's own Claire Baxter, in April. Available in all good book stores.

Where and when do you write?

I have a nice study where I write, and I write every day except Wednesday.

When did you first join SARA? Plus, do you think publishing’s changed much since you started?

Eighteen years ago I was a member of the precursor to SARA, which was first Romance Writers of SA and then Popular Fiction Writers. I don't know if publishing has changed, but the stories published have changed. Now my very naughty medical romance is not so naughty, and now everyone writes in the double POV. So, no longer under pressure to be outrageous, I removed at least half the sex from Dr No. I still prefer to use the double POV for romance.

What do you like to do when you’re not typing away?

I work in the garden of Beaumont House, Glynburn Road, on Wednesday. It combines my need for strenuous exercise with my need to help.

Favourite authors/books?

I'm a series reader. I love Georgette Heyer and I began buying her books when I was about 13. I still have them all. I have the Poldark series and The Jewel in the Crown.

I have everything written by Dorothy Dunnet and I'm a member of Dunnettworkers, Game of Kings, and Claes, all affiliated and an online international group of about 500 readers.

I started reading a writer named Arianna Franklin last year, and I bought everything she wrote too, including under her nom de plume of Diana Norman.

I'm not reading at the moment. I can't read and write and I'm writing a new rom-com called Let's Talk About Sets, Maybe. The heroine is a repressed set designer and the tough guy sexy hero is the leader of the construction team. She can't talk to him about sex and so . . .

For more on Virginia, visit her site here.


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