We love celebrating new Harlequin authors by sharing their journey with aspiring romance writers and readers. We are thrilled to be joined on the blog this week by new Harlequin Historical author Sarah Rodi. Her debut novel, The Viking’s Stolen Princess, is out now!
Harlequin: Congratulations on your first Harlequin Historical romance, The Viking’s Stolen Princess. What was it like to get the call saying we’d like to publish your book?
Sarah Rodi: Thank you, it really is a dream come true. I’ve aspired to write for Harlequin for as long as I can remember. Harlequin books have given me so much joy over the years – you can lose yourself in them completely for a few hours and know you’re going to get your happy ever after. It’s amazing to think that something I’ve written could now bring as much pleasure to others.
I’d submitted my full manuscript in February 2021, and I think I must have hit the refresh button on my email about 100 times a day afterwards, waiting for news. When I received an email from my editor, Carly Byrne, in April, asking if she could speak to me the next day, my heart leapt and my mind raced. What would she say? Was she wanting to let me down gently, having come this far? Or this time, was I on the right track?
The call was everything I’d dreamed it would be. Carly said she and Senior Executive Editor Bryony Green had read my manuscript, loved my writing and felt the story hit all the right notes for the Historical series. I couldn’t believe it! As I nodded, a little shell-shocked and very emotional, she went on to tell me they wanted to offer me a two-book contract.
After the call finished, I danced around the kitchen with my husband, and then called my mum and dad to tell them the news.
H: Could you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a published author?
SR: I’ve always worked with words – I studied English at Cardiff University, took a postgraduate degree in magazine journalism and I’ve edited magazines for the past 20 years. When my two girls came along, I wondered how I was ever going to find the time to finish my Harlequin novel, but when you want something badly enough, I guess you just make the time – even if it’s at 5am or midnight.
I attended various writing courses over the years. It was on one of these I learned of the Romantic Novelist Association and their New Writers’ Scheme. You can send your manuscript off to be critiqued, which I did, year after year. I also attended many RNA Summer Conferences, where I got the chance to meet other writers and pitch to the Harlequin editors. This all helped to get invaluable feedback, and each year, I felt I was learning more and my writing was getting better.
I’d submitted to various Harlequin lines before – Presents, Dare – and entered competitions. Then I read a few historicals, which I loved, and it sparked an idea. I’d always loved history, and I was inspired by the drama of the invasions of the Northmen here in England in the 9th century, so I decided to combine my fascination with the Vikings with my love of romance, and something just clicked. The setting and the characters came alive on the page. I also fell head over heels in love with my hero, Brand. When you “meet” him, you’ll see why.
H: What advice would you give to aspiring romance writers?
SR: Never give up. Keep persevering, despite any rejections you might get. Take heart that every “no” comes with useful feedback, helping you become a better writer and bringing you one step closer to achieving your goal.
Go on as many courses as you can, join writing groups and talk to people, join the RNA, apply for their New Writers’ Scheme and don’t miss the conference. Who knows who you’ll meet there.
Whatever else is going on in your life, always make time to write. There will always be washing up or hoovering to do. Try to carve out small chunks of time to get some words down. It’s amazing how quickly a few hundred words a day can add up.
I know we all aspire to hold that book in our hands, but most importantly, enjoy the journey and adventure you’re having getting there.
H: What was the inspiration behind your first book, The Viking’s Stolen Princess?
SR: I had an idea about a beautiful Saxon princess being taken captive by a fierce yet fascinating Northman on the eve of her wedding. I couldn’t get the idea of them meeting under the moonlight on the castle ramparts out of my mind. Initially, I thought the hero could want revenge – and a ransom. But I wondered what would happen if Lady Anne’s Viking captor, Brand the Barbarian, discovered it was the princess’ heart, not gold, that he truly desired…
H: What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
SR: My husband, my two girls, aged eleven and nine, and our family dog keep me busy with walks along the Thames, jigsaws, karaoke and baking. We love visiting a historical landmark or two as well. Our most recent trips have been to see the viking ship at Ramsgate and Viking Bay, Kent, plus Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. In February we’re going to the Jorvik Viking festival and at Easter we’re going to Holy Island, to see where the Vikings first invaded England. What can I say, I’m crazy about Vikings!