Way back in what feels like forever ago but is, in reality, only a scant three years ago I stumbled across the Romance Writers Organisation (ROSA) as I researched for a South African equivalent of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) organisation. I emailed looking for more information and Romy Sommer was the lovely lady that emailed me back. She was patient with me, answering all my questions, shared her knowledge with me and encouraged me to join them. That was how my journey with ROSA began. One I am forever blessed to have stumbled onto.
Now, three years, numerous friends and tons of experience richer I am happy to be able to introduce our chairlady and all round lovely person to you. A wonderful writer in her own right, Romy wears many hats. As already mentioned, she is the chairlady of ROSA, she writes, she is a writing coach, a book editor, a workshop facilitator and if that isn’t enough to keep her busy and out of trouble, she is mom to two beautiful young girls.
Romy very graciously agreed to answer some questions so that you too can get to know her better. Here’s what she had to say:
1. When did you first start writing?
I’ve written all my life. Even in primary school I was making up stories and writing them down. In my teens, I hid my stories away where no one could see, and that’s where they stayed until I was in my 30s and finally thought that maybe I could one day be a writer.
2. What’s the story behind your latest book?
The last book I published under my own name was my RWA award nominated Hollywood romance, Not a Fairy Tale, though I’ve published three books under a pseudonym since then.
Not a Fairy Tale was a follow-on from the last book in my Westerwald trilogy, To Catch a Star. In To Catch a Star, stuntman Dominic was the hero’s best friend, but he was so much fun to write that he just had to get his own story.
To Catch a Star was an homage to one of my all time favourite musicals, Singing in the Rain, and Dom’s character was based on Donald O’Connor’s sidekick character – also a scene stealer!
3. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love disappearing into other worlds. It’s the fantasy elements of writing that I enjoy most: falling in love with the hero, getting to explore distant places, and knowing that everyone gets a happy ending.
4. What are you working on next?
At the moment, I’m writing a new book for HarperImpulse, and I’m having so much fun with it. I can’t say much about it at this stage, but I’m spending hours lost in researching Italian recipes, wine making and fresco restoration. Isn’t being a writer just the most wonderful job?!
It should hopefully be on sale by summer next year (so mid year for those of us down here in the southern hemisphere)
5. Who are your favourite authors?
Do I really have to choose?! My biggest influences growing up were Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, Rumer Godden, Katherine Kerr and Anne MacCaffrey. More recently, I’ve devoured everything by Charlaine Harris and Cassandra Clare, and at the moment I’m loving the books of Melanie Harlow and Jenny Colgan.
6. What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My alarm clock. I am a seriously bad morning person. If I didn’t have to get up in order to get the kids to school every morning, I probably wouldn’t get out of bed before nine!
7. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Most of my time is taken up by my kids. Since I was made redundant earlier this year, I’ve focussed on being more involved in my kids’ lives. Both my daughters have learning difficulties (dyslexia and ADHD) and they have really thrived with all the extra attention! Any time I’m not busy with them is spent writing, reading, and studying publishing and story telling. None of that is work, though – it’s all a pleasure.
8. What is your writing process?
My writing process seems to be constantly changing and maturing. These days, I write very linearly, so I start at the beginning and write consecutively until I’m done. Before I can write a word, though, I spend ages getting to know my characters, doing research, and planning the rough structure of the novel, and the character’s arcs. I’m currently using the Scrivener program to write my novels, and I’m really enjoying working with it.
9. What do you read for pleasure?
I read mostly contemporary romances and cosy mysteries, with the occasional historical thrown in, and I also love YA, especially if it’s paranormal.
10. Describe your desk.
Way more cluttered than I’d like it to be! (Or maybe I just need a bigger desk?) I have a set of in trays, a desk lamp, a stationery holder, my laptop and plug-in keyboard, and that’s all the space I have!
11. Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember a ‘learn to read’ book in Grade 1 that was about a little girl called Pippin who had an older brother and sister. I have no idea what the book was called, or even what it was about, but it’s stuck with me down all the years. I even named the newest addition to our cat family Pippin after that character.
12. Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Durban, in the village-like valley of Manor Gardens beneath the shadow of the university. I don’t know that it influenced my writing in any special way – I would have been a writer even if I’d lived on a farm or in a much bigger city. But in many ways I had an idyllic childhood, very protected from the big wide (and often very ugly) world beyond.
13. What are your five favourite books, and why?
This is an absolutely impossible question to answer! I’m a Gemini so my favourite anything is likely to change on a regular basis. However, off the top of my head I’d say Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy is a perennial favourite, and Mary Stewart’s Arthurian series, since they were instrumental in me becoming a writer. Not five, but they’re the ones that spring immediately to mind.
14. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Absolutely everywhere! A snippet of a song, a newspaper headline, meeting and talking to people about their lives – and I often steal ideas from other movies and books. I feel as if my job as a writer is to collect hundreds of little ideas from all around me, and to weave them together into something new and fresh.
15. What is your perfect day like?
The life I’m living right now is really as perfect as it can get, with a healthy balance between my family and my work as a writer. The only thing that would make it more perfect is if I could sleep in later in the mornings!
Thank you Romy for so generously taking time out of your crazy schedule to answer my five million questions. 😉