For the month of love and romance, I interviewed contemporary romance author Vanessa Luisa. Our conversation covered everything from her experiences as avid romance reader all the way to publishing her debut, MV, this year, to themes in romance stories, as well as her biggest tips for writing!
Thank you so much for joining me today! I've been following your account on Instagram for a couple months now, and your posts are always a delight to see on my feed. Just so all the readers of the interview will know, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Thank you so very much for your kind words! I feel so grateful and very honoured to be joining you today. My name is Vanessa Luisa and I am a contemporary romance author from Melbourne, Australia. I love all things from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Seinfeld, and believe tea is a writing essential. My love of reading and writing have always been with me, and while I have a background in certified personal styling, nowadays I am turning my dream of being an author into reality. I love writing swoon-worthy, emotionally gripping stories with passionate alphas and strong-willed women. My debut romantic suspense novel, MV, is due to be released in late May of 2021. The full title reveal will be in early March, but what I can say now is MV is a bittersweet second chance romantic suspense. It follows a couple whose lives have been hit with tragedy and while the past comes to haunt them, they need to decide if their love can really withstand all. Much more will be revealed soon, so feel free to find out more through my Instagram and my website.
That all sounds awesome! I love that you're able to start living that dream, as well as that you're sharing it on your platforms! I imagine the road to where you are now, and to your book coming out in May, can't have been very short. How long have you had the dream of being an author, and what has your writing journey up to now looked like? Do you think there's anything in particular that drew you to writing romance?
To be honest, I've had the dream of being an author ever since I remember! As a little girl, I always had pen and paper in my hands—always eager to expand my creativity through reading and writing stories. Plus, I'm quite a reserved person and feels as though that goes hand in hand with being a writer, haha! Silence and solitude doesn't faze me at all...especially when I have all these characters and plot ideas running wild in my head!
What drew me to romance is the pure beauty of it. I also love diving into the emotional side of relationships—the angst, the passion, the feeling of not being able to live without the other person. I love unraveling different characters and understanding their individual inner-demons and how working through them impacts love—for good or bad. I find it intriguing when a character overcoming their fear results in them needing the other protagonist more than ever before. For example; the closed-up, dangerously alluring alpha who seems untouchable, but in reality vulnerability seeps in, but with her it's all different, he can come undone and finally be himself—she's his remedy—ah, yes please!
I also love how every single romantic trope, like forbidden romances, second chance and slow burn permit for their own challenges and themes. In my debut novel, MV, the theme of hope takes dominance and shifts the dynamics of my hero and heroine's love. Overall, I simply adore and appreciate romance novels! And having somebody by your side that accepts you for you, supports you on your darkest days and loves you unconditionally—it's what I think most of us desire!
It is incredibly charming, I imagine! I definitely relate to what you said about characters running wild. And I think we all can relate, as well, to desiring what you described, even those of us that don't particularly write or read romance.
In regards to talking themes, and the theme of hope—was there anything in particular that set your heart on MV exploring it? Or was it more something that simply settled as you wrote and revised the story along? How exactly did you find and decide on the theme, if you had to at all?
I always found myself reading the epilogue of romance novels grinning-ear-to-ear. Generally, if you are reading a HEA (happily ever after) novel the epilogue is filled with all those swoon-worthy feelings—the guy gets the girl, issues are resolved and central themes make sense, right? But, a few years back somebody very close to me passed and through dealing with grief, one day last year I began to ponder on the idea of 'what if the epilogue doesn't always go to plan?' That's the moment MV was born.
MV begins with a broken marriage; strained by the loss of hope on the hero's behalf and the heroine's faith. Their separate views on a tragedy causes a great divide in their love, and thus, what should be their epilogue—becomes their living hell. Hope resurfaces as a central theme in MV—Should we learn to survive while being hopeless or suffer loss while being hopeful? It's only natural that everybody interprets greif, loss and tragedy in their own way—and that is why MV is such a big part of me and why I connect to this story on such a deep level, and hope the readers do too!
MV sounds like a story many readers would enjoy, then. The question you've asked is certainly one that will speak to readers everywhere. I'm can't wait to see what answers will be given in the book!
So now I'm going to sort of dump a bunch of questions into one, since they're all pretty related to one another, I'd say—and some of these are from our writers in the community, too!
What challenges you most when writing romance, and what's helped with that? In addition to that, we've also gotten some questions on your advice for writing good chemistry between characters, as well how to make a romance feel original, without being cheesy or predictable.
What challenges me the most when writing romance is after I have plotted/outlined the story/finalized my story ARC, sometimes making everything link together can be a little tricky. With MV I felt I needed to add a little suspense, hence why it's a romantic suspense. Certain scenes I had in mind permitted the entrance of a crime aspect and looking back now, it suited my plot greatly.
What I felt helped me the most during these 'writing block' times was creating a Spotify playlist for my current WIP (work-in-progress) that related to the story and influenced scenes. Also, finding images on Pinterest to inspire me and writing down what I get from them is my go-to and the big one—perhaps the most effective—is allowing your mind to rest and not put too much pressure on yourself on days where nothing seems to go to plan. Use that day as a little break, and re-start the next day. Having a creative block doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing, it just simply means you need to re-energize. Be kind to yourself! :)
My best advice for writing good chemistry between characters is to remember to break down the physical and emotional side of the relationship. It’s respect, devotion, vulnerability, passion and connection all in one. Great chemistry can be showcased in different ways depending on the romantic trope, for example the diverse ways to show it between a forbidden romance and Insta-love. In a forbidden romance, chemistry can be driven by a physical devotion, longing gazes, strong conversations but for whatever reason their love cannot be clasped without great distraction. In Insta-love, these feeling would be explored much more quicker. But overall, whatever romantic trope of sub-genre you write, having your characters understanding one another’s pain on a deep personal level enables the trust to allow for a strong bond.
Keeping a story completely original, cheesy and predictable can certainly be a challenge at times, but what really helps me the most is adding a few twists and turns readers won't expect. This is a great way to alleviate some of the pressure and be unique in your story telling. But always remember to only give the story what it needs, what I mean by that is to make sure if you're going to add a pinnacle twist, make sure it makes sense for your story and is an accurate, realistic reflection/representation of what your characters would actually do.
What's a book (or two!) that you'd recommend for those reading this blog post?
I highly recommend any novel written by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. They are sensational contemporary romance authors with addictive plot lines with unexpected twists, sexy alpha males and sassy heroines. A book they co-wrote that I highly recommend is Park Avenue Player! It’s the first book I read of theirs and haven’t been able to put down their stories ever since. I am also a huge fan of Verity by Colleen Hoover.
Finally, what's one final thing you'd like to say to the aspiring romance authors reading this?
To aspiring romance authors reading this blog post, I would like to say to always stay true to yourself. Stand by your story. Trust the process. Give your characters depth. Creating a writing schedule can be extremely helpful to stay organized and schedule deadlines. I would also say to set a daily writing goal to stay determined and connect with the sensational writing community. Also, if you have a close writer friend, you can even become accountability partners as it’s something that will keep you going and has greatly assisted me! And if you ever need to talk or as any questions, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Even though MV is my debut novel, my emails and DMs are always open if you ever want to talk or ask any questions.
It’s been a real pleasure joining you for this blog post and I appreciate it very much! Thank you so much!