I am so excited and honoured to bring to you today an interview with RWA RITA®-nominated author, Romy Sommer in celebration of her new release Gift Wrapped. Other titles under her belt include Not A Fairytale (RITA nominated), Last of The Summer Vines, Waking Up In Vegas, The Trouble With Mojitos, and To Catch A Star, to name but a few.
Romy is also a writing coach, editor and the president of ROSA (Romance writers Organisation of South Africa).
Enjoy the interview and please don’t forget to drop by her social media links and show her some love <3.
1. What inspired you to start writing?
All my life, I’ve written down my daydreams, but what inspired me to start writing seriously was my (now ex) husband telling me “if only you could make money out of all this time you spend writing…” There was only one way I could think to make money out of them, and that was to become a published author.
2. Plotter or pantser?
I started off as a bit of a pantser, but these days I am very firmly in the plotter category. I don’t write a single word until I already know my characters inside and out, and have a structure for their story.
3. What is your typical day like?
During school terms, as soon as I get home from the school run, I sit down with a cup of coffee and spend about an hour on ‘housekeeping’ (replying to emails, admin, checking sales ranks, posting on social media) and then once I can’t procrastinate any longer, I start to write. I write solidly, only stopping occasionally for a quick bit of research, until late afternoon when I have to dash to fetch the kids from school again. It’s usually en route back to school that I realise how late it is, and that I completely forgot to have lunch again. After the whole homework / dinner / bath thing, I spend a few more hours on emails and social media again, unless I’m close to a deadline, in which case it’s back to writing again – usually until about midnight. Holidays are pretty much the same except I don’t have to bother with school runs – though I do occasionally try to leave my desk so my family remembers who I am!
4. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I can write pretty much anywhere, though I prefer a quiet place to write. My favourite spots are my desk, in the car, or in the kids’ school library.
5. What inspired you to write this novel? Where did the idea come from?
Over the years, I’ve written a few Christmas-themed stories for various anthologies and promotions, and I decided they were wasted just sitting on my hard drive, so I collected them into an anthology, re-edited them, and Gift Wrapped was born.
6. Tell us a little about the characters in your book
Gift Wrapped contains three separate stories, all set in and around London during the holiday season. Charlotte is an actress rediscovering her love of theatre in a Christmas pantomime, Lissa accidentally kisses her boss under the mistletoe during a blackout at the company Christmas party, and nanny Jessie falls for an emotionally cut-off single dad.
7. Do you have a dream cast for your characters? If so, who?
Usually, I ‘cast’ my characters before I even start writing, but with these three stories I didn’t. However, I’ve recently started watching the Netflix show Scorpion, and lead actor Elyes Gabel would definitely make a great Tom Faraday in Naughty or Nice.
8. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
I’m currently plotting out my next full-length novel. My editor feels that royalty stories are currently all the rage thanks to Netflix’s success with them, so for this next book I’m returning to Westerwald, the tiny European nation I created for my earlier books. This next book is going to take place against the backdrop of a royal wedding – the wedding of Max and Phoenix, the characters from my book Waking up in Vegas.
9. Which one of your characters would you like to spend time with and why?
That’s like choosing a favourite child – I love them all! But if I had to choose, I think I’d want to spend time with Charlotte, the heroine of Naughty or Nice in my Gift Wrapped anthology. I admire how brave she is, taking a massive risk to follow her dreams.
10. Do you write using your computer or notepad? Both? Something else?
I have a notebook in which I scribble notes and ideas, but all my writing is done on computer, using the Scrivener program.
11. What’s the hardest part about being an author? And the easiest?
Without a doubt, the hardest thing about writing is stopping myself from procrastinating. I will find almost anything to do to avoid writing! But once I get over that, the easiest part is writing. Once I’m at my laptop, and the words are flowing, time just disappears and I couldn’t be happier!
12. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched for your book?
I research almost every aspect of my books, from the setting, to the food my characters eat, what they wear, even the cars they drive. A lot of the research I do never even makes it into my books. None of it seems weird to me – but maybe that’s just proof that I’m pretty weird myself? For Gift Wrapped, the most fun I had was surfing the Harrods website for the gifts my characters give each other in The Perfect Gift. This is the Marco Bicego bracelet Jessie receives:
13. What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre?
There are a lot of people who still diss the Romance genre and confuse contemporary romance novels with the bodice rippers of 30+ years ago. But today’s Romance novels, apart from guaranteeing readers the all-important Happy Ever After, are incredibly aspirational. They show women what they can achieve, what they deserve, and how they should be treated. For me, Romance is the ultimate feminist genre.
14. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I am a devoted contemporary country music fan. Many of my story ideas come from country songs!
15. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
I love to read, and I also love watching TV. I especially love crime shows – CSI, Law and Order, NCIS, and the British crime dramas. But I am (naturally!) also a sucker for a good Romance story.
16. Do you have a must-read book you’d like to share with readers?
There are so many great books that I wouldn’t even know where to start! But I recently re-read a few of the earlier JD Robb ‘In Death’ books and they really are so good that everyone should read them!
17. If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to become a part of the club?
A few authors I’d love to sit around and chat with, because I think they’d be huge fun to hang out with, are Beverly Jenkins, Kristan Higgins, Joanne Harris and JK Rowling. They are all women who aren’t afraid to call it as they see it, so I imagine it would be a very lively book club!
18. What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book?
I usually don’t like movies based on books I’ve read, since the movie never quite matches how I imagined the characters, but I really want to see the adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians. If the movie can mimic Kevin Kwan’s voice, I’ll be happy!
19. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write! Don’t study writing, don’t plan to write and don’t wait until the moment is ‘right’ to write. Just sit down and start writing!
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