Love blooms in a changing world

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Romance writer Elisabeth Rose… “I never plot books out, I just start with an idea.”

CANBERRA romance fiction writer Elisabeth Rose says everyone wants to be loved. And she should know, having written 16 books on the subject.

“It’s a fundamental human need, I think that’s why it resonates with so many people,” she says.

The statistics confirm that; the latest numbers from the Australian Romance Readers Association say romance fiction is keeping the publishing industry alive with 55 per cent of those surveyed saying they read more than five romance books a month, and of those 9 per cent read more than 15 romances a month.

Romance is the largest single category of books sold in the world and in 2015, romantic fiction sales in Australia reached $100m. In the US, the romance market is worth more than $1.08 billion.

And it’s not only women. In Nielsen’s latest survey men accounted for 15 per cent of the market.

Elisabeth Rose, whose surname is Hoorweg (Rose is her nom de plume and her grandmother’s name), has enjoyed writing and reading since she was a child.

During her career she has witnessed and interacted with many new themes, which are constantly being introduced into the world of romance writing.

“That’s why I think romance is so successful, because it reflects the role of women in society and how these roles have changed and evolved,” says Elisabeth.

“The other thing is the changing roles of women dealing with issues that resonate with people now.”

She says people have become more open about discussions around domestic violence or bringing up children with disabilities.

“These are ideas you can write about now, but earlier they weren’t acceptable,” says Elisabeth.

“Someone I know separated from her husband and he turned out to be gay.

“Novels that touch on these ideas can be supportive for women who are in difficult situations.”

When forming a character, sometimes Elisabeth uses characteristics from people around her and every now and then she pulls ideas from the media.

“A couple of times I’ve heard stuff on the radio, once I saw a little story in the paper about a couple and used it for an idea.”

Elisabeth mostly enjoys creating characters and the psychological part of it. She questions how people would react to certain situations and if these events would be believable.

There was one novel in particular, “Empty Heart”, that Elisabeth found especially challenging to write.

The idea for “Empty Heart” was created from the disorientated feeling that people get when they’ve been swimming in the sea for a while and then, when they get back to the beach, they are a distance away from their stuff. From this Elisabeth formulated a character who goes for a swim and then comes out in a completely different place, with no signs of her towel, her belongings or her newly married husband.

“It took me so long to work out a scenario of how it would be feasible,” she says.

“I never plot books out, I just start with an idea. Sometimes I have to back pedal, but I have fun because the characters will take me in a direction that I wouldn’t usually go.”

She says that these stories can be more difficult because she isn’t writing about what she knows.

Originally Elisabeth would create stories about musicians, which were easier for her to write because of her background in music.

She says she appreciates history and likes it when books tie historical information with fiction.

One author that Elisabeth particularly enjoys in the romance genre is Jane Austin.

Elisabeth’s next novel, a romantic suspense story, is expected to be published mid this year.

The Australian Romance Readers Convention will be held in Melbourne, February 24-26 and will feature international and Australian authors and includes the annual Romance Readers Awards.


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Danielle Nohra
Danielle Nohra is a "CityNews" staff journalist.

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