Diva Interview: Author Emme Burton
Writing a realistic romance can be a quandary for many writers. Oftentimes authors pacify their readers rather than writing a romance that they feel fits their characters. Note to readers: Not all romances are happily ever afters or wrapped up in a neat bow. There are love triangles, break-ups, miscommunications… So how do you, as an author, write a realistic romance in the land of white knights, alpha males, and damsels in distress? I asked author Emme Burton to answer a few questions and give us her take on writing a realistic romance in today’s indie market.
Thanks for visiting the Divas today. It’s always a pleasure to invite new authors to the blog, especially authors in my hometown. The Divas have gotten to meet you recently and loved your charming personality. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your books?
I’m a retired army brat. I traveled all over the world for the first 13 years of my life and attended 13 schools. I tend to make friends quickly. I talk to everyone I meet (I’m the annoying person that will talk to you in a grocery line.) I believe being uprooted and moved around so much as a kid is responsible for my need to connect with others.
I was an early reader. My mother caught me reading the labels on cans in the cabinet when I was 4 and quickly got me hooked on storybooks. I LOVE a good story. I like to read them, watch them, hear them.
I have always written. I used to write plays and recruit the neighbor kids to act them out in my garage.
I wrote a screenplay for the TV show, The Love Boat, when I was in 7th grade. My first crack at romance!
I put writing on hold when I went to college, got married and had kids, but the stories have been rolling around in my head the entire time. About two years ago I decided to write them down and make more room in the noggin for new stories!
My major in undergrad was theatre performance. That’s probably where my love of creating characters really came to a head. Creating the backstory, the quirks–I loved it.
My books? I would consider them New Adult that addresses real life issues. Mental Illness. Sexual Abuse. Family struggles.
Better Than Me is the first book in the Better Than Series. It introduces the reader to Biz Davis, a college senior with some secrets and regrets. She meets two guys when she returns to school in the fall. She wants to avoid relationships, but finds herself involved with both of the guys.
Fix It For Us (Book #2) is a continuation of the story, as Biz finds love. It delves into keeping a romance alive and fresh while facing demons from the past.
What do you think are the elements or building blocks to writing a romance novel?
It’s probably different for different writers. Mine generally start with the characters. I can visualize them. I write out character sketches. What they like, don’t like, movies they would watch. Sort of like a Facebook profile.
I like to write about places I’ve been and then change them a bit so there will be real places in my stories and places that are fictionalized but from someplace I’ve seen or researched.
Once I have well thought out characters and a “stage” for them to play on, the story starts evolving. The kernel of the story, for me, has to be an overarching obstacle. That’s what drives the action.
I’m a big fan of characters growing and developing. If things ever begin to feel comfortable for the characters in the writing, I know it’s time to “mix it up.”
I also like twists. Elements touched on earlier coming back later in the story. While I write I can see the story like a movie. I do the same thing when I read.
What characteristics must your protagonists have in order to make them as real as possible?
Much as I love hot guys with chiseled features and six pack abs (and I do!), I think the thing that protagonists need to have to make them as real as possible are quirks. That thing they do that is cute or funny or annoying. If you think about a real person you know, it’s the unusual thing that sticks out. In my books, Biz talks too much when she is nervous or excited. She finds it annoying. Davis finds it adorable.
What have you read that you have found makes interesting romances?
It’s generally not things I’ve read so much as stories or circumstances I’ve heard about. Obstacles, boundaries that keep people apart even as they are drawn together. It doesn’t have to be because the guy is a vampire kind of obstacle either.
Real life can be pretty damn dramatic. There are plenty of things in real life that keep people apart even when they love each other–time, distance, miscommunication. Miscommunication is a biggie. (I’m lucky. I actually have a degree in communication disorders. I know all the ways communication can go wrong. Humans constantly mess up and have to repair communication)
If you could name one thing in the romance genre you wish would go away, what would it be?
I’m not a fan of stories in which the characters don’t learn from their mistakes or make the same mistake over and over and take a long time to learn. That’s all I can think of.
I love characters, all kinds, so I love reading about rich sadists, dirty bikers, slutty girls, uber virgins–all of them. All of my characters are based on aspects on someone I’ve known or met.
What is the best thing about writing romance?
The opportunity to say or write the things you never think of in time or wouldn’t ever have the guts to say in the moment.
And writing with heightened emotion, I mean, come on, love and romance are just effing overwhelming. It’s fun to write. It’s also fun to write dirty stuff.
I like writing (and reading) romance because its a way to relive those intense emotions that come with falling in love over and over in a socially acceptable way. If had as many real life boyfriends as book boyfriends, I’d be giving Taylor Swift a run for her money.
What do you have coming up for your readers? (books, promotion, etc.)
Still Into You (Book #3) will be released in October 2014. It is the conclusion of the Better Than series and the most suspenseful of the series. There will be a cover reveal and giveaways coming up associated with the release.
I have the plot and a little of a new book, a standalone, started, but I’m not ready to talk too much about it yet 😉 I can tell you the reader gets to see the characters from age 6 to 32.
I have a few signings coming up in 2015. Two in Florida. Destin in January and Tampa in April.
I’m working on getting a signing set up here in St. Louis (maybe with fellow author, Z.B. Heller)
Thank you so much for coming to the blog today. You can check out Emme’s work below!
Emme Burton is the author of the Better Than Series: BETTER THAN ME (Book 1), FIX IT FOR US (Book 2) and the upcoming STILL INTO YOU (Book 3). She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her amazing husband and sons, and her “fur boy.” Emme has never, ever been lost in a mall either as a child or an adult. Her mother, and now her family, have always known where to find her. At the bookstore.