My Own Personal Soap Opera (released today!) to The Book Chick! If you missed my review of her book yesterday, you can read it here. Today Libby Malin shares what inspired her to begin writing women's fiction:
"Women’s fiction stories usually focus on a female protagonist, and the story follows her as she deals with various work, family and life challenges. I tend to write these stories from a humorous point of view, sometimes (okay, maybe often) injecting the absurd into my tales—such as in Fire Me, my 2009 release, where a woman tries to get laid off at work in order to grab the severance package, and this year’s release, My Own Personal Soap Opera, where a soap head writer uses the show to work out her personal issues.
I was inspired to write women’s fiction when I first started writing seriously—that is, applying myself to getting a book published. My sister, a romance fan at the time, suggested I write in that genre. Because I’d never read romances, I proceeded to buy and devour a bunch. As a professional freelance writer, I was doing a lot of jobs for trade organizations and the like, some assignments covering complex topics. So I rather cockily thought, “hmm, I can do this here romance writin’ thing in a snap!” LOL!
I learned pretty quickly it wasn’t so easy. Writing romance takes real skill—creating believable characters and keeping readers interested in a story arc they are generally, if not specifically, familiar with. When I spoke to a college creative writing class over a year ago, in fact, I suggested that beginning writers should all try their hands at romance to learn the discipline of characterization, plot construction and world-building. There’s nothing like it to hone your writing skills.
Even as I learned the craft of romance-writing, I discovered I liked telling stories that stretched the boundaries of romance, that took the heroine on a journey that didn’t always end with a neat and tidy HEA (romance parlance for the “happily ever after”). Sure, the stories finish on a happy note, but there might be questions about how and when she’d get to the “ever after” part. :-)
In My Own Personal Soap Opera, for example, the protagonist, Frankie McNally, has to choose between two men who are courting her. Each has something special to offer. Each has some “liability” that could impact her “ever after” in that HEA. When she does make a choice, I want the reader to feel she’s chosen wisely, even though it might mean giving up on something she really wanted—at least until she figures out how to get it!
Frankie’s life, like that of the heroine in Fire Me, is a mishmash of sorrow and joy. Raised by a single mom and sent to the best schools on scholarship, she never feels like she fits in. She married well—or so she thought until her blueblood intellectual husband cheated on her, leading to a divorce. Making matters worse, he pens a roman a clef in which a character resembles Frankie. Problems in her personal life are mirrored by those at work. As head writer for a New York City-based soap opera, Frankie has a whole rostrum of challenges to meet—failing ratings, staff members who all want to be doing something else, and a thief story line being imitated by a real burglar in the city. Along comes a dashing older man to help the show out of its troubles and who captures Frankie’s reluctant heart . . . at the very moment the dashing leading man starts courting her, too. She uses the show to work out her life challenges, but at some point fantasy and reality collide, forcing her to make tough decisions.
Writing My Own Personal Soap Opera was a joy because it contains so many elements of women’s fiction that I like—loving family members, broken and healed hearts and a good measure of crazy fun. It’s like life itself—tears one moment, laughs the next, a big, bumpy roller-coaster ride.
What elements are your favorites in women’s fiction?"
About the author: Libby Malin is published in women’s fiction, including Fire Me, and is an Edgar nominated YA mystery writer. She’s worked in public relations, as an education reform advocate, and was a member of the Vermont Commission on Women. She lives with her husband and three children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information please visit http://www.libbysbooks.com/.
Thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks I have 2 copies of My Own Personal Soap Opera to give away! Here's how to enter:
1. Answer Libby Malin's question: "What elements are your favorites in women’s fiction?" Please include an e-mail address with your response, or I will have no way to contact you if you've won. No e-mail= no entry!
2. *Bonus Entry* Become a follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect and leave me a seperate comment letting me know that you did. Current followers are eligible, just leave me a seperate comment stating that you already follow.
3. *Bonus Entry* Spread the word about this contest in any way that you wish. Twitter about it, blog about it, post it on your sidebar, whatever. Just leave me a seperate comment letting me know how you did it.
This contest will run until April 22, 2010 at midnight. It is open to both US and Canadian residents, no PO Boxes please, and winners will be contacted by e-mail. Good luck!