We’re happy to welcome Book Country member Alex Rosa to the spotlight today. The 25-year-old writer from San Diego experiments in different genres — from mystery to romantic suspense to New Adult — and has had some pretty interesting jobs on her resume: she’s worked at a zoo, as a coroner, and more recently as an exec assistant.
Her New Adult novel on the site, TRYST, is about a young co-ed who moves in with her brother after a bad break-up. The challenge: her brother’s hot roommate is off limits! We’re talking to Alex about her book, the NA genre, and writing romantic books.
NG: Valentine’s Day is later this week and love is in the air! Will you share with us, what is your personal strategy for writing a good romance plot?
AR: Oh, this is a tough one to start with. Haha. First, I’d have to say I am madly in love with ‘love’, but what romance author isn’t? It’s a driving force when I write because I just can’t get enough. For me, with writing romance I always go back to the basics and build up from there. Jane Austen is always my go-to when I need a fresh outlook, ironically enough. If I hit a wall of writer’s block, I will pull out my copy of Pride & Prejudice to read, or put in my DVD of Sense & Sensibility, like a true romance fanatic. Austen just got it so right. She got the basics of amorous affection; she was clever enough to never make love too easy, which I adore. Love is beautifully complicated, and as long as I remember that, and stay focused, periodically turning to Elizabeth Bennet or Marianne Dashwood for advice, my attempt at a romance plot usually flows pretty easily. Oh, and to help add a bit of steamy inspiration, I may or may not pull out my copy of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James or Bared to You by Sylvia Day.
NG: The first kiss between the hero and heroine has to be magical: showcase their chemistry and hint at why they have to be together at the end of the book. Give us an example of how you’ve approached such a scene in your work.
AR: I always like to build the rising tension, with usually some witty element, and definitely add in bit of angst to get the reader feeling just as wanting as the characters in the scene. I always want the reader to feel like they worked just as hard as the characters for that very moment, so when the sparks do fly, you can feel it has all paid off with that singular kiss, confirming all you had hoped for, and the realization that they are most definitely “meant to be”. That’s what happens if it is crafted right, which is what I want out of that first epic lip-lock. My goal is to have the reader lose their breath, or get a bit skin tinglingly excited with the characters. If I can pull off that approach, it’s such a huge win-win for me.
NG: One of your books on the site, TRYST, is a New Adult Contemporary Romance. New Adult is a relatively new genre. Tell us, who are some of the authors who’ve inspired you to pen your own NA story?
AR: Jamie McGuire and S.C. Stephens. Those two authors really catapulted my love for the genre of New Adult, and really sparked my interest to delve into it myself as a writer. They gave me books I swallowed whole. I couldn’t put them down. It was a genre I related to, and these two authors did a stellar job capturing what it’s like being in your twenties and navigating the road of life and relationships; the passion, the love, the chaos. I hold these two authors responsible for my book addiction, my want to write in the genre, and the love for the genre itself.
NG: As someone who reads and writes NA, what do you consider to be the biggest misconception people have about it?
AR: Sex. *gasp* I think it is a common misconception that New Adult needs to contain sex, instead of “going dark” at the end of intense make-out scenes. New Adult seems to get clumped with steamy romance – and, of course, romance is an incredibly important part of the genre. However, I don’t think that means it needs to have explicit scenes. I know of readers who get deterred when they hear there isn’t a lot of sex in an NA novel, and that always bums me out. I have read lots of NA with and without it. Personally, I don’t think it affects the genre, unless the reader is reading it purely for the smut. I think readers should give NA a chance, regardless of the misconception that there needs to be sex. What happened to love? Love, as in, just an insane, passionate, flirty, spine-tingling attraction. It still gets my blood pumping, and grinning like a dumb girl, but I don’t necessarily need it to go all the way to feel the characters connection. An NA author will do it without you even realizing it.
NG: Let’s chat about your experience on Book Country a little bit. How did you find about Book Country and how has the community helped you grow as a writer?
AR: Many of my online interactions come in the form of writing communities, and we all do a great job of keeping each other up to date with ways to get our work out to the masses while educating ourselves about the publishing world, and developing our skills. Book Country came up as a new up and coming writing community, and we were all so excited to get involved! Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the review system. For the first time on a writing site I felt like I was getting honest, constructive feedback I could use. It was a refreshing site to encounter.
NG: That makes us very happy! You recently self-published your first book, the romance novel EMOTIONALLY COMPROMISED. What’s your advice for the Book Country members who plan to do the same?
AR: Where to start? Discipline, prioritization, focus, balance … oh, and maybe coffee. I’d pretty much say those four (or five) things were my mantra from the start, and it was all a gnarly learning curve for me. When I finished self-publishing my novel I immediately called my Dad up and said, “I think for the first time in my life, I finally understand what you meant all those times when you lectured me about discipline,” because when you have it, I think you can accomplish nearly anything you attempt. However, above all, when it comes to self-publishing my biggest piece of advice comes in the form of a clever Nike slogan: JUST DO IT. I mean it. Write that novel you talked about. Get that editor you know you unfortunately need. Say no to beers with friends once in a while — when it comes between you and your publishing dream. Only you have the power to make it all happen, and the key is follow through. Oh, and the coffee? That’s just fuel to get you through it. Keeping your sanity intact is not guaranteed.
NG: You have a close-knit circle of writer friends, many of whom are also on Book Country. Go ahead and give them a shout-out and tell us about what you do to support each other.
AR: Eek, this is exciting. They would love a shout-out! Jaycee Ford, Len Webster, Alys Arden, Lisa G, CM Rosens, Maya Starling, AC Nichols, ND Mashid, Kim Fry, Charlotte Ashley, and Josh Vitalie. And some honorable mentions because they aren’t on Book Country (maybe we can get them to join!): Sarah Courtney, Emerald Lynn Paslay, Katherine A. Ganzel. Those are my writing BFF’s. We are all part of an online writing community on Facebook called, PSG (Publishing Support Group). It has become our home base. It’s a small, closed group, which helps make the online experience not so overwhelming. When you’re a writer, your life is writing 24/7 for the most part. Finding people who struggle with the balance, enjoy reporting back on words counts, seek out motivation, and are always up to learn more when it comes to the industry or the craft makes it feel like home sometimes, be it a digital one. 😉
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