There was once a time when I actually thought I could make a living from my writing. The trick was to find a way into the market, especially one that pays well, and the most lucrative genre is, of course, Romance. At the time, there was also a new trend towards Romance in the novelette format, which is somewhere between a long short story and a novella, between 7,500 and 20,000 words. It has always been a popular format for science fiction and is perfect for reading on ereaders and iphones.
So, I decided to experiment with the format and produced a few which I published as free ebooks. They were taken up by the thousands, a level of success I could only dream about for my other books. Even if only a small portion of those readers were willing to pay for such novelettes, I thought, it might be an opportunity to make some sort of an income and gather a readership, which, one day, might be willing to pay to read The Slave.
In fact, I had outlined several series of novelettes in a variety of genres which I thought I could release as ebooks month by month and then collect into boxsets. But then life intervened and I never did carry out my grand plan. One of those collections was going to be called Sweet Nothings.
Secrets and Suspicions is my homage to my favourite author, Jane Austen. Many years ago, after having read several woeful attempts, I thought I might try my hand at writing a completion of Jane Austen’s unfinished last novel, Sanditon, but as a television mini-series. I duly sent off a submission to the BBC (who else?) and (of course) duly got a polite rejection letter in reply. However, I wasn’t going to let my efforts go to waste, so I slimmed down the story and, as a nod to my favourite of Austen’s books, the wickedly witty Lady Susan, re-imagined it as an epistolary novelette.
Back in the 1980s, when I was working in the film industry and had lots of money and time off, my favourite holiday destination was South-East Asia and Thailand in particular, which is where I set Ever the Bridesmaid. Kirsty is an amalgam of someone I travelled with and someone I once worked with. Many of the characters, and some of the incidents, might have come straight from my travel diaries, and some are totally fanciful. I’ll let you try to guess which.
Desideratum is also based on my own experience. I did live in Perth for a while and did frequent one of its most prestigious hairdressing salons. There was in fact a gorgeous young hairdresser who did indeed make a certain remark, but by the time I twigged to what he might have meant, it was far too late. I can only wish I had actually had a friend like Elaine at the time.
Another of the trends in the Romance genre at the time I was experimenting was stories about single mothers reconnecting with their child’s father. Out of the Ashes is my contribution to that trend. While I could draw on my own experience to create the female character, I needed the male character to come from a totally foreign world. So I drew on what was one of my favourite television shows in the 1980s, Capital City, about the high-pressure working environment of an investment bank. My story was also written soon after an incident none of us will ever forget.
My friends often suggest I should write Romances, but I always reply that I’m much too cynical for the genre. What do you think? Should I brush off my old grand plan and give it another go?
If you have friends who enjoy reading Romances, please share this post with them. Alternatively, you can buy them an ebook copy from Smashwords. The novelettes are available individually, or as a boxset called A Bouquet of Sweet Nothings.
You and your friends will be more than welcome to visit me at paulinemontagna.com.au and you can keep up with any new developments on my website, and receive special announcements and offers by subscribing to my email list. You can also follow me on Facebook and Goodreads. And, of course, you can purchase my books from Smashwords.