In her own words, as a typical Piscean, USA Today best-selling author, Yvonne has always preferred the stories in her head to the real world (which makes sense since she was born in Middle Earth). Yvonne is a five-time Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year nominee and 2015 winner and three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of New Zealand Koru Award of Excellence. Married to her blind date sweetheart and with two adult children, she spends her days crafting the stories of her heart and in her spare time can be found with her nose firmly in someone else’s book.
Can you tell us a little about your November book, One Heir…or Two?, and why it’s special to you?
In One Heir…or Two? Kayla Porter is determined to fulfill her late sister’s dying wish—to be a mother—but when the babies’ donor dad uses all his power and money and their own past to stop her, what can she do? Can she teach Donovan Murphy how to overcome the demons of his past, or will he succeed in destroying her dreams for the future forever?
I’ve always been fascinated by surrogacy and I think the concept has the opportunity to provide a couple with their greatest joy and, alternately, their deepest sorrow. It’s a situation fraught with so many “what if” scenarios and I have to admit that “what if” is a favorite game of mine. Knowing I was going to write a Billionaires and Babies book, I tried really hard to take a tried and true idea and then send it down a twisting turning labyrinth of “what ifs” to bring Kayla and Van’s story to my readers.
What made you want to start writing romance?
From early childhood I’ve always been an avid reader and I realize now that I always was mentally pairing characters up and wondering what their lives would be like when they grew up. When I was thirteen I was given my first ever Mills & Boon romance to read and that totally hooked me on the genre. As I’d always enjoyed storytelling and daydreaming, writing was (for me, at least) a natural progression of that. To be able to make a career out of making things up for a living really is a dream come true.
What is your writing process?
Generally, there are calm moments and there are panic moments. For some irritating reason I work best in the panic moments e.g. when a deadline is rapidly looming. I am a plotter at heart and I like to spend a few weeks really thinking about the story ahead, doing a Pinterest Board for visual inspiration, deciding on character names and appearances and archetypes. I then work up a long outline (usually about 15 pages) which I send to my editor for feedback. She has an unerring eye for picking up the bits that I’ve skimmed on and can see plot holes and potential problems from a mile away. After we’re agreed on the outline I usually tackle the first three chapters and send those through to my editor and once they’re approved I’m off and running. For me, the planning stage, i.e. getting to know my characters and their journey together, and those first three chapters are the hardest part and the longest stage of writing. Once everything is in place, I feel like a tourist on a well-planned road trip and I work to my synopsis very steadily.
I try to work Monday to Friday and only work weekends when I’m running low on word count and close to deadline. I also like to work out exactly how many words a day I need to write to meet my deadline and allow a week or so for polishing the manuscript too. There are no waiting for the muse moments in my office. This is my career and I work hard to meet my commitments.
Do you have a favorite kind of story to write or hooks that are especially fun to use in your novels?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I seem to have written a lot of weddings and babies lately but I can’t say they’re an absolute favorite. I love reunion stories with a really gritty past to overcome. I also love revenge stories but these days they are very hard to portray in a manner that keeps the characters sympathetic to the reader. Hmmm, thinking about it, I don’t really have a favorite. I guess what I love most is the challenge of bringing my couple together with a believable happy ending no matter what their past.
What’s the most difficult/easy part about writing?
I think keeping fresh is a challenge for any writer. One Heir…Or Two? is my 35th title with Harlequin and I start to ask myself over and over if I’ve used the same tropes too often or sentence construction, etc.
What advice do you have for writers?
Read. Read. Read. Keep learning and never give up on your dreams. It took me 13 years from first submission to first sale and every time I felt like giving up a little voice in the back of my mind would say to me, “What if the next submission is going to be one they say “yes” too?” I remember Mills & Boon author, Robyn Donald, saying something along the lines of the world is full of writers who gave up too soon. I didn’t want to be that writer. I just couldn’t bear to give up and spend the rest of my life wondering if I could have made it. Of course the publishing landscape has changed so much since my first sale to Harlequin in 2005 and there are so many options available to writers to send their work out into the world. I guess it’s important that people always make certain that whatever they’re sending out is their very best work and never to settle for second best.
If you had one thing you could tell yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?
This business isn’t for sissies! 🙂 Be prepared to work hard all the time.