Today on the blog, we chat with author AC Arthur, who writes paranormal romance for Carina Press and sexy contemporary romance for Harlequin DARE.
Read on to find out more about her writing process, her fave latest reads and her advice for romance writers!
Can you describe your writing process?
If I had to do this in an abbreviated form, I’d just say its organized chaos. LOL. Some parts of the process can vary depending on what’s happening in my life or day job, but for the most part I stick to this formula:
Synopsis turns into a chapter-by-chapter outline. (If I’m writing paranormal, a worldbuilding and character spreadsheet come before the chapter-by-chapter outline.) The outline gets dropped into my book template and then I begin writing. I usually write chronologically, except sometimes I’ll get midway through the book and think of how the last scene should play out. At that point, I just go ahead and write that last scene and then go back to where I was in the chronological order. (That’s the organized part.)
Chaos ensues when I write a scene that wasn’t on the outline. When I realize I’ve gotten off track, I think about whether or not I really need the scene—most often I do because it’s obviously what the characters felt needed to happen. Then I have to adjust the outline before I can keep going. (this happens quite frequently.)
Writing time is always filled with hot green tea (regardless what time of day I’m writing) because it soothes me, and I’ve grown used to reaching for my mug in between sentences. Music or a movie/TV show in the genre that I’m writing provide background noise while I write. I can write in silence, but most often I welcome the noise.
I don’t write between the hours of 6pm and midnight. Because I’m my most creative in the early morning hours, my brain is completely fried in the evening and I just need sleep at that point. See, I told ya, organized chaos!
Your first book with Harlequin Dare, A Private Affair, is out this month and was featured in NPR’s January Romance Roundup, which is awesome! Can you tell us a bit about this book and what inspired you to write a steamy romance set in the world of fashion?
Yes, I’m so excited about this book and the Gold family!
I’ve written a few family series books and when I thought about the Gold family, I knew I wanted them to be glamorous. I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline one day and there was a picture of a dress in a tweet by Christian Siriano. I wasn’t following him at the time, but there was the picture of this gorgeous bright yellow gown. So, I went to his page and got lost for about half an hour just looking at dresses and the snippets of his design process that he shared. That’s when I followed him. 😊 The next day, I went into my preliminary notes page for this new series and typed “fashion house family.”
I wanted to showcase this high-powered successful Black family while giving a glimpse of the delicate balance between their empire and their personal lives. Strong, independent and fierce is what I wanted for each woman in this family and every woman who would marry into the family. The men were to be dominant but not overbearing, confident but not conceited, powerful and compassionate. Every aspect of these stories for me is about each family member finding their balance.
This is a really fun, sexy enemies-to-lovers romance—a trope we love! Do you have a favourite trope to write about, and why do you enjoy it?
Enemies-to-lovers is my second favorite trope to write. The push and pull of that “I hate you, no, but I really love you” dynamic adds a fantastic layer to a story. But my absolute favorite trope to write is friends-to-lovers. There’s just something about that moment when friends discover they’re actually attracted to each other and that their friendship has already laid the perfect foundation for their romantic relationship. They already have the trust and familiarity that strangers have to work to build. They just need to tackle what other obstacles may be tossed their way.
You’re also working on a paranormal series for Carina Press called The Legion. What’s it been like working on this along with your Dare series—difficult flipping between the two or easier than some of our readers might think? (Do you have any tips for working on two series in different subgenres?) 😊
Actually, it really is pretty easy for me to flip back and forth. I think my mind is an eclectic mix of books and movies that I like. I’m either watching my favorite procedural shows, favorite romcoms, or favorite sitcoms. (I have an extensive DVD collection because I’m not very experienced with streaming services and I rarely stay up to watch scheduled programming on cable.) The same goes for books, I have a shelf full of paranormal favorites that I’ve read numerous times and a shelf with the romantic suspense and series romance books I enjoy. When I write a contemporary romance, by the time I get to the end of that book, I’m ready to work on something different, to create another type of character and/or story.
My only tip for working on two series in different subgenres would be to work on one at a time. When I’m writing paranormal, my mind has to be set in the paranormal world. So, I’m watching shows like Charmed, Angel or Teen Wolf. (My daughter tries really hard to get me into Supernatural, but it hasn’t worked yet, lol.) I’m reading J.R. Ward, Lara Adrian, or Christine Feehan. And for whatever reason, I listen to more hip hop and rock music when I write paranormal. But when I write contemporary romance, I’m watching You’ve Got Mail, Brown Sugar, The Wedding Date, Love Jones and reading Nora Roberts, Farrah Rochon, Elle Wright and Lisa Gardner. I listen to classic R&B music and create playlists for each book. Whatever I’m writing, I finish that project before starting the next. If I’m doing edits, it’s the same, I have to finish one and then start the other, because my brain needs to be fully vested in each story.
What have you read and enjoyed recently?
Recently, I finished Sandra Brown’s Tailspin, J.R. Ward’s Consumed and Alisha Rai’s The Right Swipe. I enjoyed each of these books and am now ready to jump into the fantasy world of Amanda Joy’s A River of Royal Blood.
What advice do you have for romance writers?
Don’t give up. I know you’ve probably heard this before and I won’t lie, this business is tough, but the key is to not give up. Over the years I’ve learned how to pull back when necessary, to take time for myself, be with my family, read for fun, enjoy life, and all that good stuff. But I continue to write. Whether the book I’m working on is contracted by a publisher, something I’ll self-publish, or just an idea I have to get out of my head, I keep writing.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! You can check out AC Arthur’s latest books with Harlequin here!
Artist C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband and three children. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters and fresh dialogue; thus keeping the readers on their toes! You can follow her on Twitter @ACArthur!