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Nora Roberts
speaks with CNN Interactive Book Editor Jonathan Austin
...on the process of writing
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...on beginning with an idea and ending with a book
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Windows Media 28K 80K

...on emotions and romance in her novels
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Windows Media 28K 80K

...on the perks and glamour of being a successful author
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Watch the full interview!
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Windows Media 28K 80K

Is romance your thing?
Tell it to the board!

Nora Roberts loves writing about love

Web posted on: Tuesday, March 23, 1999 10:55:42 AM

By Jonathan Austin
CNN Interactive Book Editor

ATLANTA (CN) -- A blizzard was the catalyst that made Nora Roberts write. The result? Enough books to bury a city.

Roberts hasn't sold just a million copies of her books, nor just 10 million. She's surpassed the 50 million sales mark with more than 100 titles, and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, "Publishers Weekly" says "Roberts keeps getting better," while USA Today referred to her as "a consistently entertaining writer."

She can't imagine doing anything else. Writing "is my career, my job, but it's also something I love," she said in a recent interview with CNN Interactive. "I have these stories running around in my head, and I can sit down and articulate them on paper, and it's just great good luck that someone will actually pay me to do that. It fulfills me. I have these people in my head, and I want to find out what happens."

"I really love the process of writing, of telling stories," Roberts said. "I think it's the best job in the world."

'I had to do something'

In 1979 she wrote her first book -- a Silhouette romance -- in a spiral notebook with a No. 2 pencil. But long before she wrote out that tale she had been creating stories in her mind.

"I always had stories in my head when I was growing up, but I thought everyone did; I thought that was just a natural state of being," she said. Then in February 1979 an East Coast blizzard trapped her in her Maryland home.

"I was snowed in with my 3- and 6-year-old sons. You ought to be able to imagine the horror of that, day after day. We weren't getting out ... we were stuck.

"So after about the 3,072nd game of Candyland, I decided I had to do something to smooth my rough edges out," she said. "And I started to write down one of the stories in my head, and fell in love with the process of writing immediately, and realized that that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep doing this. I wanted to keep telling stories, and writing books, and see if I could make a living at it."

She definitely could, with such bestsellers as "The Reef", "Homeport", "Sanctuary", "Montana Sky", "Sea Swept" and "Rising Tides". In 1997 alone she put six titles on the New York Times bestseller list.

'I have to know what happens'

Romance and relationships are critical to her stories, she says. "My books are character driven, and if the characters are cardboard and don't have dimensions and emotions then, who cares? Who wants to read about them? They have to be very real for me, so that they are real for the reader, and we care about what situations they're in," she said. "So I want to know, as a reader myself, what they're thinking, what they're feeling, about the situation, about the relationships they're in."

In the interview she discusses her writing style and how she gets a story from beginning to end: "I write sort of a skeletal first draft. It has a beginning, a middle and an end, because I have to get the story down. I have to know what happens. I have to find out. By that time I've learned about my characters, I understand them now, I've spent time with them ... and I've seen that the story will hold, or where it needs fixing."

And what about her life? What's it like being a world famous writer? "It's not very glamorous; the bits and pieces of glamour are few and far between," she said. "You have to like to be alone, you have to like to live inside your head ... It can be very hectic, there can be a lot of stress. I just find it very rewarding."

What's the best thing about her job? "I don't have to wear pantyhose and makeup to go to work. That's a big perk. I don't have to fight traffic, that's another big perk. It takes me 30 seconds to get into my ofice in the morning, and I work all day, just like the guy (working) in the convenience store."

Neil Gaiman: Adults deserve good fairy tales, too
February 25, 1999
Myrlie Evers-Williams marches on
February 15, 1999

Nora Roberts website
The Romance Club
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Review: 'Stories From the Tube' offers hysterically appealing humor
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